Chapter 9


“Slipslop,” said the lady, “I find too much reason to believe all thou hast told me of this wicked Joseph; I have determined to part with him instantly; so go you to the steward, and bid him pay his wages.” Slipslop, who had preserved hitherto a distance to her lady—rather out of necessity than inclination—and who thought the knowledge of this secret had thrown down all distinction between them, answered her mistress very pertly—“She wished she knew her own mind; and that she was certain she would call her back again before she was got halfway downstairs.” The lady replied, she had taken a resolution and was resolved to keep it. “I am sorry for it,” cries Slipslop, “and, if I had known you would have punished the poor lad so severely, you should never have heard a particle of the matter. Here’s a fuss indeed about nothing!” “Nothing!” returned my lady; “do you think I will countenance lewdness in my house?” “If you will turn away every footman,” said Slipslop, “that is a lover of the sport, you must soon open the coach door yourself, or get a set of mophrodites to wait upon you; and I am sure I hated the sight of them even singing in an opera.” “Do as I bid you,” says my lady, “and don’t shock my ears with your beastly language.” “Marry-come-up,” cries Slipslop, “people’s ears are sometimes the nicest part about them.”

The lady, who began to admire the new style in which her waiting-gentlewoman delivered herself, and by the conclusion of her speech suspected somewhat of the truth, called her back, and desired to know what she meant by the extraordinary degree of freedom in which she thought proper to indulge her tongue. “Freedom!” says Slipslop; “I don’t know what you call freedom, madam; servants have tongues as well as their mistresses.” “Yes, and saucy ones too,” answered the lady; “but I assure you I shall bear no such impertinence.” “Impertinence! I don’t know that I am impertinent,” says Slipslop. “Yes, indeed you are,” cries my lady, “and unless you mend your manners, this house is no place for you.” “Manners!” cries Slipslop; “I never was thought to want manners nor modesty neither; and for places, there are more places than one; and I know what I know.” “What do you know, mistress?” answered the lady. “I am not obliged to tell that to everybody,” says Slipslop, “any more than I am obliged to keep it a secret.” “I desire you would provide yourself,” answered the lady. “With all my heart,” replied the waiting-gentlewoman; and so departed in a passion, and slapped the door after her.

The lady too plainly perceived that her waiting-gentlewoman knew more than she would willingly have had her acquainted with; and this she imputed to Joseph’s having discovered to her what passed at the first interview. This, therefore, blew up her rage against him, and confirmed her in a resolution of parting with him.

But the dismissing Mrs. Slipslop was a point not so easily to be resolved upon. She had the utmost tenderness for her reputation, as she knew on that depended many of the most valuable blessings of life; particularly cards, making curtsies in public places, and, above all, the pleasure of demolishing the reputations of others, in which innocent amusement she had an extraordinary delight. She therefore determined to submit to any insult from a servant, rather than run a risque of losing the title to so many great privileges.

She therefore sent for her steward, Mr. Peter Pounce, and ordered him to pay Joseph his wages, to strip off his livery, and to turn him out of the house that evening.

She then called Slipslop up, and, after refreshing her spirits with a small cordial, which she kept in her closet, she began in the following manner:

“Slipslop, why will you, who know my passionate temper, attempt to provoke me by your answers? I am convinced you are an honest servant, and should be very unwilling to part with you. I believe, likewise, you have found me an indulgent mistress on many occasions, and have as little reason on your side to desire a change. I can’t help being surprised, therefore, that you will take the surest method to offend me—I mean, repeating my words, which you know I have always detested.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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