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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

248               Written Sketches

likeness to the crooked old crusader who lies in the church
transept, and one would expect to find her body scrawled over
with dates ranging from 400 years ago to the present time,
just as the marble figure itself is. She has a great beard
and moustaches and three projecting teeth in her lower jaw
but no more in any part of her mouth. She moves slowly and
is always a little in liquor besides being singularly dirty in her
person. Her husband is like unto her.

For all this they are hard-working industrious people,
keep no servant, pay cash for everything, are clearly going up
rather than down in the world and live well. She always shows
us what she is going to have for dinner and it is excellent—
" And I made the stuffing over night and the gravy first thing
this morning." Each time we go we find the house a little
more done up. She dotes on Mr. Hicks—we never go there
without her wedding day being referred to. She has earned
her own living ever since she was ten years old, and lived
twenty-nine and a half years in the house from which Mr.
Hicks married her. " I am as happy/' she said, " as the day
is long." She dearly loves a joke and a little flirtation. I
always say something perhaps a little impudently broad to
her and she likes it extremely. Last time she sailed smilingly
out of the room, doubtless to tell Mr. Hicks, and came back
still smiling.

When we come we find her as though she had lien among
the pots, but as soon as she has given us our beer, she goes
upstairs and puts on a cap and a clean apron and washes her
face—that is to say, she washes a round piece in the middle
of her face, leaving a great glory of dirt showing all round it.
It is plain the pair are respected by the manner in which all
who come in treat them.

Last time we were there she said she hoped she should not
die yet.

" You see," she said, " I am beginning now to know how
to live."

These were her own words and, considering the circum-
stances under which they were spoken, they are enough to
stamp the speaker as a remarkable woman. She has got as
much from age and lost as little from youth as woman can
well do. Nevertheless, to look at, she is like one of the witches
in Macbeth.