When the steamer took fire, it was a dark,
cold night, the wind cutting like steel, and the banks of the
river white with snow. The ladies were safely landed in their
night robes, altogether inadequate, to be sure, for such an occasion
as this. Large fires were built for their accommodation; but large
fires out of doors impart but a small measure of comfort, although,
it is true, they preserve one from freezing. One of the ladies
was Miss Emily T. N, a plain, sensible girl, who had been brought
up by a Masonic daddy. Somehow there was a peculiar attraction
in Miss Emily that drew all three of the O's clerks, one after
the other, to come round in front of her and glance at an ornament
that was suspended on her neck, and then walk back to enter upon
a whispering conference with the other two. What could it be?
Not that graceful form, half exposed through her scanty covering?
nor those cheeks, crimson with answering blushes? What could it
be? The same attraction called old Captain G , rough and tough
against Cupid's arrows as he was, to go through the same maneuvers.
It must have been a powerful magnetism to the old boy; for he
gallantly pulled off his overcoat, got a blanket from one of the
deck passengers, and dressed her up as warmly as if she had brought
her own cloak and shawl ashore, and was going a sleigh riding.
The next morning Miss Emily was sent to town the first load. There
the clerks procured her a full wardrobe, jam up, and, to this
day, her father can't discover who paid the sixty five dollars
for it. Each of the clerks sincerely and solemnly swears (it's
a pity steamboat clerks will swear so!) that he didn't, and Captain
A stiffly affirms that he didn't. The whole five of them are Masons,
that's a fact; but what could it be that attracted those clerks
to the shivering girl? Be it what it may, the wears yet, and declares
she will never marry any man who cannot explain it. The next person
who sees her in her night dress will make a note of it.
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