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freckles and golden hair. She waits upon
me. The little maid has not bright or even
accurate ideas respecting boots. Mine have
gradually faded into a brownish grey. I
have occasion to suspect that they are washed,
blacking being generally of too sullying a
nature to be kept in the house.

The little maid prepares my bath. There
are grits in it. She says they got there by
accident. To my grosser vision, the grits
appear little round lumps of mould from the
garden. I am led partly to this conclusion
because I see that my bath is sometimes
used for the easier replenishing of a
horticultural watering-pot. I confide to the little
maid, in a friendly way, the objections which
occur to me at the moment with respect to
bathing in grits; but she opens her eyes so
widely, and looks so scared, that I make but
a brief catalogue of them.

Then we have a grand conversation about
breakfast. I like to converse with the little
maid. My breakfast is some very pale-
coloured milk of a bluish tint, an impregnable-
looking loaf, and some erratic butter on a
saucer. I mention, in a jaunty way, that
my bread and butter is not in slices. O!
says the little maid, and will I cut it myself.
I reply that I dare say cutting bread, and
butter may be a very good business, but that
you must be used to it. Then the little maid
smiles and vanishes. Presently she returns
with the bread and butter in slices, of strange
shape and dimensions. Indeed, I should say,
blocks and wedges, such as might fit into the
stomach of a robust ploughboy. The butter
lies on them in lumps and blotches, for the
little maid has spread it in her haste, and I
have made her nervous. I take a perverse
delight in making the little maid nervous:
I cannot help it. So I ask her gravely
whether she thinks a slice of her bread
and butter would break my toes if I were to
let it fall. "O, no! I think not, sir,"
chirps the little maid, and her white teeth
glisten brightly for a moment; but the next
she has disappeared, like a bashful ray of
April sunshine, as if she really had not
been brought up in that way, but to wear a
well-starched frock, and look exceedingly
prim in the next room, with the old Dutch
clock, which ticks a waggish approval of such

But, O! how dainty looks the little maid
upon a Sunday! Her face shines bright and
early with scrubbing and yellow soap; she
wears a white frock, with a blue something,
and her straw bonnet is garnished with the
astounding ribbon which I modestly deposited
a week ago in the coal-scuttle for her use,
though there appears to have been a tacit
compact between us never to allude in any
way to the circumstance. Daisies and buttercups!
(excuse so appropriate an oath)
what an enchanting picture of humble life
looks the little maid as she trips through the
garden-gate, all blushing, with the meat from
the bake'us handy. She seems to me like
such a very busy little birdie, all chirrup,
flutter, and rumpling feathers, that she is
quite a study, and I can watch her, twittering
and flitting about, for ever so long. It gives
me, I vow, almost a feeling of pain when I
think that she must, some day, fly away from
her pretty nest, and become a scrubbing,
washing, boiling, cleaning, scouring, vigilant,
apple-faced, elderly female like her respected

Our cottage is one of a good-looking row of
out-of-the-way dwellings, so that pride may
hide poverty decently there. Of course, we
have a fine neighbour. The fine neighbour's
husband, Mrs.Tiddie tells me, was in the
fancy bakery line. He had ideas about a
horse and gig, a fast-trotting pony, also about
Greenwich and Gravesend as agreeable places
of recreation, so that the fancy bakery
establishment was speedily sold, together with
the good-will and fixtures. I am afraid that
the fine neighbour's husband has now
dwindled into the official in a gold-laced cap,
who cries "C'tee! C'tee! 'Cross! Bank !
Bank!" behind the most fashionable of our
omnibuses. It is polite, however, to ignore
this circumstance in our row. I do not
know what the fine neighbour herself may
have been, but I sometimes cherish an idea
that she has been educated in one of our
classical suburbs; she says "kayend" for
kind, and "yeass" for yes, which I have
observed are among the peculiarities which
belong to academic parishes near London.

I am aware that the fine neighbour takes
an incomprehensible pleasure in talking at
me as I smoke my pipe of a morning. She
issues, ribbony, from the little door of her
house, and falls into sudden raptures. This
immediately brings out the little maid to join
her, for we can, of course, hear our neighbours
cough, and all that kind of thing, quite
comfortably. "Oooooh!" said the fine neighbour,
only this morning; "what beauti-ful
flowahs! are they not, deeah?" The term of
tenderness was addressed to the little maid,
but her mother heard it, and immediately
came out with a "Lor, weer?" for Mrs.
Tiddie is of a practical and matter-of-fact
turn of mind.

"Heeah, to be shyure, mem!" answers
the fine neighbour, whose husband has joined
the moustache movement, and who is fond of
treating people as if they belonged in some
degree to the French nation. This is, however,
too much for Mrs. Tiddie, who at once
flounces off in a great huff, with "Them's
grunsell, mum!" We are very polite,
outwardly, in our row; but I am compelled to
own that Mrs. Tiddie subsequently indulged
in such energetic expressions about the fine
neighbour, when in the privacy of her own
apartment, that I fear she scarcely entertains
the same wondering admiration of her as the
little maid who, I am sure, could listen to
fashionable elocution for ever.