Dear reader, fancy now a low-studded room, with crimson curtains and carpet, a deep recess filled a crimson divan with pillows, the lower part of the room taken up by a row of book-shelves, three feet high, which ran all round the room and accommodated my library. The top of this formed a convenient shelf, on which all our pretty little wedding presents—statuettes, bronzes, and articles of vertu—were arranged. A fire-place, surrounded by an old-fashioned border of Dutch tiles, with a pair of grandmotherly brass andirons, nibbed and polished to an extreme of brightness, exhibits a wood fire, all laid in order to be lighted at the touch of the match. My wife has dressed the house with flowers, which our pretty little neighbor has almost stripped her garden to contribute. There are vases of fire-colored nasturtiums and many-hued chrysanthemums the arrangement of which has cost the little artist an afternoon's study, but which I pronounce to be perfect. I have come home from my office an hour earlier to see if she has any commands.

"Here, Harry," she says, with a flushed face, "I believe everything now is about as perfect as it can be. Now come and stand at this door, and see how you think it would strike anybody, when they first came in. You see I've heaped up those bronze vases on the mantel with nothing but nasturtiums; and it has such a surprising effect in that dark bronze! Then I've arranged those white chrysanthemums right against these crimson curtains. And now come out in the dining-room, and see how I've set the dinner-table! You see I've the prettiest possible center-piece of fruit and flowers. Isn't it lovely?"

Of course I kissed her and said it was lovely, and that she was lovelier; and she was a regular little enchantress, witch, and fairy-queen, and ever so much more to the same purport. And then Alice came down, all equipped for conquest, as pretty an additional ornament to the house as heart could desire. And when the clock was on the stroke of six, and we heard the feet of our guests at the door, we lighted our altar-fire in the fire-place; for it must be understood that this was a pure coup de théâtre, a brightening, vivifying, ornamental luxury—one of the things we were determined to have, on the strength of having determined not to have a great many others. How proud we were when the blaze streamed up and lighted the whole room, fluttered on the pictures, glinted here and there on the gold bindings of the books, made dreamy lights and deep shadows, and called forth all the bright glowing color of the crimson tints which seemed to give out their very heart to firelight! My wife was evidently proud of the effect of all things in our rooms, which Jim declared looked warm enough to bring a dead man to life. Bolton was seated in due form in a great, deep arm-chair, which, we informed him, we had bought especially with reference to him, and the corner was to be known henceforth as his corner.

"Well," said he, with grave delight, "I have brought my final contribution to your establishment;" and forthwith from the capacious hinder pockets of his coat he drew forth a pair of kittens, and set them down on the hearth-rug. "There, Harry," he said, gravely, "there are a pair of ballet dancers that will perform for you gratis, at any time."

"Oh, the little witches, the perfect loves!" said my wife and Alice, rushing at them.

Bolton very gravely produced from his pocket two long strings with corks attached to them, and hanging them to the gas fixtures, began, as he said, to exhibit the ballet dancing, in which we all became profoundly interested. The wonderful leaps and flings and other achievements of the performers occupied the whole time till dinner was announced.

"Now, Harry," said my wife, "if we let Little Cub see the kittens, before she's waited on table, it'll utterly demoralize her. So we must shut them in carefully," which was done.

I don't think a dinner party was ever a more brilliant success than ours; partly owing to the fact that we were a mutual admiration society, and our guests felt about as much sense of appropriation and property in it as we did ourselves. The house was in a sort of measure "our house," and the dinner "our dinner." In short, we were all of us strictly en famille. The world was one thing, and we were another, outside of it and by ourselves, and having a remarkably good time. Everybody got some share of praise. Mary got praised for her cooking. The cooking-stove was glorified for baking so well, and Bolton was glorified for recommending the cooking-stove. And Jim and Alice and my wife congratulated each other on the lovely looks of the dining-room. We shuddered together in mutual horror over what the wall-paper there had been; and we felicitated the artists that had brought such brilliant results out of so little. The difficulties that had been overcome in matching the paper and arranging the panels were forcibly dwelt upon; and some sly jokes seemed to pass between Jim and Alice, applicable to certain turns of events in these past operations. After dinner we had most transcendent coffee, and returned to our parlor as gay of heart as if we had been merry with wine. The kittens had got thoroughly at home by that time, having investigated the whole of the apartment, and began exhibiting some of their most irresistible antics, with a social success among us of a most flattering nature. Alice declared that she should call them Taglioni and Madame Céleste, and proceeded to tie blue and pink bows upon their necks, which they scratched and growled at in quite a warlike manner. A low whine from the entry interrupted us; and Eva, opening the door and looking out, saw poor old Stumpy sitting on the mat, with the most good-dog air of dejected patience.

"Why, here's Stumpy, poor fellow!" she said.

"Oh, don't trouble yourself about him," said Bolton. "I've taught him to sit out on the mat. He's happy enough if he only thinks I'm inside."

"But, poor fellow," said Eva, "he looks as if he wanted to come in."

"Oh, he'll do well enough; never mind him," said Bolton, looking a little embarrassed. "It was silly of me to bring him, only he is so desolate to have me go out without him."

"Well, he shall come in," said Eva. "Come in, you poor homely old fellow," she said. "I daresay you're as good as an angel; and to-night's my house-warming, and not even a dog shall have an ungratified desire, if I can help it."

So poor Stumpy was installed by Bolton in the corner, and looked perfectly beatified.

And now, while we have brought all our characters before the curtain, and the tableau of the fireside is complete, as we sit there all around the hearth, each perfectly at home with the other, in heart and mind, and with even the poor beasts that connect us with the lower world brightening in our enjoyment, this is a good moment for the curtain to fall on the fortunes of

My Wife and I.

P. S.—If our kind readers still retain a friendly interest in the fortunes of any of the actors in this story, they may hear again from us at some future day, in the

Records of an Unfashionable Street.

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