BOOK THE SECOND - REAPING
9. Chapter Ix - Hearing the Last of It
MRS. SPARSIT, lying by to recover the tone of her nerves in Mr.
Bounderby's retreat, kept such a sharp look-out, night and day,
under her Coriolanian eyebrows, that her eyes, like a couple of
lighthouses on an iron-bound coast, might have warned all prudent
mariners from that bold rock her Roman nose and the dark and craggy
region in its neighbourhood, but for the placidity of her manner.
Although it was hard to believe that her retiring for the night
could be anything but a form, so severely wide awake were those
classical eyes of hers, and so impossible did it seem that her
rigid nose could yield to any relaxing influence, yet her manner of
sitting, smoothing her uncomfortable, not to say, gritty mittens
(they were constructed of a cool fabric like a meat-safe), or of
ambling to unknown places of destination with her foot in her
cotton stirrup, was so perfectly serene, that most observers would
have been constrained to suppose her a dove, embodied by some freak
of nature, in the earthly tabernacle of a bird of the hook-beaked
She was a most wonderful woman for prowling about the house. How
she got from story to story was a mystery beyond solution. A lady
so decorous in herself, and so highly connected, was not to be
suspected of dropping over the banisters or sliding down them, yet
her extraordinary facility of locomotion suggested the wild idea.
Another noticeable circumstance in Mrs. Sparsit was, that she was
never hurried. She would shoot with consummate velocity from the
roof to the hall, yet would be in full possession of her breath and
dignity on the moment of her arrival there. Neither was she ever
seen by human vision to go at a great pace.
She took very kindly to Mr. Harthouse, and had some pleasant
conversation with him soon after her arrival. She made him her
stately curtsey in the garden, one morning before breakfast.
'It appears but yesterday, sir,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'that I had the
honour of receiving you at the Bank, when you were so good as to
wish to be made acquainted with Mr. Bounderby's address.'
'An occasion, I am sure, not to be forgotten by myself in the
course of Ages,' said Mr. Harthouse, inclining his head to Mrs.
Sparsit with the most indolent of all possible airs.