Sunday, April 27


An open davenport stood in the window opposite the door;  in the other there was a stand, with a tall white china vase, from which drooped wreaths of English ivy, pale-green birch, and copper-colored beech leaves.  Pretty baskets of work stood about in different places:  and books, not cared for on account of their binding solely, lay on the table, as if recently put down.  Behind the door was another table, decked out for tea, with a white tablecloth, on which flourished the cocoa-nut cakes, and a basket piked with oranges, and ruddy American apples, heaped on leaves.

It appeared to Mr. Thornton that all these graceful cares were habitual to the family;  and especially of a piece with Margaret.  She stood by the tea-table in a light-colored muslin gown, which had a good deal of pink about it.  She looked as if she was not attending to the conversation, but solely busy with the tea-cups, among which her round ivory hands moved with pretty, noiseless, daintiness.  She had a bracelet on one taper arm, which would fall down over her round wrist.  Mr. Thornton watched the replacing of this troublesome ornament with far more attention than he listen to her father.  It seemed as if it fascinated him to see her push it up impatiently, until it tightened her soft flesh;  and then to mark the loosening - the fall.  He could almost have exclaimed - 'There it goes, again!'  

There was so little left to be done after he arrived at the preparation for tea, that he was almost sorry the obligation of eating and drinking came so soon to prevent his watching Margaret.  She handed him his cup of tea with the proud air of an unwilling slave;  but her eye caught the moment when he was ready for another cup;  and he almost longed to ask her to do for him what he saw her compelled to so for her father, who took he little finger and thumb in his masculine hand, and made them serve as sugar-tongs.  Mr.  Thornton saw her beautiful eyes lifted to her father, full of light, half-laughter and half-love, as this little bit of pantomime went on between the two, unobserved, as they fancied, by any."

Elizabeth Gaskell

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