The Moonstone (Chapter 7, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 7

I am truly sorry to detain you over me and my beehive chair. A sleepy
old man, in a sunny back yard, is not an interesting object, I am well
aware. But things must be put down in their places, as things actually
happened--and you must please to jog on a little while longer with me,
in expectation of Mr. Franklin Blake's arrival later in the day.

Before I had time to doze off again, after my daughter Penelope had left
me, I was disturbed by a rattling of plates and dishes in the servants'
hall, which meant that dinner was ready. Taking my own meals in my own
sitting-room, I had nothing to do with the servants' dinner, except to
wish them a good stomach to it all round, previous to composing myself
once more in my chair. I was just stretching my legs, when out
bounced another woman on me. Not my daughter again; only Nancy, the
kitchen-maid, this time. I was straight in her way out; and I observed,
as she asked me to let her by, that she had a sulky face--a thing which,
as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me without
inquiry.

"What are you turning your back on your dinner for?" I asked. "What's
wrong now, Nancy?"

Nancy tried to push by, without answering; upon which I rose up, and
took her by the ear. She is a nice plump young lass, and it is customary
with me to adopt that manner of showing that I personally approve of a
girl.

"What's wrong now?" I said once more.

"Rosanna's late again for dinner," says Nancy. "And I'm sent to fetch
her in. All the hard work falls on my shoulders in this house. Let me
alone, Mr. Betteredge!"

The person here mentioned as Rosanna was our second housemaid. Having a
kind of pity for our second housemaid (why, you shall presently know),
and seeing in Nancy's face, that she would fetch her fellow-servant in
with more hard words than might be needful under the circumstances, it
struck me that I had nothing particular to do, and that I might as well
fetch Rosanna myself; giving her a hint to be punctual in future, which
I knew she would take kindly from ME.

"Where is Rosanna?" I inquired.

"At the sands, of course!" says Nancy, with a toss of her head. "She had
another of her fainting fits this morning, and she asked to go out and
get a breath of fresh air. I have no patience with her!"

"Go back to your dinner, my girl," I said. "I have patience with her,
and I'll fetch her in."

Nancy (who has a fine appetite) looked pleased. When she looks pleased,
she looks nice. When she looks nice, I chuck her under the chin. It
isn't immorality--it's only habit.

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