but good natur o' me to buy 'em, for they've been lying in the chest ever since. But I'm not going to give Maggie any more o' my Indy muslin and things, if she's to go into service again, when she might stay and keep me company, and do my sewing for me, if she wasn't wanted at her brother's.'

`Going into service' was the expression by which the Dodson mind represented to itself the position of teacher or governess, and Maggie's return to that menial condition, now circumstances offered her more eligible prospects, was likely to be a sore point with all her relatives, besides Lucy. Maggie in her crude form, with her hair down her back and altogether in a state of dubious promise, was a most undesirable niece; but now, she was capable of being at once ornamental and useful. The subject was revived in aunt and uncle Glegg's presence, over the tea and muffins.

`Hegh, hegh!' said Mr Glegg, good-naturedly patting Maggie on the back, `Nonsense, nonsense! Don't let us hear of you taking a place again, Maggie. Why, you must ha' picked up half-a-dozen sweethearts at the bazaar - isn't there one of 'em the right sort of article? Come, now?'

`Mr Glegg,' said his wife, with that shade of increased politeness in her severity, which she always put on with her crisper fronts. `You'll excuse me, but you're far too light for a man of your years. It's respect and duty to her aunts and the rest of her kin as are so good to her, should have kept my niece from fixing about going away again, without consulting us - not sweethearts, if I'm to use such a word, though it was never heared in my family.'

`Why, what did they call us, when we went to see 'em, then, eh, neighbour Pullet? They thought us sweet enough then,' said Mr Glegg, winking pleasantly, while Mr Pullet, at the suggestion of sweetness, took a little more sugar.

`Mr Glegg,' said Mrs G., `if you're going to be undelicate, let me know.'

`La, Jane, your husband's only joking,' said Mrs Pullet, `let him joke while he's got health and strength. There's poor Mr Tilt got his mouth drawn all o' one side, and couldn't laugh if he was to try.'

`I'll trouble you for the muffineer, then, Mr Glegg,' said Mrs G., `if I may be so bold to interrupt your joking. Though it's other people must see the joke in a niece's putting a slight on her mother's eldest sister, as is the head o' the family; and only coming in and out on short visits all the time she's been in the town, and then settling to go away without my knowledge - as I'd laid caps out on purpose for her to make 'em up for me, - and me as have divided my money so equal--'

`Sister,' Mrs Tulliver broke in, anxiously, `I'm sure Maggie never thought o' going away without staying at your house as well as the others. Not as it's my wish she should go away at all - but quite contrairy. I'm sure I'm innicent. I've said over and over again, "My dear, you've no call to go away." But there's ten days or a fortnight Maggie'll have before she's fixed to go: she can stay at your house just as well, as I'll step in when I can, and so will Lucy.'

`Bessy,' said Mrs Glegg, `if you'd exercise a little more thought, you might know I should hardly think it was worth while to unpin a bed, and go to all that trouble now, just at the end o' the time, when our house isn't above a quarter of an hour's walk from Mr Deane's. She can come the first thing in the morning and go back the last at night, and be thankful she's got a good aunt so close to her to come and sit with. I know I should, when I was her age.'

`La, Jane,' said Mrs Pullet, `it 'ud do your beds good to have somebody to sleep in 'em. There's that Striped Room smells dreadful mouldy, and the glass mildewed like anything: I'm sure I thought I should be struck with death when you took me in.'

`O, there is Tom!' exclaimed Lucy, clapping her hands. `He's come on Sindbad, as I told him. I was afraid he was not going to keep his promise.'

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