But now when we could have servants for ourselves I shrank from the thought. It would not be the same house; we should have to dissemble; I saw myself speaking English the long day through. You only know the shell of a Scot until you have entered his home circle; nike air max 2011 in his office, in clubs, at social gatherings where you and he seem to be getting on so well he is really a house with all the shutters closed and the door locked. He is not opaque of set purpose, often it is against his will - it is certainly against mine, I try to keep my shutters open and my foot in the door but they will bang to. In many ways my mother was as reticent as myself, though her manners were as gracious as mine were rough (in vain, alas! all the honest oiling of them), and my sister was the most reserved of us all; you might at times see a light through one of my chinks: she was double-shuttered. Now, it seems to be a law of nature that we must show our true selves at some time, and as the Scot must do it at home, and squeeze a day into an hour, what follows is that there he is self-revealing in the superlative degree, the feelings so long dammed up overflow, and thus a Scotch family are probably better acquainted with each other, and more ignorant of the life outside their circle, than any other family in the world. And as knowledge is sympathy, the affection existing between them is almost painful in its intensity; they have not more to give than their neighbours, but it is bestowed upon a few instead of being distributed among many; they are reputed niggardly, but for family affection at least they pay in gold. In this, I believe, we shall find the true explanation why Scotch literature, since long before the days of Burns, has been so often inspired by the domestic hearth, and has treated it with a passionate understanding. Must a woman come into our house and discover that I was not such a dreary dog as I had the reputation of being? Was I to be seen at last with the veil of dourness lifted? My company voice is so low and unimpressive that my first remark is merely an intimation that I am about to speak (like the whir of the clock before it strikes): must it be revealed that I had another voice, that there was one door I never opened without leaving my reserve nike air max 2013+ on the mat? Ah, that room, must its secrets be disclosed? So joyous they were when my mother was well, no wonder we were merry. Again and again she had been given back to us; it was for the glorious to-day we thanked God; in our hearts we knew and in our prayers confessed that the fill of delight had been given us, whatever might befall. We had not to wait till all was over to know its value; my mother used to say, ‘We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it,’ and there can be few truer sayings, but during her last years we exulted daily in the possession of her as much as we can exult in her memory. No wonder, I say, that we were merry, but we liked to show it to God alone, and to Him only our agony during those many night-alarms, when lights flickered in the house and white faces were round my mother’s bedside. Not for other eyes those long vigils when, night about, we sat watching, nor the awful nights when we stood together, teeth clenched - waiting - it must be now. And it was not then; her hand became cooler, her breathing more easy; she smiled to us. Once more I could work by snatches, and was glad, but what was the result to me compared to the joy of hearing that voice from the other room? There lay all the work I was ever proud of, the rest is but honest craftsmanship done to give her coal and food and softer pillows. My thousand letters that she so carefully preserved, always sleeping with the last beneath the sheet, where one was found when she died - they are the only writing of mine of which I shall ever boast. I would not there had been one less though I could have written an immortal book for it. How my sister toiled - to prevent a stranger’s getting any footing in the house! And how, with the same object, my mother strove to ‘do for herself’ once more. She pretended that she was always ‘How can I know? What woman is it? You should bear in mind that I hinna your cleverness’ (they were constantly giving each other little knocks). ‘I won’t give you the satisfaction of nike air max 90 saying her name. But this I will say, it is high time he was keeping her out of his books.’ And then as usual my mother would give herself away unconsciously. ‘That is what I tell him,’ she says chuckling, ‘and he tries to keep me out, but he canna; it’s more than he can do!’ On an evening after my mother had gone to bed, the first chapter would be brought upstairs, and I read, sitting at the foot of the bed, while my sister watched to make my mother behave herself, and my father cried H’sh! when there were interruptions. All would go well at the start, the reflections were accepted with a little nod of the head, the descriptions of scenery as ruts on the road that must be got over at a walking pace (my mother did not care for scenery, and that is why there is so little of it in my books). But now I am reading too quickly, a little apprehensively, because I know that the next paragraph begins with - let us say with, ‘Along this path came a woman’: I had intended to rush on here in a loud bullying voice, but ‘Along this path came a woman’ I read, and stop. Did I hear a faint sound from the other end of the bed? Perhaps I did not; I may only have been listening for it, but I falter and look up. My sister and I look sternly at my mother. She bites her under-lip and clutches the bed with both hands, really she is doing her best for me, but first comes a smothered gurgling sound, then her hold on herself relaxes and ‘I assure you we’re mounting in the world,’ I hear my mother murmur, but I hurry on without looking up. The lady lives in a house where there are footmen - but the footmen have come on the scene too hurriedly. ‘This is more than I can stand,’ gasps my mother, and just as she is getting the better of a fit of laughter, ‘Footman, give me a drink of water,’ she cries, and this sets her off again. Often the readings had to end abruptly because her mirth brought on violent fits of coughing. Sometimes I read to my sister alone, and she assured me that she could not see my mother among the women this time. This she said to humour me. Presently she would slip upstairs to announce triumphantly, ‘You are in again!’ Or in the small hours I might make a confidant of my father, and when I had finished reading he would say thoughtfully, ‘That lassie is very natural. Some of the ways you say she had - your mother had them just the same. Did you ever notice what an extraordinary woman your mother is?’ Then would I seek my mother for nike air max 1 comfort. She was the more ready to give it because of her profound conviction that if I was found out - that is, if readers discovered how frequently and in how This was not the sort of difference I could greatly plume myself upon, and honesty would force me to say, ‘As far as that goes, there was a time when you had but two rooms yourself - ’ ‘That’s long since,’ she breaks in. ‘I began with an up-the-stair, but I always had it in my mind - I never mentioned it, but there it was - to have the down-the-stair as well. Ay, and I’ve My mother sees that I need soothing. ‘That is far from being all the difference,’ she would say eagerly. ‘There’s my silk, for instance. Though I say it mysel, there’s not a better silk in the ‘How could it be like her when she didna even have a wardrobe? I tell you what, if there had been a real Jess and she had boasted to me about her cloak with beads, I would have said to her in a careless sort of voice, “Step across with me, Jess and I’ll let you see something that is hanging in my wardrobe.” That would have lowered her pride!’ ‘You canna know. But I’m thinking I would have called to mind that she was a poor woman, and ailing, and terrible windy about her cloak, and I would just have said it was a beauty and that I It seems advisable to jump to another book; not to my first, because - well, as it was my first there would naturally be something of my mother in it, and not to the second, as it was my first novel and not much esteemed even in our family. (But the little touches of my mother in it are not so bad.) Let us try the story about the minister
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