Yesterday, I was reading Sophie du Pont: A Young Lady in America (since posting about it a couple weeks ago, I found a copy — great condition and a perfect dust jacket — at Monroe Street Books in Middlebury last weekend… So the library copy has been quickly returned) and came across this letter extract that I simply have to share! Enjoy —
“I have a laughable story of a partner of hers at Phillips ball…. In the midst of the dance, he exclaims ‘excuse me ma’am’ & darts off, leaving Ella petrified, not knowing what to do, & the whole set put out till John Phillips rushed forward & took his place — He reappeared at the end of the set but made no apol:y to Ella & avoided her all the rest of the evening. Every one pronounced him the rudest of bears [underlined TWICE!]”
Now comes the explanation, which sets the common thought of those dancers on its head:
“–Now the explanation of the whole matter ‘has come to light.’ … It appears, in the first efforts to dance, his suspenders gave way entirely and he was obliged to hold up his pantaloons, the descent of which you will allow, would have been distressing — (for himself & spectators) His excuse to Ella was necessarily abrupt & he hurried to the door, which being much crowded at that moment, his further retreat was impeded — In this dilemma he felt some one pulling his suspenders, which had found their way down, & turning round he beheld little Caroline Phillips, who exclaimed aloud, ‘What is this!’ “
I don’t know what struck me as funnier — the poor man’s embarrassing situation (as well the now “cleared” bear), or the little girl yanking his suspenders!
And this gives a taste of the comical turn young Sophie’s letters often take. Just an enjoyable book; wish someone published more of her correspondence!