Thursday, February 25, 2010

Courtin and Skating in the 1860s

Here is the case:  "Well, Sir, Mary caught the skating fever, which is now raging so fearfully.  I heard her express a wish for a pair of skates, and the next day she had the best pair that could be had in the city and nobody knew who sent them to her.  We went down to the ice, and there Mary just sat quietly down, ordered me on my knees, and quietly placed that foot, the foot, in my lap, and bid me put on her skates. Sir, had Venus dropped down from Heaven, and told me to rub her down with stone and oil, it could not have astonished me more than when that divine foot was placed in my unworthy lap.  I felt very faint - but I buckled on the skates and stood up with Mary by my side.  No; well, let me tell you.  You have seen a kaleidiscope, with a few old bits of glass, in a tin tube, and turning it, have seen all sorts of beautiful figures."

"Just imagine a kaleidoscope, and in place of beads and broken glass, please substitute blue eyes, curling eyelashes, lips ivory, wavy hair, crinoline, gaiter boots, zephyr worsted, hearts, darts, a clap of thunder, a flash of lightning and 'Auld Nick'.  Imagine yourself the center of a system with all these things revolving around you, and a violet bank breathing sighs upon you all the while, and you have Mary and her victim in her first skating lesson."

Mary and I start - she on my left arm-all square.  First, Mary's dear little gaiter boots presented themselves to my astonished vision, and before I have time to wonder how they came up before me, I felt them pressing their blessed beauty with emphasis into the pit of my stomach.  Next scene-wavy hair with $30 bonnet and a divine head came pitching into my waistcoat, with such a force that I feel the buttons against my spine.

Next- Mary gazes at me from between my jack-boots, and anon her blessed little nose is thrust into my shirt bosom.  Ah! my friends, all research and study on the mysterious subject of woman has been comparatively in vain till, in this eventful year of 1861, the fashion of skating has opened new and various sources of information.  Do you remember your first attempt at driving a tandem?  Do you remember how that infernal perverse beast that you selected for your leader, would insist on turning round and staring you in the face, as if to ask, 'what the deuce you'd be at?'  Well, just you go and try a woman on skates, that's all - just try it.  Ah! won't you come to the conclusion that women have sundry and diverse ways of accomplishing their objects?  Dear Mary! I offered myself to her every time she turned up or came round.  I am hers forever."

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