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Grace E. King
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 104 pages of information about Balcony Stories.
of the rich, the very rich.  The unfettered development, the limitless choice of accessories, the confidence, the self-esteem, the sureness of expression, the simplicity of purpose, the ease of execution—­all these produce a certain effect of beauty behind which one really cannot get to measure length of nose, or brilliancy of eye.  This much can be said:  there was nothing in her that positively contradicted any assumption of beauty on her part, or credit of it on the part of others.  She was very tall and very thin with small head, long neck, black eyes, and abundant straight black hair,—­for which her hair-dresser deserved more praise than she,—­good teeth, of course, and a mouth that, even in prayer, talked nothing but commands; that is about all she had en fait d’ornements, as the modesties say.  It may be added that she walked as if the Reine Sainte Foy plantation extended over the whole earth, and the soil of it were too vile for her tread.  Of course she did not buy her toilets in New Orleans.  Everything was ordered from Paris, and came as regularly through the custom-house as the modes and robes to the milliners.  She was furnished by a certain house there, just as one of a royal family would be at the present day.  As this had lasted from her layette up to her sixteenth year, it may be imagined what took place when she determined to make her debut.  Then it was literally, not metaphorically, carte blanche, at least so it got to the ears of society.  She took a sheet of note-paper, wrote the date at the top, added, “I make my debut in November,” signed her name at the extreme end of the sheet, addressed it to her dressmaker in Paris, and sent it.

It was said that in her dresses the very handsomest silks were used for linings, and that real lace was used where others put imitation,—­around the bottoms of the skirts, for instance,—­and silk ribbons of the best quality served the purposes of ordinary tapes; and sometimes the buttons were of real gold and silver, sometimes set with precious stones.  Not that she ordered these particulars, but the dressmakers, when given carte blanche by those who do not condescend to details, so soon exhaust the outside limits of garments that perforce they take to plastering them inside with gold, so to speak, and, when the bill goes in, they depend upon the furnishings to carry out a certain amount of the contract in justifying the price.  And it was said that these costly dresses, after being worn once or twice, were cast aside, thrown upon the floor, given to the negroes—­anything to get them out of sight.  Not an inch of the real lace, not one of the jeweled buttons, not a scrap of ribbon, was ripped off to save.  And it was said that if she wanted to romp with her dogs in all her finery, she did it; she was known to have ridden horseback, one moonlight night, all around the plantation in a white silk dinner-dress flounced with Alencon.  And at night, when she came from the balls, tired, tired to death as only balls can render one, she would throw herself down upon her bed in her tulle skirts,—­on top, or not, of the exquisite flowers, she did not care,—­and make her maid undress her in that position; often having her bodices cut off her, because she was too tired to turn over and have them unlaced.

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