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“The fact is,” said Jenny, as she twirled a little hat on her hand, which she had been making over, with nobody knows what of bows and pompons, and other matters for which the women have curious names,–“the fact is, American women and girls must learn to economize; it isn’t merely restricting one’s self to American goods, it is general economy, that is required. Now here’s this hat,–costs me only three dollars, all told; and Sophie Page bought an English one this morning at Madam Meyer’s for which she gave fifteen. And I really don’t think hers has more of an air than mine. I made this over, you see, with things I had in the house, bought nothing but the ribbon, and paid for altering and pressing, and there you see what a stylish hat I have!”

“Lovely! admirable!” said Miss Featherstone. “Upon my word, Jenny, you ought to marry a poor parson; you would be quite thrown away upon a rich man.”

“Let me see,” said I. “I want to admire intelligently. That isn’t the hat you were wearing yesterday?”

“Oh no, papa! This is just done. The one I wore yesterday was my waterfall-hat, with the green feather; this, you see, is an oriole.”

“A what?”

“An oriole. Papa, how can you expect to learn about these things?”

“And that plain little black one, with the stiff crop of scarlet feathers sticking straight up?”

“That’s my jockey, papa, with a plume en militaire.”

“And did the waterfall and the jockey cost anything?”

“They were very, very cheap, papa, all things considered. Miss Featherstone will remember that the waterfall was a great bargain, and I had the feather from last year; and as to the jockey, that was made out of my last year’s white one, dyed over. You know, papa, I always take care of my things, and they last from year to year.”

“I do assure you, Mr. Crowfield,” said Miss Featherstone, “I never saw such little economists as your daughters; it is perfectly wonderful what they contrive to dress on. How they manage to do it I’m sure I can’t see. I never could, I’m convinced.”

“Yes,” said Jenny, “I’ve bought but just one new hat. I only wish you could sit in church where we do, and see those Miss Fielders. Marianne and I have counted six new hats apiece of those girls’,–new, you know, just out of the milliner’s shop; and last Sunday they came out in such lovely puffed tulle bonnets! Weren’t they lovely, Marianne? And next Sunday, I don’t doubt, there’ll be something else.”

“Yes,” said Miss Featherstone,–“their father, they say, has made a million dollars lately on government contracts.”

“For my part,” said Jenny, “I think such extravagance, at such a time as this, is shameful.”

“Do you know,” said I, “that I’m quite sure the Misses Fielder think they are practicing rigorous economy?”

“Papa! Now there you are with your paradoxes! How can you say so?”

“I shouldn’t be afraid to bet a pair of gloves, now,” said I, “that Miss Fielder thinks herself half ready for translation, because she has bought only six new hats and a tulle bonnet so far in the season. If it were not for her dear bleeding country, she would have had thirty-six, like the Misses Sibthorpe. If we were admitted to the secret councils of the Fielders, doubtless we should perceive what temptations they daily resist; how perfectly rubbishy and dreadful they suffer themselves to be, because they feel it important now, in this crisis, to practice economy; how they abuse the Sibthorpes, who have a new hat every time they drive out, and never think of wearing one more than two or three times; how virtuous and self-denying they feel when they think of the puffed tulle, for which they only gave eighteen dollars, when Madame Caradori showed them those lovely ones, like the Misses Sibthorpe’s, for forty-five; and how they go home descanting on virgin simplicity, and resolving that they will not allow themselves to be swept into the vortex of extravagance, whatever other people may do.”