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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, December 26, 1891   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI

VOL. 101

DECTEMBER 26, 1891

A QUEER CHRISTMAS PARTY.

I remember coming home and dressing to go out again. Of this so far I am sure. I remember too taking a cab; also the cab taking me. But oddly enough though I dined that evening with a very old friend, somehow I cannot for the life of me, at this moment, call to mind his name or remember where he lives.

[Illustration]

However, the evening was so remarkable that I at once sat down next day to record all that I could remember of this strange Christmas Party. Round the table were ROBERT ELSMERE, DORIAN GRAY, Sir ALAN QUATERMAIN, the MASTER of BALLANTREE, and other distinguished persons, including Princess NAPRAXINE, a charming woman, who looked remarkably well in her white velvet with a knot of old lace at her throat and a tea rose in her hair. Mrs. HAWKSBEE, too, looked smart in black satin, but in my opinion she was cut out by little DAISY MILLER, a sprightly young lady from America. My host (I wish I could remember his name) carried his love of celebrities so far, that even his servants were persons of considerable notoriety. His head butler, a man named MULVANEY, was an old soldier, who, with the two footmen (formerly his companions in arms) had been known in India by the name of "Soldiers Three."

"It was so good of you to come, although your husband had Russian influenza," remarked our host to ANNA KARENINA, who was seated on his left.

"My dear friend," she replied, "I was only too delighted; for really my husband cracks his finger joints so much more lately, and it makes me so nervous, that I often think, if it were not that Mr. WRONGSKY sometimes calls on my day at home, I am sure I should be bored to death!"

"Ah! I know what that is!" said HEDDA GABLER, nodding sympathetically. "My husband, when he heard I wanted to come to day, said 'Fancy that!' and I really felt I could have thrown something at him. They are so irritating," she added, with a glance at THÉRÈSE RAQUIN who was sitting very silent at the other end of the table softly caressing a fruit knife.

"Ah!" sighed DORIAN GRAY, as he dipped his white taper fingers in a red copper bowl of rose water. "I have had an exquisite life. I have drunk deeply of everything. I have crushed the grapes against my palate. And it has all been to me no more than the sound of music. It has not marred me. I am still the same. More so, if anything."

"I think we ought to understand one another, perhaps, Mr. GRAY," said ROBERT ELSMERE, with a quick sense of oppression. "I know your opinions of course from your books. You know what mine as an honest man must be. My conscience forbids me to discuss anything."

"My dear ELSMERE," returned DORIAN, "don't deceive yourself. Life is not governed by Will or Intention. Life has been my Art. I have set myself to music. My days have been my sonnets, and it has not hurt me. I am as good looking as ever." And with his cool, flower like hands, and his charming boyish smile, he lit a gold tipped cigarette, offering one to Princess NAPRAXINE.

She refused it, but produced a cigar case, embroidered with the arms of the NAPRAXINES, from which she took a very large cigar.

"I should like to take that fellow out on the river with me," muttered one of the boating trio to his friends.

"And drown him," said another.

"Or set MONTMORENCY at him," said the third.

These Three Men, who, on their arrival, had been rather bashful, had become, during the process of demolishing the Christmas pudding with fire brandy sauce, to which they helped themselves plentifully, the most cheerful of all the company. They talked and laughed loudly, alluded to Mr. ELSMERE as "Old Square toes"; and made no more disguise of the evident admiration with which Mrs. HAWKSBEE had inspired them, than they did of the violent dislike they had conceived for Mr. GRAY.

They were growing less and less able to control their actions, and I was not sorry when the time arrived for the ladies to retire, which they did rather earlier than they had intended doing, owing to a sudden display of ill temper on the part of DIANA of the Crossways... Continue reading book >>


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