Mrs. Perkin's Ball, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Mr. and Mrs. Perkins, Their House, and Their Young People.

Following Mrs. Perkins’s orders, the present writer made his appearance very early at Pocklington Square: where the tastiness of all the decorations elicited my warmest admiration. Supper of course was in the dining-loom, superbly arranged by Messrs. Grigs and Spooner, the confectioners of the neighborhood. I assisted my respected friend Mr. Perkins and his butler in decanting the sherry, and saw, not without satisfaction, a large bath for wine under the sideboard, in which were already placed very many bottles of champagne.

The BACK DINING-ROOM, Mr. P.‘s study (where the venerable man goes to sleep after dinner), was arranged on this occasion as a tea-room, Mrs. Flouncey (Miss Fanny’s maid) officiating in a cap and pink ribbons, which became her exceedingly. Long, long before the arrival of the company, I remarked Master Thomas Perkins and Master Giles Bacon, his cousin (son of Sir Giles Bacon, Bart.), in this apartment, busy among the macaroons.

Mr. Gregory the butler, besides John the footman and Sir Giles’s large man in the Bacon livery, and honest Grundsell, carpet-beater and green-grocer, of Little Pocklington Buildings, had at least half a dozen of aides-de-camp in black with white neck-cloths, like doctors of divinity.

The BACK DRAWING-ROOM door on the landing being taken off the hinges (and placed up stairs under Mr. Perkins’s bed), the orifice was covered with muslin, and festooned with elegant wreaths of flowers. This was the Dancing Saloon. A linen was spread over the carpet; and a band — consisting of Mr. Clapperton, piano, Mr. Pinch, harp, and Herr Spoff, cornet-a-piston arrived at a pretty early hour, and were accommodated with some comfortable negus in the tea-room, previous to the commencement of their delightful labors. The boudoir to the left was fitted up as a card-room; the drawing-room was of course for the reception of the company — the chandeliers and yellow damask being displayed this night in all their splendor; and the charming conservatory over the landing was ornamented by a few moon-like lamps, and the flowers arranged so that it had the appearance of a fairy bower. And Miss Perkins (as I took the liberty of stating to her mamma) looked like the fairy of that bower. It is this young creature’s first year in PUBLIC LIFE: she has been educated, regardless of expense, at Hammersmith; and a simple white muslin dress and blue ceinture set off charms of which I beg to speak with respectful admiration.

My distinguished friend the Mulligan of Ballymulligan was good enough to come the very first of the party. By the way, how awkward it is to be the first of the party! and yet you know somebody must; but for my part, being timid, I always wait at the corner of the street in the cab, and watch until some other carriage comes up.

Well, as we were arranging the sherry in the decanters down the supper-tables, my friend arrived: “Hwhares me friend Mr. Titmarsh?” I heard him bawling out to Gregory in the passage, and presently he rushed into the supper-room, where Mr. and Mrs. Perkins and myself were, and as the waiter was announcing “Mr. Mulligan,” “THE Mulligan of Ballymulligan, ye blackguard!” roared he, and stalked into the apartment, “apologoizing,” as he said, for introducing himself.

Mr. and Mrs. Perkins did not perhaps wish to be seen in this room, which was for the present only lighted by a couple of candles; but HE was not at all abashed by the circumstance, and grasping them both warmly by the hands, he instantly made himself at home. “As friends of my dear and talented friend Mick,” so he is pleased to call me, “I’m deloighted, madam, to be made known to ye. Don’t consider me in the light of a mere acquaintance! As for you, my dear madam, you put me so much in moind of my own blessed mother, now resoiding at Ballymulligan Castle, that I begin to love ye at first soight.” At which speech Mr. Perkins getting rather alarmed, asked the Mulligan whether he would take some wine, or go up stairs.

“Faix,” says Mulligan “it’s never too soon for good dhrink.” And (although he smelt very much of whiskey already) he drank a tumbler of wine “to the improvement of an acqueentence which comminces in a manner so deloightful.”

“Let’s go up stairs, Mulligan,” says I, and led the noble Irishman to the upper apartments, which were in a profound gloom, the candles not being yet illuminated, and where we surprised Miss Fanny, seated in the twilight at the piano, timidly trying the tunes of the polka which she danced so exquisitely that evening. She did not perceive the stranger at first; but how she started when the Mulligan loomed upon her.

“Heavenlee enchanthress!” says Mulligan, “don’t floy at the approach of the humblest of your sleeves! Reshewm your pleece at that insthrument, which weeps harmonious, or smoils melojious, as you charrum it! Are you acqueented with the Oirish Melodies? Can ye play, ‘Who fears to talk of Nointy-eight?’ the ‘Shan Van Voght?’ or the ‘Dirge of Ollam Fodhlah?’”

“Who’s this mad chap that Titmarsh has brought?” I heard Master Bacon exclaim to Master Perkins. “Look! how frightened Fanny looks!”

“O poo! gals are ALWAYS frightened,” Fanny’s brother replied; but Giles Bacon, more violent, said, “I’ll tell you what, Tom: if this goes on, we must pitch into him.” And so I have no doubt they would, when another thundering knock coming, Gregory rushed into the room and began lighting all the candles, so as to produce an amazing brilliancy, Miss Fanny sprang up and ran to her mamma, and the young gentlemen slid down the banisters to receive the company in the hall.

The Mulligan and Miss Fanny Perkins

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/perkins/chapter2.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07