Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/197

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Never had Peter beheld a livelier scene than was constituted by all these accessories: the bright sun; the flashing water-drops; the gleaming snow; the cheerful multitude; the variety of rapid vehicles; and the jingle-jangle of merry bells, which made the heart dance to their music. Nothing dismal was to be seen, except that peaked piece of antiquity, Peter Goldthwaite's house, which might well look sad externally, since such a terrible consumption was preying on its insides. And Peter's gaunt figure, half visible in the projecting second story, was worthy of his house.

'Peter! How goes it, friend Peter?' cried a voice across the street, as Peter was drawing in his head. 'Look out here, Peter!'

Peter looked, and saw his old partner, Mr. John Brown, on the opposite sidewalk, portly and comfortable, with his furred cloak thrown open, disclosing a handsome surtout beneath. His voice had directed the attention of the whole town to Peter Goldthwaite's window, and to the dusty scarecrow which appeared at it.

'I say, Peter,' cried Mr. Brown again, 'what the devil are you about there, that I hear such a racket, whenever I pass by? You are repairing the old house, I suppose,—making a new one of it,—eh?'

'Too late for that, I am afraid, Mr. Brown,' replied Peter. 'If I make it new, it will be new inside and out, from the cellar upwards.'

'Had not you better let me take the job?' said Mr. Brown, significantly.