cherish life in fire

she should have settled

When Sarah and I are by ourselves, we don’t have a great deal of conversation. She has lost her voice, as I said, which makes her decline talking: and I must say, though she never yields to acknowledge it, that I think she’s lost her hearing a little, poor dear old soul! Every night in her life (except{7} Sundays) she reads the Times. That paper gets great abuse in many quarters, especially in the country, where our old Squires, to be sure, are always at it for changing its opinions; but I say, great success, and long life to the Times! that is my opinion. How ever Sarah would get over those long evenings without that paper, I don’t know. It quite keeps us in reading; and I do assure you, we know much more about most things that are going on than a great many men do, who are much more in the world. The Times comes in early, but Sarah never looks at it till after tea. I have to keep out of her sight, indeed, when I glance over it myself in the early part of the day, for Sarah does not approve of daylight reading. She thinks it a waste of time. We have not such a very great deal to occupy us either, as you may suppose; at least Sarah has little, except her knitting, for she will rarely allow me to consult her anything about the property, though she is the eldest. I wonder for my part that she does not weary of her life. She never comes down to breakfast, and I don’t know very well what she and Carson find to busy themselves about till noon in her room upstairs; but at twelve o’clock punctually she comes down all dressed for the day. She does not dress as I do, in the ordinary dress that everybody wears, neither are Sarah’s fashions the same as I remember in our youth, when our waists were just under our arms, and our gowns had gores” in them. On the contrary, she has taken to a very long waist and tight sleeves, with a worked muslin shawl or scarf over her shoulders. In cold weather the muslin is lined with silk of delicate colours, and her cap, which is always light and pretty (Carson has great taste), trimmed to correspond. Her hair, of course, she always wears in curls at the front. It is quite silver-white, and her face, poor dear soul, is a little pinched and sharp nowadays. When she takes her seat within shelter of the screen at twelve o’clock every day, the muslin shawl, lined with peach, is as pretty as possible in itself: to be sure Sara Cresswell might almost wear it to a ball; but I do declare I thought it looked very chilly to-day on Sarah. Nice white Shetland for instance, which is almost as pretty as lace, or, indeed, one of those beautiful soft fine woollen shawls, would look a great deal better over that purple silk gown, if she could only think so. But to be sure, Sarah will have her own way. There she sat knitting all the time Mr. Cresswell was talking with me, and there she does sit all day long with her basket of wools, and knitting-pins, and patterns. Every other day she takes a drive, goes to{8} church once on Sundays, and reads the Times on all the week evenings. That is exactly how she lives.

Now perhaps this does not appear so odd to anybody else as it does to me; and I am sure I might have got used to it after a dozen years; but only Sarah, you see, has very good abilities, and is not the person to fix herself down like this. And she knows a great deal more of life than I do. My father and she were, I think, near upon ten years abroad after my mother died. What she was doing all that time I know no more than Carson does. Many a rumour went about that she was married, and many an anxious hour I had all by myself at the Park. But when she came back just Miss Mortimer, there was not a soul in the county but was surprised. Such a great beauty! and papa’s eldest daughter and co-heiress! people said it was unaccountable. I can’t say I thought it unaccountable. I never saw anybody that I could fancy myself, except perhaps——, and then he never asked me, you know. It might be precisely the same with Sarah, though she was a beauty. But the wonder to me is that after having lived abroad so long, and having, as I have no doubt she had, a life of her own, which did not merely belong to my father’s daughter, she should just have settled down like this. Many and many a time have I thought it all over, sitting opposite to her of an evening, when tea was over and she was reading the Times. There she sat quite straight up, her muslin shawl with the peach-bottom lining dropping down a little over her shoulders, and her thin hands in their black lace mits holding the paper. She had never reposed any confidence in me, you see. I did not know what might have happened to her when she was out upon the big waves of life. I dare say many a time when I wondered why she took no interest in my affairs, she was back upon that reserve of her own which I knew nothing about. But the odd thing to me is, that after having really had something that one could call a life, something happening to her own self,—don’t you know what I mean?—she should have settled down so fixed and motionless here apartments for rent .

We dined early, which was a prejudice of mine; but as Sarah had a very uncertain appetite, we had always something” to tea, which was the cause of Mr. Cresswell’s allusion to our cook Evans. Further, we indulged ourselves by having this substantial tea in the drawing-room, which we never left after our early dinner. When tea was over on the night of Mr. Cresswell’s visit, I had some little matters to do which kept me about the room, going from one place to another. As{9} I stood in the shadow looking at the bright fire and lamp, and Sarah reading in her easy chair, I could not prevent a great many inquiries rising in my mind. What was Cousin Richard Arkwright Mortimer to her, for example? He had not been at the Park, nor heard of, so far as I know, for forty years. And then about her voice? On the whole it was very curious. I resolved to try hard for some conversation with Sarah, after she had done with the Times, that night RFID solutions Chapter III.
IT was not a very easy matter to draw Sarah into a conversation, especially in the evening. I had to watch my opportunity very carefully. At ten exactly the door opened in the dark distance, and Ellis came rumbling along through the dim depths behind the screen with the sherry and biscuits. Just at the same moment Sarah smoothed out the paper carefully, laid it down, as she always did, on the top of her wool-basket, and held out her hands to warm them at the fire. They were very thin hands in their black lace mits, and they were a little rheumatic sometimes, though she did not like to confess it. She kept rubbing them slowly before the fire VPET .



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