A most verbose accounting of 36 hours in the life of Miss Christina Irwin (with an unfortunate lack of images to accompany)
Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Aunt and Uncle are come from their tavern in the Welch mountains while Mother and Father are away tending to my sister who is due to deliver her first child any day now. I am glad for the company of my Mother's family as if they had not come my sister and I would have been compelled to travel with my parents for the birth. It is not that Miriam and I would not have enjoyed seeing our sister and the new babe, but our sister's home is not quite so suited to the number of inhabitants as would be pressed upon her with our arrival.
Therefore, Aunt and Uncle have come for Christmas time while Mother and Father have gone 'til twelfth night.
The weather has been prodigious cold of late and the ground is blanketed with snow resembling a patched coverlet- holes of green and brown worn through the white flannel. Perhaps more snow will come tomorrow to offer mending. Until then, I am to bed. I have said my goodnights and said my prayers, and now 'tis time to snuff the candle well and say good even to my bed.
I awoke this morning first to the indelicate call of my bladder (the scandal!). After ignoring it (as I am wont to do) and returning to slumber I awoke secondly to my dearest Aunt rousing us from rest. There was frost on the windows and sleep in my eyes, but Miriam and I arose and dressed with morning chores in mind. Thankfully, breakfast had already been started. In honor of the season, I swept the floor instead of leaving it to Miriam. I can be a kindly sister when I wish it.
After some porridge for breakfast my sister and I dressed for the day. Both in our blue gowns. Miriam's being more of a periwinkle while mine was more of an indigo. We tidied the kitchen and helped Aunt with the dishes and were preparing for a walk into town when there was a knock upon the door. I couldn't imagine that someone might have been calling with news of my sister and her babe. Had all gone well? Uncle announced that he saw soldiers coming up the road and that this could very well be them.
Uncle could not beat me to the door. Soldiers were even more exciting than my sister's new baby!
There were four soldiers at the door, for the most part youngish in appearance. They were led by the eldest amongst them- a shorter man with dark hair and kind but mischievous eyes. I would find out later in the day that not only was he the most senior in age of the foursome but also in rank (which was unfortunate as it was not his handsomeness which was objectionable, but rather his age.) There was one or two pleasing specimens in attendance, however, and Miriam and I decided for which of them we would set our caps when Uncle sent us into the larder to gather the vegetables and return with a dram of whiskey for each man. I wish I had dressed in a better gown for this morning, as I would have liked to have made a finer impression on one of the gentleman soldiers in particular. I did try to politely encourage him with subtle nods. Only time will tell if he was receptive to my interest.
As all good things must eventually end so did this visit. However, seeing as Miriam and I had just been on our way for a walk and so kindly offered to show the gentleman to their next destination. I will admit to something naughty as this point, dearest reader. I did instigate a bit of mischief myself as we sent them on their way. The family who occupied the farm just down the road outside of town had last spring done me a grievous injury by repeating ill spirited words regarding my character that dissuaded a potential suitor from deeming me a suitable choice for courtship. In reflection, while there may have been some truth to the words (that I was not maturely enough situated for marriage, too flighty to be suitable, a notorious gossip and flirt) it was not well done of them to repeat these things to others when they were not better acquainted with my situation. This bad deed did find me again later in the even; but I am committed to chronicling this day in the order it happened so must leave this scene for its own part.
The soldiers carried on towards the farm house while Miriam and I returned home. Refreshed from our walk and newly excited with the prospect of seeing the soldiers again (the corporal did ask me to call upon Mrs. Smith in whose home they were staying if I should wish to aid the cause by mending some items in sore need of repair) we decided we should begin to freshen our appearance. Thus, we dressed our hair prettily and freshly powdered it before donning new ribbons with our caps. Shortly after this, I paid a call on Mrs. Smith regarding the mending and extended the invitation for her and her two daughters to visit us later in the afternoon for refreshments. Although they are Friends and do not observe Christmas I thought it would be nice to spend some time with the ladies as they are nearer the age of my sister and myself than most in our town.
As Mr. Smith was to make a visit to see my Uncle he was kind enough to walk with me back to my home. A more understanding man does not exist, in my mind. Upon hearing the plight thrust upon me at the fault of my father Mr. Smith and I were in league to catch the eye of a certain soldier from earlier this morning. You would perhaps find yourself sympathetic to my plight, dear reader, if I would but share it with you. Here stand the facts of the situation which has caused me such distress and left me in desperation to find a kind young man to take me to wife.
My father, bless him, is a good man. Being a good man he wishes his daughters to be married with homes and children of our own. Truly I should like a husband of my own. I should enjoy nothing more than to spend the remainder of my days with a man whom I love and respect. My father, however, has plans to marry me to our neighbor Mr. Jones (a man whose pungent odor, if not excessive years makes him an ill candidate for my affections.)
Well, Mr. Smith was kind enough to hatch a plot with me which might bring the young gentleman into my company. Mr. Smith agreed to, nay suggested, that he could accidentally leave his mittens behind and send the young soldier to retrieve them. Mr. Smith could outdo any mama at trying to match her daughter up with a handsome man.
Well, Mr. Smith visited with Uncle and then we sat down to dinner. Aunt had prepared a wonderful soup. Unfortunately the topic of conversation turned to a sour note as Aunt took me to task for being too forward in my behavior earlier this morning. She and my uncle tried to convince me of the merits of an arranged match but were unsuccessful. Our dinner was not quite finished when a knock (a most timely knock, might I add) sounded at the door.
What followed was a flurry of activity and commotion as guest after guest arrived over the next hour at least. First a group of soldiers come to compensate my uncle for our earlier contributions. Then Mr. Martin to retrieve Mr. Smith's gloves. Then the Smith ladies. It was all most exciting. I did try to take my aunt's concerns to heart. Perhaps most significant for me was the moment when, upon handing Mr. Martin his shrub, our fingers ever so briefly touched. I did orchestrate this to be sure, but it was a welcome chance which I hope did not go unnoticed by the gentleman as well. I was happy also to show Mrs. Smith's eldest daughter, Ella, some new taffeta recently had for a bonnet. She and I take a particular interest in fashion so I knew she would appreciate the economy with which I acquired the length.
Mrs. Smith invited us to her home later in the evening for a social visit, perhaps to take their minds off of the soldiers being there. This fact was even more incentive for me to press my aunt to accept. After all of our company had left, we cleaned up the table and tidied the home. Then Miriam and I went to change for our visit to the Smiths. I wanted to be sure we presented ourselves to our best advantage, so I wore a gown cut in the latest fashion of a beautiful spotted, flower'd cotton and Miriam wore my second nicest yellow striped cotton. Thankfully, we are at a point in our growth where we may share our gowns with little adjustment needed. She looked handsome, indeed.
We all walked together to the Smiths as it was already dark and Aunt settled herself in with the Mrs. Smith and her daughters while we quietly slipped into the back room with Uncle where all of the gentleman were. What a lovely time was had. The corporal arranged it such that Mr. Martin was seated next to myself (clever man, indeed, regardless of his age!) The evening was filled with songs and merriment and was overall very pleasant indeed. Uncle overindulged in rum and if Aunt could have seen his machinations to engage for myself the affections of Mr. Martin perhaps she would not have taken me to task so during our dinner. He was so tippled he could barely make the walk back home. But we said our farewells and made the walk nonetheless, with Uncle leaning on Aunt's arm all the way.
He went directly to bed while Aunt, Miriam, and I stayed awake to recall the events of the evening. I even lit a candle to record the events of today before I could forget all of the exciting details. I am to bed momentarily but couldn't help but note that this was probably the most excitement Milltown has seen since the conflict began. Also the most gentlemen!
The hour is late and I must to rest before the sun rises. I can only hope tomorrow might have some excitement in store as well.