Page:Gaskell - North and South, vol. I, 1855.djvu/125

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CHAPTER IX.

DRESSING FOR TEA.

" Let China's earth, enrich' d with coloured stains, Pencil' d with gold, and streaked with azure veins, The grateful flavour of the Indian leaf. Or Mocho's sunburnt berry glad receive." Mrs. Barbauld.

The day after this meeting with Higgins and his daughter, Mr. Hale came upstairs into the little drawing-room at an unusual hour. He went up to different objects in the room, as if examining them, but Margaret saw that it was merely a nervous trick — a way of putting off something he wished, yet feared to say. Out it came at last — " My dear ! I've asked Mr. Thornton to come to tea to-night." Mrs. Hale was leaning back in her easy chair, with her eyes shut, and an expression of pain on her face which had become habitual to her of late. But she roused up into querulousness at this speech of her husband's. " Mr. Thornton ! — and to-night ! What in the world does the man want to come here for ? And Dixon is washing my muslins and laces, and there is no soft water with these horrid east winds, which