THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
A NEW STUDY. On the 25th of August last a terrible discovery was made by the Professor of Latin and the Harp at the Wilson P’emale Seminary of Redfield, Mass. The Professor, who had been engaged in giving private instruction in the art of sitting on the front piazza to an estimable young lady of the village, was passing through the corridor to his room at a late hour, when he heard a distinct sound of revelry in Room No. 11. At first he thought it might be a hilarious burglar, but he soon heard the unmistakeable sound of feminine voices. Approaching the door softly, he listened, in the strict performance of his duty, and, in addition to hearing the sound of voices, he smelled the odour of tobacco. In these circumstances he could not but suspect the presence of surreptitious male cousins, and in his alarm of the possibility of such an invasion of the sanctity of the seminary, he took the extreme course of placing a chair near the door, climb-
ing up on it, and looking through what is popularly called the fanlight. He saw no cousins, but, to his intense horror, he found that a feminine orgie of the most reprehensible nature was in progress. Twelve young ladies, with their back hair down, were seated around a table, drinking cold tea and smoking cigarettes. Under the stimulating influence of the tea, they were talking rapidly and in an excited manner, and from time to time they burst into subdued singing. The spectacle made the Professor turn pale, and, to a certain extent, made his blood run cold. He did not dare to break in among the revellers, lost under the excitement of tea they should fall upon him and inflict fatal injuries upon his wig. Accordingly, he climbed softly down from his perch, went to his room, and in the morning told the terrible tale, together with the' names of the revellers, to the Principal. Some men, had they been in the Principal’s place, would at once have taken the severest measures. They would have summoned the offenders to their presence, loaded them with reproaches, and sent them home to their stricken parents with; the brand of cold tea and cigarettes on their foreheads. The girls would, of course, cither have sunk under the shame of their expulsion or they would have tried to drown their sorrow with more cold tea and cigarettes, and would have thus been ruined morally, socially, and in point of stomachs. The excellent Principal could not make up his mind thus to blight twelve young lives,., and, after mature deliberation, he hit upon a better plan.
At prayers that evening he made; a brief speech, announcing that he contemplated adding a new study to the ordinary curriculum, but that, before so doing, he desired to consult with his beloved pupils. He therefore invited the twelve young ladies whose names had been furnished to him by the Professor of Latin and the Harp to meet him in his study at 7 o’clock that night. The invited girls were greatly flattered by the attention thus paid them, and they resolved to put on their best ribbons, and to wait on their beloved Principal without fail at the hour mentioned.
They did so. At 7 o’clock the twelve revellers presented themselves at the study door, and, it may be added in passing, presented an appearance which would have softened the heart of the most obdurate ruffian, unless, of course, he had been sustained by an unswerving determination to do his duty. The Principal welcomed them warmly, and they noticed with some surprise that, although the weather was hot, all the windows of the room were tightly closed. They were still more surprised when the Principal locked the door and put the key in his pocket, remarking, as he did so, that they had met for an important conference, and that he did not, propose to be interrupted. After a preliminary discussion of the weather, the Principal proceeded to business by saying that he had determined to introduce the Theory and Practice of Smoking as a new study. He admitted that this important branch of education had been sadly neglected at the seminary, and that he himself had not smoked for several years, but that he trusted they were one and all ready to make up for lost time. The attempt of certain ambitious students to master the art of smoking without a teacher was, he confessed, extremely creditable, and showed a strong love for study; but as he had decided to undertake the duties of a Professor of Smoking, he trusted that none of his dear young friends would try to smoke by the light of nature. So saying, he produced a large and well-filled pipe for himself and a supply of the strongest cigarettes for the young ladies, and desired them to take their first regular lesson. With a view to stimulate competition, he promised a reward to the girl who should smoke the greatest number of cigarettes within an hour, and an exemplary punishment to the one who should smoke the fewest. With these cheering remarks, he ordered every lady to “light up,” and putting a match to his pipe began to pour out a cloud of smoke.
The young ladies, filled with a vague dread that they had been detected in their midnight orgie, and dreading punishment therefor, did not dare to refuse to smoke. They smoked with a vigor that showed they were but little accustomed to the true method of smoking, and that speedilj filled the room with a blue cloud that momentarily grew denser. The windows being closed, no air could enter the room, and the heat aided the smoke in its deadly work. In twenty minutes Miss Sallie Smith dropped her cigarette and sank upon the sofa. Five minutes later Miss Bettie McGinnis followed her example, and at the end of forty minutes every one of the twelve, with the exception of the two occupants of the sofa, were lying on the floor, mute and limp, and, in their deadly agony, wishing they were dead. The good Principal consulting his watch, and finding that the hour for instruction had not yet ended, smoked steadily on. When the clock struck eight he laid down his pipe, and, apparently for the first time, noticed the condition of the first class in the Theory and Practice of Smoking. He asked, with great surprise and tenderness, if anything was the matter, and if his dear young friends felt quite well, but receiving no answer but inarticulate groans, he opened the windows, unlocked the doors, and rung for the matron. The latter, assisted by the chamber-maids, carried the young ladies one by one to their rooms, where, during the rest of evening, they conducted themselves in a way that reminded the listener of a storm at sea, with its usual effects upon delicate passengers. It was two days before the smoking class made its appearance, and then the girls looked, in the expressive and figurative language of the washerwoman, as if “ they’d been wrung out and drawed through a knothole. ”
Nothing more has been said by the Principal as to the new study, and it is understood that he has changed his mind and decided not to place it on the curriculum. No more cold tea and cigarette orgies have been held by the young ladies, and if anything is morally certain, it is that not one of the twelve revellers had the slightest desire ever again to look upon the cigarette when it is lighted.
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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 253, 27 January 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 253, 27 January 1881
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