"And why not such a night as this, Jenny?" answered Ruth. "Oh! at home I have many a time run up the lane all the way to the mill, just to see the icicles hang on the great wheel; and, when I was once out, I could hardly find in my heart to come m, even to mother, sitting by the fire;--even to mother," she added, in a low, melancholy tone, which had something of inexpressible sadness in it. " Why, Jenny!" said she, rousing herself, but not before her eyes were swimming in tears, "own, now, that you never saw those dismal, hateful, tumble-down old houses there look half so--what shall I call them? almost beautiful--as they do now, with that soft, pure, exquisite covering; and if they are so improved, think of what trees, and grass, and ivy must be on such a night as this." couple toys
Jenny could not be persuaded into admiring the winter's night, which to her came only as a cold and dismal time, when her cough was more troublesome, and the pain in her side worse than usual. But she put her arm round Ruth's neck, and stood by her, glad that the orphan apprentice, who was not yet inured to the hardship of a dressmaker's workroom, should find so much to give her pleasure in such a common occurrence as a frosty night.
They remained deep in separate trains of thought till Mrs. Mason's step was heard, when each returned supperless, but refreshed, to her seat. adam and eve's
Ruth's place was the coldest and the darkest in the room, although she liked it the best; she had instinctively chosen it for the sake of the wall opposite to her, on which was a remnant of the beauty of the old drawing-room, which must once have been magnificent, to judge from the faded specimen left. It was divided into panels of pale sea-green, picked out with white and gold; and on these panels were painted--were thrown with the careless, triumphant hand of a master--the most lovely wreaths of flowers, profuse and luxuriant beyond description, and so real-looking, that you could almost fancy you smelt their fragrance, and heard the south wind go softly rustling in and out among the crimson roses--the branches of purple and white lilac--the floating golden-tressed laburnum boughs. Besides these, there were stately white lilies, sacred to the Virgin--hollyhocks, fraxinella, monk's-hood, pansies, primroses; every flower which blooms profusely in charming old-fashioned country gardens was there, depicted among its graceful foliage, but not in the wild disorder in which I have enumerated them. At the bottom of the panel lay a holly branch, whose stiff straightness was ornamented by a twining drapery of English ivy, and mistletoe, and winter aconite; while down either side hung pendent garlands of spring and autumn flowers; and, crowning all, carne gorgeous summer with the sweet musk-roses, and the rich-coloured flowers of June and July.
Surely Monnoyer, or whoever the dead-and-gone artist might be, would have been gratified to know the pleasure his handiwork, even in its wane, had power to give to the heavy heart of a young girl; for they conjured up visions of other sister-flowers that grew, and blossomed, and withered away in her early home.
Mrs. Mason was particularly desirous that her workwomen should exert themselves to-night, for, on the next, the annual hunt-ball was to take place. It was the one gaiety of the town since the assize-balls had been discontinued. Many were the dresses she had promised should be sent home "without fail" the next morning; she had not let one slip through her fingers, for fear, if it did, it might fall into the hands of the rival dressmaker, who had just established herself in the very same street.
She determined to administer a gentle stimulant to the flagging spirits, and with a little preliminary cough to attract attention, she began--