Club by Elinor
"Well, Mildred, what does she say?" asked Dr. Clifford of his pretty
eldest daughter, as she came to the end of her long letter; and the
shower of questions following showed how eager were all at the breakfast
table to hear from the sister away at boarding-school.
"She says so much," laughs Mildred, "that I will read it to you."
Elm Bank, —— 13, 1880.
,—I am rejoiced to know your first party was a success,
and that you were spared the ignominious fate of "full many a
flower born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on
Your dress must have been a beauty, but I do not envy you. "Fine
clo'" I have forsworn, and I would not exchange my jolly
school-days for all your festive parties.
Tell papa I must have some new boots—very thick, with broad soles
and low heels—and entreat him not to send them C. O. D., for I
truly can't pay the expressage.
We girls have formed a club for the "Abolition and Extirpation of
Grotesque Idiotic Style."
Our initials, A, E, G, I, S, as you see, spell "Aegis," which is
to be our shield (its literal meaning) from aristocratic scorn. I
dare say I shall not be received in polite circles when I go home,
but when I look at my ring, on which is engraved A E G I S, I
shall gain such invulnerability that all sneers will glance aside
There is a curious fact about our club and motto. Like the old
English Cabal, we have five members whose initials form the name,
I have given up curling my hair, and braid it. Of course it isn't
becoming, but we Aegises stoop not to vanity. I have gained five
pounds since Christmas; so when my spring suit is made, tell the
dress-maker to put the extra material into the waist, and not
waste it (a pun, but very poor) in puffs and paniers, for we have
abolished them. We try to get along with the bare necessities of
I'd give a good deal to see you all, but I'm not the least bit
Good-by. Give my double-and-twisted love to everybody, and kiss
the dear pink of a baby a hundred times for me.
Anna I. Clifford.
P.S.—When you send the boots, perhaps if you put them in a
fair-sized box, there'll be room for a cooky or two.
A. I. C.
"Isn't that a happy letter!"
"Think of our dainty, exquisite Anna so independent! her pretty brown
curls straightened out in a braid, and her dresses shorn of puffs and
"That's the kind of 'society' for school-girls to form," says papa.
"I'll order the thickest boots I can find to be sent up; also a chicken
for Bridget to roast; and as she has given us so delicate a hint,
perhaps you can find something else to put in the box."
Afternoon finds the Clifford family again assembled in the dining-room,
intent upon packing the boots and "cookies"; and from the size of the
box on the table one would infer that the boots must be No. 17's, and
the cookies as large as cheeses, or, more correctly, that something more
is to be added.
"Wouldn't it be fine to send five things for the club individually?"
"Capital!" "Good!" "Just the thing!" cry all.
"And have their initials spell Aegis."
"What shall the first be?"
"A—Apples!" sounds a full chorus.
"It is a vote. And the next?"
"E—Eels," suggests fourteen-year-old Dick, whose suggestions are apt to
be more ludicrous than elegant.
"Eggs; hard-boiled eggs are always dear to my heart in the scenes of my
"Bridget, put on a dozen eggs, to boil ten minutes."
"Gum-arabic," from Dick.
It takes so long to decide this important point that Dr. Clifford calls
out the fourth letter:
A hush falls upon them, but, as Dick would say, made no noise, and did
no damage in falling. No one can think of anything but ice-cream. And I
challenge you: put your hand over your eyes, and name two other edibles
beginning with "I."
At last Dick, in an ecstasy of inspiration, starts up, and cries,
A peal of laughter, and each one suggests some impossible or awful
article; and then the dauntless Richard again: "A few Ideas."
"If we had them to spare," says papa, dryly.
"Irish potatoes would be like coals at Newcastle."
"I feel it in my bones that Bridget would suggest 'Isters.'"
"Apropos of that," says Milly, "I think we shall have to adopt the
sound, and send Inglish walnuts, as Anna loves them dearly."
"Now for the last letter."
The things are collected, and stowed away in the box; it is sent off by
express, and in a few days the following letter announces its arrival.
Elm Bank, —— 16, 1880.
Dear, dear, dear Family
,—I know I can't show you my delight
better than by telling you all about it.
Yesterday we Aegises were out walking all the afternoon, and when
we came home, hungry as wolves, were cheered by a chorus from the
"A Clifford box, a Wood box—
A Clifford box, a Wood box."
Perhaps you have no appetizing association with a wood-box, but
the news quickened our steps, and inspired us with the elasticity
of a quintette of rubber balls as we bounded up the steps, and
fell upon our boxes with all the love of a father upon a returned
I sat down on my box, and Gertie on hers, and there we sat, as
happy as two enthroned queens, with serfs and vassals standing
near. How every girl in school idolized us last night!
"George has driven Madame over to town, and won't be back till
late," said Enid, coming from her expedition to the basement in
search of George. (George is the man-servant who "does the chores"
and "plays hero" for the school.)
"How can we ever get these up stairs?" asks Gertie.
"Carry them ourselves," cried a brawny girl; "we'll all help."
So, with a girl at each corner of each box, we struggled up
stairs. Mine was not very heavy, but Gertie's was; and one girl
let her corner slip, which threw us all into confusion, and in the
midst of the hurly-burly we became aware of a majestic presence at
the head of the stairs, and there stood—Miss Coningham, the first
assistant. Our hearts stood still, for we had not asked
permission; but Sallie, whom nothing overcomes, saved us.
"Oh, Miss Coningham," she called, "do come and help us;" and she
actually stepped down and caught it as the girls were losing
control of it, and engineered it into our sitting-room.
You know we five Aegises have one sitting-room, with three
bedrooms opening out of it. As she turned to go, I thought I saw
in her face a longing to stay, and be a girl with the rest of us,
and I said,
"Don't go, Miss Coningham; stay and see what is in the boxes."
"Thank you; I know you will enjoy yourselves more alone. Madame
told me to give you five young ladies permission to have supper in
your own room to-night."
"Why?" we all cried. "What made her?"
"Because it is Miss Wood's birthday."
"My birthday!" cried Gertie, in amaze. "I didn't once think of
it;" while the girls flew at her ears.
"I don't see how any one could forget such a thing—do you, Miss
Coningham?" I asked, as she stood in the door.
"No; I could not forget mine," she said. "This is mine too."
When I told the girls it was Miss Coningham's birthday too, they
unanimously proposed to give her a present, and ran to their rooms
for their purses.
"There are just ten of us," said Enid, counting.
"Pass round a hat," said Ida.
"This will do," cried Sallie, seizing an India rubber shoe, and
taking up the collection. "If you have little, give little, but if
you've got a lot, give a good deal. Six dollars and ninety cents,"
said Sallie, counting it. "Now what shall we get?"
"Flowers? They fade so quickly."
"Let's get something she can keep."
"A gold thimble. You know hers rolled down the register, and was
We agreed upon the thimble. Then Enid went to Miss Coningham, and
gained permission for us to go down to the jeweller's. So the five
other girls left the selection of the thimble to us, and went down
"Wasn't 'Cony' good?" said Sallie. "Little did she suspect our
"Would it be a bad idea to ask her to feast with us to-night?"
"Not at all bad. Do you believe she'll come?"
"Very doubtful. Who will ask Madame if we may have the feast?"
"I," said Sallie; "my life for my country."
We bought a beautiful gold thimble for six dollars, and spent the
rest for flowers; then hurried home to open the boxes, and get
everything ready before study hour.
"What shall we do for a table-cloth?"
"Take a fresh sheet," said Sallie.
"Isn't there anything better?" asks Ida.
"Positively nothing," answered Sallie, throwing a sheet at her.
"Take this, and be thankful it isn't sheet lightning that strikes
you. Now I start for my interview with Madame."
"Good luck attend you! Enid, put the flowers in the centre, with a
lemon pie at one side and a mince at the other."
"Here is a roast chicken," I cried. "Ida, put it at one end."
"Enid," called Gertie, "here's a duck in my box; put him opposite
"'Dido et dux,'" said Enid.
"Well," answered Gertie, "I'm glad she didn't eat them all."
Here Sallie came in, triumphant.
"I showed her the thimble, girls, and told her all about
everything, and she says we five and the other five and Miss
Coningham—Elsie, she called her—can come up here right after
prayers, and stay till ten o'clock."
"Could anything be jollier?"
"She says Elsie was our age when she first came here, and was as
full of fun as we are."
Then I found your note, saying there were Apples for Anna,
Eggs for Enid, Grapes for Gertie, Inglish walnuts for Ida,
and Sardines for Sallie. We saw how hard up you were for I's,
but we'd rather have the nuts than anything.
We had just got everything in order when the study bell rang. You
can scarcely mention a "goody" that was not in one of those boxes.
Gertie had a birthday cake with fifteen tapers on it, which we
I can't begin to tell you what a jolly time we had when we came
back up stairs. All our invitations were accepted. Miss Coningham
was charmed with the thimble. We "toasted" all you good people at
home who were the cause of our joy, and sent the flowers to Madame
when our revelry was o'er.
By-the-way, the boots are exactly right. Now, with the love and
thanks of all the Aegises, I must close, for I haven't touched a
lesson for to-morrow.
Lovingly, gratefully, and thankfully yours,
Anna I. Clifford.