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“The British aristocracy, madam,—the British aristocracy is vulgar."
Well, we all went up to Saratoga. But the distinguished strangers did not come. I held back that last muslin of mine, the yellow one, embroidered with the Alps, and a distant view of the isles of Greece worked on the flounces, until it was impossible to wait longer. I meant to wear it at dinner the first day they came, with the pearl necklace and the opal studs, and that heavy ruby necklace (it is a low-necked dress). The dining-room at the “United States " is so large that it shows off those dresses finely, and if the waiter does n't let the soup or the gravy slip, and your neighbor, (who is, like as not, what Tabby Dormouse, with her incapacity to pronounce the r,
calls some 'aw, 'uff man from the country,”) does n't put the leg of his chair through the dress, and if you don't muss it sitting down-why, I should like to know a prettier place to wear a low-necked muslin, with jewels, than the dining-room of the “United States " at Saratoga.
I am as bad as dear Mrs. Potiphar about coming to the point of my story. But the truth is, that in such engrossing places as Sara toga and Newport, it is hardly possible to de
termine which is the pleasantest and most important thing among so many. I am fond of that old, droll Kurz Pacha, that if I begin to talk about him I forget every thing else. He says such nice things about people that nobody else would dare to say, and that everybody is so glad to hear. He is invaluable in society. And yet one is never safe. People say he is n't gentlemanly; but when I see the style of man that is called gentlemanly, I am very glad he is not. All the solemn, pompous men who stand about like owls, and never speak, nor laugh, nor move, as if they really had any life or feeling, are called “gentle, manly.” Whenever Tabby says of a new man—“But then he is so gentlemanly!” I understand at once. It is another case of the well-dressed wooden image. Good heav, ens! do you suppose Sir Philip Sidney, or the Chevalier Bayard, or Charles Fox, were “gentlemanly” in this way? Confectioners who undertake parties might furnish scores of such gentlemen, with hands and feet of any required size, and warranted to do nothing “ungentlemanly.” For my part, I am inclined to think that a gentleman is something positive, not merely negative. And if sometimes my friend the Pacha says a rousing and wholesome truth, it is none the less gentlemanly because it cuts a little. He says it 's very amusing to observe how coolly we play this little farce of life,-how placidly people get entangled in a mesh at which they all rail, and how fiercely they frown upon anybody who steps out of the ring. “You tickle me and I 'll tickle you ; but, at all events, you tickle me," is the motto of the crowd.
“ Allons ! ” says he, “who cares? lead off to the right and left-down the middle and up again. Smile all around, and bow gracefully to your partner; then carry your heavy heart to your chamber, and drown in your own tears. Cheerfully, cheerfully, my dear Miss Minerva. Saratoga until August, then Newport until the frost, the city afterwards; and so an endless round of happiness.”
And he steps off humming Il segreto per esser felice!
Well, we were all sitting in the great drawingroom at the “United States." We had been bowling in our morning dresses, and had rushed in to ascertain if the distinguished English party had arrived. They had not. They were in New York, and would not come.
bad, but we thought of Newport and probable scions of nobility there, and were consoled. But while we were in the midst of the talk, and I was whispering very intimately with that superb and aristocratic Nancy Fungus, who should come in but father, walking toward us with a wearied air, dragging his feet along, but looking very well dressed for him. I smiled sweetly when I saw that he was quite presentable, and had had the good sense to leave that odious white hat in his room, and had buttoned his waistcoat. The party stopped talking as he approached ; and he came up to me.
“Minna, my dear,” said he, “I hear everybody is going to Newport.”
“Oh! yes, dear father," I replied, and Nancy Fungus smiled. Father looked pleased to see me so intimate with a girl he always calls “so aristocratic and high-bred-looking,” and he said to her
“I believe your mother is going, Miss Fun
“Oh! yes, we always go," replied she, “one must have a few weeks of Newport.”
“Precisely, my dear," said poor papa, as if he rather dreaded it, but must consent to the hard necessity of fashion. “ They say, Minna, that all the parvenus are going this year, so I suppose we shall have to go along."
There was a blow! There was perfect silence for a moment, while poor pa looked amiable, as if he could n't help embellishing his conversation with French graces. I waited in horror; for I knew that the girls were all tittering inside, and every moment it became more absurd. Then out it came. Nancy Fungus leaned her head on my shoulder, and fairly shook with laughter. The others hid behind their fans, and the men suddenly walked off to the windows, and slipped on to the piazza. Papa looked bewildered, and half smiled. But it was a very melancholy business, and I told him that he had better go up and dress for dinner.
It was impossible to stay after that. The unhappy slip became the staple of Saratoga conversation. Young Boosey (Mrs. Potiphar's witty friend asked Morris audibly at dinner, “Where do the parvenus sit? I want to sit among the parvenus."
“Of course you do, sir," answered Morris, supposing he meant the circle of the crême de la crême.
And so the thing went on multiplying itself. Poor papa does n't understand it yet. I don't