The great event of the holiday week was a New Year Eve dance at the Country Club. Every member was expected to appear in person or by proxy, as this was the greatest of many functions of the year.
Sunday was warm and sloppy, and little could be done out of doors. Part of the household were for church, and the rest lounged until luncheon; then Polly read “Sonny” until twilight, and Laura played strange music in the half-dark.
The next day the men went into town to look about, and to lunch with some college chums. As they would not return until five, the ladies had the day to themselves. They read a little, slept a little, and talked much, and were glad when five o’clock and the men came. Tea was so hot and fragrant, the house so cosey, and the girls so pretty, that Jack said:—
“What chumps we men were to waste the whole day in town!”
“And what do you expect of men, Mr. Jack?” said Jessie.
“Yes, I know, the old story of pearls and swine, but there are pearls and pearls.”
“Do you mean that there are more pearls than swine, Mr. Jack? For, if you do, I will take issue with you.”
“If I am a swine, I will be an aesthetic one and wear the pearl that comes my way,” said Jack, looking steadily into the eyes of the high-headed girl.
“Will you have one lump or two?”
“One,” said Jack, as he took his cup.
The last day of the year came all too quickly for both young and old at Four Oaks. Polly and I went into hiding in the office in the afternoon to make up the accounts for the year. As Polly had spent the larger lump sum, I could face her with greater boldness than on the previous occasion. Here is an excerpt from the farm ledger:—
Expended in 1896 $43,309
Interest on previous account 2,200
Net expense $40,404
Previous account 44,000
The farm owes me a little more than $84,000. “Not so good as I hoped, and not so bad as I feared,” said Polly. “We will win out all right, Mr. Headman, though it does seem a lot of money.”
“Like the Irishman’s pig,” quoth I. “Pat said, ’It didn’t weigh nearly as much as I expected, but I never thought it would.’”
There was little to depress us in the past, and nothing in the present, so we joined the young people for the dance at the Club.