“We might open all the blinds and screens,” suggested Agamemnon, “and make a vigorous onslaught and drive them all out at once.”
“I do believe there are more inside than out now,” said Solomon John.
“The wire nets, of course,” said Agamemnon, “keep them in now.”
“We might go outside,” proposed Solomon John, “and drive in all that are left. Then to-morrow morning, when they are all torpid, kill them and make collections of them.”
Agamemnon had a tent which he had provided in case he should ever go to the Adirondacks, and he proposed using it for the night. The little boys were wild for this.
Mrs. Peterkin thought she and Elizabeth Eliza would prefer trying to sleep in the house. But perhaps Elizabeth Eliza would go on with her paper with more comfort out of doors.
A student’s lamp was carried out, and she was established on the steps of the back piazza, while screens were all carefully closed to prevent the mosquitoes and insects from flying out. But it was of no use. There were outside still swarms of winged creatures that plunged themselves about her, and she had not been there long before a huge miller flung himself into the lamp and put it out. She gave up for the evening.
Still the paper went on. “How fortunate,” exclaimed Elizabeth Eliza, “that I did not put it off till the last evening!” Having once begun, she persevered in it at every odd moment of the day. Agamemnon presented her with a volume of “Synonymes,” which was of great service to her. She read her paper, in its various stages, to Agamemnon first, for his criticism, then to her father in the library, then to Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin together, next to Solomon John, and afterward to the whole family assembled. She was almost glad that the lady from Philadelphia was not in town, as she wished it to be her own unaided production. She declined all invitations for the week before the night of the club, and on the very day she kept her room with eau sucree, that she might save her voice. Solomon John provided her with Brown’s Bronchial Troches when the evening came, and Mrs. Peterkin advised a handkerchief over her head, in case of June-bugs. It was, however, a cool night. Agamemnon escorted her to the house.
The Club met at Ann Maria Bromwick’s. No gentlemen were admitted to the regular meetings. There were what Solomon John called “occasional annual meetings,” to which they were invited, when all the choicest papers of the year were re-read.
Elizabeth Eliza was placed at the head of the room, at a small table, with a brilliant gas-jet on one side. It was so cool the windows could be closed. Mrs. Peterkin, as a guest, sat in the front row.
This was her paper, as Elizabeth Eliza read it, for she frequently inserted fresh expressions:—