How to Entertain a Social Party

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Excerpt from How to Entertain a Social Party: A Collection of Tableaux, Games, Amusing Experiments, Diversions, Card Tricks, Parlor Magic, Philosophical Recreations, Etc

Scene I.

Drawing-room with fire-place, &c., &c. Winter. Alice and Ethel discovered seated by the fire dressed extravagantly, in the height of the fashion. - They each hold a novel, and appear absorbed by it. - At the table Mary is seated, working or knitting.

Ethel. Oh, Alice! She has actually pushed him over the chalk-pit and killed him; and - imagine! he fell on the head of a gipsy sitting beneath, who was crushed by the descending body!

Alice. Horrid! The poor gipsy! What did she do afterwards?

Ethel. Oh, she went home to dinner, after gathering a bunch of bee-orchis flowers for a bouquet.

Alice. How intensely interesting!

Ethel. What is your book about? Is it as enthralling as mine?

Alice. Well, no, I don't fancy so. You see, not understanding banker's business, and railways, and directors, and all that, I can't feel so amused in reading about the swindling, but I fancy it will get better by-and-by. I think Delaval will be obliged to poison the whole Board of Directors in self-defence - he has forged to such an extent [yawns]. How Mary sits plodding at that knitting.

Ethel. Oh, you see mamma does not approve of novels for Mary; she says Mary must read heavy books. She's going to be a governess, you know.

Alice [kindly]. Poor girl! - but she might read a novel at her leisure, as well as knit. Here, Mary, I will lend you mine. [Offers the hook].

Mary [smiling]. No, thank you, dear Alice, I don't care to read about such wretched people. It would make me quite unhappy.

Alice. Ah, that's because you don't read enough novels. The first sensation novel I read made me feel quite unhappy; but now the most horrid things make no impression on me. I can't get them dreadful enough.

Mary. Dear Alice, are you not afraid of growing quite unfeeling? One's sensibility must be completely deadened by those books, if that is the case.

Ethel [mockingly]. Sensibility! Well, Mary, you are amusing! Who dreams of sensibility nowadays? Wouldn't Johnny chaff you, if he were here?

Johnny [who has entered unperceived]. No, he wouldn't, Thel. It is quite a blessing to find a girl who can feel at all, nowadays.

Ethel. What would you have? We have done with feminine weakness. The women of this country, Johnny, "nowadays," as you elegantly say, are equal to leading a forlorn hope.

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