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"Why, ma'am," he returned, "I am thinking
about Tom Gradgrind's whim; " Tom
Gradgrind, for a bluff independent manner of
speakingas if somebody were always
endeavouring to bribe him with immense sums to
say Thomas, and he wouldn't; " Tom
Gradgrind's whim, ma'am, of bringing up the

"The girl is now waiting to know," said
Mrs. Sparsit, " whether she is to go straight
to the school, or up to the Lodge."

"She must wait, ma'am," answered
Bounderby, " till I know myself. We shall have
Tom Gradgrind down here presently, I
suppose. If he should wish her to remain here a
day or two longer, of course she can, ma'am."
"Of course she can if you wish it, Mr.

"I told him I would give her a shake-down
here, last night, in order that he might sleep
on it before he decided to let her have any
association with Louisa."

"Indeed, Mr. Bounderby? Very thoughtful
of you!"

Mrs. Sparsit's Coriolanian nose underwent
a slight expansion of the nostrils, and her
black eyebrows contracted as she took a sip
of tea.

"It's tolerably clear to me," said Bounderby,
"that the little puss can get small good out of
such companionship."

"Are you speaking of young Miss
Gradgrind, Mr. Bounderby?"

"Yes, ma'am, I am speaking of Louisa."
"Your observation being limited to ' little
puss,' " said Mrs. Sparsit, " and there being
two little girls in question, I did not know
which might be indicated by that expression."

"Louisa," repeated Mr. Bounderby. " Louisa,

"You are quite another father to Louisa,
sir." Mrs. Sparsit took a little more tea; and,
as she bent her again contracted eyebrows
over her steaming cup, rather looked as if her
classical countenance were invoking the
infernal gods.

"If you had said I was another father to
Tomyoung Tom, I mean, not my friend
Tom Gradgrindyou might have been nearer
the mark. I am going to take young Tom
into my office. Going to have him under my
wing, ma'am."

"Indeed? Rather young for that, is he not,
sir? " Mrs. Sparsit's " sir," in addressing Mr.
Bounderby, was a word of ceremony, rather
exacting consideration for herself in the use,
than honouring him.

"I'm not going to take him at once; he is
to finish his educational cramming before
then," said Bounderby. " By the Lord
Harry, he'll have enough of it, first and last!
He'd open his eyes, that boy would, if he
knew how empty of learning my young maw
was, at his time of life." Which, by the by,
he probably did know, for he had heard of it
often enough. " But it's extraordinary the
difficulty I have on scores of such subjects, in
speaking to any one on equal terms. Here,
for example, I have been speaking to you this
morning about Tumblers. Why, what do you
know about tumblers? At the time when, to
have been a tumbler in the mud of the streets,
would have been a godsend to me, a prize
in the lottery to me, you were at the Italian
Opera. You were coming out of the Italian
Opera, ma'am, in white satin and jewels, a
blaze of splendor, when I hadn't a penny to
buy a link to light you."

"I certainly, sir," returned Mrs. Sparsit,
with a dignity serenely mournful, " was
familiar with the Italian Opera at a very
early age."

"Egad, ma'am, so was I," said Bounderby,
"—with the wrong side of it. A hard bed the
pavement of its Arcade used to make, I
assure you. People like you, ma'am,
accustomed from infancy to lie on Down feathers,
have no idea how hard a paving-stone is,
without trying it. No no, it's of no use my
talking to you about tumblers. I should
speak of foreign dancers, and the West End of
London, and May Fair, and lords and ladies
and honorables."

"I trust, sir,'* rejoined Mrs. Sparsit, with
decent resignation, " it is not necessary that
you should do anything of that kind. I hope
I have learnt how to accommodate myself to
the changes of life. If I have acquired an
interest in hearing of your instructive
experiences, and can scarcely hear enough of
them, I claim no merit for that, since I believe
it is a general sentiment."

"Well, ma'am," said her patron, " perhaps
some people may be pleased to say that they do
like to hear, in his own unpolished way, what
Josiah Bounderby of Coketown has gone
through. But you must confess that you
were born in the lap of luxury, yourself.
Come, ma'am, you know you were born in the
lap of luxury."

"I do not, sir," returned Mrs. Sparsit with
a shake of her head, " deny it."

Mr. Bounderby was obliged to get up from
table, and stand with his back to the fire,
looking at her; she was such an enhancement
of his merits.

"And you were in crack society. Devilish
high society," he said, warming his legs.

"It is true, sir," returned Mrs. Sparsit, with
an affectation of humility the very opposite of
his, and therefore in no danger of jostling it.

"You were in the tiptop fashion, and all
the rest of it," said Mr. Bounderby.

"Yes, sir," returned Mrs. Sparsit, with a
kind of social widowhood upon her. " It is
unquestionably true."

Mr. Bounderby, bending himself at the
knees, literally embraced his legs in his great
satisfaction, and laughed aloud. Mr. and Miss
Gradgrind being then announced, he received
the former with a shake of the hand, and the
latter with a kiss.

"Can Jupe be sent here, Bounderby?" asked
Mr. Gradgrind.

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