A Day's Pleasure


IT is noticeable how many people there are in the world that seem bent always upon the same purpose of amusement or business as one’s self. If you keep quietly about your accustomed affairs, there are all your neighbors and acquaintance hard at it too ; if you go on a journey, choose what train you will, the cars are filled with travellers in your direction. You take a day’s pleasure, and everybody abandons his usual occupation to crowd upon your boat, whether it is to Gloucester, or to Nahant, or to Nantasket Beach you go. It is very hard to believe that, from whatever channel of life you abstract yourself, still the great sum of it presses forward as before : that business is carried on though you are idle, that men amuse themselves though you toil, that every train is as crowded as that you travel on, that the theatre or the church fills its boxes or pews without you perfectly well. I suppose it would not be quite agreeable to believe all this ; the opposite illusion is far more flattering ; for if each one of us did not take the world with him now at every turn, should he not have to leave it behind him when he died ? And that, it must be owned, would not be agreeable, nor is the fact quite conceivable, though ever so many myriads in so many million years have proved it.

When our friends first went aboard the Rose Standish that day they were almost the sole passengers, and they had a feeling of ownership and privacy which was pleasant enough in its way, but which they lost afterwards; though to lose it was also pleasant, for enjoyment no more likes to be solitary than sin does, which is notoriously gregarious, and I dare say would hardly exist if it could not be committed in company. The preacher, indeed, little knows the comfortable sensation we have in being called fellow - sinners, and what an effective shield for his guilt each makes of his neighbor’s hardheartedness.

Cousin Frank never felt how strange was a lonely transgression till that day, when in the silence of the little cabin he took the bottle of claret from the hand-bag, and prepared to moisten the family lunch with it. “ I think, Aunt Melissa,” he said, “ we had better lunch now, for it’s a quarter past two, and we shall not get to the beach before four. Let ’s improvise a beach of these chairs, and that water-urn yonder can stand for the breakers. Now, this is truly like Newport and Nahant,” he added, after the little arrangement was complete ; and he was about to strip away the bottle’s jacket of brown paper, when a lady much wrapped up came in, and, reclining upon one of the opposite seats, began to take them all in with a severe serenity of gaze that made them feel for a moment like a party of low foreigners, —like a set of German atheists, say. Frank kept on the bottle’s paper jacket, and as the single tumbler of the party circled from mouth to mouth, each of them tried to give the honest drink the false air of a medicinal potion of some sort; and to see Aunt Melissa sipping it, no one could have put his hand on his heart and sworn it was not elderberry wine, at the worst. In spite of these efforts, they all knew that they had suffered a hopeless loss of repute ; yet after the loss was confessed, I am not sure that they were not the gayer and happier through this “ freedom of a broken law.” At any rate, the lunch passed off very merrily, and when they had put back the fragments of the feast into the bags, they went forward to the bow of the boat, to get good places for seeing the various people as they came aboard, and for an outlook upon the bay when the boat should start.

I suppose that these were not very remarkable people, and that nothing but the indomitable interest our friends took in the human race could have enabled them to feel any concern in their companions. It was, no doubt, just such a company as goes down to Nantasket Beach every pleasant day in summer. Certain ones among them were distinguishable as sojourners at the beach, by an air of familiarity with the business of getting there, an indifference to the prospect, and an indefinable touch of superiority. These read their newspapers in quiet corners, or, if they were not of the newspaper sex, made themselves comfortable in the cabins, and looked about them at the other passengers with looks of lazy surprise, and just a hint of scorn for their interest in the boat’s departure. Our day’s pleasurers took it that the lady whose steady gaze had reduced them, when at lunch, to such a low ebb of shabbiness, was a regular boarder, at the least, in one of the beach hotels. A few other passengers were, like themselves, mere idlers for a day, and were eager to see all that the boat or the voyage offered of novelty. There were clerks and men who had book-keeping written in a neat mercantile hand upon their faces, and who had evidently been given that afternoon for a breathing-time ; and there were strangers who were going down to the beach for the sake of the charming view of the harbor which the trip afforded. Here and there were people who were not to be classed with any certainty, as a pale young man, handsome in his undesirable way, who looked like a steamboat pantry boy not yet risen to be bar-tender, but rapidly rising, and who sat carefully balanced upon the railing of the boat, chatting with two young girls, who heard his broad sallies with continual snickers, and interchanged saucy comments with that prompt up-and-coming manner which is so large a part of non-humorous humor, as Mr. Lowell calls it, and now and then pulled and pushed each other. It was a scene worth study, for in no other country could anything so bad have been without being vastly worse ; but here it was evident that there was nothing worse than you saw ; and, indeed, these persons formed a sort of relief to the other passengers, who were nearly all sepulchrally well-behaved. Amongst a few there seemed to be acquaintance, but the far greater part were unknown to one another, and there were no words wasted by any one. I believe the English traveller who has taxed our nation with inquisitiveness for half a century is at last beginning to find out that we do not ask questions because we have the still more vicious custom of not opening our mouths at all when with strangers.

It was a good hour after our friends got aboard before the boat left her moorings, and then it was not without some secret dreads of sea-sickness that Aunt Melissa saw the seething brine widen between her and the familiar wharfhouse, where she now seemed to have spent so large a part of her life. But the multitude of really charming and interesting objects that presently fell under her eye soon distracted her from those gloomy thoughts.

There is always a shabbiness about the wharves of seaports ; but I must own that as soon as you get a reasonable distance from them in Boston, they turn wholly beautiful. They no longer present that imposing array of mighty ships which they could show in the planchan days when the commerce of the world sought chiefly our port, yet the docks are still filled with the modester kinds of shipping, and if there is not that wilderness of spars and rigging which you see at New York, let us believe that there is an aspect of selection and refinement in the scene, so that one should describe it, not as a forest, but, less conventionally, as a gentleman’s park of masts. The steamships of many coastwise freight lines gloom, with their black, capacious hulks, among the lighter sailing-craft and among the white, green-shuttered passengerboats ; and behind them those desperate and grimy sheds assume a picturesqueness, their sagging roofs and crooked gables harmonizing agreeably with the shipping; and then growing up from all rises the mellow-tinted brick-built city, roof, and spire, and dome, — a fair and noble sight, indeed, and one not surpassed for a certain quiet and cleanly beauty by any that I know.

Our friends lingered long upon this pretty prospect, and, as inland people of light heart and easy fancy will, the ladies made imagined voyages in each of the more notable vessels they passed, — all cheap and safe trips, occupying half a second apiece. Then they came forward to the bow, that they might not lose any part of the harbor’s beauty and variety, and informed themselves of the names of each of the fortressed islands as they passed, and forgot them, being passed, so that to this day Aunt Melissa has the Fort Warren rebel prisoners languishing in Fort Independence. But they made sure of the air of soft repose that hung about each, of that exquisite military neatness which distinguishes them and which went to Aunt Melissa’s housekeeping heart, of the green, thick turf covering the escarpments, of the great guns loafing on the crests of the ramparts and looking out over the water sleepily, of the sentries pacing slowly up and down with their gleaming muskets.

“ I never see one of those fellows,” says Cousin Frank, “ without setting him to the music of that saddest and subtlest of Heine’s poems. You know it, Lucy ” ; and he repeats : —

“ Mein Herz, mein Herz is traurig,
Doch lustig leuchtet der Mai ;
Ich stehe gelehnt an der Linde,
Hoch auf der alten Bastei.
“ Am alten grauen Thurme
Ein Schilderhäuschen steht ;
Ein rothgeröckter Bursche
Dort auf und nieder geht.
“ Er spielt mit seiner Flinte,
Sie funkelt im Sonnenroth,
Er präsentirt, und schultert, —
Ich wollt’, er schösse mich todt.”

“ Oh ! ” says Cousin Lucy, either because the poignant melancholy of the sentiment has suddenly pierced her, or because she does not quite understand the German, — you never can tell about women. While Frank smiles down upon her in this amiable doubt, their party is approached by the tipsy man who has been making the excursion so merry for the other passengers, in spite of the fact that there is very much to make one sad in him. He is an old man, sweltering in rusty black, a two days’ gray beard, and a narrowbrimmed, livid silk hat, set well back upon the nape of his neck. He explains to our friends, as he does to every one whose acquaintance he makes, that he was in former days a seafaring man, and that he has brought his two little grandsons here to show them something about a ship ; and the poor old soul helplessly saturates his phrase with the rankest profanity. The boys are somewhat amused by their grandsire’s state, being no doubt familiar with it; but a very grim-looking old lady who sits against the pilothouse, and keeps a sharp eye upon all three, and who is also doubtless familiar with the unhappy spectacle, seems not to find it a joke. Her stout matronly umbrella trembles in her hand when her husband draws near, and her eye flashes ; but he gives her as wide a berth as he can, returning her glare with a propitiatory drunken smile and a wink to the passengers to let them into the fun. In fact, he is full of humor in his tipsy way, and one after another falls the prey of his free sarcasm, which does not spare the boat or any feature of the excursion. He holds for a long time, by swiftly successive stories of his seafaring days, a very quiet gentleman, who dares neither laugh too loudly nor show indifference for fear of rousing that terrible wit at his expense, and finds his account in looking down at his boots.

“Well, sir,” says the deplorable old sinner, “we was forty days out from Liverpool, with a cargo of salt and iron, and we got caught on the Banks in a calm. ‘ Cap’n,’ says I,— I ’us sec’n’ mate, — ‘’s they any man aboard this ship knows how to pray ? ’ ' No,’ says the cap’n ; ‘blast yer prayers ! ’ ‘ Well,’ says I, ' cap’n, I ’m no hand at all to pray, but I’m goin’ to see if prayin’ won’t git us out ’n this.’ And I down on my knees, and I made a first-class prayer; and a breeze sprung up in a minute and carried us smack into Boston.”

At this bit of truculent burlesque the quiet man made a bold push, and walked away with a somewhat sickened face, and as no one now intervened between them, the inebriate laid a familiar hand upon Cousin Frank’s collar, and said with a wink at his late listener : “ Looks like a lerigious man, don’t he ? I guess I give him a good dose, if he does think himself the headdeacon of this boat.” And he went on to state his ideas of religion, from which it seemed that he was a person of the most advanced thinking, and believed in nothing worth mentioning.

It is perhaps no worse for an Infidel to be drunk than a Christian, but my friend was so much revolted by this tipsy blasphemer’s case, that he went to the hand-bag, took out the empty claret - bottle, and, seeking a solitary corner of the boat, cast the bottle into the water, and felt a thrill of uncommon self-approval as this scapegoat of all the wine at his grocer’s bobbed off upon the little waves. “ Besides, it saves carrying the bottle home,” he thought, not without a half-conscious reserve, that if his penitence were ever too much for him, he could easily abandon it. And without the reflection that the gate is always open behind him, who could consent to enter upon any course of perfect behavior ? If good resolutions could not be broken, who would ever have the courage to form them ? Would it not be intolerable to be made as good as we ought to be ? Then, admirable reader, thank Heaven even for your lapses, since it is so wholesome and saving to be well ashamed of yourself, from time to time.

“ What an outrage,” said Cousin Frank, in the glow of virtue, as he rejoined the ladies, “that that tipsy rascal should be allowed to go on with his ribaldry. He seems to pervade the whole boat, and to subject everybody to his sway. He’s a perfect despot to us helpless sober people, — I would n’t openly disagree with him on any account. We ought to send a Round Robin to the captain, and ask him to put that religious liberal in irons during the rest of the voyage.”

In the mean time, however, the object of his indignation had used up all the conversible material in that part of the boat, and had deviously started for the other end. The elderly woman with the umbrella rose and followed him, somewhat wearily, and with a sadness that appeared more in her movement than in her face ; and as the two went down the cabin, did the comical affair look, after all, something like tragedy ? My reader, who expects a little novelty in tragedy, and not these stale and common effects, will never think so.

“You’ll not pretend, Frank,” says Lucy, “that in such an intellectual place as Boston a crowd as large as this can be got together, and no distinguished literary people in it. I know there are some notables aboard : do point them out to me. Pretty near everybody has a literary look.”

“ Why, that’s what we call our Boston look, Cousin Lucy. You need n’t have written anything to have it, — it’s as general as tubercular consumption, and is the effect of our universal culture and habits of reading. I heard a New-Yorker say once that if you went into a corner grocery in Boston to buy a codfish, the man would ask you how you liked ‘ Lucille,’ whilst he was tying it up. No, no; you mustn’t be taken in by that literary look ; I’m afraid the real literary men don’t always have it. But I do see a literary man aboard, yonder,” he added, craning his neck to one side, and then furtively pointing, — “the most literary man I ever knew, one of the most literary men that ever lived. His whole existence is really bound up in books; he never talks of anything else, and never thinks of anything else, I believe. Look at him, — what kind and pleasant eyes he ’s got! There, he sees me ! ” cries Cousin Frank with a pleasurable excitement. “ How d’ ye do ? ” he calls out.

“O Cousin Frank, introduce us,” sighs Lucy.

“ Not I ! He would n’t thank me. He does n’t care for pretty girls outside of books ; he’d be afraid of ’em ; he’s the bashfullest man alive, and all his heroines are fifty years old, at the least. But before I go any further, tell me solemnly, Lucy, you ’re not interviewing me ? You ’re not going to write it to a New York newspaper? No? Well, I think it’s best to ask, always. Our friend there — he’s everybody’s friend, if you mean nobody’s enemy, by that, not even his own — is really what I say, — the most literary man I ever knew. He loves all epochs and phases of literature, but his passion is the Charles Lamb period and all Lamb’s friends. He loves them as if they were living men ; and Lamb would have loved him if he could have known him. He speaks rapidly, and rather indistinctly, and when you meet him and say good day, and you suppose he answers with something about the weather, ten to one he’s asking you what you think of Hazlitt’s essays on Shakespeare, or Leigh Hunt’s Italian Poets, or Lamb’s roast pig, or Barry Cornwall’s songs. He couldn’t get by a bookstall without stopping for half an hour at any rate. He knows just when all the new books in town are to be published, and when each bookseller is to get his invoice of old English books. He has no particular address, but if you leave your card for him at any bookstore in Boston, he ’s sure to get it within two days ; and in the summer-time you ’re apt to meet him on these excursions. Of course, he writes about books, and very tastefully and modestly ; there’s hardly any of the brand-new immortal English poets, who die off so rapidly, but has had a good word from him; but his heart is with the older fellows, from Chaucer down; and, after the Charles Lamb epoch, I don’t know whether he loves better the Elizabethan age or that of Queen Anne. Think of him making me stop the other day at a bookstall, and read through an essay out of the Spectator ! I did it all for love of him, though money could n’t have persuaded me that I had time ; and I'm always telling him lies, and pretending to be as well acquainted as he is with authors I hardly know by name,—he seems so fondly to expect it. He’s really almost a disembodied spirit as concerns most mundane interests ; his soul is in literature, as a lover’s in his mistress’s beauty ; and in the next world, where, as the Swedenborgians believe, spirits seen at a distance appear like the things they most resemble in disposition, as doves, hawks, goats, lambs, swine, and so on, I’m sure that I shall see his true and kindly soul in the guise of a noble old Folio, quaintly lettered across his back in old English text, Tom. I.”

While our friends talked and looked about them, a sudden change had come over the brightness and warmth of the day; the blue heaven had turned a chilly gray, and the water looked harsh and cold. Now, too, they noted that they were drawing near a wooden pier built into the water, and that they had been winding about in a crooked channel between muddy shallows, and that their course was overrun with long, dishevelled sea-weed. The shawls had been unstrapped, and the ladies made comfortable in them.

“ Ho for the beach ! ” cried Cousin Frank, with a vehement show of enthusiasm. “Now, then, Aunt Melissa, prepare for the great enjoyment of the day. In a few moments we shall be of the elves

‘ That on the sand with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back.’

Come ! we shall have three hours on the beach, and that will bring us well into the cool of the evening, and we can return by the last boat.”

“ As to the cool of the evening,” said Aunt Melissa, “ I don’t know. It’s quite cool enough for comfort at present, and I’m sure that anything more would n’t be wholesome. What’s become of our beautiful weather ? ” she asked, deeply plotting to gain time.

“ It’s one of our Boston peculiarities, not to say merits,” answered Frank, “which you must have noticed already, that we can get rid of a fine day sooner than any other region. While you ’re saying how lovely it is, a subtle change is wrought, and under skies still blue and a sun still warm the keen spirit of the east wind pierces every nerve, and all the fine weather within you is chilled and extinguished. The gray atmosphere follows, but the day first languishes in yourself. But for this, life in Boston would be insupportably perfect, if this is indeed a drawback. You’d find Bostonians to defend it, I dare say. But this is n’t a regular east wind to-day ; it’s merely our nearness to the sea.”

“I think, Franklin,” said Aunt Melissa, “that we won’t go down to the beach this afternoon,” as if she had been there yesterday, and would go tomorrow. “It’s too late in the day; and it would n’t be good for the child, I’m sure.”

“ Well, aunty, it was you determined us to wait for the boat, and it’s your right to say whether we shall leave it or not. I’m very willing not to go ashore. I always find that, after working up to an object with great effort, it’s surpassingly sweet to leave it unaccomplished at last. Then it remains forever in the region of the ideal, amongst the songs that never were sung, the pictures that never were painted. Why, in fact, should we force this pleasure? We’ve eaten our lunch, we’ve lost the warm heart of the day; why should we poorly drag over to that damp and sullen beach, where we should find three hours very long, when by going back now we can keep intact that glorious image of a day by the sea which we’ve been cherishing all summer ? You ’re right, Aunt Melissa ; we won’t go ashore ; we will stay here, and respect our illusions.”

At heart, perhaps, Lucy did not quite like this retreat; it was not in harmony with the youthful spirit of her sex, but she reflected that she could come again, — O beneficent cheat of Another Time, how much thou sparest us in our overworked, over-enjoyed world ! — she was very comfortable where she was, in a seat commanding a perfect view for the return trip ; and she submitted without a murmur. Besides, now that the boat had drawn up to the pier, and discharged part of her passengers, and was waiting to take on others, Lucy was interested in a mass of fluttering dresses and wide-rimmed straw hats that drew down towards the Rose Standish, and gracefully thronged the pier, and prettily hesitated about, and finally came aboard with laughter and little false cries of terror, attended through all by the New England disproportion of that sex which is so foolish when it is silly. It was a large picnic party which had been spending the day upon the beach, as each of the ladies showed in her face, where, if the roses upon her cheeks were somewhat obscured by the imbrowning seaside sun, a bright pink had been compensatingly bestowed upon the point of her nose. A mysterious quiet fell upon them all when they were got aboard and had taken conspicuous places, which was accounted for presently when a loud shout was heard from the shore, and a man beside an ambulant photographic machine was seen wildly waving his hat. It is Impossible to resist a temptation of this kind, and our party all yielded, and posed themselves in striking and characteristic attitudes, — even Aunt Melissa sharing the ambition to appear in a picture which she should never see, and the nurse coming out strong from the abeyance in which she had been held, and lifting the baby high into the air for a good likeness. The frantic gesticulator on the shore gave an impressive wave with both hands, took the cap from the instrument, turned his back, as photographers always do, with that air of hiding their tears, for the brief space that seems so long, and then clapped on the cap again, while a great sigh of relief went up from the whole boat-load of passengers. They were taken.

But the interval had been a luckless one for the Rose Standish, and when she stirred her wheels, clouds of mud rose to the top of the water, and there was no responsive movement of the boat. She was aground in the falling tide.

“ There seems a pretty fair prospect of our spending some time here, after all,” said Frank, while the ladies who, having reluctantly given up the idea of staying, were now in a quiver of impatience to be off. The picnic was shifted from side to side ; the engine groaned and tugged, Captain Miles Standish and his crew bestirred themselves vigorously, and at last the boat swung loose, and strode down the seaweedy channels ; while our friends, who had already done the great sights of the harbor, now settled themselves to the enjoyment of its minor traits and beauties. Here and there they passed small parties on the shore, which, with their yachts anchored near, or their boats drawn up from the water, were cooking an out-door meal by a fire that burned bright red upon the sand in the late afternoon air. In such cases, people willingly indulge themselves in saluting whatever craft goes by, and the ladies of these small picnics, as they sat round the fires, kept up a great waving of handkerchiefs, and sometimes cheered the Rose Standish, though I believe the Bostonians are ordinarily not a demonstrative race. Of course the large picnic on board fluttered multitudinous handkerchiefs in response, both to these people ashore and to those who hailed them from vessels which they met. They did not refuse the politeness even to the passengers on a rival boat when she passed them, though at heart they must all have felt some natural pangs at being passed. The water was peopled everywhere by all sorts of sail lagging slowly homeward in the light evening breeze ; and on some of the larger vessels there were family groups to be seen, and a graceful smoke, suggestive of supper, curled from the cook’s galley. I suppose these ships were chiefly coasting craft, of one kind or another, come from the Provinces at farthest; but to the ignorance and the fancy of our friends, they arrived from all remote and romantic parts of the world, from India, from China, and from the South Seas, with cargoes of spices and gums and tropical fruits ; and I see no reason why one should ever deny himself the easy pleasure they felt in painting the unknown in such lively hues. The truth is, a strange ship, if you will let her, always brings you precious freight, always arrives from Wonderland under the command of Captain Sindbad. How like a beautiful sprite she looks afar off, as if she came from some finer and fairer world than ours ! Nay, we will not go out to meet her; we will not go on board ; Captain Sindbad shall bring us the invoice of gold-dust, slaves, and rocs’ eggs to-night, and we will have some of the eggs for breakfast; or if he never comes, are we not just as rich ? But I think these friends of ours got a yet keener pleasure out of the spectacle of a large and stately ship, that with all sails spread moved silently and steadily out toward the open sea. It is yet grander and sweeter to sail toward the unknown than to come from it; and every vessel that leaves port has this destination, and will bear you thither if you will.

“It may be that the gulfs shall wash us down ;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew,”

absently murmured Lucy, looking on this beautiful apparition.

“ But I can’t help thinking of Ulysses’s cabin-boy, yonder,” said Cousin Frank, after a pause ; “can you, Aunt Melissa ? ”

“ I don’t understand what you ’re talking about, Franklin,” answered Aunt Melissa, somewhat severely.

“ Why, I mean that there is a poor wretch of a boy on board there, who’s run away, and whose heart must be aching just now at the thought of the home he has left. I hope Ulysses will be good to him, and not swear at him for a day or two, or knock him about with a belaying-pin. Just about this time his mother, up in the country, is getting ready his supper, and wondering what’s become of him, and torturing herself with hopes that break one by one; and to-night when she goes up to his empty room, having tried to persuade herself that the truant’s come back and climbed in at the window — ”

“ Why, Franklin, this is n’t all true, is it ? ” asks Aunt Melissa.

“ Well, no, let’s pray Heaven it is n’t, in this case. It’s been true often enough to be false for once.”

“ What a great, ugly, black object a ship is ! ” said Cousin Lucy.

Slowly the city rose up against the distance, sharpening all its outlines, and filling in all its familiar details,— like a fact which one dreams is a dream, and which, as the mists of sleep break away, shows itself for reality.

The air grows closer and warmer, — it is the breath of the hot and toil-worn land.

The boat makes her way up through the shipping, seeks her landing, and presently rubs herself affectionately against the wharf. The passengers quickly disperse themselves upon shore, dismissed each with an appropriate sarcasm by the tipsy man, who has had the means of keeping himself drunk throughout, and who now looks to the discharge of the boat’s cargo.

As our friends leave the wharf-house behind them, and straggle uneasily, and very conscious of sunburn, up the now silent length of Pearl Street to seek the nearest horse-cars, they are aware of a curious fidgeting of the nurse, who flies from one side of the pavement to the other and violently shifts the baby from one arm to the other.

“ What’s the matter ? ” asks Frank; but before the nurse can answer, “ Thim little divils,” he perceives that the whooping - coughers of the morning have taken the occasion to renew a pleasant acquaintance, and are surrounding the baby and nurse with an atmosphere of whooping-cough.

“ I say, friends ! we can’t stand this, you know,” says the anxious father. “ We must part some time, and this is a favorable moment. Now I ’ll give you all this, if you don’t come another step ! ” and he empties out to them, from the hand-bags he carries, all the fragments of lunch which the frugal mind of Aunt Melissa had caused her to store there. Upon these the whooping-coughers hurl themselves in a body, and are soon left round the corner. Yet they would have been no disgrace to our party, whose appearance was now most disreputable: Frank and Lucy stalking ahead, with shawls dragging from their arms, the former loaded down with hand-bags and the latter with india-rubbers ; Aunt Melissa coming next under a burden of bloated umbrellas ; the nurse last, with her hat awry, and the baby a caricature of its morning trimness, in her embrace. A day’s pleasure is so demoralizing, that no party can stand it, and come out neat and orderly.

“ Cousin Frank,” asked Lucy, awfully, “ what if we should meet the Mayflowers now?” — the Mayflowers being a very ancient and noble Boston family whose acquaintance was the great pride and terror of our friends’ lives.

“ I should cut them dead,” said Frank, and scarcely spoke again till his party dragged slowly up the steps of their minute suburban villa.

At the door his wife met them with a troubled and anxious face.

“Calamities?” asked Frank, desperately.

“ O, calamities upon calamities ! We’ve got a lost child in the kitchen,” answered Mrs. Sallie.

“O good heavens!” cried her husband. “Adieu, my dreams of repose, so desirable after a day’s pleasure! Well, bring on the lost child.”

W. D. Howells.