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Bleak House

8. Covering a Multitude of Sins
It was interesting when I dressed before daylight to peep out of window, where my
candles were reflected in the black panes like two beacons, and finding all beyond still
enshrouded in the indistinctness of last night, to watch how it turned out when the day
came on. As the prospect gradually revealed itself and disclosed the scene over which
the wind had wandered in the dark, like my memory over my life, I had a pleasure in
discovering the unknown objects that had been around me in my sleep. At first they
were faintly discernible in the mist, and above them the later stars still glimmered. That
pale interval over, the picture began to enlarge and fill up so fast that at every new peep
I could have found enough to look at for an hour. Imperceptibly my candles became the
only incongruous part of the morning, the dark places in my room all melted away, and
the day shone bright upon a cheerful landscape, prominent in which the old Abbey
Church, with its massive tower, threw a softer train of shadow on the view than seemed
compatible with its rugged character. But so from rough outsides (I hope I have learnt),
serene and gentle influences often proceed.
Every part of the house was in such order, and every one was so attentive to me, that I
had no trouble with my two bunches of keys, though what with trying to remember the
contents of each little store-room drawer and cupboard; and what with making notes on
a slate about jams, and pickles, and preserves, and bottles, and glass, and china, and a
great many other things; and what with being generally a methodical, old-maidish sort of
foolish little person, I was so busy that I could not believe it was breakfast- time when I
heard the bell ring. Away I ran, however, and made tea, as I had already been installed
into the responsibility of the tea-pot; and then, as they were all rather late and nobody
was down yet, I thought I would take a peep at the garden and get some knowledge of
that too. I found it quite a delightful place--in front, the pretty avenue and drive by which
we had approached (and where, by the by, we had cut up the gravel so terribly with our
wheels that I asked the gardener to roll it); at the back, the flower-garden, with my
darling at her window up there, throwing it open to smile out at me, as if she would have
kissed me from that distance. Beyond the flower-garden was a kitchen-garden, and then
a paddock, and then a snug little rick-yard, and then a dear little farm-yard. As to the
house itself, with its three peaks in the roof; its various-shaped windows, some so large,
some so small, and all so pretty; its trellis-work, against the southfront for roses and
honey-suckle, and its homely, comfortable, welcoming look--it was, as Ada said when
she came out to meet me with her arm through that of its master, worthy of her cousin
John, a bold thing to say, though he only pinched her dear cheek for it.
Mr. Skimpole was as agreeable at breakfast as he had been overnight. There was
honey on the table, and it led him into a discourse about bees. He had no objection to
honey, he said (and I should think he had not, for he seemed to like it), but he protested
against the overweening assumptions of bees. He didn't at all see why the busy bee
should be proposed as a model to him; he supposed the bee liked to make honey, or he
wouldn't do it-- nobody asked him. It was not necessary for the bee to make such a
merit of his tastes. If every confectioner went buzzing about the world banging against
 
 
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