on the ground and fallen in the marsh. I felt ashamed to appear before my benefactors so clad. I was spared the humiliation.
On a chair by the bedside were all my own things, clean and dry. My black silk frock hung against the wall. The traces of the bog were removed from it; the creases left by the wet smoothed out: it was quite decent. My very shoes and stockings were purified and rendered presentable. There were the means of washing in the room, and a comb and brush to smooth my hair. After a weary process, and resting every five minutes, I succeeded in dressing myself. My clothes hung loose on me; for I was much wasted, but I covered deficiencies with a shawl, and once more, clean and respectable lookingno speck of the dirt, no trace of the disorder I so hated, and which seemed so to degrade me, leftI crept down a stone staircase with the aid of the banisters, to a narrow low passage, and found my way presently to the kitchen.
It was full of the fragrance of new bread and the warmth of a generous fire. Hannah was baking. Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. Hannah had been cold and stiff, indeed, at the first: latterly she had begun to relent a little; and when she saw me come in tidy and well- dressed, she even smiled.
What, you have got up! she said. You are better, then. You may sit you down in my chair on the hearthstone, if you will.
She pointed to the rocking-chair: I took it. She bustled about, examining me every now and then with the corner of her eye. Turning to me, as she took some loaves from the oven, she asked bluntly
Did you ever go a-begging afore you came here?
I was indignant for a moment; but remembering that anger was out of the question, and that I had indeed appeared as a beggar to her, I answered quietly, but still not without a certain marked firmness
You are mistaken in supposing me a beggar. I am no beggar; any more than yourself or your young ladies.
After a pause she said, I dunnut understand that: youve like no house, nor no brass, I guess?
The want of house or brass (by which I suppose you mean money) does not make a beggar in your sense of the word.
Are you book-learned? she inquired presently.
But youve never been to a boarding-school?
I was at a boarding-school eight years.
She opened her eyes wide. Whatever cannot ye keep yourself for, then?
I have kept myself; and, I trust, shall keep myself again. What are you going to do with these gooseberries? I inquired, as she brought out a basket of the fruit.
Mak em into pies.
Give them to me and Ill pick them.
Nay; I dunnut want ye to do nought.
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