There are certain characteristic words which the human heart loves to conjure with, and one of the strongest among them is the phrase, "Our house." It is not my house, nor your house, nor their house, but Our House. It is the inseparable we who own it, and it is the we and the our that go a long way towards impregnating it with the charm that makes it the symbol of things most blessed and eternal.

Houses have their physiognomy, as much as persons. There are common-place houses, suggestive houses, attractive houses, mysterious houses, and fascinating houses, just as there are all these classes of persons. There are houses whose windows seem to yawn idly—to stare vacantly—there are houses whose windows glower weirdly, and look at you askance; there are houses, again, whose very doors and windows seem wide open with frank cordiality, which seem to stretch their arms to embrace you, and woo you kindly to come and possess them.

My wife and I, as we put our key into the door and let ourselves into the deserted dwelling, now all our own, said to each other at once that it was a home-like house. It was built in the old style, when they had solid timbers and low ceilings with great beams and large windows, with old-fashioned small panes of glass, but there was about it a sort of homely individuality, and suggestive of cosy comforts. The front room had an ancient fire-place, with quaint Dutch tiles around it. The Ferguses had introduced a furnace, gas, and water, into it; but the fire-place in most of the rooms still remained, suggestive of the old days in New York when wood was plenty and cheap. One could almost fancy that those days of roaring family hearths had so heartened up the old chimneys that a portion of the ancient warmth yet inhered in the house.

"There, Harry," said my wife, exultantly pointing to the fire-place, "see, this is the very thing that your mother's brass andirons will fit into—how charmingly they will go with it!"

And then those bright, sunny windows, and that bay-window looking across upon those trees was perfectly lovely. In fact, the leaves of the trees shimmering in October light, cast reflections into the room suggestive of country life, which, fresh from the country as we were, was an added charm.

The rooms were very low studded, scarcely nine feet in height—and, by the by, I believe that that feature in old English and Dutch house-building is one that greatly conduces to give an air of comfort. A low ceiling insures ease in warming, and in our climate where one has to depend on fires for nine months in the year, this is something worth while. In general, I have noticed in rooms that the sense of snugness and comfort dies out as the ceiling rises in height—rooms twelve and fifteen feet high may be all very grand and very fine, but they are never sociable, they never seem to brood over you, soothe you, and take you to their heart as the motherly low-browed room does.

My wife ran all over her new dominions-exploring and planning, telling me volubly how she would arrange them. The woman was Queen here; her foot was on her native heath, and she saw capabilities and possibilities with the eye of an artist.

Now, I desire it to be understood that I am not indifferent to the charms of going to housekeeping full-handed. I do not pretend to say that my wife and I should not have enjoyed opening our family reign in a stone palace, overlooking New York Central Park, with all the charms of city and country life united, with all the upholsterers and furniture shops in New York at our feet. All this was none too good for our taste if we could have had it, but since we could not have it, we took another kind of delight, and one quite as vivid, in seeing how charmingly we could get on without it. In fact, I think there is an exultation in the constant victory over circumstances, in little inventions, substitutions, and combinations, rendered necessary by limited means which is wanting to those to whose hand everything comes without an effort.

If, for example, the brisk pair of robins, who have built in the elm tree opposite to our bay-window, had had a nest all made, and lined, and provided for them to go into, what an amount of tweedle and chipper, what a quantity of fluttering, and soaring, and singing would have been wanting to the commencement of their housekeeping! All those pretty little conversations with the sticks and straw, all that brave work in tugging at a bit of twine and thread, which finally are carried off in triumph and wrought into the nest, would be a loss in nature. How much adventure and enterprise, how many little heart-beats of joy go into one robin's nest simply because Mother Nature makes them work it out for themselves!

We spent a cheerful morning merely in running over our house, and telling each other what we could do with it, and congratulating each other that it was "such a bargain," for, look, here is an outlook upon trees; and here is a little back yard, considerably larger than a good sized pocket-handkerchief, where Mrs. Fergus had raised mignonette, heliotropes, and roses and geraniums enough to have a fresh morning bouquet of them daily; and an ancient grape-vine planted by some old Knickerbocker, which Jack Fergus had trained in a sort of arbor over the dining-room window, and which at this present moment was hanging with purple clusters of grapes. We ate of them, and felt like Adam and Eve in Paradise. What was it to us that this little Eden of ours was in an unfashionable quarter, and that, as Aunt Maria would say, there was not a creature living within miles of us, it was still our mystical "garden which the Lord God had planted eastward in Eden." The purchase of it, it is true, had absorbed all my wife's little fortune, and laid a debt upon us—but we told each other that it was, after all, our cheapest way of renting a foothold in New York. "For, you see," said my wife instructively, "papa says it is a safe investment, as it is sure to rise in value, so that even if we want to sell it we can get more than we paid."

"What a shrewd little trader you are getting to be!" I said, admiring this profound financial view.

"Oh, indeed I am; and, now, Harry dear, don't let's go to any expense about furniture till I've shown you what I intend to do. I know devices for giving a room an air with so little; for example, look at this recess. I shall fill this up with a divan that I shall get up for nine or ten dollars."

"You get it up!"

"Yes, I—with Mary to help me—you'll see in time. We'll have all the comfort that could be got out of a sofa, for which people pay eighty or ninety dollars, and the eighty or ninety dollars will go to get other things, you see. And then we must have a stuffed seat running round this bay-window. I can get that up. I've seen at Stewart's such a lovely piece of patch, with broad crimson stripes, and a sort of mauresque figure interposed. I think we had better get the whole of it, and that will do for one whole room. Let's see. I shall make lambrequins for the windows, and cover the window-seats, and then we shall have only to buy two or three great stuffed chairs and cover them with the same. Oh, you'll see what I'll do. I shall make this house so comfortable and charming that people will wonder to see it."

"Well, darling, I give all that up to you, that is your dominion, your reign."

"To be sure, you have all your work up at the office there, and your articles to write, and besides, dear, with all your genius, and all that, you really don't know much about this sort of thing, so give yourself no trouble, I'll attend to it—it is my ground, you know. Now, I don't mean mother or Aunt Maria shall come down here till we have got every thing arranged. Alice is going to come and stay with me and help, and when I want you I'll call on you, for, though I am not a writing genius, I am a genius in these matters as you'll see."

"You are a veritable household fairy," said I, "and this house, henceforth, lies on the borders of the fairy land. Troops of gay and joyous spirits are flocking to take possession of it, and their little hands will carry forward what you begin."

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