Sivut kuvina



BY F. F. B.


In the course of a long day's walk through the streets of this great metropolis, it would be difficult to select from the number of our pretty cockneyesses a prettier little creature than Kate Crosby. Without one good feature, without the slightest pretension to beauty, still Kate Crosby, with her auburn hair, laughing eye, turned-up nose, and clear complexion, was pretty. Kate was not tall; in truth, she was rather short in stature. But what mattered that ? Not a girl in all London could boast so neat a figure, or so small a foot and ankle. In a word then, Kate was pretty, good humoured, happy, and, we are bound to confess, somewhat mischievous. She worked as an embroideress for a house in Regent Street, and lived with her mother in some street, name unknown, near the New Road. Kate had the reputation of being a coquette ; some ill-natured people went further, and affirmed that she had a round half-dozen of admirers, to whom she gave equal encouragement. The world was wrong for once-in spite of her turned-up nose, her neat figure, her pretty foot and ankle, and her coquettish air, Kate was good, honest, and virtuous—loved her old mother dearly, and, as she herself expressed it, “ would sew the very fingers off her hands” in order to earn the wherewithal to buy her one of the numerous comforts required by old age. Kate had many admirers—how could it be otherwise ? Her choice, however, was soon made; and it was ere long whispered amongst Kate's friends that, as soon as she and Edward Waller (only son of a small but wellto-do-in-the-world tradesman carrying on business near Regent Street) had saved money enough to take a shop and set up in business on their own account, the wedding was to take place. In the meantime, the lovers made themselves as happy as under the circumstances they were able, and, as lovers generally do, quarrelled, and made it up, and quarrelled again, after the most approved fashion.

Having introduced our heroine to our readers, we must now beg them to fancy themselves for a time in Kate's room, one fine June evening. Kate is surrounded by young ladies, who have dropped in, to work, as they profess, but as any one who heard the noise which is going on would say, to talk. Small people ape great ones, and the conversation has turned upon a topic, at this present very foolish season a favourite with all, great and small, French and English-let us listen to it.

“Every one is mad about this polka,” said a fat girl, whom we shall call Sophy. “ Those who can dance it, are giving polka parties; those who can't, are giving I don't know how much a lesson to learn it."

Yes,” rejoined a little artificial-flower maker, “I was invited to a ball at the house of an ivory-turner the other night, and they did nothing but dance it all the evening—no quadrilles, no waltzes, no anything, except this eternal polka.”

“ I wish the polka was far enough off,” observed another of our friends, "for there is a girl, who has the room over me, who is always dancing it—morning, noon, and night-thump, thump, thump, over my head-she is always at it!"


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Everyone is mad, that's certain,” said Kate. “ There is scarcely a house to which I take home work from Regent Street, in which they have not just had, or are not just going to have, a polka party ; even the butcher round the corner admires it, and the milkman who supplies us told me only this morning that he was learning it, but that it was

All the world dances the polka, why should not we give a ball, and try it ?"

“We give a ball !” cried all the young ladies, with one voice.
“ And why not ?" said Kate.

“ Well you are a clever girl, Kate, but I really cannot think how you mean to manage this.

“ Listen to my plan,” answered Kate. “ First of all, I know my mother will let us have the use of the whole house if we want it, so we will turn all the furniture out of this room, and put it into my bedroom; we shall then have plenty of space for dancing. Then there is the little back room, which will do for a cloak-room, and for the ladies to change their shoes in; and the supper may be laid out in the parlour--for you know we must have a supper."

"Oh! of course," interrupted the fat Sophy. “I only go to dances for the sake of the eating.”

“ Well! the supper, the music, and lights will cost something, so I vote we have a subscription, and if we can raise money enough, we will have a ball."

This proposition of Kate's met with great applause, and the young ladies had immediate recourse to their pockets, in order to see what each could afford to subscribe. However, on consideration, it was determined that a committee of their most intimate female acquaintances should meet the next evening in Kate's room, that each young lady should bring as much money as she could spare, and that if the funds were found to be adequate, the notes of invitation should be then written, sent, and all final arrangements left to Kate. Well, the next night came, and the committee, composed of about twentysix young ladies—milliners, flower-makers, embroideresses, bonnetmakers, lace-makers, and what not-arrived in Kate's room; the proceedings of the meeting commenced, and amidst the greatest suspense and excitement the various subscriptions were handed in. The sum amounted only to three pounds sterling, but this seemed in the eyes of these poor girls a very tolerable sum, the money was handed over to Kate, who undertook to make all the necessary purchases. The day was fixed, and the fat Sophy, who bore the reputation of being an excellent penwoman, sat down to write the invitations; one form served for all—“Miss Crosby hopes for the honour of Mr. 's company to a dance on the evening of next Wednesday"with a “P.S. : Those who do not arrive before 9 o'clock, will not be allowed to dance the polka;" Kate observing that this would be the only way to make the gentlemen punctual. The blanks were filled up with the names of the favoured admirers of the respective young ladies, and the notes despatched.

6s And now, ladies,” said Kate, “ leave me to make all my årrangements. Off with you all! Beg, borrow, or steal lessons in the polka, but mind you are all perfect on Wednesday."

The day on which this important meeting took place was Friday, and during the five long days which were to intervene between that day and the Wednesday, but little work was done or money earned by


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the young projectors of this famous party. The principals in the several establishments in which the young ladies worked were at their wits' end; they heard nothing from morning to night but disquisitions on the probable delights of Kate's ball, discussions on the dresses to be worn on this eventful evening, doubts as to the capacities of both ladies and gentlemen to dance the true polka, wonderings as to what tune the musicians would choose—whether it would be Jullien's Polka, Tolbecque’s Polka, the Opera Polka, or which of the thousand polkas -in short Kate Crosby's Polka Party engrossed the thoughts of these young ladies, just as much as many other polka parties engross the thoughts of many other young ladies in a somewhat more exalted rank.

As for Kate, she thought only of finding out a patent plan for making 31. go as far as 5l., and dreamt, night and day, of nothing but the means whereby her ball should be as successful and as brilliant as possible. On Tuesday, (the day before the ball,) Kate thought it high time to make her calculations, and set to work in good earnest. “First of all,” said she to herself, “we must have a good light in the passage, on the stairs, and in the dancing-room; for, unless a ball is well lighted, it is never gay. Then I must have something substantial for the gentlemen-a fowl, a ham, a lobster, some meat pies, salad, &c.; some sweets for the ladies—some cakes, trifle, &c.; and then the wine, the coffee dear me! I never shall have enough money! Never mind, I can add a little more from my own stock, and make my old brown dress last a little longer.” Well, after having reflected for some time, Kate drew up her estimate as follows:

8. d.
Hire of two chandeliers for the dancing-room, lamps, oil, &c.
Candles, best composition, at 1s. 2d. a pound, 3lb.
Wine, for negus, best Marsala, at 24s., half-dozen
Sapper-Lobsters, three at 2s. a-piece .


Lemons, nutmegs, sugar, &c.
Musicians, fiddle and flageolet
Extras, for bread, cheese, &c. &c.


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So, at an expense of 31. 9s. 2d., Kate thought that she should be able to give a good—nay, a splendid ball and supper; and during the remainder of the evening she contentedly occupied herself in the manufacture of an appropriate dress for the occasion.

At length the great day arrived, and Kate set out to make the necessary purchases; but first of all, in order to insure a musician, she tripped off towards Somers Town, to find out a fiddler who had been recommended to her, and who for six shillings a-night attended with his violin, and furnished a flageolet player and all.

This must be the house,” said Kate to herself (as she stood before a very tumble-down building); it is certainly No. - Chapel-street, Somers Town; but I wonder how any music can dwell here. However, we must not expect to find a musician who attends at 6s. a-night living in a palace.”

The entrance to the house was by a dark alley; and down this, Kate groped her way, until she encountered some substance bearing, as far as she could distinguish, the outward appearance of a woman, (very dirty.)

“Does Mr. Quaver live here?” said Kate, in her blandest tone, for, to tell the truth, the poor little girl was somewhat afraid.

“What!" was the answer, in a coarse voice,“ do you mean the musicianer man?"

Yes,” rejoined Kate, “ if you please.”

Oh, he lives in the cellar, but he's nearly dead by this; mind your eye, Miss, as you go down the ladder, or maybe you'll be dead too, soon."

Poor Kate, half frightened at the place and company she had got into, descended the steps into the cellar as well as she could, but what a scene presented itself! On the floor of a miserable room, or rather a cellar, containing scarcely an atom of furniture, on a heap of rags, called by courtesy a bed, a sick man was lying. At his side stood a young and rather pretty woman in tears, and two children—a little boy about eight years old, and a little girl barely five-pale, halfstarved, and looking as ill, all three of them, as the poor man on the bed. Poor Kate was quite taken aback, and thinking she had made some mistake said, “ I was looking for Mr. Quaver, a musician who plays the violin at dances, and a woman in the passage directed me here."

I am Mr. Quaver. I play the violin at dances,” said the poor fellow, from the bed, in a weak and tremulous voice.

6 When do you want me for?"

“ For this evening,” said Kate; “ but if you are ill-" « Oh, miss !” said the young woman,

my husband is very, very ill; he has been out night after night in order to earn enough to pay our rent; he has worn himself out, and now he is ill. We have struggled long and hard, but we have met with nothing but misfortunes, and our landlord is going to sell us up to-morrow! oh! we are very, very wretched,” and here the poor woman burst into tears. Poor Kate could not help weeping too; but remembering that this would do no good, she dried her tears and asked, how much the landlord claimed.“ Nearly four pounds,” was the answer, "and my poor husband is too ill to earn this sum.”

“ And I,” said the little boy, “ can't play the flageolet without father to play with me.”

Kate thought for a moment, but her mind was soon made up : shall be back directly,” said she, and ran off in great haste.

It was the work of about a quarter of an hour for Kate's nimble feet to run home and back again to Somers Town, including the time requisite for adding to the 31. subscribed for the expenses of the ball, an additional ll. from her own private stock. Without waiting to take breath, she entered the cellar of the poor musician, placed the money upon the table, and said, “ There, pay your landlord, dry your tears, and get your husband well as soon as you can.

We can dance without music, and be very happy without supper, I dare say.”

The poor people scarce knew how to express their gratitude, but Kate rushed out, saying, in a cheerful tone, “ Good bye; I'll call again and see how you are,” and regained her own room joyous and light, as every one must be who has just done a good action.

For some time Kate sat thinking of the poor people whom she had just relieved, but suddenly she recollected that her young friends would soon arrive, so she put the room in order, and set about dressing, mightily amused with the idea of the consternation of those who, ex

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pecting a supper, might have omitted to dine. The toilette achieved,

. Kate entered the room, and having lit a single candle, placed it on the chimney-piece; this, doubtless, did not render the ball-room very brilliant, but it was the last candle Kate possessed, so she was een obliged to be content. About half-past seven the young ladies began to arrive, and many expressions of dissatisfaction were heard on the staircase. “ Kate! Kate! here we are; let us have a light; where on earth are all your lamps? It is very disagreeable to climb up a. dark staircase with one's best things on,” &c. &c.

Kate lighted them in with her single candle, but on entering the room, the expressions of surprise were redoubled. “Why Kate, where are the chandeliers? it's as dark here as on the stairs; what. have you been thinking of ?"

To all this Kate replied, “Wait a bit, ladies; the lamps are not yet eome.”

By and by, the gentlemen arrived, and seemed greatly surprised to see the room so dark; the ladies became very impatient, and assailed poor Kate on every side. “Why don't the lamps and the candles come?” said one; "and the music?" said another; "and the supper, and the wine, and the coffee?” said the fat Sophy. To all which Kate quietly replied, “Wait a bit ; have patience.” But telling people to have patience is not always the way to inspire them with that useful feeling. The ladies all got very cross, and the gentlemen increased their ill humour, by laughing in an under-tone and in a most provoking manner.

At length, seeing that neither supper, lights, wine, nor musician arrived, they all lost patience, and Sophy, going up to Kate, said, " My dear Kate, we left all to you, and you have done nothing. What does it mean? How have you spent our subscription?"

Poor Kate blushed, hesitated, and at last said, “ The fact is, ladies, I have lost the purse containing our money.” At this announcement the consternation was great; the gentlemen laughed more provokingly than ever, the ladies sulked, and some of them all but said they did not believe a word of Kate's story. Kate was getting angry, when. suddenly Edward (who of course was of the party) clapped his hands, the door opened, and a procession entered, composed of men and boys, bearing chandeliers, ready for lighting; trays full of viands, ready for eating; bottles, containing wine and other liquids, ready for drinking, and, to crown all, two fiddlers, a fifer, and a cornet-a-pistons player; in short, lights, supper, and music, in both quantity and quality sufficient to please and satisfy a party far more hard to be pleased than that assembled in our heroine's room.

“Oh, Kate!" cried all the girls, “ you wicked creature, you wished to frighten us; here is our music!" “And here is our supper,” said Sophy; “shan't we all be happy?"

Indeed,” said Kate rather more astonished than the others; “there must be some mistake; I have not ordered all these things!"

“Oh, don't tell us that; it's all very well, but we know better.'

All was confusion and perplexity, for Kate still assured them that she was as much at a loss to know whence these magnificent orders had proceeded. When, however, the noise, which had been tremendous, had somewhat subsided, Edward, after a short conference with some of the other young men in the room, said, “ Ladies, I vote we commence with supper, and dance afterwards. (This proposal was received:


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