He seemed in no way overpowered by having to reply — 'To the manor, Miss. Moss, and I was to be left behind! I stood speechless in bitter disappointment, as my grandmother rustled out in her best silk dress, followed by Aunt Harriet and my uncle, who, when he saw me, exclaimed:. Moss is such an old lady,' said Aunt Harriet, whose ideas upon children were purely theoretical, and who could imagine no interests for them apart from other children, from toys or definite amusements — 'What could the child do with herself? And if Mrs. Keep your eyes open, Miss Mary.
I've never seen the good lady or her belongings, but I'll stake my best hat on the japan ware and the lap-dog. Now, how soon can you be dressed? A few years thence, and in a first interview with the object of so many fancies, I should have thought as much of my own appearance on the occasion, as of what I was myself to see. I should have taken some pains with my toilette. At that time, the desire to see Mrs. Moss was too absorbing to admit of any purely personal considerations.
I dashed into the nursery, scrubbed my hands and face to a raw red complexion, brushed my hair in three strokes, and secured my things with one sweep. I hastily pocketed a pincushion of red cloth, worked with yellow silk spots, in the likeness of a strawberry. It was a pet treasure of mine, and I intended it as an offering to Mrs. I tied my hood at the top of the stairs, fastened my tippet in the hall, and reached the family coach by about three of those bounds common to all young animals. Moss were not certain to fulfil my ideal, I should have wished her to be as nearly like Uncle James as the circumstances of the case would permit.
I watched his yellow waistcoat and waving hands till they could be seen no longer, and then I settled myself primly upon the back seat, and ventured upon a shy conciliating promise to be 'very good. What did I want with either? I put my arm through the loop by the window and watched the fields as they came and vanished, with vacant eyes, and thought of Mrs. A dozen times had I gone through the whole scene in my mind before we drove through the iron gates.
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I fancied myself in the bare, spacious hall, at which I had peeped; I seemed to hear a light laugh, and to see the beautiful face of Mrs. Moss look over the banisters; to hear a rustle, and the scraping of the stiff brocade, as the pink rosebuds shimmered, and the green satin shoes peeped out, and tap, tap, tap, the high pink heels resounded from the shallow stairs.
In another minute or so we were in the hall, and here I met with my first disappointment. I had pictured Mrs.
Moss in her beauty and rose brocade, the sole ornament of its cold emptiness. Then though I knew that my grandmother and aunt must both be present I had really fancied myself the chief character in this interview with Mrs. I had thought of myself as rushing up the stairs to meet her, and laying the pincushion at her green satin feet. And now that at last I was really in the hall, I should not have known it again. It was carpeted from end to end.
Fragrant orange-trees stood in tubs, large hunting-pictures hung upon the walls, below which stood cases of stuffed birds, and over all presided a footman in livery, who himself looked like a stuffed specimen of the human race with unusually bright plumage. My feet sank into the soft stair-carpets, I vacantly admired the elegant luxury around me, with an odd sensation of heartache.
Everything was beautiful, but I had wanted nothing to be beautiful but Mrs. That full-fed footman troubled my fancies. He opened the drawing-room door and announced my grandmother and aunt. I followed, and so far as one may be said to face anything when one stands behind the skirts of two intervening elders I was face to face with Mrs.
Moss had been dead many years, and his widow had laid aside her weeds. She wore a dress of feuille-morte satin, and a black lace shawl. She had a rather elaborate cap, with a tendency to get on one side, perhaps because it would not fit comfortably on the brown front with bunchy curls which was fastened into its place by a band of broad black velvet.
This was the end of all my fancies! There was nothing astonishing in the disappointment; the only marvel was that I should have indulged in so foolish a fancy for so long. I had been told more than once that Mrs. Moss was nearly as old as my grandmother.
As it was, she looked older. Why — I could not tell then, though I know now.
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She had always been what is called 'pleasing,' and she was pleasing still. But in Mrs. Moss no strength, no sentiment, no intellect filled the place of the beauty that was gone. Features that were powerful without character, and eyes that glowed without expression, formed a wreck with little to recall the loveliness that had bewildered Mr. Sandford — and me. This was the disappointment. This is the cause of my dislike for a certain shade of feuille-morte satin.
It disappointed me of that rose brocade which I was never to see. You shall hear how I got through the visit, however. This meeting, which like so many meetings had proved the very reverse of what was hoped.
They kissed and then drew back and looked at each other, still holding hands. I wondered if my grandmother felt as I felt. I could not tell. With one of her smiles, she bent forward, and, kissing Mrs. Moss again, said:. Moss had spoken, and her voice was rather gruff. Then both ladies sat down, and my grandmother drew out her pocket-handkerchief and wiped her eyes.
Moss began as I thought to look for hers, and, not finding it, called, "'Metcalfe! Moss's chair with a practised hand, produced a large silver snuff-box, from which Mrs.
Moss took a pinch, and then offered it to Granny, who shook her head. Moss took another and a larger pinch.
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It was evident what made her voice so gruff. Moss smiled, and nodded, and bade her 'sit down, my dear. I was introduced, too, as 'a grandchild,' made a curtsey the shadow of Aunt Harriet's, received a nod, the shadow of that bestowed upon her, and got out of the way as soon as I could, behind my aunt's chair, where, coming unexpectedly upon three fat pug-dogs on a mat, I sat down among them and felt quite at home.
A large Indian screen hid the door; japanned boxes stood on a little table to correspond in front of it, and there were two cabinets having shallow drawers with decorated handles, and a great deal of glass, through which odd teacups, green dragons, Indian gods, and Dresden shepherdesses were visible upon the shelves. The room was filled with knickknacks, and here were the pug-dogs, no less than three of them! They were very fat, and had little beauty except as to their round heads and black wrinkled snouts, which I kissed over and over again. Moss's being old, and dressing in that hideous brown dress?
A hot tear fell upon the nose of the oldest and fattest pug, which so offended him that he moved away to another mat at some distance, and as both the others fell fast asleep, I took refuge in my own thoughts. Moss have the pincushion after all? I had expected her to be young and beautiful, and she had proved old and ugly, it is true; but there is no reason why old and ugly people should not have cushions to keep their pins in.
It was a struggle to part with my dear strawberry pincushion in the circumstances, but I had fairly resolved to do so, when the rustle of leave-taking began, and I had to come out of my corner. Moss good-day, Mary,' said my grandmother; and added, 'the child has been wild to come and see you, Anastatia. Moss's palm. Moss made me almost fond of her. Moreover, there was an expression in her eyes at that moment which gave them beauty. She looked at my grandmother and laid her hand on my head.
Poor Mrs. She took another huge pinch of snuff, and called, 'Metcalfe. I fell in love with it at once, and it was certainly a handsome exchange for the strawberry pincushion.