Free Read: A Glimpse into the Future

This month’s free read is a short story about two teenage friends Isabella described as:

“Sensible young ladies” who were “older at fifteen than their grandmothers at the same age thought of being.”

As is always the case with Isabella’s stories, it’s thoughtfully written to illustrate what she would call a “home truth.” But the story also gives us some hints about her personal life.

For example, she fondly describes her memories of May Day celebrations as “good times” gone by.

And later in the story, one of the characters mentions her “Mental Philosophy” class at school. When Isabella wrote the story in 1896, Mental Philosophy involved the study of the consciousness, functional thought, and religion. It was the precursor of what we now call the study of psychology. With her strong background in teaching, it isn’t surprising that Isabella would weave the latest educational innovations into her story.


When teenagers Eva and Cassie are tempted to visit the village fortune-teller, it seems like nothing more than a bit of harmless fun, until a wise friend shows them what their futures truly hold.

You can read “A Glimpse into the Future” for free!

Choose the reading option you like best:

You can read the story on your computer, phone, tablet, Kindle, or other electronic device. Just click here to download your preferred format from

Or you can select BookFunnel’s “My Computer” option to receive an email with a version you can read, print, and share with friends.

Graduation Time!

It’s that time of year, when students “commence” higher studies or the business of life. It’s the season for graduation ceremonies, when young men and women—as well as their parents—attend closing exercises of the school year, exchange cards of congratulations and bestow graduation gifts.

Illustration of a young woman wearing a dress from about 1910. It has a high embroidered collar that covers her neck. The sleeves are long and embroidered, as is the bodice. A ribbon circles her waist. The skirt is floor-length and lightly pleated. It is adorned with rosettes and ribbons at the hips. Two rows of ribbon embroidery circle the skirt near the hem. In one hand she holds a rolled-up diploma tied with a ribbon. In her other hand she holds a bouquet of roses tied with wide ribbons.

It was the same way in Isabella’s day. Being an educated woman, and having been a teacher herself, Isabella knew that graduation was a significant milestone in a young life. The characters she wrote about in her novels worked hard for their education, and they had good reason to celebrate their achievements.

Black and white illustration of a young woman in dress from 1912 seated in a chair. In her lap she holds a rolled diploma tied with a ribbon. Beside her is a large vase filled with roses. SILBERBERG. TEXAS & MESA. "The mere thought of buying a diamond should suggest Silberberg's." GIFTS FOR THE GIRL GRADUATES. The early approach of Commencement, not only in El Paso but adjacent towns, causes us to direct special attention to suitable gifts for the girl graduates. We have the largest collection of jewelry and other items suitable for gifts ever assembled in the Southwest.
From The El Paso Herald, April 27, 1912.

Just as we do today, it was the fashion in the late 1800s and early 1900s to give graduates a gift of some kind to mark the occasion.

Black and white illustration of three young women. All are dressed in clothing from 1904, with high necklines, long, full sleeves, and floor-length skirts. One stands in the foreground, holding a piece of paper. Behind her is a waist-high trellis of roses. Behind the trellis stand the other two girls, one of whom is holding a piece of paper. In front of them on the floor is a large vase filled with roses.
Girl graduations, from The Kansas City Star, May 8, 1904.

Acceptable gifts came in many forms. Boys and young men received neckties, gloves, fountain pens, and pocket watches.

Illustration of a pocket watch case. Above the winding stem is "14K." AS GRADUATION TIME APPROACHES - very naturally you will begin to look around for the BEST gift store. Now, the selling of Graduation Gifts is, and has long been made a specialty of by this Pfeifer Store. We have endeavored to find out what will most please a graduate, and from our personal observations we believe that many have a preferance [sic] for Watches. The following special values, therefore, will certainly be of interest at this time. FOR THE GIRL. Bracelet Watch, 7-jewel nickel movement; guaranteed. 14K solid gold, richly hand-engraved watch, Elgin movement. 14K solid gold, plain case watch, set with sparkling diamond; Elgin movement. FOR THE BOY. Elgin Watch, 15-jewel, 20-year guaranteed gold filled case. 14K solid gold watch, fitted with 15-jewel nick Elgin movement. Howard Watch, 17-jewel movement in 25-year guaranteed Elgin Howard case. ALBERT PFEIFER & BRO JEWELERS
From the Daily Arkansas Gazette, May 16, 1914

Young women received watches, too; but instead of pocket watches, bracelet watches were in style, like the ones mentioned in this 1914 ad:

Drawing of head and shoulders of four young women. WATCHES FOR THE GRADUATES. The very popular watch gift is here in a great variety of models, and at a big prince [sic] range. The gift of a "Stifft" Watch insures years of continued, satisfactory use by the recipient, and is a lasting remembrance of the all-important event - graduation. [List:] Pretty Sterling Silver Bracelet Watches; good timekeepers. Sterling Silver Braclet Watches; blue enamel inlaid. Gold Filled Bracelet Watches; guaranteed movement. Solid Gold Bracelet Watches; fine guaranteed movement. WATCHES FOR BOYS. Elgin 7-Jewel Thing Model, 20-year gold filled case. Elgin 15-Jewel Thin Model, 20-year gold filled case. "Gruen Verithin" Watches, 25-year gold filled case.
From the Daily Arkansas Gazette, May 16, 1914

Stores carried a variety of gifts for the graduate, from handkerchiefs and gloves, to hosiery and stationery.

HER MOTHER IS PROUD OF HER. HER FATHER IS PROUD OF HER. THE CITY IS PROUD OF HER. THE WHOLE WORLD IS PROUD OF THE SWEET GIRL GRADUATE. Graduate Gift Suggestions. Kayser French Kids, Kayser Silk Gloves, Kayser Silk Hose, Handkerchiefs, Fancy Parasols
From The Independent Record, May 24, 1914.

Stores also offered plenty of gift ideas that featured the latest in 1912 technology. The ad below mentions Kodak cameras and field glasses (binoculars) as desirable gifts for men and boys.

GRADUATION GIFTS FOR BOYS AND GIRLS. One of the events of a life-time comes with the ending of the school or college term. Its importance is being generally recognized int he giving of gifts--tokens of regard that are as treasured as the gifts that commemorate any other events of a life-time. Our displays on the First Floor of the Wabash Avenue Building will offer a fund of suggestions at any intended expenditure. GRADUATION GIFTS FOR BOYS. Kodaks, field glasses, watches, coat chains, watch fobs, watch chains, scarf pins, cuff buttons, rings, key rings, military brushes. GRADUATION GIFTS FOR GIRLS. Kodaks, opera glasses, watches, fans, vanity cases, brooches, neck chains, necklaces, mesh bags, silver coin purses, bar pins, lockets, rings, bracelets, sterling silver comb, brush and mirror sets. MARSHALL FIELD & CO.
From the Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, June 5, 1912.

An ad in a 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine suggested the gift of a table lamp, with a floral painted glass shade:

Drawing of a table lamp with bowl-shaded shade. Behind it is a drawing of a sitting room in style of the period. A print-fabric chair with cushions and an ruffled ottoman. On one side of the chair is a table with a similar table lamp and a framed portrait. On the other side is a smaller table with a second framed portrait. A sconce with four candles hangs over the fireplace. On the mantle is a goblet and urn. Behind the chair are more portraits handing on the wall and a sconce with two bulbs. The ad text reads: Handel Lamps. The spirit of the summer boudoir with its light, delicate draperies is reflected in this Handel Lamp. The charming floral design makes is an attractive gift for the June bride or the girl graduate. Handel Lamps, created by expert craftsmen from exclusive designs, are noted for their individuality.
Advertisement in Good Housekeeping magazine, 1916.

Lamps like that could be expenses; they cost anywhere from $15 to $50 each. For more budget-conscious gift-giving, books were always an appropriate option.

Newspaper ad. Header: Gift Books for Graduates. Books always make suitable gifts for graduates. our Book Department has hundreds of desirable volumes ready to be tied in the proper class colors. We mention a few below:
Books of Travel at $3.50
Late Fiction by Well-Known Authors; Titles Suitable for Graduates.
Friendship Books from 89c to $1.50
The South's highest-class department store. Kaufman-Straus Co.
From The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 21, 1911.

And if your taste didn’t run toward novels, Bibles and prayer books were an excellent choice, especially if the gift giver added a loving, hand-written message of congratulations on the fly leaf or title page.

Drawing of neck and head of a young woman wearing a graduation mortar-board. SEE OUR LINE OF COMMENCEMENT GIFTS. Beautiful, Serviceable, Acceptable. BOOKS. The most complete line of Bibles, Testaments, Prayer Books in the City.
From The Lexington Leader, May 24, 19906

What is the best graduation gift you ever received or gave?

The First Pansy of the Season

“A plainly attired lady of medium hight [sic] wearing a brown dress and lace collar, was introduced to a large audience at the Case avenue Presbyterian church last evening as Mrs. G. R. Alden, or the first “Pansy” of the season after an unusually severe winter.”

Isn’t that a charming way to describe Isabella?

Sepia head and shoulders photograph of Isabella. She wears a dark-colored dress with long sleeves and embroidered flowers adorning the bodice, and a detachable lace color that buttons high on the throat. The lace is 3" to 4" deep, and hangs down into a jabot 4" to 5" long.
Photo of Isabella Alden about 1880 (age 39)

Those are the first lines of a newspaper article about a public reading she gave at a Cleveland church in 1885.

Isabella regularly drew large crowds whenever she appeared at an event, especially if there was a chance she might read one of her stories; and on this particular evening, she read chapters from her short story “Circulating Decimals.”

Cover of "Circulating Decimals" showing  a young woman in a white dress from the early 1900s, and a white hat with red flowers. She is seated in a wooden chair in a garden and is reading a book.

Here’s the newspaper’s full description of the event:


Mrs. Alden and the Adelbert College Glee Club Entertain an Audience.

A plainly attired lady of medium hight [sic] wearing a brown dress and lace collar, was introduced to a large audience at the Case avenue Presbyterian church last evening as Mrs. G. R. Alden, or the first “Pansy” of the season after an unusually severe winter.

Mrs. Alden, who is well known in the literary world as “Pansy” the Sunday school workers’ favorite authoress, read several chapters of her republished book “Circulating Decimal,” to the great delight of her hearers. She is a pleasing and natural reader, and knows how to interest an audience. She read of the trials and tribulations of Sunday school societies, described the efforts of the young ladies to “get up” a church fair and the cantata of “Esther,” how they quarreled over the leading parts and how they netted the enormous sum of $19.02

In the course of the evening the Adelbert college glee club entertained the audience with several excellent selections, capitally sung, among which were “Nellie was a Lady,” “Way Down Upon the Suwanee river” and “George Washington.”
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 15, 1885

You can read Isabella’s story “Circulating Decimals” for free!

Choose the reading option you like best:

You can read the story on your computer, phone tablet, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Just click here to download your preferred format from

Or you can select BookFunnel’s “My Computer” option to receive an email with a version you can read, print, and share with friends.

The Month of May

Isabella’s son Raymond was twenty years old when he wrote this charming poem about the month of May.

Why are bees and butterflies
    Dancing in the sun?
Violets and buttercups
    Blooming, every one?
Why does Mr. Bobolink 
    Seem so shocking gay?
Why does—Ah! I'd half-forgot!
    This is really May.
Why are all the water-bugs
    Donning roller skates?
And the solemn lady-bugs
    Dozing on the gates?
Why do all the meadow brooks
    Try to run away,
As though someone were chasing them?
    Bless me! This is May.
Please to tell me why the trees
    Have put new bonnets on?
Please to tell me why the crows
    Their picnics have begun?
Why does all the whole big world
    Smell like a fresh bouquet
Picked from one of God's flower beds?
    Oh, I know! It's May.

Raymond M. Alden

Defending Grace

When Grace Livingston Hill’s short story “The Livery of Heaven” was published in a popular Christian magazine in 1897, she probably had no idea the controversy it would cause.

Black and White hand-drawn illustration. At the top is a ribbon banner that stretches across the page with "The Livery of Heaven" in all capital letters. Beneath is a table top on which are jars of peaches, bottles of wine, and cocktail and wine glasses. In the center is a drawing of a man kneeling beside a bed. His arms are resting on top of the bed and his face is buried in his arms.
Magazine illustration for Grace’s story, “The Livery of Heaven.”

After all, Grace was 31 years old and had been writing and publishing her stories and novels since 1889, and they all sold very well. So it might have been a bit surprising that the magazine that published “The Livery of Heaven” began to receive letters from readers like this one:

The Letter:

I have been reading “The Livery of Heaven,” and, as one hoping your paper meets the highest standard of merit and helpfulness, I desire to make an emphatic protest against the unreality of some of the characters and descriptions of that story.

The character of Mrs. Wallace, for instance, seems to me too absurd even for a story. Is it possible that a woman of her intelligence and honesty of purpose could be so absolutely blind as not to know the inevitable consequences of giving to one with a passion for liquor “brandy peaches” so strong with brandy as to scent a whole room?

Or that she could be so utterly inconsistent as to go out and work zealously in the cause of temperance reform when she had just finished putting up a lot of peaches saturated with brandy, which she purposed to serve indiscriminately?

Impossible! Unless she were a bold hypocrite, and obviously hypocrisy is not intended or thought of.

And if not a hypocrite, such rank inconsistency and incongruity of character could not exist except in a vivid imagination. It is not real life.

If my ideas are wrong, I would like to be set right.

It just so happened that Grace’s aunt, Isabella Alden, was one of the magazine’s editors, and she decided she would personally answer the critics who wrote in about Grace’s story and “set them right.”

Here is Isabella’s response:

There is more to this letter, and I wish we had room for its entirety, for it is carefully and thoughtfully written.

It seems to me that the writer is wrong, not in his deductions, but in his statement of facts. He distinctly states the impossibility of so inconsistent a woman as Mrs. Wallace. What will he do with her if I own that she, to my certain knowledge, exits—that she is not only “true to life,” but she is life? I have no means of knowing whether the Mrs. Wallace about whom the author in question writes is the Mrs. Wallace of my acquaintance; but I do know that exactly such an instance of moral blindness occurred but a few years ago.

I knew a woman who would walk miles on hot summer afternoons to secure signers to a “no-license” petition within the precincts of her ward, and would discourse eloquently on the evils of the saloon and the dangers attending her young son, and the miseries resulting from “acquiring a taste for intoxicants;” and then offer that same young son at her own dinner table a pudding, the sauce of which was so highly flavored with wine as to make its very presence offensive to certain of her guests.

I knew another woman who wept copious tears over the downfall of a beloved brother, and besought us earnestly to help her plan ways and means of reaching and saving him “even yet”; and then offered us in the next breath a bit of her fruit-cake so well flavored with brandy as to be detected by the sense of smell as well as that of taste; and she remarked that she always kept it on the sideboard where her brother could help himself.

The dense ignorance that exists in regard to these matters on the part of many people who consider themselves almost temperance fanatics, is proverbial among workers who have studied into the subject.

In our mothers’ meetings that I conducted for years this matter of cookery was continually coming to the front; and at not a single meeting did we fail to have represented the puzzled woman who said:

“Why, do you suppose, that the little bit of brandy that I put in my mince-pies to keep them, or the few drops with which I flavor my sauces, can have any effect on a person’s appetite for liquor? Won’t such strained notions as these do more harm than good?”

Also, almost as regularly, we had that other woman who said:

“Well, there’s no use in talking to me about such things. John wouldn’t eat mince-pies if they hadn’t brandy in them. He doesn’t like the flavor without it; and I’m not afraid of its doing any harm in my family.”

Understand, these are good temperance women—every bit as good as Mrs. Wallace; much like her in every respect; women who, by reason of their upbringing and their present environment, are utterly unable to see the connection between liquor-eating and liquor drinking; women who believe that what their mothers and their mothers’ mothers always did must be right and best.

What the temperance cause needs today, in my judgment, more than any other thing, is some apostle who will undertake to open the eyes of the army of Mrs. Wallaces that infest the land, who labor zealously with their strong right hands to put out the fires of rum, and industriously feed the flames with their ignorant left hands all the while.


What did you think of Grace’s story? Do you agree with the letter writer’s critique?

Do you think Isabella gave the right response?

If you haven’t yet read Grace’s story “The Livery of Heaven,” you can read it here.

New Free Read: The Livery of Heaven

Like everyone in her immediate and extended family, Grace Livingston Hill was a dedicated temperance worker. She was well-educated in the effects alcohol had on individuals and their families.

And because the production and sale of alcohol was unregulated at the time (and often included addictive ingredients such as cocaine, morphine, cannabis, and chloroform), she knew it was not uncommon for people to become addicted to some alcoholic beverages.

She wrote about the harm alcohol caused in a short story titled, “The Livery of Heaven.”

Cover made for "The Livery of Heaven" with the title in dark blue against a blue background. Below it is a framed image of a still-life showing a plate, peaches, and a pitcher. Below the image is a lace border, and below that is the name "Grace Livingston Hill."

Mrs. Wallace is proud of her work in the temperance cause.  Her latest project is raising money to build a play-ground at the Home of Inebriates’ Children. It’s a worthy cause, so when she has a chance to host a famous temperance lecturer in her very own home, she jumps at the chance, certain that his lecture will draw the support and donations she needs.

But little does Mrs. Wallace realize, a dark force is using her efforts to harm the people she loves the most.

At the core of the story is a lesson about the seemingly small and thoughtless ways Christians can cause others to stumble in their daily walk with Christ.

Black and White hand-drawn illustration. At the top is a ribbon banner that stretches across the page with "The Livery of Heaven" in all capital letters. Beneath is a table top on which are jars of peaches, bottles of wine, and cocktail and wine glasses. In the center is a drawing of a man kneeling beside a bed. His arms are resting on top of the bed and his face is buried in his arms.
Magazine illustration for Grace’s story, “The Livery of Heaven.”

After a Christian magazine published the story in 1896, “The Livery of Heaven” set off a bit of a fire storm.

Join us next week to find out how some readers reacted to Grace’s story “The Livery of Heaven.”

You can read “The Livery of Heaven” for free!

Choose the reading option you like best:

You can read the story on your computer, phone, tablet, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Just click here to download your preferred format from

Or you can select BookFunnel’s “My Computer” option to receive an email with a version you can read, print, and share with friends.

FREE Lecture about Faye Huntington!

Would you like to learn more about the life of Isabella’s best friend, Theodosia Toll Foster? Under the pen name Faye Huntington she wrote dozens of novels and short stories, many of which Isabella published in The Pansy magazine.

On Saturday, April 29 Theodosia’s great-granddaughter Susan Snow Wadley will be giving a free lecture about Theodosia’s life in New York and her influence on the area’s culture.

Topic:“The Life and Times of Theodocia Maria Toll Foster”
Where:Oneida County History Center
1608 Genessee Street
Utica, New York 13502
When:Saturday, April 29, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern
Presented by:Susan Snow Wadley, Theodosia’s great-granddaughter

If you live near Oneida County you can attend the lecture in person for free.

Or click here to register for the virtual lecture via Zoom.

Susan presented a similar program last year and shared some delightful information about the times in which Isabella and Theodosia lived.

If you’d like to read some of Theodosia’s novels and short stories, click here to read them for free!

A Wee Booklet

Readers often wrote to Isabella asking how they could study the Bible on their own, and Isabella was always happy to suggest a method that seemed to fit their individual circumstance.

Here’s what she wrote to one reader, a harried housewife who had very little time each day to call her own:

As to methods of Bible study, there are numberless ways, and they are all good. The main point is to choose one of them and study. There are books that help wonderfully in the understanding of the Bible. Some of the very little ones contain a great deal of instruction.

This is notably the case with a wee booklet of not more than fifty small pages. It is called “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,” and contains ten outline studies on the divisions of the Bible. It is prepared by C. I. Scofield and published by the Asher Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minn.

Black and White photo of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield in his later years. His hair is white and he is dressed in a three-piece suit. He is seated at a table.  In one hand he holds a pair of glasses. His other hand points to a passage of text in a Bible open on the table before him. Behind him are bookcases lined with books.
Dr. C. I. Scofield at work in the library at Princeton University.

You can read the “wee booklet” Isabella recommended.

“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” by C. I. Scofield is available online.

You can read an electronic version for free on one of these websites:

Or you can purchase a paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Have you read Scofield’s booklet?

Do you think it’s a helpful guide for someone who is new to studying the Bible?

Grace Livingston Hill and the Authors’ Carnival

Newspaper Headline: The Great Social and Artistic Event of the Season, THE AUTHORS' CARNIVAL! A novel and unique entertainment, under the management of Frank B. Pease, of Buffalo, N.Y., assisted by the leading ladies and gentlemen of Evansville. MAGNIFICENT SCENES from Shakespeare, Dickens, Whittier, Verne, Stowe, Thousand and One Nights, Moore and Addison, introducing the most noted of their characters. "THE ROYAL INFANTS," in which 75 beautifully costumed children will take part. GORGEOUS TABLEAUX, heretofore unsurpassed in Evansville, introducing marble statuary by living figures. FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVANS HALL. SIX NIGHTS ONLY, COMMENCING Monday, April 26, and Closing Saturday, May 1. ADMISSION ONLY 25 CENTS.
From the Evansville, Indiana Daily Courier, April 18, 1880

In the late 1800s a new and exciting form of entertainment swept across America. It was called the Authors’ Carnival. It had all the fun of a community fair, as well as dazzling theatrics on a magnificent scale.

Old photo of ten women standing on the steps of a building. Each woman is dressed in a different costume, such as Native American, Arabian, Western, etc.
Women in costume for an Authors’ Carnival in Washington DC

The Authors’ Carnival drew great crowds in every city in which it was staged, so it had to be set up in a large space, such as a town hall or tabernacle. The concept, though, was simple: the Carnival was comprised of a number of booths, each of which depicted a scene from a famous author’s works.

For example, there was a booth devoted to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Costumed actors portrayed scenes from the book in an elaborately decorated submarine compartment behind a gauze curtain that simulated water.

Black and white photo of a woman, a man, and three children dressed in costumes of Sixteenth Century Scotland. The woman wears a headpiece and neck ruff from the Elizabethan period. Then man and one child wear kilts. They are in a well-decorated parlour with art on the walls and paneled moulding.
A booth devoted to Sir Walter Scott’s Baronial Hall, from The Buffalo Times

Another booth was devoted to John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll.”

Newspaper excerpt that reads: WHITTIER BOOTH. Beyond the cafe where refreshments will be dispensed during each evening will come the snow-bound home of the Poet Whittier; the home dear to all American hearts, for who that has lived in the country does not remember the snow-bound home of his childhood? In this booth the following characters will be represented: Whittier's Grandfather, Whittier's Grandmother, Whittier's Mother.
A description of the Whittier booth, from The Scranton Republican, April 23, 1886

There were booths dedicated to Shakespeare, Longfellow, and Washington Irving, and many more literary figures, including Mother Goose. One of the most popular booths was lavishly decorated as Aladdin’s Cave.

In many cases, booths were set up so the costumed actors could interact with the people passing by.

Old black and white photo showing a group of people dressed in costumes from the 1770s. Some men are standing; others are seated beside women. There is a statuary urn with a plant between the chairs. Behind them is a background painting of a garden scene with more statues.
Victor Hugo’s Paris Garden booth, from The Buffalo Times

The highlight of the Authors’ Carnival occurred on a center stage where tableaux vivant were enacted at intervals throughout the day and evening. The most popular tableau was the colorful, well-choreographed “The Fan Brigade.” It illustrated an essay by British satirist Joseph Addison on how ladies in the eighteenth century used their fans as weapons in flirtation and romance.

Old photo of eight women dressed in gowns from the late eighteenth century. Some of them have powdered hair; all wear tall headdresses and carry fans. Two of the women stand between a large open fan mounted on top of a pole that is about seven to eight feet tall. Behind them is a painted backdrop of the stone columns and balustrade of terrace, with a landscape beyond.
Fan Brigade, from Authors’ Carnival Album, 1880, Library of Congress

In 1881 the Authors’ Carnival arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, where sixteen-year-old Grace Livingston lived with her father Charles and mother Marcia (who was Isabella Alden’s older sister). Already an aspiring author, Grace visited the Authors’ Carnival one afternoon and wrote the following account of her experience:

The Author’s Carnival in Cleveland

By Grace

It was impossible for me to attend the evening entertainment of the Author’s Carnival, but when a matinee was announced for the next afternoon, I thought I would go.

It was held in the tabernacle. As you entered the door, directly opposite you was the stage, where the most beautiful tableaux were exhibited every twenty minutes, the performers never having rehearsed before, but being picked out and arranged on the spot, from the different booths.

The booths were ranged around the sides, and the center left for the audience to promenade. We took a look at the booths before the first tableaux.

The “Alhambra,” which, having a piano, and a few good players, managed to keep such a crowd around it all the time, that one could hardly get a peep at it.

Whittier’s “Snow Bound,” with its soft gray costumes, which harmonize wonderfully with the neat room, and fire-place, and cupboard, with its rows of bright, shining dishes, and the strings of dried apples hanging from the ceiling. Whittier’s “grandmother” happened to be a friend of mine, so I stepped up to her, and she said, “How does thee do, friend Grace?”

There was the “Arabian Nights” booth, where they sold miniature “Aladdin Lamps,” said to be exact copies from the original.

“Lalla Rookh” and the “Jules Verne” booths were beautiful and picturesque, with their mermaids, and flowers, and sea-weeds.

Longfellow’s “Hiawatha,” where the Indians flourished their tomahawks, and gave war-whoops, attracted a great deal of attention, and really was one of the most fascinating.

The “Egyptian” booth had beautiful, rich costumes.

The “Addison” booth had, perhaps, the most beautiful costumes, but the characters were all ladies.

The “Dickens” booth, with all its comical characters, was just refreshing.

As I walked up to the “Shakespeare’s” booth, the “Duke of York,” an old schoolfellow, stepped forward and shook hands with me.

The tableaux-bell rang, and we all rushed to the center of the floor, each one trying to get the best position for seeing. The most beautiful and quaint pictures succeeded each other; lastly, the beautiful “Fan Drill.” If you have never seen it, seen the perfect time and graceful motions, you cannot imagine how beautiful it was.

But there was one blight on all this beauty. At the “Spanish” booth they sold cigars and cigarettes, and some ungentlemanly persons even smoked among all that company of ladies. It was Satan’s way of joining in the Author’s Carnival.

Tableaux and theatricals were common forms of entertainment during Isabella Alden’s lifetime, and she wrote about them in several of her novels. You can read more about tableaux in these previous posts:

Tableaux: Bringing Pictures to Life

A Nice Oyster Supper

Pansy’s Easter Service

In addition to novels and short stories, Isabella Alden wrote Sunday-school lessons and programs for worship.

In 1895 she wrote a special program for Easter that was carefully crafted so it could be performed by young children, as well as older age groups.

Newspaper clipping: PANSY'S EASTER SERVICE. Superintendents and Teachers should send for a copy of the April "Pansy," now ready. It contains a beautiful Easter Service carefully arranged and prepared for Christian Endeavor societies, Epworth Leagues, King's Daughters, Mission Bands, and Sunday-schools, by Mrs. G. A. [sic] Alden, known to all Sunday-school workers under the familiar name "Pansy." An extra edition of the April "Pansy" has been issued to meet the demand created by this special Easter Service. Copies will be sent, post-paid, on receipt of 10 cents, or in quantities at seventy-five cents per dozen.

Her Easter program included poems to read aloud, beloved old hymns to sing, and portions of Scripture to be memorized and recited.

Newspaper clipping: PAMPLETS. 
Mrs. G. R. Alden has prepared an exercise for Easter, which will appear in the April Pansy, which is issued the middle of March in order to afford ample time for committees to prepare the exercise for Easter Sunday. It is arranged especially for Christian Endeavor and kindred societies, but may be used by Sabbath-schools or other organizations. There are many Easter services, but some of them are too difficult for children, and some are too simple for the older ones. This has been prepared with great care, and the selections for recitation, especially will commend themselves.

Most importantly, the program clearly and simply related the message of Easter: that Christ rose from the dead, bringing eternal life to those who believe in him.

You can read Isabella’s entire Easter service program. Just click here or on the image below.