BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
6. CHAPTER VI.
My lady's tongue is like the meadow blades,
That cut you stroking them with idle hand.
Nice cutting is her function: she divides
With spiritual edge the millet-seed,
And makes intangible savings.
As Mr. Casaubon's carriage was passing out of the gateway,
it arrested the entrance of a pony phaeton driven by a lady with
a servant seated behind. It was doubtful whether the recognition
had been mutual, for Mr. Casaubon was looking absently before him;
but the lady was quick-eyed, and threw a nod and a "How do you do?"
in the nick of time. In spite of her shabby bonnet and very old
Indian shawl, it was plain that the lodge-keeper regarded her
as an important personage, from the low curtsy which was dropped
on the entrance of the small phaeton.
"Well, Mrs. Fitchett, how are your fowls laying now?" said the
high-colored, dark-eyed lady, with the clearest chiselled utterance.
"Pretty well for laying, madam, but they've ta'en to eating their
eggs: I've no peace o' mind with 'em at all."
"Oh, the cannibals! Better sell them cheap at once. What will
you sell them a couple? One can't eat fowls of a bad character
at a high price."
"Well, madam, half-a-crown: I couldn't let 'em go, not under."
"Half-a-crown, these times! Come now--for the Rector's chicken-broth
on a Sunday. He has consumed all ours that I can spare.
You are half paid with the sermon, Mrs. Fitchett, remember that.
Take a pair of tumbler-pigeons for them--little beauties. You must
come and see them. You have no tumblers among your pigeons."
"Well, madam, Master Fitchett shall go and see 'em after work.
He's very hot on new sorts; to oblige you."
"Oblige me! It will be the best bargain he ever made. A pair
of church pigeons for a couple of wicked Spanish fowls that eat
their own eggs! Don't you and Fitchett boast too much, that is all!"