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Punchinello, Volume 2, No. 35, November 26, 1870

by Various

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croquet party has assembled in Mrs. TIMOTHY LADLE'S front yard, located in one of the most romantic spots in that sylvan retreat, the State of Indiana.

"Who's going to play," did you say?

Come with me, and I'll introduce you.

This austere female, with such inflexible rigidity of form, such harrowing cork-screw curls, and chronic expression as of smelling something disagreeable, is Mrs. LADLE, the hostess. A widow. Her husband, the late TIMOTHY, was a New York detective. Amassing a competency, he emigrated to Indiana, became a Bank Director and Sunday-School Superintendent, and died beloved by all.

Produce your very best bow for Mrs. LADLE, and trot out your company talk, for she's in the mother-in-law business, and thoroughly up to snuff.

This old male party, with the remains of a luxuriant growth of very red hair, clinging fondly, like underbrush round a rock, to the sides of his head, with a seedy-looking patch far under the chin to match, whose limp dickey droops pensively as if seeking to crawl bodily into the embrace of the plaid gingham which encircles his neck, and in whose nose is embodied that rare vermilion tint which artists so love to dwell upon;—this is the Hon. MICHAEL LADLE, brother of the late TIMOTHY, a Western Member of Congress, and a grass widower.

This girl of the period, whose saucy black eyes bear down on you like a twenty-four gun frigate; looking as it were through you, and counting the hairs on the back of your neck, is Miss BELINDA LADLE, daughter of the deceased TIMOTHY, and step-daughter to the hostess who was TIM'S second matrimonial venture, you understand.

This young woman mounts a lager-beer cask, and stops the buzz of conversation by bringing her mallet down with a smart rap upon the head of the nearest bald-headed gentleman.

"Attention, company," said she—"Stand up straight, and look as well as you can.—Take—mallets."

While the guests are boisterously laughing, with that rare appreciation of refined humor peculiar to the West, Mrs. LADLE, the proper, attempts an indignant remonstrance, but is interrupted by the Hon. MICHAEL.

"Oh, let the little gal have her tantrums, sister-in-law," said he. "Mebbe you was young once, though nobody now living could swear to it."

"Come," interrupted BELINDA, "we've had gassin' enough. Choose your partners. Mildewed age, before infantile beauty. Mother-in-law, go in."

The extremely respectable and highly dignified female last alluded to shook her fist at BELINDA on the sly, and said:

"I'll take ANN BRUMMET."

The lady who stepped forward at this summons was greeted with a wide stare, and every eye-glass was focussed.

She was a remarkable-looking female. She wasn't exactly handsome, but there was a sort of a something about her, you understand, that—ah—riveted the gaze of folks generally, you see, and a fellow—ah—caught himself looking the second time, as you may say—and ah—it wasn't style either, for one shoulder was higher than the other, and her hair was done up in a bob, and she took awful long steps, and swung her arms as far as they would go each way; and her collar looked as though she'd slept in it, and she wore rubbers like a school-ma'am....