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The Peterkins At The "Carnival Of Authors" In Boston
by [?]

The Peterkins were in quite a muddle (for them) about the carnival of authors, to be given in Boston. As soon as it was announced, their interests were excited, and they determined that all the family should go.

But they conceived a wrong idea of the entertainment, as they supposed that every one must go in costume. Elizabeth Eliza thought their lessons in the foreign languages would help them much in conversing in character.

As the carnival was announced early Solomon John thought there would be time to read up everything written by all the authors, in order to be acquainted with the characters they introduced. Mrs. Peterkin did not wish to begin too early upon the reading, for she was sure she should forget all that the different authors had written before the day came.

But Elizabeth Eliza declared that she should hardly have time enough, as it was, to be acquainted with all the authors. She had given up her French lessons, after taking six, for want of time, and had, indeed, concluded she had learned in them all she should need to know of that language. She could repeat one or two pages of phrases, and she was astonished to find how much she could understand already of what the French teacher said to her; and he assured her that when she went to Paris she could at least ask the price of gloves, or of some other things she would need, and he taught her, too, how to pronounce ” garcon,” in calling for more.

Agamemnon thought that different members of the family might make themselves familiar with different authors; the little boys were already acquainted with “Mother Goose.” Mr. Peterkin had read the “Pickwick Papers,” and Solomon John had actually seen Mr. Longfellow getting into a horse-car.

Elizabeth Eliza suggested that they might ask the Turk to give lectures upon the “Arabian Nights.” Everybody else was planning something of the sort, to “raise funds” for some purpose, and she was sure they ought not to be behindhand. Mrs. Peterkin approved of this. It would be excellent if they could raise funds enough to pay for their own tickets to the carnival; then they could go every night.

Elizabeth Eliza was uncertain. She thought it was usual to use the funds for some object. Mr. Peterkin said that if they gained funds enough they might arrange a booth of their own, and sit in it, and take the carnival comfortably. But Agamemnon reminded him that none of the family were authors, and only authors had booths. Solomon John, indeed, had once started upon writing a book, but he was not able to think of anything to put in it, and nothing had occurred to him yet.

Mr. Peterkin urged him to make one more effort. If his book could come out before the carnival he could go as an author, and might have a booth of his own, and take his family.

But Agamemnon declared it would take years to become an author. You might indeed publish something, but you had to make sure that it would be read. Mrs. Peterkin, on the other hand, was certain that libraries were filled with books that never were read, yet authors had written them. For herself, she had not read half the books in their own library. And she was glad there was to be a Carnival of Authors, that she might know, who they were.

Mr. Peterkin did not understand why they called them a “Carnival”; but he supposed they should find out when they went to it.

Mrs. Peterkin still felt uncertain about costumes. She proposed looking over the old trunks in the garret. They would find some suitable dresses there, and these would suggest what characters they should take. Elizabeth Eliza was pleased with this thought. She remembered an old turban of white mull muslin, in an old bandbox, and why should not her mother wear it?