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coverlet; and by this arrangement half a dozen goodly dames, including myself, found reclining room, and were carried at a stately pace to Mrs. Boardman's. Here we found a collection of women busily occupied in preparing the quilt, which you may be sure was a curiosity to me. They had stretched the lining on a frame, and were now laying fleecy cotton on it with much care; and I understood from several aside remarks which were not intended for the ear of our hostess, that a due regard for etiquette required that this laying of the cotton should have been performed before the arrival of the company, in order to give them a better chance for finishing the quilt before tea, which is considered a point of honour.
However, with so many able hands at work, the preparations were soon accomplished. The “bats” were smoothly disposed, and now consenting hands, on either side,
Induced a splendid cover, green and blue,
wherein stars and garters, squares and triangles, figured in every possible relation to each other, and produced, on the whole, a very pretty mathematical piece of work, on which the eyes of Mrs. Boardman rested with no small amount of womanly pride.
Now needles were in requisition, and every available space round the frame was filled by a busy dame. Several of the company being left-handed, or rather ambidextrous (no unusual circumstance here), this peculiarity was made serviceable at the corners, where common seamstresses could only sew in one direction, while these favoured individuals could turn their double power to double account. This beginning of the solid labour was a serious time. Scarcely a word was spoken beyond an occasional request for the thread, or an exclamation at the snapping of a needle. This last seemed of no unfrequent occurrence, as you may well suppose, when you think of the thickness of the materials, and the necessity for making at least tolerably short stitches. I must own that the most I could accomplish for the first hour was the breaking of needles, and the pricking of my fingers, in the vain attempt to do as I was bid, and take my stitches “ clear through.”
By and by it was announced that it was time to roll-and all was bustle and anxiety. The frame had to be taken apart at the corners, and two of the sides rolled several times with much care, and at this diminished surface we began again with renewed spirit.
Now all tongues seemed loosened. The evidence of progress had raised everybody's spirits, and the strife seemed to be who should talk fastest without slackening the industry of her fingers. Some held tête-àtête communications with a crony in an under tone; others discussed matters of general interest more openly; and some made observations at nobody in particular, but with a view to the amusement of all. Mrs. Vining told the symptoms of each of her five children through an attack of the measles ; Mrs. Keteltas gave her opinion as to the party most worthy of blame in a late separation in the village; and Miss Polly Mittles said she hoped the quilt would not be “scant of stitches, like a bachelder's shirt."
Tea-time came before the work was completed, and some of the more generous declared they would rather finish it before tea. These offers fell rather coldly, however, for a real tea-drinker does not feel very good humoured just before tea. So Mr. Boardman drove four stout nails in the rafters overhead, corresponding in distance with the corners of the quilt, and the frame was raised and fastened to these, so as to be undisturbed and yet out of the way during the important
ceremony that was to succeed. Is it not well said that “necessity is the mother of invention ? "
A long table was now spread, eked out by boards laid upon carpenters “horses,”—and this was covered with a variety of tablecloths, all shining clean, however, and carefully disposed. The whole table array was equally various, the contributions, I presume, of several neighbouring log-houses. The feast spread upon it included every variety that ever was put upon a tea-table; from cake and preserves to pickles and raw cabbage cut up in vinegar. Pies there were, and custards, and sliced ham, and cheese, and three or four kinds of bread. I could do little besides look, and try to guess out the dishes. However, everything was very good, and our hostess must have felt complimented by the attention paid to her various delicacies. The cabbage, I think, was rather the favourite; vinegar being one of the rarities of a settler's cabin.
I was amused to see the loads of cake and pie that accumulated upon the plates of the guests. When all had finished, most of the plates seemed full. But I was told afterwards that it was not considered civil to decline any one kind of food, though your hostess may have provided a dozen. You are expected at least to try each variety. But this leads to something which I cannot think very agreeable.
After all had left the table, our hostess began to clear it away, that the quilt might be restored to its place; and, as a preliminary, she went all round to the different plates, selecting such pieces of cake as were but little bitten, and paring off the halfdemolished edges with a knife, in order to, replace them in their original circular position in the dishes. When this was accomplished, she assiduously scraped from the edges of the plates the scraps of butter that had escaped demolition, and wiped them back on the remains of the pat. This was doubtless a season of delectation to the economical soul of Mrs. Boardman ; you may imagine its effects upon the nerves of your friend. Such is the influence of habit! The good woman doubtless thought she was performing a praiseworthy action, and one in no wise at variance with her usual neat habits; and if she could have peeped into my heart, and there have read the resolutions I was tacitly making against breaking bread again under the same auspices, she would have pitied or despised such a lamentable degree