BOOK THE SECOND - REAPING
9. Chapter Ix - Hearing the Last of It (continued)
'We live in a singular world, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit.
'I have had the honour, by a coincidence of which I am proud, to
have made a remark, similar in effect, though not so
'A singular world, I would say, sir,' pursued Mrs. Sparsit; after
acknowledging the compliment with a drooping of her dark eyebrows,
not altogether so mild in its expression as her voice was in its
dulcet tones; 'as regards the intimacies we form at one time, with
individuals we were quite ignorant of, at another. I recall, sir,
that on that occasion you went so far as to say you were actually
apprehensive of Miss Gradgrind.'
'Your memory does me more honour than my insignificance deserves.
I availed myself of your obliging hints to correct my timidity, and
it is unnecessary to add that they were perfectly accurate. Mrs.
Sparsit's talent for - in fact for anything requiring accuracy -
with a combination of strength of mind - and Family - is too
habitually developed to admit of any question.' He was almost
falling asleep over this compliment; it took him so long to get
through, and his mind wandered so much in the course of its
'You found Miss Gradgrind - I really cannot call her Mrs.
Bounderby; it's very absurd of me - as youthful as I described
her?' asked Mrs. Sparsit, sweetly.
'You drew her portrait perfectly,' said Mr. Harthouse. 'Presented
her dead image.'
'Very engaging, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, causing her mittens slowly
to revolve over one another.
'It used to be considered,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'that Miss Gradgrind
was wanting in animation, but I confess she appears to me
considerably and strikingly improved in that respect. Ay, and
indeed here is Mr. Bounderby!' cried Mrs. Sparsit, nodding her head
a great many times, as if she had been talking and thinking of no
one else. 'How do you find yourself this morning, sir? Pray let
us see you cheerful, sir.'