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Gala-days   By: (1833-1896)

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First Page:

GALA DAYS

by

Gail Hamilton

(Mary Abigail Dodge)

1863

CONTENTS

GALA DAYS A CALL TO MY COUNTRYWOMEN A SPASM OF SENSE CAMILLA'S CONCERT CHERI SIDE GLANCES AT HARVARD CLASS DAY SUCCESS IN LIFE HAPPIEST DAYS

GALA DAYS

PART I

Once there was a great noise in our house, a thumping and battering and grating. It was my own self dragging my big trunk down from the garret. I did it myself because I wanted it done. If I had said, "Halicarnassus, will you fetch my trunk down?" he would have asked me what trunk? and what did I want of it? and would not the other one be better? and couldn't I wait till after dinner? and so the trunk would probably have had a three days journey from garret to basement. Now I am strong in the wrists and weak in the temper; therefore I used the one and spared the other, and got the trunk downstairs myself. Halicarnassus heard the uproar. He must have been deaf not to hear it; for the old ark banged and bounced, and scraped the paint off the stairs, and pitched head foremost into the wall, and gouged out the plastering, and dented the mop board, and was the most stupid, awkward, uncompromising, unmanageable thing I ever got hold of in my life.

By the time I had zigzagged it into the back chamber, Halicarnassus loomed up the back stairs. I stood hot and panting, with the inside of my fingers tortured into burning leather, the skin rubbed off three knuckles, and a bruise on the back of my right hand, where the trunk had crushed it against a sharp edge of the doorway.

"Now, then?" said Halicarnassus interrogatively.

"To be sure," I replied affirmatively.

He said no more, but went and looked up the garret stairs. They bore traces of a severe encounter, that must be confessed.

"Do you wish me to give you a bit of advice?" he asked.

"No!" I answered promptly.

"Well, then, here it is. The next time you design to bring a trunk down stairs, you would better cut away the underpinning, and knock out the beams, and let the garret down into the cellar. It will make less uproar, and not take so much to repair damages."

He intended to be severe. His words passed by me as the idle wind. I perched on my trunk, took a pasteboard box cover and fanned myself. I was very warm. Halicarnassus sat down on the lowest stair and remained silent several minutes, expecting a meek explanation, but not getting it, swallowed a bountiful piece of what is called in homely talk, "humble pie," and said,

"I should like to know what's in the wind now."

I make it a principle always to resent an insult and to welcome repentance with equal alacrity. If people thrust out their horns at me wantonly, they very soon run against a stone wall; but the moment they show signs of contrition, I soften. It is the best way. Don't insist that people shall grovel at your feet before you accept their apology. That is not magnanimous. Let mercy temper justice. It is a hard thing at best for human nature to go down into the Valley of Humiliation; and although, when circumstances arise which make it the only fit place for a person, I insist upon his going, still no sooner does he actually begin the descent than my sense of justice is appeased, my natural sweetness of disposition resumes sway, and I trip along by his side chatting as gaily as if I did not perceive it was the Valley of Humiliation at all, but fancied it the Delectable Mountains. So, upon the first symptoms of placability, I answered cordially,

"Halicarnassus, it has been the ambition of my life to write a book of travels. But to write a book of travels, one must first have travelled."

"Not at all," he responded. "With an atlas and an encyclopaedia one can travel around the world in his arm chair."

"But one cannot have personal adventures," I said. "You can, indeed, sit in your arm chair and describe the crater of Vesuvius; but you cannot tumble into the crater of Vesuvius from your arm chair."

"I have never heard that it was necessary to tumble in, in order to have a good view of the mountain... Continue reading book >>




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