Far from the Madding Crowd (Chapter 9, page 2 of 4)


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Chapter 9

Through a partly-opened door the noise of a scrubbingbrush led up to the charwoman, Maryann Money, a person who for a face had a circular disc, furrowed less by age than by long gazes of perplexity at distant objects. To think of her was to get good-humoured; to speak of her was to raise the image of a dried Normandy pippin.

"Stop your scrubbing a moment." said Bathsheba through the door to her. "I hear something."

Maryann suspended the brush.

The tramp of a horse was apparent, approaching the front of the building. The paces slackened, turned in at the wicket, and, what was most unusual, came up the mossy path close to the door. The door was tapped with the end of a crop or stick.

"What impertinence!" said Liddy, in a low voice.

"To ride up the footpath like that! Why didn't he stop at the gate? Lord! 'Tis a gentleman! I see the top of his hat."

"Be quiet!" said Bathsheba.

The further expression of Liddy's concern was continued by aspect instead of narrative.

"Why doesn't Mrs. Coggan go to the door?" Bathsheba continued.

Rat-tat-tat-tat, resounded more decisively from Bathsheba's oak.

"Maryann, you go!" said she, fluttering under the onset of a crowd of romantic possibilities.

"O ma'am -- see, here's a mess!"

The argument was unanswerable after a glance at Maryann.

"Liddy -- you must." said Bathsheba.

Liddy held up her hands and arms, coated with dust from the rubbish they were sorting, and looked imploringly at her mistress.

"There -- Mrs. Coggan is going!" said Bathsheba, exhaling her relief in the form of a long breath which had lain in her bosom a minute or more.

The door opened, and a deep voice said -"Is Miss Everdene at home?"

"I'll see, sir." said Mrs. Coggan, and in a minute appeared in the room.

"Dear, what a thirtover place this world is!" continued Mrs. Coggan (a wholesome-looking lady who had a voice for each class of remark according to the emotion involved; who could toss a pancake or twirl a mop with the accuracy of pure mathematics, and who at this moment showed hands shaggy with fragments of dough and arms encrusted with flour). "I am never up to my elbows, Miss, in making a pudding but one of two things do happen -- either my nose must needs begin tickling, and I can't live without scratching A woman's dress being a part of her countenance, and any disorder in the one being of the same nature with a malformation or wound in the other, Bathsheba said at once -"I can't see him in this state. Whatever shall I do?"

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