Read Books Online, for Free
|Book The First - Sowing||Charles Dickens|
Chapter VII - Mrs. Sparsit
|Page 2 of 5||
Nay, he made this foil of his so very widely known, that third parties took it up, and handled it on some occasions with considerable briskness. It was one of the most exasperating attributes of Bounderby, that he not only sang his own praises but stimulated other men to sing them. There was a moral infection of clap-trap in him. Strangers, modest enough elsewhere, started up at dinners in Coketown, and boasted, in quite a rampant way, of Bounderby. They made him out to be the Royal arms, the Union-Jack, Magna Charta, John Bull, Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, An Englishman's house is his castle, Church and State, and God save the Queen, all put together. And as often (and it was very often) as an orator of this kind brought into his peroration,
'Princes and lords may flourish or may fade,
- it was, for certain, more or less understood among the company that he had heard of Mrs. Sparsit.
'Mr. Bounderby,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'you are unusually slow, sir, with your breakfast this morning.'
'Why, ma'am,' he returned, 'I am thinking about Tom Gradgrind's whim;' Tom Gradgrind, for a bluff independent manner of speaking - as if somebody were always endeavouring to bribe him with immense sums to say Thomas, and he wouldn't; 'Tom Gradgrind's whim, ma'am, of bringing up the tumbling-girl.'
'The girl is now waiting to know,' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'whether she is to go straight to the school, or up to the Lodge.'
'She must wait, ma'am,' answered Bounderby, 'till I know myself. We shall have Tom Gradgrind down here presently, I suppose. If he should wish her to remain here a day or two longer, of course she can, ma'am.'
'Of course she can if you wish it, Mr. Bounderby.'
'I told him I would give her a shake-down here, last night, in order that he might sleep on it before he decided to let her have any association with Louisa.'
'Indeed, Mr. Bounderby? Very thoughtful of you!' Mrs. Sparsit's Coriolanian nose underwent a slight expansion of the nostrils, and her black eyebrows contracted as she took a sip of tea.
'It's tolerably clear to me,' said Bounderby, 'that the little puss can get small good out of such companionship.'
'Are you speaking of young Miss Gradgrind, Mr. Bounderby?'
'Yes, ma'am, I'm speaking of Louisa.'
'Your observation being limited to "little puss,"' said Mrs. Sparsit, 'and there being two little girls in question, I did not know which might be indicated by that expression.'
'Louisa,' repeated Mr. Bounderby. 'Louisa, Louisa.'
'You are quite another father to Louisa, sir.' Mrs. Sparsit took a little more tea; and, as she bent her again contracted eyebrows over her steaming cup, rather looked as if her classical countenance were invoking the infernal gods.
'If you had said I was another father to Tom - young Tom, I mean, not my friend Tom Gradgrind - you might have been nearer the mark. I am going to take young Tom into my office. Going to have him under my wing, ma'am.'
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004