Best American Humorous Short Stories HTML version
Here they were also unsuccessful; the servant who came to the door telling them that the
ladies were particularly engaged and could see no company. So they left their second
letter and card and drove off, continuing their ride till they reached the Croton water
works, which they quitted the carriage to see and admire. On returning to the hotel, with
the intention after an hour or two of rest to go out again, and walk till near dinner-time,
they found waiting them a note from Mrs. Watkinson, expressing her regret that she had
not been able to see them when they called; and explaining that her family duties always
obliged her to deny herself the pleasure of receiving morning visitors, and that her
servants had general orders to that effect. But she requested their company for that
evening (naming nine o'clock as the hour), and particularly desired an immediate answer.
"I suppose," said Mrs. Morland, "she intends asking some of her friends to meet us, in
case we accept the invitation; and therefore is naturally desirous of a reply as soon as
possible. Of course we will not keep her in suspense. Mrs. Denham, who volunteered the
letter, assured me that Mrs. Watkinson was one of the most estimable women in New
York, and a pattern to the circle in which she moved. It seems that Mr. Denham and Mr.
Watkinson are connected in business. Shall we go?"
The young people assented, saying they had no doubt of passing a pleasant evening.
The billet of acceptance having been written, it was sent off immediately, entrusted to
one of the errand-goers belonging to the hotel, that it might be received in advance of the
next hour for the dispatch-post--and Edward Morland desired the man to get into an
omnibus with the note that no time might be lost in delivering it. "It is but right"--said he
to his mother--"that we should give Mrs. Watkinson an ample opportunity of making her
preparations, and sending round to invite her friends."
"How considerate you are, dear Edward"--said Caroline--"always so thoughtful of every
one's convenience. Your college friends must have idolized you."
"No"--said Edward--"they called me a prig." Just then a remarkably handsome carriage
drove up to the private door of the hotel. From it alighted a very elegant woman, who in a
few moments was ushered into the drawing-room by the head waiter, and on his
designating Mrs. Morland's family, she advanced and gracefully announced herself as
Mrs. St. Leonard. This was the lady at whose house they had left the first letter of
introduction. She expressed regret at not having been at home when they called; but said
that on finding their letter, she had immediately come down to see them, and to engage
them for the evening. "Tonight"--said Mrs. St. Leonard--"I expect as many friends as I
can collect for a summer party. The occasion is the recent marriage of my niece, who
with her husband has just returned from their bridal excursion, and they will be soon on
their way to their residence in Baltimore. I think I can promise you an agreeable evening,
as I expect some very delightful people, with whom I shall be most happy to make you
Edward and Caroline exchanged glances, and could not refrain from looking wistfully at
their mother, on whose countenance a shade of regret was very apparent. After a short