If one begins to watch the swirling flakes and crystals, he soon gets an impression of infinity of resources that he can have from nothing else so powerfully, except it be from Adirondack gnats. Nothing makes one feel at home like a great snow-storm. Our intelligent cat will quit the fire and sit for hours in the low window, watching the falling snow with a serious and contented air. His thoughts are his own, but he is in accord with the subtlest agencies of Nature; on such a day he is charged with enough electricity to run a telegraphic battery, if it could be utilized. The connection between thought and electricity has not been exactly determined, but the cat is mentally very alert in certain conditions of the atmosphere. Feasting his eyes on the beautiful out-doors does not prevent his attention to the slightest noise in the wainscot. And the snow-storm brings content, but not stupidity, to all the rest of the household.
I can see Mandeville now, rising from his armchair and swinging his long arms as he strides to the window, and looks out and up, with, “Well, I declare!” Herbert is pretending to read Herbert Spencer’s tract on the philosophy of style but he loses much time in looking at the Young Lady, who is writing a letter, holding her portfolio in her lap,—one of her everlasting letters to one of her fifty everlasting friends. She is one of the female patriots who save the post-office department from being a disastrous loss to the treasury. Herbert is thinking of the great radical difference in the two sexes, which legislation will probably never change; that leads a woman always, to write letters on her lap and a man on a table,—a distinction which is commended to the notice of the anti-suffragists.
The Mistress, in a pretty little breakfast-cap, is moving about the room with a feather-duster, whisking invisible dust from the picture-frames, and talking with the Parson, who has just come in, and is thawing the snow from his boots on the hearth. The Parson says the thermometer is 15 deg., and going down; that there is a snowdrift across the main church entrance three feet high, and that the house looks as if it had gone into winter quarters, religion and all. There were only ten persons at the conference meeting last night, and seven of those were women; he wonders how many weather-proof Christians there are in the parish, anyhow.
The Fire-Tender is in the adjoining library, pretending to write; but it is a poor day for ideas. He has written his wife’s name about eleven hundred times, and cannot get any farther. He hears the Mistress tell the Parson that she believes he is trying to write a lecture on the Celtic Influence in Literature. The Parson says that it is a first-rate subject, if there were any such influence, and asks why he does n’t take a shovel and make a path to the gate. Mandeville says that, by George! he himself should like no better fun, but it wouldn’t look well for a visitor to do it. The Fire-Tender, not to be disturbed by this sort of chaff, keeps on writing his wife’s name.