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|The Water-Babies||Charles Kingsley|
|Page 5 of 16||
Tom was picking the flowers as fast as he could. The Irishwoman helped him, and showed him how to tie them up; and a very pretty nosegay they had made between them. But when he saw Grimes actually wash, he stopped, quite astonished; and when Grimes had finished, and began shaking his ears to dry them, he said:
"Why, master, I never saw you do that before."
"Nor will again, most likely. 'Twasn't for cleanliness I did it, but for coolness. I'd be ashamed to want washing every week or so, like any smutty collier lad."
"I wish I might go and dip my head in," said poor little Tom. "It must be as good as putting it under the town-pump; and there is no beadle here to drive a chap away."
"Thou come along," said Grimes; "what dost want with washing thyself? Thou did not drink half a gallon of beer last night, like me."
"I don't care for you," said naughty Tom, and ran down to the stream, and began washing his face.
Grimes was very sulky, because the woman preferred Tom's company to his; so he dashed at him with horrid words, and tore him up from his knees, and began beating him. But Tom was accustomed to that, and got his head safe between Mr. Grimes' legs, and kicked his shins with all his might.
"Are you not ashamed of yourself, Thomas Grimes?" cried the Irishwoman over the wall.
Grimes looked up, startled at her knowing his name; but all he answered was, "No, nor never was yet;" and went on beating Tom.
"True for you. If you ever had been ashamed of yourself, you would have gone over into Vendale long ago."
"What do you know about Vendale?" shouted Grimes; but he left off beating Tom.
"I know about Vendale, and about you, too. I know, for instance, what happened in Aldermire Copse, by night, two years ago come Martinmas."
"You do?" shouted Grimes; and leaving Tom, he climbed up over the wall, and faced the woman. Tom thought he was going to strike her; but she looked him too full and fierce in the face for that.
"Yes; I was there," said the Irishwoman quietly.
"You are no Irishwoman, by your speech," said Grimes, after many bad words.
"Never mind who I am. I saw what I saw; and if you strike that boy again, I can tell what I know."
Grimes seemed quite cowed, and got on his donkey without another word.
"Stop!" said the Irishwoman. "I have one more word for you both; for you will both see me again before all is over. Those that wish to be clean, clean they will be; and those that wish to be foul, foul they will be. Remember."
And she turned away, and through a gate into the meadow. Grimes stood still a moment, like a man who had been stunned. Then he rushed after her, shouting, "You come back." But when he got into the meadow, the woman was not there.
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