Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/143

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III
123
RUSKIN'S CONVERSATION

from Marseilles, with which R. was much pleased, and said it recalled all the scenery to him; and when she came to the part about the red sail, he told O. to remind him to show her a small Turner in the National Gallery which showed the wonderful beauty of a red sail. He asked if there were part of another letter he might hear, and anything about Florence. I brought Andy's to me, and while it was being read I turned my face away for fear of its telling too much, as I could hardly bear it; but when the thought of you both changed into joy, I lifted my face and met such a look of tenderness and sympathy. When the letter was finished, R. said to Mama, "How happy you must be in them all!" "Thank you. It is very beautiful."

Then he showed us the sketches. I don't think I shall ever forget them. I see them constantly at night when I shut my eyes. They have given me most beautiful visions of lovely scenery. One of the things which gave me the most pleasure was to hear R. talk about them with such perfect humility, condemning or praising them, just as if they had been another person's work, no false shame in admiring them, and entering with such hearty sympathy into our pleasure in them. Then came a quiet talk, which I think R. quite enjoyed. I felt as if we had come nearer to him than ever; as if he were opening something of his heart, and asking for help. He said once, "I do not say any of these things to make you sad, but because I think you may say something to make me happier." He was regretting that the colours of a sunset faded; and I said I thought the changefulness of nature was one of its greatest beauties. At first he agreed; and then he said, "No, it reminded him how all things must pass away." Then we had a very solemn talk about good being continued