Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/137

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VISIT FROM RUSKIN

white with black ribbons, and dear Mama looked very nice in her black dress with white collar and sleeves. There was a splendid fire, and tea very prettily set out, and all looked cheerful and nice. When we were all ready and seven o'clock came, Ockey and I began to get very anxious lest he should not come; listening most intently to all the carriages, and sitting with the door open, and candle ready to light him upstairs. A quarter past seven came, and Ockey said, "Well at half-past I shall give up all hope and begin to cry. The only thing that makes me think he is coming is, that the lamp burns so remarkably well." A carriage stopped; a knock at the door came. Ockey, much to my surprise, would run down to meet him. Mama and I sat demurely on the sofa, and waited till he came in. He had brought a number of sketches to show us—all his summer's work. Was it not kind? When we were all seated, he asked directly about Andy. How she had got on, on her journey, and how she had found you. When Mama began talking about you both, he said so sweetly and sympathetically, "I hope it does not pain you to talk about these things."

He explained to Ockey, one of the first things, that he had not brought her any birthday present; that it must be a Christmas present, as he had wanted to know what books she had. Ockey said something about "Oh no! he did so much"; and Mama said that when we were children, she had introduced the practice of our giving presents on our birthdays, rather than receiving them, because she had wished to impress on us that we were born to give, rather than to receive. Ruskin said that he thought it was very ungracious that friends should come to a person, and expect them to give them presents, because it was their birthday, as much as to