Being forbidden to write anything at presentI have collected various waifs and strays to appeasethe young people who clamor for more,forgetting that mortal brains need rest.
As many girls have asked to see what sort oftales Jo March wrote at the beginning of hercareer, I have added “The Baron’s Gloves,” as asample of the romantic rubbish which paid so wellonce upon a time. If it shows them what not towrite it will not have been rescued from oblivionin vain.
|Kitty’s Class Day||5|
|A Country Christmas||84|
|On Picket Duty||124|
|The Baron’s Gloves||156|
|My Red Cap||251|
|What the Bells Saw and Said||271|
KITTY’S CLASS DAY.
“A stitch in time saves nine.”
“O PRIS, Pris, I’m really going! Here’s the invitation—roughpaper—Chapel—spreads—Lyceum Hall—everything splendid; and Jack to take careof me!”
As Kitty burst into the room and performed a rapturouspas seul, waving the cards over her head, sisterPriscilla looked up from her work with a smile of satisfactionon her quiet face.
“Who invites you, dear?”
“Why, Jack, of course,—dear old cousin Jack.Nobody else ever thinks of me, or cares whether I havea bit of pleasure now and then. Isn’t he kind? Mayn’tI go? and, O Pris, what shall I wear?”
Kitty paused suddenly, as if the last all-importantquestion had a solemnizing effect upon both mind andbody.
“Why, your white muslin, silk sacque, and new hat,of course,” began Pris with an air of surprise. ButKitty broke in impetuously,—
“I’ll never wear that old muslin again; it’s full ofdarns, up to my knees, and all out of fashion. So ismy sacque; and as for my hat, though it does wellenough here, it would be absurd for Class Day.”
“You don’t expect an entirely new suit for this occasion,—doyou?” asked Pris, anxiously.
“Yes, I do, and I’ll tell you how I mean to get it.I’ve planned everything; for, though I hardly dreamedof going, I amused myself by thinking how I couldmanage if I did get invited.”
“Let us hear.” And Pris took up her work with anair of resignation.
“First, my dress,” began Kitty, perching herself onthe arm of the sofa, and entering into the subject withenthusiasm. “I’ve got the ten dollars grandpa sent me,and with eight of it I’m going to buy Lizzie King’sorgandie muslin. She got it in Paris; but her aunt providentially—no,unfortunately—died; so she can’t wearit, and wants to get rid of it. She is bigger than I am,you know; so there is enough for a little mantle orsacque, for it isn’t made up. The skirt is cut off andgored, with a splendid train—”
“My dear, you don’t mean you are going to wearone of those absurd, new-fashioned dresses?” exclaimedPris, lifting hands and eyes.
“I do! Nothing would induce me to go to ClassDay without a train. It’s been the desire of my heartto have one, and now I will, if I never have anothergown to my back!” returned Kitty, with immensedecision.
Pris shook her head, and said, “Go on!” as if preparedfor any extravagance after that.
“We can make it ourselves,” continued Kitty, “andtrim it with the same. It’s white with blue stripes anddaisies in the stripes; the loveliest thing you ever saw,and can’t be got here. So simple, yet distingué, I knowyou’ll like it. Next, my bonnet,”—here the solemnityof Kitty’s face and manner was charming to behold.“I shall make it out of one of my new illusion undersleeves.I’ve never worn them; and the puffed partwill be a plenty for a little fly-away bonnet of the lateststyle. I’ve got blue ribbons to tie it with, and haveonly to look up some daisies for the inside. With myextra two dollars I shall buy my gloves, and pay myfares,—and there I am, all complete.”
She looked so happy, so pretty, and full of girlish satisfaction,that sister Pris couldn’t bear to disturb the littleplan, much as she disapproved of it. They were poor,and every penny had to be counted. There were plentyof neighbors to gossip and criticize, and plenty of friendsto make disagreeable remarks on any unusual extravagance.Pris saw things with the prudent eyes of thirty,but Kitty with the romantic eyes of seventeen; and theelder sister, in the kindness of her heart, had no wishto sadden life to those bright young eyes, or deny thechild a harmless pleasure. She sewed thoughtfully fora minute, then looked up, saying, with the smile thatalways assured Kitty the day was won,—
“Get your things together, and we will see what canbe done. But remember, dear, that it is both bad tasteand bad economy for poor people to try to ape the rich.”
“You’re a perfect angel, Pris; so don’t moralize.I’ll run and get the dress, and we’ll begin at once, forthere is much to do, and only two days to do it in.”And Kitty skipped away, singing “Lauriger Horatius,”at the top of her voice.Priscilla soon found that the girl’s head was completelyturned by the advice and example of certain fashionableyoung neighbors. It was in vain for Pris to remonstrateand warn.
“Just this once let me do as others do, and thoroughlyenjoy myself,” pleaded Kitty; and Pris yielded,saying to herself, “She shall have her wish, and if shelearns a lesson, neither time nor money will be lost.”
So they snipped and sewed, and planned and pieced,going through all the alternations of despair and triumph,worry and satisfaction, which women undergo when anew suit is under way. Company kept coming, fornews of Kitty’s expedition had flown abroad, and heryoung friends must just run in to hear about it, and askwhat she was going to wear; while Kitty was so gladand proud to tell, and show, and enjoy her little triumphthat many half hours were wasted, and the second dayfound much still to do.
The lovely muslin didn’t hold out, and Kitty sacrificedthe waist to the train, for a train she must have or thewhole thing would be an utter failure. A little sacquewas eked out, however, and when the frills were on, itwas “ravishing,” as Kitty said, with a sigh of mingleddelight and fatigue. The gored skirt was a fearful job,as any one who has ever plunged into the mysteries willtestify; and before the facing, even experienced Prisquailed.
The bonnet also was a trial, for when the lace wason, it was discovered that the ribbons didn’t match thedress. Here was a catastrophe! Kitty franticallyrummaged the house, the shops, the stores of her friends,and rummaged in vain. There was no time to send tothe city, and despair was about to fall on Kitty, whenPris rescued her by quietly making one of the smallsacrifices which were easy to her because her life wasspent for others. Some one suggested a strip of blueillusion,—and that could be got; but, alas! Kitty hadno money, for the gloves were already bought. Prisheard the lamentations, and giving up fresh ribbons forherself, pulled her sister out of a slough of despond withtwo yards of “heavenly tulle.”
“Now the daisies; and oh, dear me, not one can Ifind in this poverty-stricken town,” sighed Kitty, prinkingat the glass, and fervently hoping that nothing wouldhappen to her complexion over night.
“I see plenty just like those on your dress,” answeredPris, nodding toward the meadow full of young white-weed.
“Pris, you’re a treasure! I’ll wear real ones; theykeep well, I know, and are so common I can refresh mybonnet anywhere. It’s a splendid idea.”
Away rushed Kitty to return with an apron full ofAmerican daisies. A pretty cluster was soon fastenedjust over the left-hand frizzle of bright hair, and thelittle bonnet was complete.
“Now, Pris, tell me how I look,” cried Kitty, as sheswept into the room late that afternoon in full galacostume.
It would have been impossible for the primmest, thesourest, or the most sensible creature in the world tosay that it wasn’t a pretty sight. The long train, thebig chignon, the apology for a bonnet, were all ridiculous,—noone could deny that,—but youth, beauty,and a happy heart made even those absurdities charming.The erect young figure gave an air to the crispfolds of the delicate dress; the bright eyes and freshcheeks under the lace rosette made one forget its size;and the rippling brown hair won admiration in spite ofthe ugly bunch which disfigured the girl’s head. Thelittle jacket set “divinely,” the new gloves were as immaculateas white kids could be, and to crown all,Lizzie King, in a burst of generosity, lent Kitty theblue and white Paris sunshade which she couldn’t useherself.
“Now I could die content; I’m perfect in all respects,and I know Jack won’t be ashamed of me. Ireally owe it to him to look my best, you know, andthat’s why I’m so particular,” said Kitty, in an apologetictone, as she began to lay away her finery.
“I hope you will enjoy every minute of the time,deary. Don’t forget to finish running up the facing; I’vebasted it carefully, and would do it if my head didn’tache so, I really can’t hold it up any longer,” answeredPris, who had worked like a disinterested bee, whileKitty had flown about like a distracted butterfly.
“Go and lie down, you dear, kind soul, and don’tthink of my nonsense again,” said Kitty, feeling remorseful,till Pris was comfortably asleep, when shewent to her room and revelled in her finery till bedtime.So absorbed was she in learning to manage hertrain gracefully, that she forgot the facing till verylate. Then, being worn out with work and worry, shedid, what girls are too apt to do, stuck a pin here andthere, and, trusting to Priscilla’s careful bastings, leftit as it was, retiring to dream of a certain HoraceFletcher, whose aristocratic elegance had made a deepimpression upon her during the few evenings she hadseen him.
Nothing could have been lovelier than the morning,and few hearts happier than Kitty’s, as she arrayed herselfwith the utmost care, and waited in solemn state forthe carriage; for muslin trains and dewy roads were incompatible,and one luxury brought another.
“My goodness, where did she get that stylish suit?”whispered Miss Smith to Miss Jones, as Kitty floatedinto the station with all sail set,