BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
11. Chapter Xi - No Way Out (continued)
Stephen came out of the hot mill into the damp wind and cold wet
streets, haggard and worn. He turned from his own class and his
own quarter, taking nothing but a little bread as he walked along,
towards the hill on which his principal employer lived, in a red
house with black outside shutters, green inside blinds, a black
street door, up two white steps, BOUNDERBY (in letters very like
himself) upon a brazen plate, and a round brazen door-handle
underneath it, like a brazen full-stop.
Mr. Bounderby was at his lunch. So Stephen had expected. Would
his servant say that one of the Hands begged leave to speak to him?
Message in return, requiring name of such Hand. Stephen Blackpool.
There was nothing troublesome against Stephen Blackpool; yes, he
might come in.
Stephen Blackpool in the parlour. Mr. Bounderby (whom he just knew
by sight), at lunch on chop and sherry. Mrs. Sparsit netting at
the fireside, in a side-saddle attitude, with one foot in a cotton
stirrup. It was a part, at once of Mrs. Sparsit's dignity and
service, not to lunch. She supervised the meal officially, but
implied that in her own stately person she considered lunch a
'Now, Stephen,' said Mr. Bounderby, 'what's the matter with you?'
Stephen made a bow. Not a servile one - these Hands will never do
that! Lord bless you, sir, you'll never catch them at that, if
they have been with you twenty years! - and, as a complimentary
toilet for Mrs. Sparsit, tucked his neckerchief ends into his
'Now, you know,' said Mr. Bounderby, taking some sherry, 'we have
never had any difficulty with you, and you have never been one of
the unreasonable ones. You don't expect to be set up in a coach
and six, and to be fed on turtle soup and venison, with a gold
spoon, as a good many of 'em do!' Mr. Bounderby always represented
this to be the sole, immediate, and direct object of any Hand who
was not entirely satisfied; 'and therefore I know already that you
have not come here to make a complaint. Now, you know, I am
certain of that, beforehand.'