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´╗┐Title: A Select Party
Author: Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Select Party" ***

                     MOSSES FROM AN OLD MANSE

                      By Nathaniel Hawthorne

                         A SELECT PARTY

The man of fancy made an entertainment at one of his castles in the
air, and invited a select number of distinguished personages to
favor him with their presence.  The mansion, though less splendid
than many that have been situated in the same region, was
nevertheless of a magnificence such as is seldom witnessed by those
acquainted only with terrestrial architecture.  Its strong
foundations and massive walls were quarried out of a ledge of heavy
and sombre clouds which had hung brooding over the earth, apparently
as dense and ponderous as its own granite, throughout a whole
autumnal day.  Perceiving that the general effect was gloomy,--so
that the airy castle looked like a feudal fortress, or a monastery
of the Middle Ages, or a state prison of our own times, rather than
the home of pleasure and repose which he intended it to be,--the
owner, regardless of expense, resolved to gild the exterior from top
to bottom.  Fortunately, there was just then a flood of evening
sunshine in the air.  This being gathered up and poured abundantly
upon the roof and walls, imbued them with a kind of solemn
cheerfulness; while the cupolas and pinnacles were made to glitter
with the purest gold, and all the hundred windows gleamed with a
glad light, as if the edifice itself were rejoicing in its heart.

And now, if the people of the lower world chanced to be looking
upward out of the turmoil of their petty perplexities, they probably
mistook the castle in the air for a heap of sunset clouds, to which
the magic of light and shade had imparted the aspect of a
fantastically constructed mansion.  To such beholders it was unreal,
because they lacked the imaginative faith.  Had they been worthy to
pass within its portal, they would have recognized the truth, that
the dominions which the spirit conquers for itself among unrealities
become a thousand times more real than the earth whereon they stamp
their feet, saying, "This is solid and substantial; this may be
called a fact."

At the appointed hour, the host stood in his great saloon to receive
the company.  It was a vast and noble room, the vaulted ceiling of
which was supported by double rows of gigantic pillars that had been
hewn entire out of masses of variegated clouds.  So brilliantly were
they polished, and so exquisitely wrought by the sculptor's skill,
as to resemble the finest specimens of emerald, porphyry, opal, and
chrysolite, thus producing a delicate richness of effect which their
immense size rendered not incompatible with grandeur.  To each of
these pillars a meteor was suspended.  Thousands of these ethereal
lustres are continually wandering about the firmament, burning out
to waste, yet capable of imparting a useful radiance to any person
who has the art of converting them to domestic purposes.  As managed
in the saloon, they are far more economical than ordinary lamplight.
Such, however, was the intensity of their blaze that it had been
found expedient to cover each meteor with a globe of evening mist,
thereby muffling the too potent glow and soothing it into a mild and
comfortable splendor.  It was like the brilliancy of a powerful yet
chastened imagination,--a light which seemed to hide whatever was
unworthy to be noticed and give effect to every beautiful and noble
attribute.  The guests, therefore, as they advanced up the centre of
the saloon, appeared to better advantage than ever before in their

The first that entered, with old-fashioned punctuality, was a
venerable figure in the costume of bygone days, with his white hair
flowing down over his shoulders and a reverend beard upon his
breast.  He leaned upon a staff, the tremulous stroke of which, as
he set it carefully upon the floor, re-echoed through the saloon at
every footstep.  Recognizing at once this celebrated personage, whom
it had cost him a vast deal of trouble and research to discover, the
host advanced nearly three fourths of the distance down between the
pillars to meet and welcome him.

"Venerable sir," said the Man of Fancy, bending to the floor, "the
honor of this visit would never be forgotten were my term of
existence to be as happily prolonged as your own."

The old gentleman received the compliment with gracious
condescension.  He then thrust up his spectacles over his forehead
and appeared to take a critical survey of the saloon.

"Never within my recollection," observed he, "have I entered a more
spacious and noble hall.  But are you sure that it is built of solid
materials and that the structure will be permanent?"

"O, never fear, my venerable friend," replied the host.  "In
reference to a lifetime like your own, it is true my castle may well
be called a temporary edifice.  But it will endure long enough to
answer all the purposes for which it was erected."

But we forget that the reader has not yet been made acquainted with
the guest.  It was no other than that universally accredited
character so constantly referred to in all seasons of intense cold
or heat; he that, remembers the hot Sunday and the cold Friday; the
witness of a past age whose negative reminiscences find their way
into every newspaper, yet whose antiquated and dusky abode is so
overshadowed by accumulated years and crowded back by modern
edifices that none but the Man of Fancy could have discovered it;
it was, in short, that twin brother of Time, and great-grandsire of
mankind, and hand-and-glove associate of all forgotten men and
things,--the Oldest Inhabitant.  The host would willingly have drawn
him into conversation, but succeeded only in eliciting a few remarks
as to the oppressive atmosphere of this present summer evening
compared with one which the guest had experienced about fourscore
years ago.  The old gentleman, in fact, was a good deal overcome by
his journey among the clouds, which, to a frame so earth-incrusted
by long continuance in a lower region, was unavoidably more
fatiguing than to younger spirits.  He was therefore conducted to an
easy-chair, well cushioned and stuffed with vaporous softness, and
left to take a little repose.

The Man of Fancy now discerned another guest, who stood so quietly
in the shadow of one of the pillars that he might easily have been

"My dear sir," exclaimed the host, grasping him warmly by the hand,
"allow me to greet you as the hero of the evening.  Pray do not take
it as an empty compliment; for, if there were not another guest in
my castle, it would be entirely pervaded with your presence."

"I thank you," answered the unpretending stranger; "but, though you
happened to overlook me, I have not just arrived.  I came very
early; and, with your permission, shall remain after the rest of the
company have retired."

And who does the reader imagine was this unobtrusive guest?  It was
the famous performer of acknowledged impossibilities,--a character
of superhuman capacity and virtue, and, if his enemies are to be
credited, of no less remarkable weaknesses and defects. With a
generosity with which he alone sets us an example, we will glance
merely at his nobler attributes.  He it is, then, who prefers the
interests of others to his own and a humble station to an exalted
one.  Careless of fashion, custom, the opinions of men, and the
influence of the press, he assimilates his life to the standard of
ideal rectitude, and thus proves himself the one independent citizen
of our free country.  In point of ability, many people declare him
to be the only mathematician capable of squaring the circle; the
only mechanic acquainted with the principle of perpetual motion; the
only scientific philosopher who can compel water to run up hill; the
only writer of the age whose genius is equal to the production of an
epic poem; and, finally, so various are his accomplishments, the
only professor of gymnastics who has succeeded in jumping down his
own throat. With all these talents, however, he is so far from being
considered a member of good society, that it is the severest censure
of any fashionable assemblage to affirm that this remarkable
individual was present.  Public orators, lecturers, and theatrical
performers particularly eschew his company.  For especial reasons,
we are not at liberty to disclose his name, and shall mention only
one other trait,--a most singular phenomenon in natural
philosophy,--that, when he happens to cast his eyes upon a
looking-glass, he beholds Nobody reflected there!

Several other guests now made their appearance; and among them,
chattering with immense volubility, a brisk little gentleman of
universal vogue in private society, and not unknown in the public
journals under the title of Monsieur On-Dit.  The name would seem to
indicate a Frenchman; but, whatever be his country, he is thoroughly
versed in all the languages of the day, and can express himself
quite as much to the purpose in English as in any other tongue.  No
sooner were the ceremonies of salutation over than this talkative
little person put his mouth to the host's ear and whispered three
secrets of state, an important piece of commercial intelligence, and
a rich item of fashionable scandal. He then assured the Man of Fancy
that he would not fail to circulate in the society of the lower
world a minute description of this magnificent castle in the air and
of the festivities at which he had the honor to be a guest.  So
saying, Monsieur On-Dit made his bow and hurried from one to another
of the company, with all of whom he seemed to be acquainted and to
possess some topic of interest or amusement for every individual.
Coming at last to the Oldest Inhabitant, who was slumbering
comfortably in the easy-chair, he applied his mouth to that
venerable ear.

"What do you say?" cried the old gentleman, starting from his nap
and putting up his hand to serve the purpose of an ear-trumpet.

Monsieur On-Dit bent forward again and repeated his communication.

"Never within my memory," exclaimed the Oldest Inhabitant, lifting
his hands in astonishment, "has so remarkable an incident been heard

Now came in the Clerk of the Weather, who had been invited out of
deference to his official station, although the host was well aware
that his conversation was likely to contribute but little to the
general enjoyment.  He soon, indeed, got into a corner with his
acquaintance of long ago, the Oldest Inhabitant, and began to
compare notes with him in reference to the great storms, gales of
wind, and other atmospherical facts that had occurred during a
century past.  It rejoiced the Man of Fancy that his venerable and
much-respected guest had met with so congenial an associate.
Entreating them both to make themselves perfectly at home, he now
turned to receive the Wandering Jew.  This personage, however, had
latterly grown so common, by mingling in all sorts of society and
appearing at the beck of every entertainer, that he could hardly be
deemed a proper guest in a very exclusive circle.  Besides, being
covered with dust from his continual wanderings along the highways
of the world, he really looked out of place in a dress party; so
that the host felt relieved of an incommodity when the restless
individual in question, after a brief stay, took his departure on a
ramble towards Oregon.

The portal was now thronged by a crowd of shadowy people with whom
the Man of Fancy had been acquainted in his visionary youth. He had
invited them hither for the sake of observing how they would
compare, whether advantageously or otherwise, with the real
characters to whom his maturer life had introduced him.  They were
beings of crude imagination, such as glide before a young man's eye
and pretend to be actual inhabitants of the earth; the wise and
witty with whom he would hereafter hold intercourse; the generous
and heroic friends whose devotion would be requited with his own;
the beautiful dream-woman who would become the helpmate of his human
toils and sorrows and at once the source and partaker of his
happiness.  Alas! it is not good for the full-grown man to look too
closely at these old acquaintances, but rather to reverence them at
a distance through the medium of years that have gathered duskily
between.  There was something laughably untrue in their pompous
stride and exaggerated sentiment; they were neither human nor
tolerable likenesses of humanity, but fantastic maskers, rendering
heroism and nature alike ridiculous by the grave absurdity of their
pretensions to such attributes; and as for the peerless dream-lady,
behold! there advanced up the saloon, with a movement like a jointed
doll, a sort of wax-figure of an angel, a creature as cold as
moonshine, an artifice in petticoats, with an intellect of pretty
phrases and only the semblance of a heart, yet in all these
particulars the true type of a young man's imaginary mistress.
Hardly could the host's punctilious courtesy restrain a smile as he
paid his respects to this unreality and met the sentimental glance
with which the Dream sought to remind him of their former love

"No, no, fair lady," murmured he betwixt sighing and smiling; "my
taste is changed; I have learned to love what Nature makes better
than my own creations in the guise of womanhood."

"Ah, false one," shrieked the dream-lady, pretending to faint, but
dissolving into thin air, out of which came the deplorable murmur of
her voice, "your inconstancy has annihilated me."

"So be it," said the cruel Man of Fancy to himself; "and a good
riddance too."

Together with these shadows, and from the same region, there came an
uninvited multitude of shapes which at any time during his life had
tormented the Man of Fancy in his moods of morbid melancholy or had
haunted him in the delirium of fever.  The walls of his castle in
the air were not dense enough to keep them out, nor would the
strongest of earthly architecture have availed to their exclusion.
Here were those forms of dim terror which had beset him at the
entrance of life, waging warfare with his hopes; here were strange
uglinesses of earlier date, such as haunt children in the night-time.
He was particularly startled by the vision of a deformed old
black woman whom he imagined as lurking in the garret of his native
home, and who, when he was an infant, had once come to his bedside
and grinned at him in the crisis of a scarlet fever.  This same
black shadow, with others almost as hideous, now glided among the
pillars of the magnificent saloon, grinning recognition, until the
man shuddered anew at the forgotten terrors of his childhood.  It
amused him, however, to observe the black woman, with the
mischievous caprice peculiar to such beings, steal up to the chair
of the Oldest Inhabitant and peep into his half-dreamy mind.

"Never within my memory," muttered that venerable personage, aghast,
"did I see such a face."

Almost immediately after the unrealities just described, arrived a
number of guests whom incredulous readers may be inclined to rank
equally among creatures of imagination.  The most noteworthy were an
incorruptible Patriot; a Scholar without pedantry; a Priest without
worldly ambition; and a Beautiful Woman without pride or coquetry; a
Married Pair whose life had never been disturbed by incongruity of
feeling; a Reformer untrammelled by his theory; and a Poet who felt
no jealousy towards other votaries of the lyre.  In truth, however,
the host was not one of the cynics who consider these patterns of
excellence, without the fatal flaw, such rarities in the world; and
he had invited them to his select party chiefly out of humble
deference to the judgment of society, which pronounces them almost
impossible to be met with.

"In my younger days," observed the Oldest Inhabitant, "such
characters might be seen at the corner of every street."

Be that as it might, these specimens of perfection proved to be not
half so entertaining companions as people with the ordinary
allowance of faults.

But now appeared a stranger, whom the host had no sooner recognized
than, with an abundance of courtesy unlavished on any other, he
hastened down the whole length of the saloon in order to pay him
emphatic honor.  Yet he was a young man in poor attire, with no
insignia of rank or acknowledged eminence, nor anything to
distinguish him among the crowd except a high, white forehead,
beneath which a pair of deep-set eyes were glowing with warm light.
It was such a light as never illuminates the earth save when a great
heart burns as the household fire of a grand intellect.  And who was
he?--who but the Master Genius for whom our country is looking
anxiously into the mist of Time, as destined to fulfil the great
mission of creating an American literature, hewing it, as it were,
out of the unwrought granite of our intellectual quarries?  From
him, whether moulded in the form of an epic poem or assuming a guise
altogether new as the spirit itself may determine, we are to receive
our first great original work, which shall do all that remains to be
achieved for our glory among the nations.  How this child of a
mighty destiny had been discovered by the Man of Fancy it is of
little consequence to mention.  Suffice it that he dwells as yet
unhonored among men, unrecognized by those who have known him from
his cradle; the noble countenance which should be distinguished by a
halo diffused around it passes daily amid the throng of people
toiling and troubling themselves about the trifles of a moment, and
none pay reverence to the worker of immortality.  Nor does it matter
much to him, in his triumph over all the ages, though a generation
or two of his own times shall do themselves the wrong to disregard

By this time Monsieur On-Dit had caught up the stranger's name and
destiny and was busily whispering the intelligence among the other

"Pshaw!" said one.  "There can never be an American genius."

"Pish!" cried another.  "We have already as good poets as any in the
world.  For my part, I desire to see no better."

And the Oldest Inhabitant, when it was proposed to introduce him to
the Master Genius, begged to be excused, observing that a man who
had been honored with the acquaintance of Dwight, and Freneau, and
Joel Barlow, might be allowed a little austerity of taste.

The saloon was now fast filling up by the arrival of other
remarkable characters, among whom were noticed Davy Jones, the
distinguished nautical personage, and a rude, carelessly dressed,
harum-scarum sort of elderly fellow, known by the nickname of Old
Harry.  The latter, however, after being shown to a dressing-room,
reappeared with his gray hair nicely combed, his clothes brushed, a
clean dicky on his neck, and altogether so changed in aspect as to
merit the more respectful appellation of Venerable Henry.  Joel Doe
and Richard Roe came arm in arm, accompanied by a Man of Straw, a
fictitious indorser, and several persons who had no existence except
as voters in closely contested elections. The celebrated Seatsfield,
who now entered, was at first supposed to belong to the same
brotherhood, until he made it apparent that he was a real man of
flesh and blood and had his earthly domicile in Germany.  Among the
latest comers, as might reasonably be expected, arrived a guest from
the far future.

"Do you know him? do you know him?" whispered Monsieur On-Dit, who
seemed to be acquainted with everybody.  "He is the representative
of Posterity,--the man of an age to come."

"And how came he here?" asked a figure who was evidently the
prototype of the fashion-plate in a magazine, and might be taken to
represent the vanities of the passing moment.  "The fellow infringes
upon our rights by coming before his time."

"But you forget where we are," answered the Man of Fancy, who
overheard the remark.  "The lower earth, it is true, will be
forbidden ground to him for many long years hence; but a castle in
the air is a sort of no-man's-land, where Posterity may make
acquaintance with us on equal terms."

No sooner was his identity known than a throng of guests gathered
about Posterity, all expressing the most generous interest in his
welfare, and many boasting of the sacrifices which they had made, or
were willing to make, in his behalf.  Some, with as much secrecy as
possible, desired his judgment upon certain copies of verses or
great manuscript rolls of prose; others accosted him with the
familiarity of old friends, taking it for granted that he was
perfectly cognizant of their names and characters.  At length,
finding himself thus beset, Posterity was put quite beside his

"Gentlemen, my good friends," cried he, breaking loose from a misty
poet who strove to hold him by the button, "I pray you to attend to
your own business, and leave me to take care of mine! I expect to
owe you nothing, unless it be certain national debts, and other
encumbrances and impediments, physical and moral, which I shall find
it troublesome enough to remove from my path.  As to your verses,
pray read them to your contemporaries.  Your names are as strange to
me as your faces; and even were it otherwise,--let me whisper you a
secret,--the cold, icy memory which one generation may retain of
another is but a poor recompense to barter life for.  Yet, if your
heart is set on being known to me, the surest, the only method is,
to live truly and wisely for your own age, whereby, if the native
force be in you, you may likewise live for posterity."

"It is nonsense," murmured the Oldest Inhabitant, who, as a man of
the past, felt jealous that all notice should be withdrawn from
himself to be lavished on the future, "sheer nonsense, to waste so
much thought on what only is to be."

To divert the minds of his guests, who were considerably abashed by
this little incident, the Man of Fancy led them through several
apartments of the castle, receiving their compliments upon the taste
and varied magnificence that were displayed in each.  One of these
rooms was filled with moonlight, which did not enter through the
window, but was the aggregate of all the moonshine that is scattered
around the earth on a summer night while no eyes are awake to enjoy
its beauty.  Airy spirits had gathered it up, wherever they found it
gleaming on the broad bosom of a lake, or silvering the meanders of
a stream, or glimmering among the wind-stirred boughs of a wood, and
had garnered it in this one spacious hall.  Along the walls,
illuminated by the mild intensity of the moonshine, stood a
multitude of ideal statues, the original conceptions of the great
works of ancient or modern art, which the sculptors did but
imperfectly succeed in putting into marble; for it is not to be
supposed that the pure idea of an immortal creation ceases to exist;
it is only necessary to know where they are deposited in order to
obtain possession of them.--In the alcoves of another vast apartment
was arranged a splendid library, the volumes of which were
inestimable, because they consisted, not of actual performances, but
of the works which the authors only planned, without ever finding
the happy season to achieve them.  To take familiar instances, here
were the untold tales of Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims; the
unwritten cantos of the Fairy Queen; the conclusion of Coleridge's
Christabel; and the whole of Dryden's projected epic on the subject
of King Arthur.  The shelves were crowded; for it would not be too
much to affirm that every author has imagined and shaped out in his
thought more and far better works than those which actually
proceeded from his pen.  And here, likewise, where the unrealized
conceptions of youthful poets who died of the very strength of their
own genius before the world had caught one inspired murmur from
their lips.

When the peculiarities of the library and statue-gallery were
explained to the Oldest Inhabitant, he appeared infinitely
perplexed, and exclaimed, with more energy than usual, that he had
never heard of such a thing within his memory, and, moreover, did
not at all understand how it could be.

"But my brain, I think," said the good old gentleman, "is getting
not so clear as it used to be.  You young folks, I suppose, can see
your way through these strange matters.  For my part, I give it up."

"And so do I," muttered the Old Harry.  "It is enough to puzzle

Making as little reply as possible to these observations, the Man of
Fancy preceded the company to another noble saloon, the pillars of
which were solid golden sunbeams taken out of the sky in the first
hour in the morning.  Thus, as they retained all their living
lustre, the room was filled with the most cheerful radiance
imaginable, yet not too dazzling to be borne with comfort and
delight.  The windows were beautifully adorned with curtains made of
the many-colored clouds of sunrise, all imbued with virgin light,
and hanging in magnificent festoons from the ceiling to the floor.
Moreover, there were fragments of rainbows scattered through the
room; so that the guests, astonished at one another, reciprocally
saw their heads made glorious by the seven primary hues; or, if they
chose,--as who would not?--they could grasp a rainbow in the air and
convert it to their own apparel and adornment.  But the morning
light and scattered rainbows were only a type and symbol of the real
wonders of the apartment.  By an influence akin to magic, yet
perfectly natural, whatever means and opportunities of joy are
neglected in the lower world had been carefully gathered up and
deposited in the saloon of morning sunshine.  As may well be
conceived, therefore, there was material enough to supply, not
merely a joyous evening, but also a happy lifetime, to more than as
many people as that spacious apartment could contain.  The company
seemed to renew their youth; while that pattern and proverbial
standard of innocence, the Child Unborn, frolicked to and fro among
them, communicating his own unwrinkled gayety to all who had the
good fortune to witness his gambols.

"My honored friends," said the Man of Fancy, after they had enjoyed
themselves awhile, "I am now to request your presence in the
banqueting-hall, where a slight collation is awaiting you."

"Ah, well said!" ejaculated a cadaverous figure, who had been
invited for no other reason than that he was pretty constantly in
the habit of dining with Duke Humphrey.  "I was beginning to wonder
whether a castle in the air were provided with a kitchen."

It was curious, in truth, to see how instantaneously the guests were
diverted from the high moral enjoyments which they had been tasting
with so much apparent zest by a suggestion of the more solid as well
as liquid delights of the festive board.  They thronged eagerly in
the rear of the host, who now ushered them into a lofty and
extensive hall, from end to end of which was arranged a table,
glittering all over with innumerable dishes and drinking-vessels of
gold.  It is an uncertain point whether these rich articles of plate
were made for the occasion out of molten sunbeams, or recovered from
the wrecks of Spanish galleons that had lain for ages at the bottom
of the sea.  The upper end of the table was overshadowed by a
canopy, beneath which was placed a chair of elaborate magnificence,
which the host himself declined to occupy, and besought his guests
to assign it to the worthiest among them.  As a suitable homage to
his incalculable antiquity and eminent distinction, the post of
honor was at first tendered to the Oldest Inhabitant.  He, however,
eschewed it, and requested the favor of a bowl of gruel at a side
table, where he could refresh himself with a quiet nap.  There was
some little hesitation as to the next candidate, until Posterity
took the Master Genius of our country by the hand and led him to the
chair of state beneath the princely canopy.  When once they beheld
him in his true place, the company acknowledged the justice of the
selection by a long thunder-roll of vehement applause.

Then was served up a banquet, combining, if not all the delicacies
of the season, yet all the rarities which careful purveyors had met
with in the flesh, fish, and vegetable markets of the land of
Nowhere.  The bill of fare being unfortunately lost, we can only
mention a phoenix, roasted in its own flames, cold potted birds of
paradise, ice-creams from the Milky-Way, and whip syllabubs and
flummery from the Paradise of Fools, whereof there was a very great
consumption.  As for drinkables, the temperance people contented
themselves with water as usual; but it was the water of the Fountain
of Youth; the ladies sipped Nepenthe; the lovelorn, the careworn,
and the sorrow-stricken were supplied with brimming goblets of Lethe;
and it was shrewdly conjectured that a certain golden vase, from
which only the more distinguished guests were invited to partake,
contained nectar that had been mellowing ever since the days of
classical mythology.  The cloth being removed, the company, as
usual, grew eloquent over their liquor and delivered themselves of a
succession of brilliant speeches,--the task of reporting which we
resign to the more adequate ability of Counsellor Gill, whose
indispensable co-operation the Man of Fancy had taken the precaution
to secure.

When the festivity of the banquet was at its most ethereal point,
the Clerk of the Weather was observed to steal from the table and
thrust his head between the purple and golden curtains of one of the

"My fellow-guests," he remarked aloud, after carefully noting the
signs of the night, "I advise such of you as live at a distance to
be going as soon as possible; for a thunder-storm is certainly at

"Mercy on me!" cried Mother Carey, who had left her brood of
chickens and come hither in gossamer drapery, with pink silk
stockings.  "How shall I ever get home?"

All now was confusion and hasty departure, with but little
superfluous leave-taking.  The Oldest Inhabitant, however, true to
the rule of those long past days in which his courtesy had been
studied, paused on the threshold of the meteor-lighted hall to
express his vast satisfaction at the entertainment.

"Never, within my memory," observed the gracious old gentleman, "has
it been my good fortune to spend a pleasanter evening or in more
select society."

The wind here took his breath away, whirled his three-cornered hat
into infinite space, and drowned what further compliments it had
been his purpose to bestow.  Many of the company had bespoken
will-o'-the-wisps to convoy them home; and the host, in his general
beneficence, had engaged the Man in the Moon, with an immense
horn-lantern, to be the guide of such desolate spinsters as could do
no better for themselves.  But a blast of the rising tempest blew out
all their lights in the twinkling of an eye. How, in the darkness
that ensued, the guests contrived to get back to earth, or whether
the greater part of them contrived to get back at all, or are still
wandering among clouds, mists, and puffs of tempestuous wind,
bruised by the beams and rafters of the overthrown castle in the
air, and deluded by all sorts of unrealities, are points that
concern themselves much more than the writer or the public.  People
should think of these matters before they trust themselves on a
pleasure-party into the realm of Nowhere.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Select Party" ***

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