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Chapter 9 (continued)
She raised her eyebrows as a faint moan of protest came from beneath the sheets.
'You surely,' she said, 'aren't going to suggest at this hour of the day, Nutty, that your friends aren't the most horrible set of pests outside a prison? Not that it's likely after all these months that they are outside a prison. You know perfectly well that while you were running round New York you collected the most pernicious bunch of rogues that ever fastened their talons into a silly child who ought never to have been allowed out without his nurse.' After which complicated insult Elizabeth paused for breath, and there was silence for a space.
'Well, as I was saying, I know nothing against this Mr Chalmers. Probably his finger-prints are in the Rogues' Gallery, and he is better known to the police as Jack the Blood, or something, but he hasn't shown that side of him yet. My point is that, whoever he is, I do not want him or anybody else coming and taking up his abode here while I have to be cook and housemaid too. I object to having a stranger on the premises spying out the nakedness of the land. I am sensitive about my honest poverty. So, darling Nutty, my precious Nutty, you poor boneheaded muddler, will you kindly think up at your earliest convenience some plan for politely ejecting this Mr Chalmers of yours from our humble home?--because if you don't, I'm going to have a nervous breakdown.'
And, completely restored to good humour by her own eloquence, Elizabeth burst out laughing. It was a trait in her character which she had often lamented, that she could not succeed in keeping angry with anyone for more than a few minutes on end. Sooner or later some happy selection of a phrase of abuse would tickle her sense of humour, or the appearance of her victim would become too funny not to be laughed at. On the present occasion it was the ridiculous spectacle of Nutty cowering beneath the bedclothes that caused her wrath to evaporate. She made a weak attempt to recover it. She glared at Nutty, who at the sound of her laughter had emerged from under the clothes like a worm after a thunderstorm.
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