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away from the contemplation of their own
domestic interests, and the faithful remembrance
of their own particular friends.

It is the interval, let us say, between the
removal of the fish and the appearance of
the meat. The most amusing man of the
company has been talking with great sprightliness
and effect, has paused for a moment to
collect his ideas before telling one of the
good stories for which he is famous, and is
just ready to begin, when Miss Rose stops
him and silences all her neighbours by anxiously
addressing her sister, who sits opposite
to her at the table.

"Violet, dear."

"Yes, dear."

(Profound silence. The next course not
coming in. Nobody wanting to take any
wine. The amusing man sitting back in his
chair, dogged and speechless. The hostess
nervous. The host smiling uneasily on Miss
Rose, who goes on with the happy artlessness
of a child, as if nobody but her sister was

"Do you know I have made up my mind
what I shall give mamma's Susan when she is

"Not a silk dress? That's my present."

"What do you think, dear, of a locket with
our hair in it?"


(Silence of the tomb. Hostess angry. Host
uneasy. Guests looking at each other. No
meat. Amusing man suffering from a dry
cough. Miss Violet, in her turn, addresses
Miss Rose across the table.)

"Rose, I met Ellen Davis to-day."

"Has she heard from Clara Jones?"

"Yes, the Pervincklers are not coming."

"Tiresome people! And the Griggses?"

"If Jane Griggs's cold gets better, she and
that odious cousin of hers are sure to come.
Uncle Frank, of course, makes his usual

So the simple-hearted sisters prattle on
in public; so do they always carry their
own innocent affections and interests about
with them into the society they adorn; so
do they unconsciously and extinguishingly
cast the pure sunshine of their young hearts
over the temporary flashes of worldly merriment,
and the short-lived blaze of dinner
eloquence. I might accumulate further
proofs of the characteristic virtues of my
domestic lot; but, the effort is surely needless.
Without another word of preliminary
recommendation, I can confidently submit
the Miss Duckseys to what I anticipate will
be a remarkably brisk public competition. I
can promise the two fortunate youths who
may woo and win them, plenty of difficulties
in weaning their affections from the family
hearth, with showers of tears and poignant
bursts of anguish on the wedding day. All
properly-constituted bridegrooms, however,
feel, as I have been given to understand,
inexpressibly comforted and encouraged by a
display of violent grief on the part of the
bride when she is starting on her wedding
tour. And, besides, in the particular case of
the Miss Duckseys, there would always be the
special resource of taking brother George
into the carriage, as a sure palliative, during
the first few stages of the honeymoon trip.

Here, for the present at least, I think it
desirable to pause before I exhibit any more
samples of My Spinsters. If I show too
much at a time, of the charming stock-in-trade
which it is my privilege to assort, overlook,
and dispose of, I risk depreciating the
value of my collection of treasuresI throw
a suspicion on their varietyI commit the
fatal profanation of making them appear easy
of access to all the world. Let me, therefore,
be content with the cautious proceeding
of offering only three lots at a time. Let
me reserve for future opportunities my
two single ladies, whose charms are matured,
my lovely Tomboy, my three travelled Graces,
and all my other spinsters not included in
the preceding categories, to say nothing of
my two prize-widows, who cannot possibly
be referred to any category at all. Being a
methodical as well as a harmless old gentleman,
I think it may be as well to add, before
concluding, that I shall require practical
encouragement from my young bachelor
friends, in the shape of invitations to wedding
breakfasts, before I can consent to
appear in public again. I make no apology
for expressing myself in these decided terms,
for I think none is needed. It is clear to me
that somebody must keep the torch of
Hymen trimmed in our part of the world,
or it will be in imminent danger of going out
altogether. I trust to have the pleasure of
knowing, ere long, that I have made it flame
to some purpose by the few words I have
benevolently spoken here on the subject of
My Spinsters.


EVERYBODY thinks he knows what an egg
is; and, after much weary reading in many
languages, the inquirer learns that nobody
knows all the secrets hidden in an egg. Eggs
are the most puzzling things in nature. Eggs
become to profoundly curious minds, when
once they obtain glimpses of their secrets,
the most interesting things in nature.
Exploring a forest, or wandering on a sea shore,
we stumble over eggs, and in such unlooked-for
shapes and unlikely places that there are
no other things in the worlds of life which
excite half so frequently the question, "What
is this?" He is indeed a master of
comparative embryology, if such a man exist,
who knows all the sorts and shapes of eggs
when he sees them. Most people not merely do
not know eggs when they see them; they will
not believe they are what they are, when told.
Nor is this to be wondered at. The study of

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