Imagens das páginas

hour, he found himself imprisoned by these Alpine banks. He awoke Lyddy, and called a council of love. The snow-banks reached to the second story over the kitchen. He might have gone out at the front door, but was he a man to leave his Lyddy struggling with the powers of frost? Not he. With shovel in hand he commenced operations, and in an hour she was able to follow him with a broom, sweeping away the lighter particles, under an arch of snow, to the woodhouse; and in half an hour more he cleared his way to the street, claimed a lover's reward, went home, mounted his week-day clothes, and for six days was as faithful a tailor as he had been lover on the seventh. I arose at eight, and found snow-patches in every crevice of my windows, a tracery of frostwork on the panes of glass, and the water in the ewer a mass of ice. With chattering teeth and purple fingers I descended to the parlour. It was in perfect order; a cheerful fire blazed on the hearth, and Edward's boots, polished to the highest, were warming by the fender. The scene in the kitchen was equally auspicious. ' Lyddy, with as grave a look as though she had never felt la belle passion, stood at the wash-tub (in which she had made far advances), watching the baking cakes. Polly had Fred between her knees, wrapped up in a flannel gown, his scorched face looking like a full moon. She was dexterously keeping her sewing from his mischievous grasp, and persevering in spite of him in her industry. What could rival the comfort of such a home, when, to complete the luxury, Polly with her smiling face brought to the breakfast-table the hot coffee, which, as the poet sings of something else, was

“deep, yet clear,
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.”

And all this with the thermometer below zero ! I have not yet mentioned that Lyddy was excessively deaf. Polly used to say “she was as

deaf as a haddock.” I have sometimes speculated about this New-England phrase, but have

[ocr errors]

not been able to trace its origin, and I do not find that naturalists refer to any peculiar organization of the species which authorizes it. It was not the fault of my lungs if our neighbours did not know the items of our daily food. I often forgot that others were not deaf, and caught Edward smiling at my trumpet-tongued style. One day in particular, when a stranger was dining with us, I had been unusually occupied in preparing for dinner in the kitchen, and had pitched my voice very high. Quite unconsciously I turned to our guest, and his politeness could scarcely prevent his starting when I screamed, “Allow me to give you a piece of ham, sir.” “Clarissa,” said Mr. Packard, greatly amused, “Mr. Stevens is not deaf.” I was sadly disconcerted, and it was some time before our courteous visiter could bow and smile me into self-possession. One of the accidents which Lyddy's infirmity caused was particularly provoking, and occurred in the following manner at a fruit-party, given by us to some New-Yorkers, who brought us letters. I made unusual efforts to procure fresh cream, and had succeeded so well, that dishes with ladles stood at the head, foot, and centre of the table; enough indeed for a housekeeper's measure, which is, to make every one help freely, without looking round to see how far a thing will go. My sensitiveness was perfectly satisfied with the display, as I saw the thick white volumes poured over the rich red raspberries and strawberries, but as quickly I detected a change in my guests; here a half look of disgust, there a glance of concern, in one quarter unusual eloquence, in another unusual taciturnity. Every one knows that the lady of the house is the last person to taste at table of her own delicacies, and so confident was I in the perfection of the cream, that I would have volunteered to stand in Hebe's place with it, as cupbearer to the gods. Edward's turn came before mine. “Bless my soul, my dear,” said he, with a wry face, “what is the matter with the cream?” I dipped my spoon in the compound which has furnished the poet with so exquisite an

illustration of beauty, “Her lips looked like strawberries smothered in cream.”


s “When fondly thinking to allay
My appetite with gust, instead of fruit
Chewed bitter ashes, which th' offended taste
With spattering noise rejected.”—

Or, to be less Miltonian, I tasted, and would willingly have thrown from my mouth a nauseous mixture of salted cream.

Lyddy, who, as is not unfrequently the case, had doffed her cook's habit and acted as waiting-woman, perceived, in helpless ignorance of wrong, the consternation that prevailed. I had tact enough to know that to question her would be worse than useless; but Edward, forgetting her deafness, asked her, as she stood near him, “what was the matter with the cream 7”

“ Very sweet and fresh, sir,” said she, in the

« AnteriorContinuar »