As with many people and other creatures, its outer cover is plain and reveals little. Its story is told inside.
It is a dance card, and it therefore promises many things – speculation, dreams, wishes…imaginations spinning within a tiny rectangle of ephemera. On its front, the word 'Programme' indicates its inner workings, and it is written in crimson – the lettering ornate, about to branch into a living filigree. It is the way of Art Nouveau, this transition from an inanimate work to a design of nature.
On both front and back the owner has scribbled her initials. Possibly she had hurriedly labeled her card after she slipped her wrist inside the ivory cord, bracing it against her gloved hand as she wrote.
When the card is opened, out falls her secret and our mystery: a single dried rosebud, pressed between the covers for 100 years, leaving its shadow – cast like an early sunset – across the lists of two-steps and waltzes.
Was it from a corsage? If so, from whom? She was blessed with many dance partners that evening (including someone who applied for the third waltz after intermission and who was known only as "Chocolate").
Maybe she took the rose from a table decoration. Bored with waiting for a promised cup of punch – perhaps Chocolate was taking too long – an arrangement of tea roses might have caught her eye, and she was overcome with a daring urge to smuggle home a scented souvenir of a memorable evening.
Or it could have been plucked from an ornamental bouquet embroidered onto the lace bosom of her gown, or tucked into its, tight, satin waist.
Regardless of how the bloom found its hiding place, "LSW" must have had a lovely time. For as the inside of the card proclaims:
"On With The Dance, Let Joy Be Unconfined."