Tag Archives: Victorian etiquette

She Wasn’t a Dummy: 1886


Couldn’t Play Any Wooden Women on Him More Than Once.

Every old Sacramentan will remember the French millinery firm of Mme. Llanos & Co., and most of them–the ladies, especially–can recall with equal distinctness the smiling and imperturbable “clerk” of the fancy department of the madame’s establishment, Charley Dexter. A young fellow from some backwoods region of Michigan, having come to “Californy” to seek his fortune, called at Mme. Llanos’s to see his old school-mate, Charley Dexter. In those days it was the style in shops devoted to the sale of ladies’ apparel to have a number of waxen-faced lay figures all temptingly arrayed for the display of the latest novelties. It was a dull summer afternoon when Bill dropped in on his old acquaintance and found that young gentleman listlessly lolling over the counter, happily disengaged. In the course of a reminiscent conversation the country youth used some expression that apparently jarred on Charley’s fastidious ear, for he ejaculated, hurriedly, “Sh!” at the same time nodding mysteriously toward some object over Bill’s shoulder. The latter turned, and to his shocked amazement beheld a stately and fashionably dressed lady, who must have overheard his unlucky speech. Abashed and confused, he hurriedly whispered: “Great Scott! Charley, what shall do?”

“Do? Why, apologise at once!” was the peremptory response.

Clearing his throat, and with a tremendous effort, the awkward and blushing offender began “Madam, I beg–”

Here Charley deftly swung the figure around, and poor Bill saw that the joke was on him. Peace and conversation were soon renewed, and, unperceived by either, a lady quietly entered and began examining some article at the opposite counter. Just as the unconscious visitor had clinched some statement with another lapse into profanity, the horrified Charley glanced up and caught sight of the newcomer opposite. His “Sh!” and accompanying pantomime were genuine this time; but the truculent Bill was not to be sold twice by the same trick. Lifting his dust-covered “stogy,” he dealt a practiced, bucolic kick at the supposed milliner’s doll, at the same time shouting: “Can’t play any more of your ___ wooden women on me!”

Fancy can but feebly picture his horror when a lovely being fixed one terrified glance on the supposed madman, and then with a wild shriek fled into the inner sanctuary to seek protection among the pretty milliner girls and their presiding goddess. It was a question of who was most scared, for the unhappy Bill shot through the front door with equal celerity and a settled sorrow at his heart that nothing but the joker’s blood could assuage; the while Charley dropped under the counter, and rolled there In an agony of mingled mirth and remorse over an accident of which he was the innocent yet guilty cause.

Sunday Truth [Buffalo NY] 14 March 1886: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has previously told of  the waxen charms of The Dudes in the Shop Window.

When first introduced, the shop mannequin was a novelty. There were performers, not unlike to-day’s “living statues,” that posed in shop-windows, drawing crowds who debated their status as human or wax.

“That’s the most lifelike wax figure I ever saw,” said somebody in the crowd that had gathered in front of the display window. “It winks its eyes.”

“It has genuine eye-lashes, too,” said another.

“It’s hair is jute,” observed a third.

“Jute nothing! That’s real hair. But its mouth is too large and its cheeks are a little too red. They always overdo it when they attempt to imitate nature.”

“It’s a good imitation,” said an old gentleman, surveying the figure critically through his glasses; “the best I ever saw. But the movement of the eyes to too mechanical, and one of them is a trifle out of focus.

At this juncture the wax figure, after a brief preliminary paroxysm, sneezed violently, and the procession moved on.

Chicago [IL[ Tribune 29 April 1894: p. 38

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Lady’s Social Diplomacy: 1895

Romney, George, 1734-1802; A Hand Holding a Letter

Social Diplomacy.

New York Tribune.

Diplomacy ranks next to tact in social ethics, and to be a successful hostess with limited means nowadays In New York requires almost the brains of a Machiavelli. How little Mrs. Z.–who lives in a bandbox of a house, with only a parlor maid to serve at her dainty table–manages to get the smartest people to dine with her en petit comité, whenever she will, apparently is a constant source of amusement and irritation to her rich neighbor, Mrs. Midas. The latter, despite her chef and her millions, sometimes finds it hard work to collect enough guests for her heavy entertainments twice or thrice during the season, and her own invitations are few and far between, whereas Mrs. Z. drives out whenever she is not entertaining at home.

“What do you suppose is the secret of her success?” exclaimed one of her friends. “Certainly she seems to have very few substantial advantages. She is comparatively poor, she is hardly even pretty, though It must be admitted she is very chic, but no more so than many others, She is certainly ‘sympatica,’ but so are a score of people I could name. Her house is a dear, but as a man said the other day, there is ‘hardly room in it to swing a cat,’ while her dinners, which are, of course, perfect in their way, are simplicity itself. What is her especial attraction is absolutely inexplicable, and yet it is there. or she could not pick and choose among the most exclusive people as she undoubtedly does.”

“My dear,” answered her companion, “it is tact combined with diplomacy and I will give you an instance of the latter quality, which is, of course, only one out of many. She told me this herself, so I need not hesitate to repeat it. Wishing to secure, for a special occasion, Mr.—, the celebrated author, who is a somewhat surly lion, and seldom condescends to roar at any one’s table except at that of Mrs. B., the pretty widow he wants to marry, Mrs. Z. cast about in her mind how she could engage him, by letting him know, before he had time to write a refusal, that Mrs. B. was invited, without directly saying so, which would, of course, be impossible. Suddenly an inspiration seized her: she wrote an invitation to Mrs. B. and put it into the wrong envelope, which, by an odd coincidence, happened to be addressed to Mr.—. Of course, as soon as the letters had gone to the post, she discovered her mistake, and wrote another note of explanation. Needless to say that both guests came and her dinner went off as her dinners always are sure to do, with the most perfect success.”

The Indianapolis [IN] Journal 6 December 1895: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Tact and diplomacy, indeed!  Mrs Daffodil must make a note of the hostess’s mixed-envelope scheme; she can think of several occasions on which it might be useful. Indeed, it has often been used as a plot device for stage, screen, and fiction. Comic valentines are particularly susceptible to being placed in the wrong envelopes, often with disastrous consequences.

The situation gave rise to much mirth in the joke columns of newspapers.


A lady who had two children sick with the measles wrote to a friend for the best remedy. The friend had just received a note from another lady, inquiring her method of making pickles. In reply the lady unfortunately placed the notes in the wrong envelopes, so that the person who inquired about the pickles received the remedy for the measles, and the anxious mother of the sick children read with horror the following: “Scald them three or four times in hot vinegar, and sprinkle them with salt, and in a few days they will be cured.”

The Osage City [KS] Free Press 3 May 1878: p. 3


A well-known minister in Chelsea, Mass., was greatly surprised, some time since at receiving an epistle from a lady friend at Cape Ann, containing sundry and divers female confidences relative to her approaching marriage, and an urgent request to send immediately a “hoop skirt.”

The minister was completely dumbfounded. It was a strange epistle for him to receive, but there was the superscription, Rev. ___, as plain as could be. In the course of the day, however, the mystery was cleared up, and it appeared that the fair correspondent had indicted two letters, one to the reverend gent requesting his presence to tie the marriage knot, and the other to a female friend, enlarging on the anticipated occasion, and requesting her services in procuring that highly useful article a hoop skirt. By some hocus-pocus the letters were placed in the wrong envelopes, but luckily the rightful owners exchanged letters, and the minister and hoop skirt were both there! Bangor (Me.) Times.

The States and Union [ Ashland OH] 16 May 1860: p. 4

The lady of rank in this last anecdote was singularly lacking in tact and diplomacy. She was also fortunate that she did not live in the days when Royalty could say “Off with her head,” with impunity:


A lady of rank had received the honor of an invitation to dinner from the Princess Mary of Teck, [Mother of Queen Mary, the present Queen’s grandmother.] for a day when she was engaged to dine with an old friend. She wrote two letters—one to the Princess in her sweetest manner, acknowledging the honor, &c.; another to her friend, beginning: “Such a bore, dear! Fat Mary has invited me to dinner on our day, and of course I must go.” To her horror, she learned by the next post that her friend had got the letter for the Princess in her friend’s envelope. The mischief was done, and she went prepared to throw herself at the feet of her royal hostess, when the Princess met her with open hands and smiling face as she said: “Fat Mary is very much pleased to see you, and hopes you won’t find her a bore.”

London Truth.

The Press Herald [Pine Grove PA] 22 October 1880: p. 1


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



The Wrong Cards: 1899

Visiting cards were carried in a pretty card case. This is carved mother-of-pearl c. 1860-1900 http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/178924.html?mulR=1481553220|12

Visiting cards were carried in a pretty card case. This is carved mother-of-pearl c. 1860-1900 http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/178924.html?mulR=1481553220|12


Some Amusing Situations Resulting from People Receiving the Wrong Cards.

The harm wrought by cards is not only confined to those used for games; the once innocuous visiting card has also been perverted from innocent uses and has become quite a factor in mischief-making.

“Do the best you can for five dollars, for that is all you will get,” wrote an infatuated but impecunious youth to a florist with whom he was in the habit of dealing, and inclosing another card, told the florist to send it and the flowers to his latest inamorata, but the cards got mixed somehow, and it was the message written for the florist which the young woman received and read to her great astonishment.

“Thank you for your flowers, Mr. Smith,” she said that evening. “I think he gave a good deal for five dollars, don’t you?” and as the young man stared amazed she walked off with his hated rival, while the slow dawn of comprehension gradually enlightened her unlucky suitor as to what had occurred. Still more funny and much more disastrous was the mistake of a valet employed by a youth of upper tendom, who took the wrong box to the house of a young woman, with the envelope his master had given him, which contained a card upon which was written: “Please wear these tonight. I chose what I thought would suit you best.” But what was the astonishment and indignation of the maiden upon opening the box to find within it—a pair of trousers! That the unfortunate donor hastened to explain the terrible mistake as soon as he discovered the blunder made no difference. The story got about. Society was in convulsions of laughter and he was never forgiven. Still another card story is the following:

“Will you take my address, sir?” said a popular hairdresser and barber, as a customer was leaving the shop. The latter pocketed the bit of pasteboard handed him mechanically, and with his mind on other things, and, freshly shaven and well groomed, proceeded on his way to make a round of visits.

“I think Miss S__ is expecting you,” said the footman, as he glanced at the card given to him by this youth, “but if you will wait a minute I will see if it is all right.”

“Deuced odd,” soliloquized the visitor, as he walked into the drawing room. A second after the servant reappeared.

“Will you please walk upstairs; Miss S___ is in the front room,” he said. Thinking that the sitting-room might be upstairs the visitor followed the man unsuspectingly and not until he was ushered into a prettily furnished bedroom and saw a young lady sitting before a glass in a pink dressing gown with her hair down her back, did he realized there had been a mistake. He had given the footman the card which the hairdresser had thrust upon him. N.Y. Tribune.

The Wyandott Herald [Kansas City, KS] 30 March 1899: p. 4

A gentleman's visiting cards. National Trust Collections

A gentleman’s visiting cards. National Trust Collections

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The etiquette of visiting cards was rigidly codified and mistakes might too easily occur, as we have seen above. Here are some of the regulations for 1896:


Every woman who desires to be up in the usages of good form, should, if she is not to the manner born, study the etiquette of card-leaving. The rules which govern such things are as immutable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, although from one season to another there is apt to be a few trifling changes.

In cities, where one has a large circle of acquaintances, visits of ceremony must necessarily be paid, but not with frequency. It is a breach of etiquette to invite anyone to a social function without having first called. Many women who cling to the rigid code of etiquette make a point of calling or leaving cards upon those persons whose acquaintance they consider desirable.

However, even this ceremony is frequently omitted by those with a long visiting-list, who save themselves time and trouble by sending invitations to an afternoon tea or reception, to all whom they wish to keep on their visiting-list: those who do not receive cards, may take it as an intimation that further acquaintance is undesirable.

Women of fashion or business find it impossible to receive on any but certain days of the week, the day being printed upon their visiting-cards; to expect to be received at any other time, unless in the case of an intimate friend, would be a mistake. [We have seen how even a doll, “Mademoiselle Frou-Frou,” had her at-home days printed on her visiting cards.]

Persons who wish to adhere strictly to the truth, object to the term “not at home,” and believe that a lady should “beg to be excused.” “Not at home” means, according to the strict social code, that one is not receiving, and is impersonal and general. To “beg to be excused” seems somewhat of a personal affront, and might appear as if some particular person’s call was not acceptable.

When a stranger arrives in a distant city, it is proper to send cards apprising friends of his or her arrival. A change of address also necessitates the despatching of cards, for where time is precious, it is annoying to make a call in vain.

When leaving cards at a hotel, the name of the person upon whom one calls should be written across the top of the card, for the reason that it might otherwise go astray.

On regular reception days it would be quite incorrect to send one’s cards by the footman; one must call in person or not at all. In this country, where there are few men of leisure, it is an understood thing for a wife to leave her husband’s cards. She should leave one of her own and two of her husband’s, the latter for the master and mistress. The custom of leaving cards on every member of a large family has fallen into disuse, although many people still adhere to it; it is proper to do so upon the occasion of the initial call, but is quite unnecessary afterward.

Upon reception days, the visitor does not send her card by the servant, but, on entering or leaving, drops it in the card-receiver, which usually stands on the hall table. After a reception or tea it is not absolutely necessary to call, as attendance at that function takes the place of a visit.

In the case of a friend visiting at the house of a person with whom there has been no previous acquaintance, the courtesy of sending a card to the hostess should be extended; it is not, however, necessary that she should appear or acknowledge it in any way.

In large cities, the hours for calling are between three and six P.M.; it would be a solecism to call during the morning hours, except on business, or in the case of extreme intimacy. It is permissible for a gentlemen who has no other time at his disposal to pay a call in the evening.

It is indispensable that a call be made, not later than a week after a dinner; the French designate this as the visite de digestion. After every formal entertainment, such as a ball, wedding, or christening, cards should be left.

Godey’s Lady’s Book January, 1896

Some visiting cards, rather less correct, were ornamented with pretty lithographs.

Some visiting cards, rather less correct, were ornamented with pretty lithographs.

And yet, sometimes sending in the wrong card was all for the best:


And There was a Glorious Mistake Which, After All, Ended All Right.

“It might not always be pleasant to be taken for someone else,” said the man who asked for an experience, “but in my case it was the most delightful incident of my life. You see, it happened in this way. I was going to visit an interior town of some size and my neighbor, old Jo Peters, who was rich and crabbed and eccentric, but not a bad sort withal, asked me to call on a sister he had living there.

“’I ain’t seen her in twenty years’ he said to me ‘and like enough she don’t care a picayune whether she ever sees or hears of me or not, but I’d kind of like to know how she’s fixed since her husband died a spell ago. You might just skirmish round and see how the land lays.’

“When I reached F__, the western town in which Peter’s folks lived I attended to my business first and then went to call on his sister.

“Now, I am not in the habit of using cards when I make a call, like swell folks but I had a business card and it struck me it would be about right to send that in to the folks and wait in the parlor to see what came of it.

“Well, such a screeching and shouting I never heard in my life and I began to think I had struck a lunatic asylum and a few minutes later I was sure of it, for three women came rushing into the room and they all began calling me Uncle Jo and hugging me within an inch of my life.

“’One at a time,’ I said, for though the mother was handsome, the girls were just peaches and cream, and it was hard for me to tell them that I was not their Uncle Jo. I had sent in his business card instead of my own and that’s how they made the mistake. The girls seemed to think it a good joke, but the widow was awfully flustrated. [sic] However, the next time I kissed her it wasn’t any mistake.”

Knoxville [TN] Journal 30 August 1896: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


Trifles Which Try the Temper: 1892



The incurably tidy person in a home is almost as tiresome us the inveterately untidy. The one puts every possession you have into some perfectly proper place, but one which it would never have occurred to you to choose for it; the other never can spend ten minutes in any room without bestrewing it with unnecessary odds and ends— both are unreasonably trying to the temper. The friend who talks every trivial subject through and through, plagues us just quite as heartily as the person from whom no more than a bald comment on the most notable occurrence can be extracted.

Worse than either is she who repeats every remark we make, by way of answer, “The Browns were quite well, were they?” “Mrs Jones’ cold was worse, was it?” “You went to the Smiths’, did you?” till your harmless speech is transformed in your mind to a savage one.

Who does not know the worry of an acquaintance who finishes every sentence before you are halfway through it? “I had a delightful afternoon yesterday—” you begin. “—At the twopenny concert? Oh, yes, it was lovely,” your visitor says, when you did not even know there was such a thing as a twopenny concert! Or else, “I think this weather is—” “Atrocious— yes, it really is,” says your friend. You were going to say “delightfully bracing” but that is nothing.

The people whose tastes are never the same for six months together are tiresome, too. An elderly visitor, perhaps, to whom one wishes to make the house agreeable, comes to stay, and mentions that he always sleeps with his head at the bottom of the bed and his feet where the pillows usually are, and things are so arranged for him. Before his next visit one gives lessons to the housemaid, and the room is prepared amidst the gigglings of the maids in this eccentric fashion. He comes, and in five minutes rings the bell, and with upraised eye-glass inquires why his couch is thus topsy-turvied?  He has changed, and forgotten the fad of yore, but it is a “little way” that is provoking to his hostess. A lady who has travelled a great deal takes lemon in her milkless and sugarless tea. We bear it in mind, and when she comes a year later arrange and present cut lemons with pardonable pride. Alas! “Milk, if you please, and plenty of sugar,” says the dame in an injured tone before a roomful of people. Her whilom “little way” has faded from her mind.

The people who find some fault with everything you do, whose praise always has the sting of a “but” at the end which transmutes the whole into a reproof, the people who ask your advice, request addresses, patterns, information, lists of books, and never take any scrap of all for use, are provoking. The acquaintances who talk of what has befallen Augustus, Wilhelmina, Lady Flora, Basil, Cyprus, Amelia, or Lord Eustace, as if you knew all about them, when you have no faintest idea of their personality, plague you much. The girl who never seems to enjoy any amusement you provide for her, and who never observes such small courtesies as writing to acknowledge a gift, or recording her safe return after a visit, the one who covers sheets of paper with accounts of the merest trifles, the person who is effusively friendly at one time and apparently forgets your name at another: all these things provoke one to disproportionate wrath.

Bruce Herald, 24 June 1892: p 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: So many things these days provoke one to disproportionate wrath, although “disproportionate” is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Mrs Daffodil recently spoke to a businesswoman who, twice in the space of a single day, was forced to spend an hour negotiating a network of electronically-voiced operators, only to find, in the end, that the department she required was closed.  Why, she wonders, was it not possible for the mechanical gate-keeper to explain that important detail at the very beginning of the conversation? She has penned a strong letter to the Times and to the companies involved, but, of course, such trifles matter only to those who are obliged to waste their valuable time dealing with the incompetent.

In the 10th century, a Japanese court lady named Sei Shonagon kept a delightfully waspish diary, including a list of “Hateful things.”  A few excerpts show that there is nothing new under the sun:

One is in a hurry to leave, but one’s visitor keeps chattering away. If it is someone of no importance, one can get rid of him by saying, “You must tell me all about it next time”; but, should it be the sort of visitor whose presence commands one’s best behavior, the situation is hateful indeed.

A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses all sorts of subjects at random as though he knew everything.

One is in the middle of a story when someone butts in and tries to show that he is the only clever person in the room. Such a person is hateful, and so, indeed, is anyone, child or adult, who tries to push himself forward.

One is telling a story about old times when someone breaks in with a little detail that he happens to know, implying that one’s own version is inaccurate — disgusting behavior!

One is just about to be told some interesting piece of news when a baby starts crying.

Mrs Daffodil would be fascinated to hear what “little ways” provoke her readers to wrath. Mrs Daffodil believes that the proper term in the States is “pet peeve,” which seems both utterly inadequate and yet apropros for the ordeal of being “pecked to death by ducks.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


The Debutante’s First Dinner: 1898

The Debutante, Edward Robert Hughes 1886

The Debutante, Edward Robert Hughes 1886


A Debutante’s Infelicity.  

Characters :  

Marian Ashhurst: A Debutante  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam: A Society Man

 Jack: Miss Ashhurst’s Brother

 Alice: A Friend  

Scene. — A coupé, in which the debutante, a bewildering mass of white satin and soft furs, is being driven rapidly to her destination.  

Debutante [in a funk]— Oh, dear, how cold my hands are! And my throat’s so dry I have to swallow every five seconds. I’ve forgotten all Jack’s advice, too. What shall I do? Good gracious, here we are! [Breathes a silent prayer, grabs her gloves, fan, etc., frantically, and vanishes within a brilliantly lighted mansion.]  

Lackey — [opening door] — Second floor, front, please.  

[Debutante rushes past him up the stairs, fearful of being late, and hurries into the dressing-room. Perceives several figures in dainty gowns, but brushes by them, oblivious of everything.]  

Alice [out two years] — Why, Marian, don’t you know me? Is this your first dinner? Aren’t you frightened? But no, you look as calm as an old campaigner. I want you to meet Miss ___ . [Introduces her to the others.]  

Debutante [bowing and smiling nervously] — I am glad you think, Alice, I look calm. Frankly, it’s all I can do to keep my teeth from chattering.  

Alice — What nonsense ! But what are we waiting for? Let’s go down. [The debutante trails reluctantly in the rear.]  

Voices — How do you do? How are you? Let me present. Allow me to introduce, etc.  

Hostess— Ah ! Miss Ashhurst ! So glad to see you! Allow me to present Mr. Van Luydam Beedam.  

Miss Ashhurst [who wonders vaguely why she thinks at that moment of Jack in one of his tempers] — How do you do?  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam— Miss Ashhurst, I believe I have the pleasure of taking you in to dinner.  

[Miss Ashhurst is saved the awkwardness of a reply by dinner being announced.]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [to himself]— She’s pretty, but, Jove! I shall have to wring every word out of her. I know that sort. [Aloud.] Let us consider. Miss Ashhurst, that we have discussed all the usual topics — the weather, the opera, the last new book — and let’s promote ourselves to a more intimate understanding and discuss each other. We will each give a personal sketch. Now you begin.  

Miss Ashhurst [whom nobody could put at her ease] — No, please, I can’t, really ; you begin. [Finds that she is the last girl to draw off her gloves, and tugs away frantically.]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [resignedly]— Well, I’ll account for myself, so as to give you courage. I am nothing if not commonplace. I live in a most respectable quarter of the town, with a most unimpeachable parent, and all my surroundings from childhood have been of an extreme propriety and spotless virtue.  

Miss Ashhurst [to herself] — Heavens ! I’ve used some other fork instead of the oyster-fork! What shall I do? I’m sure he saw it. [Aloud.] Tell me some more — do.  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam, [flattered] — Such environments ought to have been my ruin, but I was far too lazy, and I am at present merely a harmless butterfly. [Looks at his companion and encounters a stony stare of horror.] What can be the matter with her? Is she ill? [Goes on talking, bravely, if disconnectedly,]  

Miss Ashhurst [to herself] — What is that creeping up my neck? [Follows it cautiously with her hand, and encounters an atom of an insect. Why did she wear those violets?]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [to himself] — Thank heavens, she has taken off that look! [Aloud.] Now, really, it is your turn.  

Miss Ashhurst [lying recklessly]— I’ve been out three years. I used to be fearfully nervous and easily rattled, but I have gotten over that entirely. [Again that feeling on her neck. It can’t be — but it is!]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [to himself]— Most extraordinary young person. There’s that expression again. [Aloud.] Please go on, you’re doing finely.  

[Miss Ashhurst seizing opportunity, when her neighbor is helping himself to something, to take off her violets and drop them under the table.]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [turning]— Why, Miss Ashhurst, where are your violets?  

Miss Ashhurst [blushing]— They were faded, so I threw them away.  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [to himself] — That’s a lie. [Aloud.] Excuse me for being personal, Miss Ashhurst, but you have eaten absolutely nothing.  

Miss Ashhurst [who shivers at the mere mention of food] — What an idea! I’ve eaten enormously.  

Mr. Van  Luydam Beedam [to himself ]— Jove! That’s another. [Aloud.] Aren’t you going to throw any more light on your character?  

Miss Ashhurst— No, really, there is nothing else to tell. [To herself] Oh! where is my slipper? I kicked it off because it hurt, and now I can’t find it. [Peers desperately under the table.]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam — Have you dropped your glove, or anything? Let me get it. [Stoops down.] 

Miss Ashhurst [to herself] — He must not find it! [Aloud.]  No, indeed, here they both are. [Holds her gloves up eagerly.]  

[She sees her hostess give the signal for departure. She must conceal her loss. Nods adieu to Mr. Van Luydam Beedam and finds out to her cost that there is a difference between a French heel and no slipper!]  

Mr. Van Luydam Beedam [to himself as he lights a cigar and sighs contentedly] — I wonder if that walk of hers is natural, or cultivated? 

Scene. — The drawing-room. The gentlemen have joined the ladies, and the talk flows on smoothly. The door is opened, and on the threshold appears the rigid figure of the butler, bearing a tray on which a white satin slipper (surely a No. 6) rests conspicuously. Tableau.]  

Scene. — Miss Ashhurst’s home. Time — midnight.

Mrs. Ashhurst [comforting a weeping figure] — Don’t cry, Marian. The first plunge is always the coldest.  

Miss Ashhurst [between sobs] — Oh — mummie — is there — are there — any biscuits — in — the house?


 The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 18 April 1898

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil previous told of the exhausting life of the Society Beauty with its endless round of balls and calls. One hopes that Miss Ashhurst’s next foray into company will be made in more comfortable shoes.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.