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  • Her First Party
  • Kate Chopin

The Youth's Companion, 30 March 1905

The party dress, a white organdy with touches of delicate pink, was finished, and hung beneath the chandelier in Millie's room.

She had never been to an entertainment of any importance, and was not quite old enough to go to one now. But this was not wholly a grown-up affair—one of the arguments which she and her brother Bob had brought to bear upon their mother. Bob's class was giving it over at College Hall, only a few blocks away. There were to be charades, tableaus and recitations, in all of which Millie was to take a leading rôle.

All her acquaintances were going; everybody that was anybody, between sixteen and twenty, was going. But surely none looked forward to it with such rapture, such blissful anticipation, such expectancy as did Millie. All night she anticipated the event in dreams, and all day she posed or declaimed or danced through the halls and apartments as if possessed by the very spirit of Terpsichore.

If anything were to happen! Millie sickened at the thought. But what could happen, except rain, perhaps, and the weather prophet was taking care of that. To be sure, her Aunt Mildred, a couple of hundred miles away, was quite sick, and her mother was wearing a saddened face betimes.

Again, the party dress might catch fire and burn up, and there would be no time to make another. She herself might take a tumble in one of those fantastic flights through the house, and sprain an ankle. The thought sobered her for twenty seconds or less.

At breakfast the morning of the party Millie found it difficult to keep a pretense of interest in anything so prosaic as toast and muttonchops.

She plied Bob with questions, she worried him with her misgivings. She quitted her seat to embrace her mother violently, then she was off to the kitchen, and dragging Kitty, the maid, up two flights to view the creation in pink and white beneath the chandelier.

A while later the restless Millie stood out upon the front steps, gazing up into the misty October sky in search of weather indications upon which she might base some prognostications of her own. It was then that the postman came along, and with a polite greeting handed her the morning mail—quite a batch of it. [End Page 397]

She slowly turned into the house, glancing over the circulars and letters, and in a manner assorting them. There was a letter to her mother from her Aunt Jane,—she knew the stiff, formal handwriting,—mailed from the distant town in which her Aunt Mildred lay sick.

A dread that for the moment made her feel faint took possession of Millie. She crept into the quiet parlor and sat there undisturbed, staring at the outside of her Aunt Jane's letter. Her fingers seemed to feel for the annoyance which that sealed envelope might cover; her eyes seemed to penetrate and unveil the threat against her longed-for and looked-for pleasure.

What difference would a day make? She turned and turned the letter about. What difference could a day make? None whatever, as Millie counted days. Yet she could feel her heart thump with guilty excitement as she slipped the letter into her pocket.

She then went on up-stairs and laid the mail in the usual place upon the sitting-room table, glad that her mother was not there at the moment to unmask her shamefaced consciousness.

It was a hateful occurrence, that threw a damper upon her joy. During the school hours the letter concealed in her pocket seemed like a live thing, a reptile, a slimy thing, when her hand accidentally encountered it. She almost made up her mind to deliver it to her mother when she returned at three o'clock.

Oh, but the merry time ahead! What chatter! Like the twittering sparrows among the russet leaves as the girls walked home beneath the trees. What breathless chatter of gowns, of hair ornaments, of slippers and fluttering ribbons! But Millie knew there was nothing that would compare...


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