The small triangle of space between the two rooms, which to utilize had theretofore been an unsolved problem, served admirably as a station for the band; they could be heard in either apartment equally well. The small boudoirs, nooks, and corners, which were scattered here and there with lavish hand, did excellent duty as flirtation-boxes for those of the dancers who needed that refreshment; the only drawback being that one was never quite sure of privacy, on account of the complicated system of doors and entries that prevailed.
But, in spite of all objections, a dance at Abbie’s was the rallying-cry of the community. All the respectable people in town put on their newest clothes—and if they were new it did not so much matter what the style might be—and thronged, on foot or in wagon, to the boarding-house door. They came to have a good time, and they always succeeded in their object. What pigeon-wings were performed! what polkas perpetrated! what waltzes wrecked! How the long lines of the Virginia Reel, or “On the Road to Boston,” extended through the hall from end to end, and how the couples twisted, whirled, and scooted between them! How the call-man, with his violin under his chin, stopped playing to vociferate his orders, or anathematize some bewildered pair! How the old folks, sitting on chairs and benches along the walls, nodded and smiled and mumbled to one another as the ruddy faces of their descendants passed and repassed before them, and spoke to one another of like scenes thirty, or forty, or fifty years ago! How happy everybody was, and what a jolly noise they made!
As Cornelia and her papa approached the house, every window was alight, above and below. The door was thrown hospitably open, and the lamplight streamed forth and ran down the steps, and lay in a long rectangular pool upon the road. Abbie stood near the entrance, directing the ladies one way and the gentlemen another. Punctuality at an affair of this kind being among the village virtues, the whole company was present within a surprisingly short time of the appointed hour.
“Good-evening, Professor Valeyon; good-evening, my dear; how well-you look! Step up-stairs—the first room on the right.”
“My pupil is to be here to-night, isn’t he?” inquired the professor, as his daughter vanished.
“Yes, he said he’d be down. He doesn’t seem to be used to society. Miss Cornelia told me she thought it would do him good to begin, so I went up the other day and asked him.”
“Oh! humph!” said the old gentleman, who had vainly endeavored to catch Abbie’s eye while she was speaking. He stood silent a few moments, and then moved off to the gentlemen’s dressing-room, taking a pair of white-kid gloves from his pocket as he went.
Cornelia, having removed her hood, put on her slippers, shaken out her skirt, touched her hair with the tips of her gloved fingers, and settled the ribbon at her throat, descended to the reception-room—as that part of the entrance-hall where Abbie stood was styled—and found her papa awaiting her. She was about to take his arm, when the hostess touched her on the shoulder.