BOOK THE SECOND - REAPING
10. Chapter X - Mrs. Sparsit's Staircase (continued)
She had been descending steadily, to the day, and on the day, when
Mr. Bounderby issued the weekly invitation recorded above. Mrs.
Sparsit was in good spirits, and inclined to be conversational.
'And pray, sir,' said she, 'if I may venture to ask a question
appertaining to any subject on which you show reserve - which is
indeed hardy in me, for I well know you have a reason for
everything you do - have you received intelligence respecting the
'Why, ma'am, no; not yet. Under the circumstances, I didn't expect
it yet. Rome wasn't built in a day, ma'am.'
'Very true, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, shaking her head.
'Nor yet in a week, ma'am.'
'No, indeed, sir,' returned Mrs. Sparsit, with a gentle melancholy
'In a similar manner, ma'am,' said Bounderby, 'I can wait, you
know. If Romulus and Remus could wait, Josiah Bounderby can wait.
They were better off in their youth than I was, however. They had
a she-wolf for a nurse; I had only a she-wolf for a grandmother.
She didn't give any milk, ma'am; she gave bruises. She was a
regular Alderney at that.'
'Ah!' Mrs. Sparsit sighed and shuddered.
'No, ma'am,' continued Bounderby, 'I have not heard anything more
about it. It's in hand, though; and young Tom, who rather sticks
to business at present - something new for him; he hadn't the
schooling I had - is helping. My injunction is, Keep it quiet, and
let it seem to blow over. Do what you like under the rose, but
don't give a sign of what you're about; or half a hundred of 'em
will combine together and get this fellow who has bolted, out of
reach for good. Keep it quiet, and the thieves will grow in
confidence by little and little, and we shall have 'em.'
'Very sagacious indeed, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit. 'Very
interesting. The old woman you mentioned, sir - '