the library is not used by the man of wrath ; it is neutral ground where we meet in the evenings for an hour before he disappears into his own rooms--a series of very smoky dens in the southeast corner of the house. it looks, i am afraid, rather too gay for an ideal library; and its colouring, white and yellow, is so cheerful as to be almost frivolous. there are white bookcases all round the walls, and there is a great fireplace, and four windows, facing full south, opening on to my most cherished bit of garden, the bit round the sun-dial; so that with so much colour and such a big fire and such floods of sunshine it has anything but a sober air, in spite of the venerable volumes filling the shelves. indeed, i should never be surprised if they skipped down from their places, and, picking up their leaves, began to dance.
with this room to live in, i can look forward with perfect equanimity to being snowed up for any time providence thinks proper; and to go into the garden in its snowed-up state is like going into a bath of purity. the first breath on opening the door is so ineffably pure that it makes me gasp, and i feel a black and sinful object in the midst of all the spotlessness. yesterday i sat out of doors near the sun-dial the whole afternoon, with the thermometer so many degrees below freezing that it will be weeks finding its way up again; but there was no wind, and beautiful sunshine, and i was well wrapped up in furs. i even had tea brought out there, to the astonishment of the menials, and sat till long after the sun had set, enjoying the frosty air. i had to drink the tea very quickly, for it showed a strong inclination to begin to freeze. after the sun had gone down the rooks came home to their nests in the garden with a great fuss and fluttering, and many hesitations and squabbles before they settled on their respective trees. they flew over my head in hundreds with a mighty swish of wings, and when they had arranged themselves comfortably, an intense hush fell upon the garden, and the house began to look like a christmas card, with its white roof against the clear, pale green of the western sky, and lamplight shining in the windows.