It was called a house-warming, although the proprietor had not taken possession of the house with his family. The ball-room and most of the rooms were complete, and the building was, on the whole, in a good condition to receive a large company. The Major was the presiding genius of the festivities; and while the affair was in a way informal, and an assemblage of friends and neighbors of the owner, still he had made a judicious use of his authority, and had invited a good many rather prominent people from a distance. The evening of the occasion saw not only a numerous assemblage, but one in which the highest grades of society were fully represented.
As it was not strictly a ball, there was not the least impropriety in the straightest church-members—and they were strict, then—attending it; and they did. The sleighing was fine, and, as the usage was, the guests came early, and went early—the next morning. The barns, stables and neighboring houses were freely offered, and an efficient corps of attendants were on hand, while the absence of public-houses in the immediate neighborhood relieved the occasion of the presence of the unbidden rough element that would otherwise have volunteered an attendance.
The Markhams were there, with Julia, and the bevy of beautiful girls we saw with her at the store; Mrs. Ford from Burton, with some of her set; two or three from Chardon; the Harmons from Mantua; some of the Kings from Ravenna; two or three Perkinses from Warren, and many others. A rather showy young Mr. Greer, a gentleman of leisure, and who floated about quite extensively, knew everybody, and seemed on pleasant terms with them all, was among the guests.
The essential elements of pleasure and enjoyment—high and gay spirits, good-nature, with a desire to please and be pleased, where everybody was at their best, and where was a large infusion of good breeding—were present, and a general good time was the logical result.
There was a plenty of good music, and the younger part of the company put it to immediate and constant use. The style of dancing was that of the mediaeval time, between the stately and solemn of the older, and the easy, gliding, insipid of the present; and one which required, on the part of the gentlemen, lightness and activity, rather than grace, and allowed them great license in the matter of fancy steps. Two long ranks contra-faced, and hence contra dance—degenerated to country dance—was the prevailing figure; the leading couple commencing and dancing down with every other couple, until in turn each on the floor had thus gone through.
The cotillon, with its uniform step and more graceful style, had been already introduced by instructors, who had found short engagements under the severe reprobation of the Orthodox churches; but the waltz was unknown, except in name, and the polka, schottische, etc., had then never been mentioned on the Reserve.