Some compensation for this state of affairs is to be found in the increased excellence of our domestic manufactures. That which our influence has destroyed in the workers of the East, we have, after our progressive Western fashion, in a measure taken unto ourselves. Oriental patterns, Oriental colorings, imitated as nearly as may be by our crude, positive chemical dyes, pervade the market. A Bokhara carpet, worth its weight in gold, full of soft darknesses and silvery lights, teeming with suggestions of the Orient, gritty, it may be, with the very sand of the great Sahara itself, has its counterpart in a fuzzy, forty dollar maroon "velvet" production from - Lynn! And the salesman who shows you this commercial chromo will probably pause beside it expectantly, saying, "Now this, this is a Bokhara pattern - the latest thing - very much admired: we sell lots of them," and be disappointed if you don't admire it. What is one to say? What can one say? It is not possible to make this bustling showman - educated only to the needs of his trade - understand that the qualities which made the beauty and value of the original article are wanting. One can only turn away silent, realizing that the perception of artistic values, like all other education, must be the result of the process of evolution; comforting one's self, too, with the thought that this first apparently hopeless imitation may be the result of that blind groping for light which shall later "climb to a soul in grass and flowers."
One last word as to the place of the floor-covering before we turn to the more practical subject of the floors themselves. One of the most important factors in the question of decoration is the law of contrast. In the furnishing of a room the treatment of the walls determines more than anything what its future atmosphere is to be, - whether it shall be cool and reserved, as in a drawing-room somewhat rarely used, where the paper may be light and formal in design; or in a library, rendered warm and livable by the presence of an insistent deeper note; or the dining-room, furnished if possible with an effect heavy enough to suggest the substantial character of the hospitality to be expected there. In any of these or other schemes of decoration the floor-covering fills exactly the same position that the pedals of a piano fill to the musician. It should be selected to soften or to accentuate the effect suggested by the treatment of the walls. Many a room otherwise perfect has been hopelessly marred by ignorance of this. Next to harmony, the law of contrast should govern its selection most strongly. When the walls of a room are covered with a variegated paper of a strong and forceful character, a carpet of plain color is usually just the restraining note needed; where the walls are covered with a tapestry full of softly blended, indefinite tones, the introduction of some one of those tints into the floor-covering may add the one full note needed for the breadth and serenity of the room as a whole. On the other hand, plain walls, hangings, and furniture-coverings may bear the same relation to a beautiful rug that a frame bears to a beautiful picture - acting as a negative yet most important background for the accentuation of its perfections. Sometimes, too, where the wainscoting is of white, or light wood, and the walls are covered with a strong color, it is absolutely essential that their tone be brought to the floor-line in the hangings, and further emphasized in the covering of the floor. Otherwise a top-heavy effect is produced, and the room has a capped appearance, which destroys entirely the effect of space. In the recently finished hall of a Colonial country house, where the ceiling and wainscoting were white and the upper walls of Empire green, the portieres suggested by the decorator were of softest foliage greens; but the whole color scheme of the room went awry until the hostess had the good sense to discard the valuable foreign rugs upon which she had prided herself, and purchased an inexpensive green-andwhite cotton square, which proved the "lost chord" for which she had been vainly searching. Only a righteous search after wisdom gave her the courage for such an act.
When a question of expense is to be considered, a good floor-covering is made of jeans or denim, especially in nurseries or dining-rooms. As the material is thin it is often as well to use a carpet-lining beneath. Should this be too heavy, newspapers may take its place - to be thrown away when the covering is taken up to be washed. Oilcloth and linoleums are to be recommended where there is much traffic and bare floors are disliked. A carpet for a hall is altogether wrong where children run back and forth with their muddy shoes, or where there is much passing to and fro, unless it is arranged so that it can, when soiled, be taken up and shaken.
In bedrooms and country-house parlors, mattings are never without a certain vogue. Each year shows new and improved designs in these textures. They are cool, can be washed with soap and water, and give a general air of freshness to a room. Rugs woven of matting, with borders, may be used on bedrooms and porches, and add much to the attractiveness of the latter, where a heavier rug is not to be employed.