she eats, by such a dishonest supposition, and whether she thinks that anybody, with a scrap of honour left, could deprive poor servants of their pittance? `Because if that is your religious feelings, Mary Daws,' says Cook warmly, `I don't know where you mean to go to.'
Mr. Towlinson don't know either; nor anybody; and the young kitchen-maid, appearing not to know exactly, herself, and scouted by the general voice, is covered with confusion, as with a garment.
After a few days, strange people begin to call at the house, and to make appointments with one another in the dining-room, as if they lived there. Especially, there is a gentleman, of a Mosaic Abrabian cast of countenance, with a very massive watch-guard, who whistles in the drawing-room, and, while he is waiting for the other gentleman, who always has pen and ink in his pocket, asks Mr. Towlinson (by the easy name of `Old Cock,') if he happens to know what the figure of them crimson and gold hangings might have been, when new bought. The callers and appointments in the dining-room become more numerous every day, and every gentlemen seems to have pen and ink in his pocket, and to have some occasion to use it. At last it is said that there is going to be a Sale; and then more people arrive, with pen and ink in their pockets, commanding a detachment of men with carpet caps, who immediately begin to pull up the carpets, and knock the furniture about, and to print off thousands of impressions of their shoes upon the hall and staircase.
The council down stairs are in full conclave all this time, and, having nothing to do, perform perfect feats of eating. At length, they are one day summoned in a body to Mrs. Pipchin's room, and thus addressed by the fair Peruvian:
`Your master's in difficulties,' says Mrs. Pipchin, tartly. `You know that, I suppose?'
Mr. Towlinson, as spokesman, admits a general knowledge of the fact.
`And you're all on the look-out for yourselves, I warrant you,' says Mrs. Pipchin, shaking her head at them.
A shrill voice from the rear exclaims, `No more than yourself!'
`That's your opinion, Mrs. Impudence, is it?' says the ireful Pipchin, looking with a fiery eye over the intermediate heads.
`Yes, Mrs. Pipchin, it is,' replies Cook, advancing. `And what then, pray?'
`Why, then you may go as soon as you like,' says Mrs. Pipchin, `The sooner the better; and I hope I shall never see your face again.'
With this the doughty Pipchin produces a canvas bag; and tells her wages out to that day, and a month beyond it: and clutches the money tight until a receipt for the same is duly signed, to the last up-stroke; when she grudgingly lets it go. This form of proceeding Mrs. Pipchin repeats with every member of the household, until are paid.
`Now those that choose can go about their business,' says Mrs. Pipchin, `and those that choose can stay here on board wages for a week or so, and make themselves useful. Except,' says the inflammable Pipchin, `that slut of a cook, who'll go immediately.'
`That,' says Cook, `she certainly will! I wish you good day, Mrs. Pipchin, and sincerely wish I could compliment you on the sweetness of your appearance!'
`Get along with you,' says Mrs. Pipchin, stamping her foot.
Cook sails off with an air of beneficent dignity, highly exasperating to Mrs. Pipchin, and is shortly joined below stairs by the rest of the confederation.
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