524 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
At the end of four months of waiting, on Friday, March the thirteenth, 1903, a party of thirteen ladies assembled, some with resolute "do-or-die" expressions on their faces, others with calm, serene assurance of manner, and all with a look of expectancy.
When every one had arrived, in spite of the forewarning of the hostess, many looked a little startled when a sound was heard as of glass being shivered to atoms in an adjoining room, and the hostess answered the look with a mischievous smile, saying:
"Yes, I am sacrificing my looking-glass on the altar of friendship for your emancipation! It is the signal for luncheon."
They found the entrance of the dining-room spanned by a tall step-ladder, wreathed and festooned with evergreen into a very fair semblance of an arch, under which they passed, defying "disappointment."
Each woman seeking her place found her name-card decorated with pen-and-ink sketches of black cats, witch's brooms, bats, etc.
The centre of the table was ornamented with a large black crow, stuffed ("relic of a hat," explained the hostess). The "bird of ill omen" was perched upon a Japanese tree of fabulous age—its uncouth, twisted form and sad-looking olive foliage making an appropriate pedestal.
From the base of the pot containing the grim little tree, peacocks' feathers radiated like the spokes of a wheel. They are credited with bringing misfortune to those who have them.
The hostess, gowned in ominous black, and wearing a magnificent "parure" of opals (loaned for the occasion by a sympathetic and friendly jeweller, she explained), opened the ball by telling that the origin of