SOCIETY LETTER Dear Nell, The mantle of Sir Frederck Sargood has quite evidently fallen on the shoulders of his daughter, Mrs. Rutter Clarke. The French Floral Fete held on Saturday at Merriwa reminded hundreds of visitors of the days wfhen Rippon Lea was associated with some of the finest patriotic festivals ever organised in Australia. Sir Frederick was a prince of entertainers. He could blend all sorts of representative people into efficient committees, and individuals who never worked together at other times would always ombine force under his guid- ance. The very same facility for making powerful teams pull together was an- swerable for the fact that, in spite of re- markably strong counter attractions, the fete at Merriwa--for all that it lasted only a few hours--brings a sum of over £1000 to be divided between the French Red Cross Fund and La Societe Maternelle and In- fantile. The garden and grounds of Merriwa give finer proof than any in Australia of the advantages of garden architecture. This is a big thing to claim, but the fact is un- deniable. When Mr. Walter Butler designed the house he devoted equal attention to the designing of its surroundings, and the plans attracted an immense amount of at- tention among wealthy home makers when they were exhibited some nine years ago. The idea of seeing those plans material- ised was in the mind of a big proportion of those who went to the fete on Saturday, and even the most sanguine were roused to enthusiasm over the development of pleasaunces and terraces, sunk gardens and "pleached alleys." The secret of success in every Australian garden is shelter, and the masterly way in which clipped cypress hedges were used in this particular garden is worth going far to see. The wealth of flowers was arresting, from the broad bands of lobelia, backed by broader bands of lark spur, which flanked the approach to the house, to the blaze of geraniums and scarlet verbena, toned down' by the softer colors of great stretches of pansies that characterised the parterre. The parterre. is approached by broad, shalloW, flights of steps-admirable examples of garden stone work, and on either side are close-clipped hedges. Arches cut in these hedgecs revealed glimpses of a delightsome rosary on the left, and the guest, passing through the one on the oppo- site side, found herself on the.croquet lawn the scene on Saturday of the most intense activity. Beyond the formal garden, with its suggestions of old-world pleasure grounds, there is a stretch, of land equally suggestive of Australian bush land. It is idealism slightly, since Mr. and Mrs. Rutter Clarke take a quite understandable delight in acclimatising there every beautiful Aus- tralian tree or shrub they ever happen on. It gives the lie in no uncertain fashion to those unhappy souls who denied scent to our flowers or songs to our birds, since among the wattles, fragrant in one form or another almost the whole year round, hun- dreds of Australian songbirds are very much 'at home. Beyond this Australian garden on Saturday the French village, detached en- tirely from the rest of the fete, pursued its :cquite convincing way. The idea of hav- ing this village came from Madame Pierre Bellew, and very admirably indeed was the scheme, perfected by public school girls and boys.Here, on the grass, was acted a French country wedding. The familiar form of Mons. Napoleon Boffard as mayor gave a realistic effect to the introduction by him of the bridal couple. Mr. Noel Richards, as the village beadle, headed a typical French procession, while the mayoral reception gave an admirable idea of how seriously civic functions are taken in the land of our ally. The crowning of the Rosiere - suggestive of the old English custom of crowning the May queen - was charming, Lady Creswell's little daughter being the heroine of the occasion. The bride and bridegroom at the "wedding" were Miss Kate Austin and her brother. Perfectly charming were the village dances. Sixteen girls in smocks gave several old English measures, while Russian and Scot- tish country dances were also introduced with admirable effect. The stalls were particularly well organ- ised, and several novelties helped to aug- ment the funds. In the beautiful Japanese garden girls in true Japanese dress sold kimonos among the irises. A gigantic cas- serole, presided over by two girls-- Miss Majory Langdon and Miss Altmann dressed as cooks, replaced the usual bran pie, and much amusement attended on the fishing out of toys by means of ladles. From a trim little cart Miss Mary and Miss Euphie Bell sold butter and shortbread. The flower stall, for which Mrs. St. Leger Robertson and Mrs. Fred. Keats were ac- countable, was stocked with flowers and plants of a remarkably high order, while the great gold basket stall, from which Mrs. Alister Clarke sold lavender, was
another pronounced success. Mrs. L. K. S. Mackinnon and Madam Crivelli did excel- lent business at an admirable sweet stall, while Mrs. A. Woolcott and Miss Strachan, at the head of a highly efficient staff, were two of the busiest women at "Merriwa" as managers of the refreshment stall. Among the other workers were Mrs. Clive Baillieu, Mrs.. H. W. Spowers, Mrs. Archie Currie, Mrs. Murray Morton, .Miss Vere Baillieu, Mrs. Clarkson, Madame Boulanger, Miss Gwyn Davis, Miss Beatrice Davis, Madam Maurice Artaud, Miss Joan Wei- gall, Mrs: N. Trenery, Mrs. P. Welsh, Mrs. H. W. Franklin, Mrs. J. Alston and Mrs. C. A. Cowper. A very well patronised baby stall was in charge of Miss Hammill. Many of her customers took advantage of the opportunity of despatching their pur- chases direct to France, where they will be used by babies and mothers much in need of them. In the evening, among many other attractions, was the masque of Gloriana arranged very cleverly by Miss Violet Teague. Queen Elizabeth, repre- sented by Miss Kiddle, held court, the great men of her day and generation pay- ing homage. These men and their retinues and torch-bearers made up a picture that visitors to '"Merriwa" will be long in for- getting. The idea of having high tea for the visitors who stayed for the evening per- formance resulted in the giving of some merry little parties. One of the best was given by Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Sargood, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Tolhurst's silver wedding. Among their guests were Mr. and' Mrs. Rutter Clarke, Mrs. Young, Miss Young, Mrs. Hunter, Mr. Heath, Mrs. Fred Keats and Mr. and Mrs. John Byrne. The table was beautifully decorated with white flowers, a bridal cake being one of its special features. Within a short dis- tance of Merriwa, at Woorigoleen, Mrs. Charles Moore was acting as fairy god- mother at an admirable fete held in aid of the Red Cross work being done by the members of the' Y.W.C.A. Lady Helen Munro Ferguson opened the fete. For some little time, the powers that be in the Y.W.C.A. have been working to bring it into line with the organisation as it is understood in America, where it exercises probably the widest influence of any or ganisation controlled by women in that country. That success promises to crown their efforts was made evident to every visitor to Woorigoleen on Saturday, where a very big crowd of well-known :people was to be seen, either as buyers or as sellers in the neiglhborhood of a big lawn full of admirably-equipped stalls. It was quite easy to see that society was con- .cientiously doing the rounds - a great many visitors going in from Woorigoleen to Merriwa, or vice versa, whilst not a few of the more energetic motored to Mr. and Mrs. R. Wilmot's garden fete at Brighton, via the Luna Park carnival to Toorak. Nor did this exhaust the activities of a very few, who went further afield for the express purpose of seeing the fine display made by firemen, stockmen and "sports" of all sorts at North Melbourne. Saturday, in fact, rather bore out the contention of a recent visitor from Sydney, when some Melbourneo people were complaining about the very poor show Melbourne makes on the varlious days as compared with Sydney. - Our genius, she said, lies in street collecting, but while we give tens of thousands on special days, you people give thousands every week." She insists that there is more consistent quiet giving and spending--here than in Syd- ey. The view is comforting, and we can only hope it is a just one. Certainly the patriotic fetes on Saturday were account- able for a very substantial sum, and the splendid effort set in motion at Luna Park is safe to bring in a great deal of money during the next fortnight. When such past masters at the art of raising money as the members of the C.T.A., the Savage Club and the Automobile 'Club, to say nothing of several equally important bodies, get to work' to organise a carnival it is not to be expected that the public will be allowed to elude their highly at- tractive web. There is much too be thankful for in the fact that those most concerned in the tragic business of war are often those who keep most normal. News of an entertain- ing incident concerning a mutual friend reached us from London. She is a young and very beautiful woman, and a member of one of our gentlest families. Incident- ally, she is a nurse. When she went to London two years ago the Engish branoh of her family looked askance at her pro- fession. It could hardly imagine itself in- cluding a working woman, and showed a decided tendency to apologise both for her and her vocation. The girl, quite used to queening it comfortably, was naturally re- sentful, but of course, refrained from ar- gument. The war came, and the minister- ing angel work being taken up assiduously by the "best people" changed the.situation. Instantly our nurse - a specially clever sur- gical one - was a person of importance in a military hospital. Her hours on duty were interminable, but evidently her elas- ticity was more than equal to the demands made on her. Anyway, the next her smart relatives heard of her was as the authoress of a remarkably 'bright little play, en titled My Niece From Australia - with the writer in the title role. The play promises to make time writer famous in some very important rest homes, while her family, whilch she so cleverly pillories, is left aghast at her "ingratitude." We are al- ways being told how much good the war is going to do somebody, but very few families have got their medicine in such unexpected form as this. Sincerely yours, CYNTHIA.