so a cup of cold rainwater thus used is called by housewives a poor man’s egg. And many rich men’s housekeepers sometimes use it.’

‘But only when they are out of hen’s eggs, I presume, dear Blandmour. But your talk is—I sincerely say it—most agreeable to me. Talk on.’

‘Then there’s poor man’s plaster, for wounds and other bodily harms: an alleviative and curative, compounded of simple, natural things; and so, being very cheap, accessible to the poorest of sufferers. Rich men often use poor man’s plaster.’

‘But not without the judicious advice of a fee’d physician, dear Blandmour.’

‘Doubtless, they first consult the physician; but that may be an unnecessary precaution.’

‘Perhaps so. I do not gainsay it. Go on.’

‘Well, then, did you ever eat of a poor man’s pudding?’

‘I never so much as heard of it before.’

‘Indeed! Well, now you shall eat of one; and you shall eat it, too, as made, unprompted, by a poor man’s wife, and you shall eat it at a poor man’s table and in a poor man’s house. Come now, and if after this eating, you do not say that a poor man’s pudding is as relishable as a rich man’s, I will give up the point altogether; which briefly is that, through kind nature, the poor, out of their very poverty, extract comfort.’

Not to narrate any more of our conversations upon this subject (for we had several—I being at that time the guest of Blandmour in the country, for the benefit of my health), suffice it that, acting upon Blandmour’s hint, I introduced myself into Coulter’s house on a wet Monday noon (for the snow had thawed), under the innocent pretence of craving a pedestrian’s rest and refreshment for an hour or two.

I was greeted, not without much embarrassment—owing I suppose, to my dress—but still with unaffected and honest kindness. Dame Coulter was just leaving the wash-tub to get ready her one o’clock meal against her good man’s return from a deep wood about a mile distant among the hills, where he was chopping by day’s-work—seventy-five cents per day—and found himself. The washing being done outside the main building, under an infirm-looking old shed, the dame stood upon a half-rotten, soaked board to protect her feet, as well as might be, from the penetrating damp of the bare ground; hence she looked pale and chill. But her paleness had still another and more secret cause—the paleness of a mother- to-be. A quiet, fathomless heart-trouble, too, couched beneath the mild, resigned blue of her soft and wife-like eye. But she smiled upon me, as apologising for the unavoidable disorder of a Monday and a washing day, and, conducting me into the kitchen, set me down in the best seat it had—an old-fashioned chair of an enfeebled constitution.

I thanked her; and sat rubbing my hands before the ineffectual low fire and—unobservantly as I could—glancing now and then about the room, while the good woman, throwing on more sticks, said she was sorry the room was no warmer. Something more she said, too—not repiningly, however—of the fuel, as old and damp; picked-up sticks from Squire Teamster’s forest, where her husband was chopping the sappy logs of the living tree for the squire’s fires. It needed not her remark, whatever it was, to convince me of the inferior quality of the sticks, some being quite mossy and toadstooled with long lying bedded among the accumulated dead leaves of many autumns. They made a sad hissing and vain spluttering enough.

‘You must rest yourself here till dinner-time, at least,’ said the dame; ‘what I have you are heartily welcome to.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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