She regarded every servant who approached her, as her sworn enemy, expressly intending to offer her affronts with the dishes, and to pour forth outrages on her moral feelings from the decanters. She sat erect at table, on the right hand of her son-in-law, as half suspecting poison in the viands, and as bearing up with native force of character against other deadly ambushes. Her carriage towards Bella was as a carriage towards a young lady of good position, whom she had met in society a few years ago. Even when, slightly thawing under the influence of sparkling champagne, she related to her son-in-law some passages of domestic interest concerning her papa, she infused into the narrative such Arctic suggestions of her having been an unappreciated blessing to mankind, since her papa's days, and also of that gentleman's having been a frosty impersonation of a frosty race, as struck cold to the very soles of the feet of the hearers. The Inexhaustible being produced, staring, and evidently intending a weak and washy smile shortly, no sooner beheld her, than it was stricken spasmodic and inconsolable. When she took her leave at last, it would have been hard to say whether it was with the air of going to the scaffold herself, or of leaving the inmates of the house for immediate execution. Yet, John Harmon enjoyed it all merrily, and told his wife, when he and she were alone, that her natural ways had never seemed so dearly natural as beside this foil, and that although he did not dispute her being her father's daughter, he should ever remain stedfast in the faith that she could not be her mother's.
This visit was, as has been said, a grand event. Another event, not grand but deemed in the house a special one, occurred at about the same period; and this was, the first interview between Mr Sloppy and Miss Wren.
The dolls' dressmaker, being at work for the Inexhaustible upon a full-dressed doll some two sizes larger than that young person, Mr Sloppy undertook to call for it, and did so.
'Come in, sir,' said Miss Wren, who was working at her bench. 'And who may you be?'
Mr Sloppy introduced himself by name and buttons.
'Oh indeed!' cried Jenny. 'Ah! I have been looking forward to knowing you. I heard of your distinguishing yourself.'
'Did you, Miss?' grinned Sloppy. 'I am sure I am glad to hear it, but I don't know how.'
'Pitching somebody into a mud-cart,' said Miss Wren.
'Oh! That way!' cried Sloppy. 'Yes, Miss.' And threw back his head and laughed.
'Bless us!' exclaimed Miss Wren, with a start. 'Don't open your mouth as wide as that, young man, or it'll catch so, and not shut again some day.'
Mr Sloppy opened it, if possible, wider, and kept it open until his laugh was out.
'Why, you're like the giant,' said Miss Wren, 'when he came home in the land of Beanstalk, and wanted Jack for supper.'
'Was he good-looking, Miss?' asked Sloppy.
'No,' said Miss Wren. 'Ugly.'
Her visitor glanced round the room--which had many comforts in it now, that had not been in it before--and said: 'This is a pretty place, Miss.'
'Glad you think so, sir,' returned Miss Wren. 'And what do you think of Me?'
The honesty of Mr Sloppy being severely taxed by the question, he twisted a button, grinned, and faltered.
'Out with it!' said Miss Wren, with an arch look. 'Don't you think me a queer little comicality?' In shaking her head at him after asking the question, she shook her hair down.
'Oh!' cried Sloppy, in a burst of admiration.