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Cranford Elizabeth Gaskell


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Mrs Forrester continued on the same side.

"She had always understood that Fitz meant something aristocratic; there was Fitz-Roy - she thought that some of the King's children had been called Fitz-Roy; and there was Fitz-Clarence, now - they were the children of dear good King William the Fourth. Fitz-Adam! - it was a pretty name, and she thought it very probably meant 'Child of Adam.' No one, who had not some good blood in their veins, would dare to be called Fitz; there was a deal in a name - she had had a cousin who spelt his name with two little ffs - ffoulkes - and he always looked down upon capital letters and said they belonged to lately-invented families. She had been afraid he would die a bachelor, he was so very choice. When he met with a Mrs ffarringdon, at a watering-place, he took to her immediately; and a very pretty genteel woman she was - a widow, with a very good fortune; and 'my cousin,' Mr ffoulkes, married her; and it was all owing to her two little ffs."

Mrs Fitz-Adam did not stand a chance of meeting with a Mr Fitz-anything in Cranford, so that could not have been her motive for settling there. Miss Matty thought it might have been the hope of being admitted into the society of the place, which would certainly be a very agreeable rise for CI-DEVANT Miss Hoggins; and if this had been her hope it would be cruel to disappoint her.

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So everybody called upon Mrs Fitz-Adam - everybody but Mrs Jamieson, who used to show how honourable she was by never seeing Mrs Fitz-Adam when they met at the Cranford parties. There would be only eight or ten ladies in the room, and Mrs Fitz-Adam was the largest of all, and she invariably used to stand up when Mrs Jamieson came in, and curtsey very low to her whenever she turned in her direction - so low, in fact, that I think Mrs Jamieson must have looked at the wall above her, for she never moved a muscle of her face, no more than if she had not seen her. Still Mrs Fitz-Adam persevered.

The spring evenings were getting bright and long when three or four ladies in calashes met at Miss Barker's door. Do you know what a calash is? It is a covering worn over caps, not unlike the heads fastened on old-fashioned gigs; but sometimes it is not quite so large. This kind of head-gear always made an awful impression on the children in Cranford; and now two or three left off their play in the quiet sunny little street, and gathered in wondering silence round Miss Pole, Miss Matty, and myself. We were silent too, so that we could hear loud, suppressed whispers inside Miss Barker's house: "Wait, Peggy! wait till I've run upstairs and washed my hands. When I cough, open the door; I'll not be a minute."

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Elizabeth Gaskell

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