Middlemarch (Chapter VI, page 1 of 15)


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My lady's tongue is like the meadow blades,
That cut you stroking them with idle hand.
Nice cutting is her function: she divides
With spiritual edge the millet-seed,
And makes intangible savings.


As Mr. Casaubon's carriage was passing out of the gateway, it arrested
the entrance of a pony phaeton driven by a lady with a servant seated
behind. It was doubtful whether the recognition had been mutual, for
Mr. Casaubon was looking absently before him; but the lady was
quick-eyed, and threw a nod and a "How do you do?" in the nick of time.
In spite of her shabby bonnet and very old Indian shawl, it was plain
that the lodge-keeper regarded her as an important personage, from the
low curtsy which was dropped on the entrance of the small phaeton.

"Well, Mrs. Fitchett, how are your fowls laying now?" said the
high-colored, dark-eyed lady, with the clearest chiselled utterance.

"Pretty well for laying, madam, but they've ta'en to eating their eggs:
I've no peace o' mind with 'em at all."

"Oh, the cannibals! Better sell them cheap at once. What will you
sell them a couple? One can't eat fowls of a bad character at a high
price."

"Well, madam, half-a-crown: I couldn't let 'em go, not under."

"Half-a-crown, these times! Come now--for the Rector's chicken-broth
on a Sunday. He has consumed all ours that I can spare. You are half
paid with the sermon, Mrs. Fitchett, remember that. Take a pair of
tumbler-pigeons for them--little beauties. You must come and see them.
You have no tumblers among your pigeons."

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