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A Few Short Sketches by George Douglass Sherley

A Few Short Sketches By Douglass Sherley

Printed by John P. Morton & Co. Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.

MDCCCXCIII

COPYRIGHTED BY DOUGLASS SHERLEY, 1892

THOSE RUSSIAN VIOLETS

TO LADY VIOLET

I

THOSE RUSSIAN VIOLETS

There had been a brilliant reception at the house of Mrs. Adrian Colburn in honor of her guest--a most attractive young woman--from the East. The hours were brief, from five to seven. I had gone late and left early, but while there had made an engagement with Miss Caddington for the large ball to be given that night by the Boltons.

Miss Caddington was a _debutante_. She had been educated abroad, but had not lost either love of country or naturalness of manner. During the short but fiercely gay season from October to Christmas she had made many friends, and found that two or three lovers were hard to handle with much credit to herself or any real happiness to them.

She was not painfully conscientious, nor was she an intentional trifler; therefore she was good at that social game of lead on and hold off.

"Call at nine," she said, "and I will be ready."

But she was not ready at nine. The room where I waited was most inviting. There were several low couches laden with slumber-robes and soft, downy pillows, all at sweet enmity with insomnia. The ornaments were few but pleasing to the eye. Art and her hand-maiden, Good Taste, had decorated the walls. But there was a table, best of all, covered with good books, and before it, drawn in place, an easy-chair. An exquisite china lamp, with yellow shade, shed all the light that was needed. Everywhere there were feminine signs--touches that were delightful and unmistakable.

From somewhere there came a rich oriental odor. It intoxicated me with its subtle perfume. I picked up "After-Dinner Stories" (Balzac), then a translation from Alfred de Musset, an old novel by Wilkie Collins, "The Guilty River;" but still that mysterious perfume pervaded my senses and unfitted me for the otherwise tempting feast spread before me. I looked at the clock; it was nine thirty. I turned again to the table, and carelessly reached out for a pair of dainty, pale tan-colored gloves. Then I seized them eagerly and brushed them against my face; I had found the odor. The gloves were perfumed. They had been worn for the first time to the reception, and had been thrown there into a plate of costly percelain, to await her ladyship's pleasure and do further and final service at the ball. They bore the imprint of her dainty fingers, and they were hardly cold from the touch and the warmth of her pretty white hands. They seemed, as they rested there, like something human; and if they had reached out toward me, or even spoken a word of explanation regarding their highly perfumed selves, I should indeed have been delighted, but neither surprised nor dismayed.

But while the gloves did not speak, did not move, something else made mute appeal. Tossed into that same beautiful plate, hidden at first by the gloves, was a bunch, a very small bunch of Russian violets. Evidently they had been worn to the reception, and while I was wondering if she would wear them to the ball I heard a light step, the rustle of silken skirts, and I knew that my wait was ended.


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