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CHAPTER XXVI.

THE RIVAL BONNETS.

I HAVE a pleasant story to relate of a couple of fashionables of our city, which will serve to diversify these “Confessions,” and amuse the reader. To the incidents, true in the main, I have taken the liberty of adding some slight variations of my own.

A lady of some note in society, named Mrs. Claudine, received a very beautiful bonnet from New York, a little in advance of others, and being one of the rival leaders in the fashionable world, felt some self-complacency at the thought of appearing abroad in the elegant head-gear, and thereby getting the reputation of leading the fashion.

Notwithstanding Mrs. Claudine's efforts to keep the matter a secret, and thus be able to create a surprise when she appeared at church on the next Sunday, the fact that she had received the bonnet leaked out, and there was some excitement about it. Among those who heard of the new bonnet, was a Mrs. Ballman, who had written to a friend to get for her the very article obtained first by Mrs. Claudine. From some cause or other a delay had occurred,

and to her chagrin she learned that a rival had the new fashion, and would get the eclat that she so much coveted. The disappointment, to one whose pleasures in life are so circumscribed as those of a real fashionable lady, was severe indeed. She did not sleep more than a few hours on the night after she received the mortifying intelligence.

The year before, Mrs. Claudine had led the fashion in some article of dress, and to see her carry off the palm in bonnets on this occasion, when she had striven so hard to be in advance, was more than Mrs. Ballman could endure. The result of a night's thinking on the subject was a determination to pursue a very extraordinary course, the nature of which will be seen. By telegraph Mrs. Ballman communicated with her friend in New York, desiring her to send on by the evening of the next day, which was Saturday, the bonnet she had ordered, if four prices had to be paid as an inducement to get the milliner to use extra exertions in getting it up. In due time, notice came back that the bonnet would be sent on by express on Saturday, much to the joy of Mrs. Ballman, who from the interest she felt in carrying out her intentions, had entirely recovered from the painful disappointment at first experienced.

Saturday brought the bonnet, and a beautiful one it was. A few natural sighs were expended over the elegant affair, and then other feelings came in to chase away regrets at not having been first to secure the article.

On the day previous, Friday, Mrs. Ballman called upon a fashionable milliner, and held with her the following conversation.

“ You have heard of Mrs. Claudine's new bonnet, I presume ?"

“Yes, madam,” replied the milliner.

“Do you think it will take ?” asked Mrs. Ballman.

“ I do.”
“ You have not the pattern ?"
“Oh, yes. I received one a week ago."
6. You did !”

“ Yes. But some one must introduce it. As Mrs. Claudine is about doing this there is little doubt of its becoming the fashion, for the style is striking as well as tasteful.”

Mrs. Ballman mused for some moments. Then she drew the milliner aside, and said, in a low, confidential tone.

“Do you think you could get up a bonnet as handsome as that, and in just as good taste ?"

“I know I could.” In my last received London and Paris fashions are several bonnets as handsome as the one that is about being adopted in New York, and here also without doubt.”

“I am not so sure of its being adopted here,” said the lady:

“If Mrs. Claudine introduces it, as I understand she intends doing on Sunday, it will certainly be approved and the style followed.”

“I very much doubt it. But we will see. Where are the bonnets you spoke of just now ?”

The milliner brought forth a number of pattern cards and plates, and pointed out two bonnets, either of which, in her judgment, was more

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beautiful than the one Mrs. Claudine had received.

"Far handsomer," was the brief remark with which Mrs. Ballman approved the milliner's judgment. “And now,” she added, “can you get me up one of these by Sunday?" 6 I will try.”

Try won't do,” said the lady, with some excitement in her manner. “I must have the bonnet. Can you make it ?”

“ Yes.” “Very well. Then make it. And let it

. be done in your very best manner. Why I wish to have this bonnet I need hardly explain to you. I believed that I would have received the bonnet, about to be adopted in New York, first. I had written to a friend to procure it; but, by some means, Mrs. Claudine has obtained her's in advance of me. Mine will be here to-morrow, but I don't mean to wear it. I wish to lead.”

“If you were both to appear in this bonnet, the fashion would be decided,” said the milliner.

“I know. But I have no wish to share the honor with Mrs. Claudine. Make me the bonnet I have selected, and I will see that it puts her's

down.”

“You will remember," said the milliner, “that her's has been already adopted in New York. This will be almost sure to give it the preference. It would be better that you did not attempt a rivalry, than that you should be beaten.”

“ But I don't mean to be beaten,” replied the lady. “I have taken measures to prevent that. After Sunday you will hear no more of the New York bonnet. Mine will go, and this, I need not tell you, will be a feather in your cap, and dollars in your pocket; as I will refer to you as the only one who can get it up. So do your best, and improve the pattern we have selected, if it will bear improvement."

The milliner promised to do her “prettiest,” and Mrs. Ballman returned home in a state of considerable elation at the prospect of carrying off the palm, and humiliating her rival at the same time.

Mrs. Claudine, though a little vain, and fond of excelling, was a woman of kind feelings, and entirely superior to the petty jealousies that annoyed Mrs. Ballman, and soured her towards all who succeeded in rivalling her in matters of taste and fashion. Of what was passing in the mind of the lady who had been so troubled at her reception of a new style of bonnet from New York, she was entirely ignorant. She was not even aware that Mrs. Ballman had ordered the same article, nor that she had suffered a disappointment.

Saturday came. Mrs. Claudine was busy over some little article of dress that was to add to her appearance on the next day, when an Irish girl, who had formerly lived with her, entered her

room.

“Ah! Kitty!" said the lady pleasantly. “ How do you do?

“ I'm right well, mum, thankee,” replied Kitty, with a courtesy

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