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that respect at least her judgment did not err; for few people were more generally beloved than "Poor Mrs. Martin." She always had a ready laugh for the awkward jests of her neighbours, and to the distressed she as willingly gave her equally ready tear.-Her income was extremely limited, yet she still contrived to spare a mite to those still poorer than herself, and to her trifling donations she added such cordially interested inquiries, and such well-intentioned advice, that her mercy was indeed "twice blest."-To her other good qualities she joined that of being a most excellent manager. All the village acknowledged, that "Poor Mrs. Martin's sweetmeats, and poor Mrs. Martin's bacon, were the best in the place;" nor were there many seasons so unproductive in her little garden, as to deprive her of the pride and pleasure of bestowing a bottle of currant wine, or a pot of raspberry jam, on her more opulent though less thrifty neighbour.-Her house, which was in the middle of the village, was only distinguished from those around it by its superior neatness: a court, about the dimensions of a modern dinner table, which she facetiously termed her pleasure ground, 'divided it from the principal, indeed the only street, and was separated from it by a few white rails;-a little walk curiously paved in different coloured stones was the approach to the hall door, and the grass on each side was ornamented by a circular bed bordered with reversed oyster-shells, and each containing a few rose-trees. The house boasted of one window corresponding to each flower-bed on the ground floor; and of three above stairs, the centre one of which, being Mrs. Martin's own bed-room, was ornamented with an old fender painted green, which served as a balcony to support three flourishing geraniums, and a stock July flower, that "wasted its sweetness on the desert air" out of a broken tea-pot, which had been carefully treasured by this thrifty housewife as a substitute for a flower-pot. The hall door, which always stood open in fine weather, was
decorated with a clean but useless brass knocker, and a conspicuous rush mat; whilst the narrow passage, to which it led, presented, as its sole furniture, a huge clock, on which Mrs. Martin's only attendant Peggy, often boasted no spider was ever known to rest, and whose gigantic case filled the whole space from wall to wall. The left-hand window, whose dark brown shutters were carefully bolted back on the outside, illuminated a kitchen, where cheerful cleanliness amply compensated for want of size;-opposite to it was the only parlour, of the same proportions, and of equal neatness; a small Pembroke table, that, with change of furniture, served the purpose of dinner, breakfast, or card table; white dimity curtains, and a blind that was for any thing rather than use, as it was never closed; half a dozen chairs, that once had exhibited resplendent ornaments of lilies and roses, painted in all the colours of the rainbow, but whose honours had long since faded under the powerful and unremitting exertions of Peggy's scrubbing brush; a corner cupboard, the top shelf of which with difficulty contained a well-polished japanned tea tray, where a rosy Celadon, in a brilliant scarlet coat, sighed most romantically at the feet of Lavinia in a plume of feathers; and the best cups and saucers, ranged in regular order, filled the ranks below;-a book shelf, which, besides containing a Bible, Sir Charles Grandison, a few volumes of the Spectator, and occasionally a wellthumbed novel from Mr. Salter's circulating library, was also the repository for various stray articles, such as the tea caddy, Mrs. Martin's knitting, and receipt book, transcribed by her niece Lucy; and lastly, a barbarous copy of Bunbury's beautiful print of Jenny Grey, the highly prized, and only production of Lucy's needle, while attending Miss Slater's genteel "academy for young ladies," composed the furniture of this little room.
But its chief ornament, and Mrs. Martin's greatest pride (next to Lucy herself,) was a glass-door, that
opened into her demesne: a plot of ground, containing about an acre and a half, which was kitchen-garden, flower-garden, and orchard, all in one. This glass-door had been a present of young Mr. Mordaunt's, in whose company Mrs. Martin had often undesignedly lamented, that the sole entrance to her garden was through the scullery, and, on her return from her only visit to London, about two years before this narration commences, she had been most agreeably surprised by the improvement in question.-Various and manifold were the speculations, to which this little piece of good-natured gallantry had given rise in the simple mind of Mrs. Martin." Indeed, indeed, she never thought of his doing such a thing! so generous! so kind! and then his manner was always so obliging and polite; it could not certainly be for herself that he took the trouble of ordering the glassdoor; and she remembered very well, when he called after their return from London, that he said he was very glad to see a town life had agreed so well with Lucy, though Mrs. Crosbie had very good naturedly said, she thought she didn't look half so well as before she went. To be sure, she never saw him talk much to Lucy, but then she was so shy!" Mrs. Martin had been standing for some minutes at this same glass-door, one fine evening in July, indulging in a similar reverie, when it was suddenly interrupted by the abrupt entrance of Lucy, who, with as much concern in her countenance as her vacant unmeaning features could express, exclaimed-“ La! Aunt, he won't come to-night after all!"-" Not come, child!" answered Mrs. Martin, "why, I never expected he would."--"Not expect Mr. Brown?" returned Lucy, in a tone something between anger and surprise; "Not expect Mr. Brown? why I'm sure he'd come if he could, and you'd never ask the Lucases without him." "( 'No, indeed, my dear, I would not;” replied Mrs. Martin, totally unconscious that her first answer had alluded to the subject of her own thoughts, not
to the constant object of poor Lucy's-" He is a wellbehaved, sober young man, and very attentive to the shop; but why won't he come to night?"-" He just rode up as I was standing at the gate with this little bottle of rose-water, which he brought then, because, he said, he had to go to squire Thornbull's to see the cook, and he didn't think he could be back for tea do what he would-I'm sure I wish Mr. Lucas would attend his own patients." '—" Well, Lucy, I suppose the rest will soon be here; do just set down the tray, my love, whilst I go and see if Peggy is doing the Sally Lunn right." Poor Lucy proceeded to her task with unwonted gloom, having first stopped to take one more smell of the rose-water before she placed it on the ready book shelf; and so slow was she in her movements, that the tea-table was scarcely arranged, when she heard her aunt accost her visiters out of the kitchen window, with "How d'ye do, Mrs. Crosbie, how d'ye do, Mrs. Lucas; beautiful evening; thank you kindly; I'm quite well, and Lucy's charming; pray step in, Mr. Crosbie-give me your hat; Mr. Lucas, I'll hang your cane up by the clock here; sit down, my dear Nanny, I hope your shoes are dry--indeed, I don't think they can be wet; we've scarcely had a drop of rain this fortnight.--Peggy! bring in the kettle."
And now, what with the disposal of the bonnets, the arrangement of the chairs, and the repetition of observations on the weather, and inquiries after the health of each individual present, the time was fully occupied, till the arrival of Peggy, with a bright copper tea-kettle in one hand, and a well buttered, smoking hot Sally Lunn in the other, put an end to the confusion of tongues, and assembled the party in temporary, silence round the tea-table.--But Mrs. Martin's natural loquacity, added to her incessant desire to be civil, soon induced her to interrupt the momentary calm, and, while she spread her snow-white pocket handkerchief on her knees, as a preparation
for her attack on the Sally Lunn, she addressed her neighbour, the attorney, with-"Well, Mr. Crosbie, what did you think of our sermon last evening; it was a delightful one, was'nt it?""Yes, a very good, plain sermon, Mrs. Martin; but, with all deference to your better judgment, Mrs. Martin, I think your friend Mr. Temple doesn't show as much learning in the pulpit as he might do."—" Learning!" quoth his amicable spouse, "I never can believe that man is a learned man; I could make as good a sermon myself.”—“ Non constat, my love," replied Mr. Crosbie "though I often think you would have done very well for a parson, you are so fond of always having the last word." Probably the gentle Mrs. Crosbie would have given the company a specimen of her talents for lecturing, had she not acquired a habit of never attending to what her husband said: she had therefore, fortunately, no doubt, during his speech, profited by the opportunity of overhearing Mrs. Martin's and Mrs. Lucas's discussion, respecting the appearance at church the evening before of the party from Webberly House, consisting of Mrs. Sullivan and her two elder daughters, the Miss Webberlys.-"I declare, I wasn't sure they were come down yet," said Mrs. Martin, "till I saw their two great footmen bring their prayer books into church, and their cushions; Mrs. Sullivan looks quite plump and well."—"Yes, indeed, she looks remarkably well;" answered the assenting Mrs. Lucas." Well!" retorted Mrs. Crosbie-"I think she is going into a dropsy; her face is for all the world like a Cheshire cheese." "It certainly does look as if it was a little swelled," replied the complacent Mrs. Lucas "Dear me," rejoined Mr. Lucas, “I must certainly call at Webberly House, and inquire after the health of the family; I thought they never left town till August: perhaps they are come down for change of air." "And Lucy and I must pay our respects to them too, they are always so very polite.” "They are never very civil, I take it," said Mrs.