Short Stories » Frosted Cake and the Moss Rose Set...
Frosted Cake and the Moss Rose Set...
IT was near Christmas-time, and pretty Francelle Cummings came in from shopping, her cheeks glowing and eyes sparkling with exhilaration, for had not her father given her just as much pocket-money as. she had asked him for that morning? Enough to satisfy her "for a beginning," she said; and how many lovely things she had brought home.
'I stopped to see what Cousin Ella was going to get, and what do you think she was doing?" "Some- thing sensible, I have no doubt," replied the mother. "Well, I don't know ; some persons have such extraordinary ideas. I suppose she thought it was sensible. She was making pies and cakes, herself, to donate to the poor for Christmas (I don't believe she'll make one of her friends a present); and what do you really think she was making fruit-cakes and sponge-cakes and frosting them! Just as though plain cake wasn't good enough for folks who never have any of their own ! I was so surprised, I came away without comment, for I had counted on her going shopping with me. And I came near forgetting the nicest pair of cakes was for Mrs. Whitney."
Francelle looked quite relieved now, and, after trailing around before the glass, sat down and glanced from her mother to her aunt to note the effect of her statement.
Now this aunt had only lately come from a long distance to visit them during the winter, having been parted from her only brother, Francelle's father, for many years.
"Francelle, dear, how much do you suppose that Ella's Christmas gifts to the poor will cost?" " Oh, I don't know, mother; the eatables might amount to three or four dollars ; of course it's not the expense, it's the idea. Then I wouldn't wonder if she has some flannels and other missionary articles to *go along with the rest that might make eight or ten dollars more. I don't really know, of course; but that's her style."
"Will it offend, if I ask what your Christmas gifts to friends will probably cost you ?" "Certainly not, auntie; I've bought a ring for ma, something for you, a lovely lace handkerchief for Cousin Annie; a box of gloves, a set of furs, a ball dress, with suitable belongings to match I guess that's all to-day; I suppose seventy-five dollars will be the sum; I sent the bill for part of it to pa." "Thank you, dear. I feel like telling you a little Christmas story, if you like." Francelle, who at first feared just a little that auntie was not in accord with her, now that nothing serious had been said by way of reproof (ma was always indulgent), expressed her desire to listen; for Francelle was in- satiate in her love of something new and interesting."
"Many years ago there lived in New York a good old-fashioned man and wife, who had two daughters. Occasionally there came to visit the family a very wealthy gentleman, a business acquaintance of the old merchant. The family lived in the suburbs, just where gardens and hedged lanes began, a pleasant retreat after the business cares of the day.
" The daughters had considered the gentleman as their parents' visitor, being too modest to think that their attractions had anything to do with his calls; nor indeed were they mistaken. So it was quite natural that, after having spent some time in the parlor, one of the young ladies excused herself and retired. Perhaps half an hour later she reappeared, and remarked to her parents that she was going out for a short walk. It happened, quite unintentionally, that the gentleman had just risen to take his leave, and he asked permission to accompany her along the lane as far as the main road. Josephine looked toward her parents, who replied, ' Certainly/ and the pair proceeded from the house, Josephine to walk a few blocks, the gentleman to return to the heart of the great city.
" Josephine wore that evening a light, satin-finished French calico, something like our present sateens, of ivory -tinted groundwork, with dainty moss rose buds upon it. The waist was made surplice fashion, that ,is, with fine folds diagonally across from shoulder to belt, the mutton-leg sleeves, then in vogue, delicate lace coming down to a point in the neck, scant skirt, short enough to reveal silk hose and neat slippers. A fine white Leghorn hat with brim tied down gypsy fashion by pale ribbons, and right above her jet-black, waving hair, a blush rose. Lace gloves completed the costume. Her companion was a gentleman of careful breeding, and not the suggestion of a compliment passed his lips. At the end of the lane he asked, ' If I receive your father's permission, may I hope to take a walk with you one week from to-night ? ' Josephine, knowing her parents' good opinion of the gentleman, assented, not that she regarded him with any new interest. He added, ' Please wear this dress.' Josephine returned home before lamp-light, and related the request made at the termination of the short walk together. Her father replied : ' Mr. Waldron is a gentleman of fine qualities, and you have my sanction in receiving his addresses, if congenial to your own feelings.' Her mother added : ' Mr. Waldron is, in rare instances, eccentric; but he does you much honor by his attention, which would be appreciated by many another.'
"Josephine had never thought of any person as a suitor, and thought little of the matter during the week, except his odd request that she should wear that same dress.
"Accordingly, when he called again, and, after spending a couple of hours as formerly, turned to Josephine and asked, 'Shall we walk as far as the church?' she replied and left the room, returning in a bnef time attired as the week before, and they took their departure. After half an hour's walk they stood before a large edifice, a Lutheran Church, and went in. After the evening service, he waited while the throng passed out, then, turning to the lovely girl, said : '"Josephine, when I looked at you one week ago in that costume, I made up my mind to try and win you before another man should be charmed like my- self and snatch you away from me. Your father has consented to our union, and I desire to go forth from this church this evening with you as my wife. The minister is waiting.' Like one bewildered and fascinated, Josephine bowed assent, and they went up the aisle, when, in the presence of a few whom the minister had asked to wait, they were married.
"They passed forth from the building and walked for some distance, Josephine taking no notice of the direction, when Mr. Waldron stopped at a gate. Within were lawn, elegant shrubbery and flowers, and a pretty white cottage. Mr. Waldron opened the door and entered. At the left hand they entered a parlor. Imagine Josephine's surprise to see the room's furniture upholstered in ivory white and gold with moss roses. ' Let us go upstairs.' The bedroom was a match for the parlor below. ' Let us go into the dining-room.' To her surprise, a table for two was in waiting, and the same pretty thought was there represented again. ' I have devoted this week to what you see; much of it has been made to my order. Does it please you? ' ' Yes, but it is all so sudden, so like a fairy tale, I can hardly realize.' 'When this little home grows dull for you, a grander one shall be yours, a marble mansion, when you desire it.' Before Josephine's trembling lips could answer, he touched a bell and a woman entered. They were made known to each other. The housekeeper bowed and wished her mistress many happy years. Supper was brought in, and after this was over, he led the wondering Josephine back to the parlor. He seated himself at the piano and rendered such rare music as Josephine had never dreamed.
" 'Come, let us go back to your father and mother, and to-morrow I will bring them with you to. see our home.' So saying, they went into the street and back to the dear old home. ' Let me tell you where we have been/ said he. The parents were surprised, surely, but when he bade them good-night, leaving the lovely Josephine in their care, all were satisfied. The morning brought him, with carriages, and a happy party went to the pretty cottage.
"Ten years Mr. Waldron and his wife lived there, then, as he had said on that wedding-night, they moved into an elegant marble mansion. In that abode of luxury, after a few years, Josephine heard of Mormonism, and went to listen to the prophet Joseph, himself. Josephine feared to tell her husband, for she had heard his scornful mention of the new sect. Years of faith and prayer and suspense passed by, as she dared not speak to him of the man he called an 'impostor,' and the religion he spoke of as a 'fraud.' At last the storm broke, and Josephine had to choose between wealth in the world or poverty among the Saints. Husband and children in one scale, the people of God in the other. This is the woman for whom your cousin Ella, in blissful ignorance, has made her nicest cakes, and 'frosted them,' too. I sought her out when I came here, for we were friends in girlhood."
Francelle burst into tears, and it took auntie's own kind words to prove to her that she was not really a heartless, selfish girl, and she listened with pathetic deference while auntie concluded:
" Remember, dear girl, that poor people may have had at one time the same luxuries that you have, perhaps more. If so, they must miss these things as almost the necessities of life. If not, the bounty of the rich will surely be appreciated by them." " Auntie, you called him Mr. Waldron?" "So I did. Don't you see the reason?"
This story is from life, and much more might be told of elders aided, families provided for and emigrated by the noble, self-sacrificing Josephine. She still lives among us, and though of "silver and gold " she has none now to impart, her spirit charms and inspires love and reverence.