BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
11. Chapter Xi - No Way Out (continued)
'No, sir, sure I ha' not coom for nowt o' th' kind.'
Mr. Bounderby seemed agreeably surprised, notwithstanding his
previous strong conviction. 'Very well,' he returned. 'You're a
steady Hand, and I was not mistaken. Now, let me hear what it's
all about. As it's not that, let me hear what it is. What have
you got to say? Out with it, lad!'
Stephen happened to glance towards Mrs. Sparsit. 'I can go, Mr.
Bounderby, if you wish it,' said that self-sacrificing lady, making
a feint of taking her foot out of the stirrup.
Mr. Bounderby stayed her, by holding a mouthful of chop in
suspension before swallowing it, and putting out his left hand.
Then, withdrawing his hand and swallowing his mouthful of chop, he
said to Stephen:
'Now you know, this good lady is a born lady, a high lady. You are
not to suppose because she keeps my house for me, that she hasn't
been very high up the tree - ah, up at the top of the tree! Now,
if you have got anything to say that can't be said before a born
lady, this lady will leave the room. If what you have got to say
can be said before a born lady, this lady will stay where she is.'
'Sir, I hope I never had nowt to say, not fitten for a born lady to
year, sin' I were born mysen',' was the reply, accompanied with a
'Very well,' said Mr. Bounderby, pushing away his plate, and
leaning back. 'Fire away!'
'I ha' coom,' Stephen began, raising his eyes from the floor, after
a moment's consideration, 'to ask yo yor advice. I need 't
overmuch. I were married on Eas'r Monday nineteen year sin, long
and dree. She were a young lass - pretty enow - wi' good accounts
of herseln. Well! She went bad - soon. Not along of me. Gonnows
I were not a unkind husband to her.'
'I have heard all this before,' said Mr. Bounderby. 'She took to
drinking, left off working, sold the furniture, pawned the clothes,
and played old Gooseberry.'