Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Etiquette for Two.

Jerry (sulkily): You're uncommonly cool tonight.
Kitty (in a fascinating spirit of mischief): Oh, no; I am simply behaving well. I have been reading "Etiquette for Young Ladies," by Aunt Margery. Young ladies should not receive gentlemen alone.
Jerry (glowering): No?
Kitty: No. Ben and Clara are out, but papa and mamma and George will be down in a minute.
Jerry (with strong displeasure): Indeed?
Kitty: You may go and lay your hat on the hall rack; or you may hold it.
Jerry: Don't trouble yourself, pray.
Kitty: Oh, I don't mean to. It is not proper for a young lady to dispose of a gentleman's hat. It is only a shade less improper than helping him on with his overcoat.
Jerry (with heavy gloom): You've always done that for me.
Kitty: I blush to think of it. Aunt Margery would have been horrified beyond expression if she had seen me. But the worst thing, positively the most shocking, is going to the door with a gentleman when he takes leave.
Jerry (with sundry sweet recollections, savagely): I am gratified to hear it.
Kitty: I knew you would be. Aunt Margery says so, and she knows. I am so glad I have learned how to behave well. I shall endeavor not to forget anything. I wonder where papa and mamma and George are? It is so improper for me to be alone here with you. (Lapses into a stiff and wrathful silence.)
Jerry (brightening, after a wrathful five minutes): I was going to remark that I have been reading "Etiquette for Young Gentlemen."
Kitty: Yes.
Kitty (suspiciously): It must be.
Jerry: Yes. I read it most attentively. Of course styles change, but it seems the proper and prevailing way at present is to join the young lady on the sofa - like this, you know -
Kitty (in trepidation): You -
Jerry: The young lady isn't supposed to speak at this stage of the proceedings. You next pass your arm gently, but firmly, round the waist of the young lady, just above the line of the belt - in this manner - and -
Kitty: Mr. Brooks!
Jerry: And bestow upon her an affectionate pressure like this, at the same instant smoothing her hair with your unoccupied hand.
Kitty: Jerry!
Jerry: Being careful, of course, not to displace her hairpins. Having proceeded thus far in safety, you are given a choice of two methods, both perfectly correct. You may express your sentiments in a chaste formula of a few polished phrases - -
Kitty: Jerry Brooks!
Jerry: But I have forgotten the formula. The other method is simpler and more effective. You kiss the young lady with sincerity and ardour - something like this - and she will, of course, return the caress with equal warmth. This will signify acceptance and thanks. So Uncle Charlie says. Details as to parent's consent, date of ceremony, etc., may be settled at leisure. Where are your father and mother and George? I'd like to see them.
Kitty (indistinctly, because of the close pressure of her nose against his shoulder): You impudent boy!

Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Saturday June 6, 1896, Issue 5986
Yes. By Uncle Charlie. It is very instructive. The chapter on "The Correct Way to Propose" is especially interesting.

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