Mr. Home stayed two days. During his visit he could not be prevailed on to go out. He sat all day long by the fireside, sometimes silent, sometimes receiving and answering Mrs. Brettons chat, which was just of the proper sort for a man in his morbid moodnot over-sympathetic, yet not too uncongenial, sensible; and even with a touch of the motherlyshe was sufficiently his senior to be permitted this touch.
As to Paulina, the child was at once happy and mute, busy and watchful. Her father frequently lifted her to his knee; she would sit there till she felt or fancied he grew restless. Then it was, Papa, put me down; I shall tire you with my weight.
And the mighty burden slid to the rug, and establishing itself on carpet or stool just at papas feet, the white work-box and the scarlet-speckled handkerchief came into play. This handkerchief, it seems, was intended as a keepsake for papa, and must be finished before his departure; consequently the demand on the sempstresss industry (she accomplished about a score of stitches in half an hour) was stringent.
The evening, by restoring Graham to the maternal roof (his days were passed at school), brought us an accession of animationa quality not diminished by the nature of the scenes pretty sure to be enacted between him and Miss Paulina.
A distant and haughty demeanour had been the result of the indignity put upon her the first evening of his arrival. Her usual answer, when he addressed her, was, I cant attend to you; I have other things to think about. Being implored to state what thingsBusiness.
Graham would endeavour to seduce her attention by opening his desk and displaying its multifarious contentsseals, bright sticks of wax, penknives, with a miscellany of engravings, some of them gaily coloured, which he had amassed from time to time. Nor was this powerful temptation wholly unavailing. Her eyes, furtively raised from her work, cast many a peep towards the writing-table, rich in scattered pictures. An etching of a child playing with a Blenheim spaniel happened to flutter to the floor.
Pretty little dog! said she, delighted.
Graham prudently took no notice. Ere long, stealing from her corner, she approached to examine the treasure more closely. The dogs great eyes and long ears, and the childs hat and feathers, were irresistible.
Nice picture! was her favourable criticism.
Well, you may have it, said Graham.
She seemed to hesitate. The wish to possess was strong, but to accept would be a compromise of dignity. No. She put it down and turned away.
You wont have it, then, Polly?
I would rather not, thank you.
Shall I tell you what I will do with the picture if you refuse it? She half turned to listen.
Cut it into strips for lighting the taper.
But I shall.
Graham waxed inexorable on hearing the pleading tone. He took the scissors from his mothers workbasket.
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