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church, or to take a little air and exercise at the close of the afternoon.
Most of their friends dropped off, and the few that seemed disposed to continue their acquaintance with people whose extreme indigence was no secret, were so thoughtless as to make their visits in the morning, a time which is never convenient to families that cannot afford to be idle. Mrs. Bleden, who though frivolous and inconsiderate, was really a good-natured woman, came frequently to see them; and another of their visitors was Mrs. Weston, whose chief incentive was curiosity to see how the Parkinsons were going on, and a love of dictation which induced her frequently to favour them with what she considered salutary counsel. Mrs. Weston was a hard, cold, heartless woman, who by dint of the closest economy had helped her husband to amass a large fortune. and they now had every sort of luxury at their command. The Westons as well as the Bledens had formerly been neighbours of Mr. and Mrs. Parkinson.
Mrs. Bleden and Mrs. Weston happened to meet one morning in Mrs. Parkinson's little sitting-room. Mrs. Weston came in last, and Mrs. Bleden after stopping for a few minutes, pursued her discourse with her usual volubility. It was on the subject of Mrs. Parkinson and her daughter getting new cloaks.
"I can assure you," said she, "now that the weather has become so cold, people talk about your going to church in those three-cornered cloth-shawls, which you know are only single, and were merely intended for autumn and spring. They did very well when you first got them (for the weather was then mild) but the season is now too far advanced to wear shawls of any sort. You know every body gets their new cloaks before Christmas, and it is now after New-year's day."
“We would be very glad to have cloaks,” replied Mrs. Parkinson, "but they are too expensive."
"Not so very," answered Mrs. Bleden. Handsome silk cloaks would scarcely cost above three or four pounds apiece."
"We cannot afford them," said Mrs. Parkinson. "We must only refrain from going out when the weather is very cold. I acknowledge that our shawls are not sufficiently warm."
"Did you not all get new olive-coloured silk cloaks just before Mr. Parkinson died?" inquired Mrs. Weston.
The abrupt mention of a name which they had long since
found it almost impossible to utter, brought tears into the eyes of the whole family. There was a general silence, and Mrs. Bleden then took leave, saying, "Well, do as you please, but people think it very strange that you should be still wearing your shawls, now that the cold weather has set in."
Fanny was glad that Mrs. Bleden had not in this instance carried her point. But she grieved to think that her sister and nieces could not have the comfort of wearing their cloaks because the olive-colour did not comport with their mourning bonnets. For herself, as she had made no attempt at mourning, Fanny had no scruple as to appearing in hers.
When Mrs. Bleden was gone, Mrs. Weston spoke again, and said, "I wonder how people can be so inconsiderate! But Mrs. Bleden never could see things in their proper light. She ought to be ashamed of giving you such advice. Now, I would recommend to you to have your olive silk cloaks dyed black, and then you can make them up again yourselves. You know that if you were not in mourning, you might wear them as they are; but as you have begun with black, I suppose it would never do to be seen in coloured things also."
"I believe,” replied Mrs. Parkinson, "there is generally much trouble in getting articles dyed, and that they are frequently spoiled in the process."
"Your informants," said Mrs. Weston, "must have been peculiarly unlucky in their dyers. I can recommend you to Mr. Copperas, who does things beautifully, so that they look quite as good as new. He dyes for Mrs. Broadskirt and for Mrs. Dingy. I advise you by all means to send your cloaks to him. And no doubt you have many other things now lying by as useless, that would be serviceable if dyed black."
"I believe I will take your advice," answered Mrs. Parkinson."
Mrs. Weston then proceeded, "Situated as you are Mrs. Parkinson, I need not say how much it behoves you to economise in everything you possibly can; now for instance, I would suggest to you all to drink coffee. And then as to tea, if you must have tea of an evening, I know a place where you can get it as low as three shillings and sixpence a pound. In your family a pound of tea ought to go a great way, for now, of course, you do not make it strong. And then, I would advise you all to accustom yourselves to brown sugar in your tea; it is nothing when you are used to it. Of course you always take it in your coffee."
During this harangue, the colour came into Mrs. Parkinson's
face, and she was about to answer in a manner that showed how acutely she was wounded by the unfeeling impertinence of the speaker: but glancing at Fanny she saw something in her countenance that resembled a smile, and perceived that she seemed rather amused than angry. Therefore Mrs. Parkinson suppressed her resentment, and made no reply.
When Mrs. Weston had departed, the mother and daughters warmly deprecated her rudeness and insolence; but Fanny being by nature very susceptible of the ridiculous, was much more inclined to laugh, and succeeded in inducing her sister and the girls to regard it in the same light that she did.
"After all," said Mrs. Parkinson, "I think we will take Mrs. Weston's advice about the dying. The Olive cloaks may thus be turned to very good account, and so may several other things that we cannot now make use of because of their colour. It is true that we can ill afford even the expence of dying them, but still we are really very much in want of such cloaks as we can wear in mourning."
(To be Continued.)
"METHINKS it should have been impossible,
Where the breeze warbles, and the mute, still air
Yes! who could this lovely earth e'er tread,
From the boundless skies above him spread,
O yes! 'tis a beauteous earth we tread!
Their varied sweetness on the gale
The deep, low wail of the Autumn blast,
These, these are the charms that thou canst claim,
Then who though a world so filled' could move
Nor join in the grateful song of love
It ever pours to Him who made it?