'What a lot, and what a colour!'
Miss Wren, with her usual expressive hitch, went on with her work. But, left her hair as it was; not displeased by the effect it had made.
'You don't live here alone; do you, Miss?' asked Sloppy.
'No,' said Miss Wren, with a chop. 'Live here with my fairy godmother.'
'With;' Mr Sloppy couldn't make it out; 'with who did you say, Miss?'
'Well!' replied Miss Wren, more seriously. 'With my second father. Or with my first, for that matter.' And she shook her head, and drew a sigh. 'If you had known a poor child I used to have here,' she added, 'you'd have understood me. But you didn't, and you can't. All the better!'
'You must have been taught a long time,' said Sloppy, glancing at the array of dolls in hand, 'before you came to work so neatly, Miss, and with such a pretty taste.'
'Never was taught a stitch, young man!' returned the dress-maker, tossing her head. 'Just gobbled and gobbled, till I found out how to do it. Badly enough at first, but better now.'
'And here have I,' said Sloppy, in something of a self-reproachful tone, 'been a learning and a learning, and here has Mr Boffin been a paying and a paying, ever so long!'
'I have heard what your trade is,' observed Miss Wren; 'it's cabinet-making.'
Mr Sloppy nodded. 'Now that the Mounds is done with, it is. I'll tell you what, Miss. I should like to make you something.'
'Much obliged. But what?'
'I could make you,' said Sloppy, surveying the room, 'I could make you a handy set of nests to lay the dolls in. Or I could make you a handy little set of drawers, to keep your silks and threads and scraps in. Or I could turn you a rare handle for that crutch-stick, if it belongs to him you call your father.'
'It belongs to me,' returned the little creature, with a quick flush of her face and neck. 'I am lame.'
Poor Sloppy flushed too, for there was an instinctive delicacy behind his buttons, and his own hand had struck it. He said, perhaps, the best thing in the way of amends that could be said. 'I am very glad it's yours, because I'd rather ornament it for you than for any one else. Please may I look at it?'
Miss Wren was in the act of handing it to him over her bench, when she paused. 'But you had better see me use it,' she said, sharply. 'This is the way. Hoppetty, Kicketty, Pep-peg-peg. Not pretty; is it?'
'It seems to me that you hardly want it at all,' said Sloppy.
The little dressmaker sat down again, and gave it into his hand, saying, with that better look upon her, and with a smile: 'Thank you!'
'And as concerning the nests and the drawers,' said Sloppy, after measuring the handle on his sleeve, and softly standing the stick aside against the wall, 'why, it would be a real pleasure to me. I've heerd tell that you can sing most beautiful; and I should be better paid with a song than with any money, for I always loved the likes of that, and often giv' Mrs Higden and Johnny a comic song myself, with "Spoken" in it. Though that's not your sort, I'll wager.'
'You are a very kind young man,' returned the dressmaker; 'a really kind young man. I accept your offer.--I suppose He won't mind,' she added as an afterthought, shrugging her shoulders; 'and if he does, he may!'
'Meaning him that you call your father, Miss,' asked Sloppy.
'No, no,' replied Miss Wren.