man found a card bearing a date. The lady who held a favour suggesting that day became his partner. The dance programmes and whist counters were souvenirs of the Watch-Night party. They were silvered bell-shaped cards, with a tiny calendar filled in sketchily at the top, December 31st standing out in scarlet letters from among the other figures. The stars, which did duty as counters, and the pencils on the programmes were also in scarlet. The whist prizes were dainty little diaries, curious calendars, a silver table-bell, an hour-glass paperweight, a tiny clock, and other trifles which suggested the passing of time.
At eleven o'clock supper was announced.
The centre of the table held a wreath of evergreen with a heap of mistletoe inside. From this centrepiece a narrow scarlet ribbon ran to each plate, ending in a pert bow, tied to a sprig of mistletoe.
After supper each guest pulled from under the mistletoe the ribbon beside the plate. At the end of it hung an English walnut which had been split, emptied of its meat, and glued together again. Inside, folded in a tiny wad, was a New-Year sentiment, which was read aloud to the party. The poets have done justice so liberally to the New Year that it is easy enough to find quotations.
On the eve of January 1st, it was the custom of long ago to open wide the house-door, and with great formality let out the old year and let in the new.
At ten minutes to twelve, before the party had left the table, the door opened, and an odd figure entered. It was an old, old man, with flowing white hair and beard. He wore the satin breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes of Revolutionary days. He carried a scythe over his shoulder and an hour-glass in his hand. There could be no doubt of his identity. He was the Old Year—the