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Trading   By: (1819-1885)

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First Page:

TRADING:

FINISHING THE

STORY OF "THE HOUSE IN TOWN," &c.

BY THE AUTHOR OF

"WIDE WIDE WORLD," "THE OLD HELMET,"

"WALKS FROM EDEN," &c., &c.

"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods."

NEW YORK:

ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,

530 BROADWAY.

1873.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by

ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

CAMBRIDGE:

PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.

TRADING.

CHAPTER I.

Christmas day was grey with clouds; on the roofs of the city and in the streets the sun never shone all day. People called it cold. Sarah Staples found it so on her crossing. Inside Mrs. Lloyd's front door, however, it seemed to Matilda to be nothing but sunshine. She had not leisure to look at the grey sky, and to be sure the temperature was that of summer. Matilda had a great deal to do. Her various parcels were to be neatly tied up in white paper, with the names of the persons they were for nicely written thereon, and then committed to Mrs. Bartholomew for arranging on the Christmas tree. Then the presents for Anne and Letitia were to be directed and sent; Maria's basket packed and put in charge of the express man; and several little letters written, one to Mr. Richmond. Till all these things were done, Matilda had no time to think of the weather; then she found that the snow was beginning to fall and coming thick.

"Yes," said Norton, to whom she announced her discovery; "and it's stinging! and coming on to blow. It will be a night! I like it. That feels like Christmas."

"Then there'll be no party?" said Matilda, rather more disappointed than she wanted to shew.

"Party?" said Norton, "what about the party? It won't snow in here . Pink. What are you thinking of? The party'll be all the merrier. I tell you, it feels like Christmas."

"But will they come, through all the storm?"

"They'd come, if the hailstones were as big as eggs," said Norton. "You never saw one of grandmother's Christmas trees, Pink; and they never did anywhere else. No fear but they'll come, every one of them. You go along and get dressed."

Matilda ran upstairs, glancing out of the hall window as she passed with a thrill of delight and mystery. The air was darkening already with the falling snow, and the wind swept it past the house in a white mass; by contrast the evening splendours seemed greater than ever. She dressed in a trembling excitement of pleasure, as far as her own part of the preparation went; then Mrs. Laval's maid came in to finish her toilette, and Mrs. Laval came to superintend it. Matilda had only to stand still and be curled and robed and sashed and slippered; till the work was done, the maid went, and Mrs. Laval took the child in her arms and asked if she was happy?

" Very happy," Matilda said.

"It does not take much to make you happy, love."

"Why, mamma!" said Matilda looking down at her white ruffles and then at her adopted mother, "I have so much that I don't know what to do!"

Mrs. Laval smiled and sighed, and kissed her again.

"And yet Christmas night is only beginning," she said. But the wind and the hail dashed at the windows as if answering her that it had indeed begun outside. Mrs. Laval went away to her own dressing, and Matilda stood a moment at the window listening. It was long after dark now; but she could hear the whistle of the sleet as the wind bore it past, and the rush of ice and snow against the window panes, and even through the close fining sash she could feel a little gush of keen air. And for one moment Matilda's thoughts darted to Sarah, at her crossing and in her cellar home all that day and night. The contrast was as sharp as that little gush of icy air. Was it right? Matilda thought. Was it right, that her dainty white dress should be so pretty on her and the Christmas party so fine, when Sarah and others like her were in cold and wet and rags? It was too disagreeable to think about, as Matilda could not help it; and she went downstairs... Continue reading book >>




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