Best American Humorous Short Stories
the annoyances of the evening; but now those troubles were over they felt rather inclined
to be merry about them.
"Dear mother," said Edward, "how I pitied you for having to endure Mrs. Watkinson's
perpetual 'ma'aming' and 'ma'aming'; for I know you dislike the word."
"I wish," said Caroline, "I was not so prone to be taken with ridiculous recollections. But
really to-night I could not get that old foolish child's play out of my head--
Here come three knights out of Spain
A-courting of your daughter Jane."
"I shall certainly never be one of those Spanish knights," said Edward. "Her daughter
Jane is in no danger of being ruled by any 'flattering tongue' of mine. But what a shame
for us to be talking of them in this manner."
They drove to Mrs. St. Leonard's, hoping to be yet in time to pass half an hour there;
though it was now near twelve o'clock and summer parties never continue to a very late
hour. But as they came into the street in which she lived they were met by a number of
coaches on their way home, and on reaching the door of her brilliantly lighted mansion,
they saw the last of the guests driving off in the last of the carriages, and several
musicians coming down the steps with their instruments in their hands.
"So there has been a dance, then!" sighed Caroline. "Oh, what we have missed! It is
really too provoking."
"So it is," said Edward; "but remember that to-morrow morning we set off for Niagara."
"I will leave a note for Mrs. St. Leonard," said his mother, "explaining that we were
detained at Mrs. Watkinson's by our coachman disappointing us. Let us console ourselves
with the hope of seeing more of this lady on our return. And now, dear Caroline, you
must draw a moral from the untoward events of to-day. When you are mistress of a
house, and wish to show civility to strangers, let the invitation be always accompanied
with a frank disclosure of what they are to expect. And if you cannot conveniently invite
company to meet them, tell them at once that you will not insist on their keeping their
engagement with you if anything offers afterwards that they think they would prefer;
provided only that they apprize you in time of the change in their plan."
"Oh, mamma," replied Caroline, "you may be sure I shall always take care not to betray
my visitors into an engagement which they may have cause to regret, particularly if they
are strangers whose time is limited. I shall certainly, as you say, tell them not to consider
themselves bound to me if they afterwards receive an invitation which promises them
more enjoyment. It will be a long while before I forget, the Watkinson evening."