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consequence of the tyranny she established over me, was dreadful.
I never was so much afraid of anyone. We made a compromise of
everything. If I hesitated, she was taken with that wonderful
disorder which was always lying in ambush in her system, ready, at
the shortest notice, to prey upon her vitals. If I rang the bell
impatiently, after half-a-dozen unavailing modest pulls, and she
appeared at last - which was not by any means to be relied upon -
she would appear with a reproachful aspect, sink breathless on a
chair near the door, lay her hand upon her nankeen bosom, and
become so ill, that I was glad, at any sacrifice of brandy or
anything else, to get rid of her. If I objected to having my bed
made at five o'clock in the afternoon - which I do still think an
uncomfortable arrangement - one motion of her hand towards the same
nankeen region of wounded sensibility was enough to make me falter
an apology. In short, I would have done anything in an honourable
way rather than give Mrs. Crupp offence; and she was the terror of
I bought a second-hand dumb-waiter for this dinner-party, in
preference to re-engaging the handy young man; against whom I had
conceived a prejudice, in consequence of meeting him in the Strand,
one Sunday morning, in a waistcoat remarkably like one of mine,
which had been missing since the former occasion. The 'young gal'
was re-engaged; but on the stipulation that she should only bring
in the dishes, and then withdraw to the landing-place, beyond the
outer door; where a habit of sniffing she had contracted would be
lost upon the guests, and where her retiring on the plates would be
a physical impossibility.
Having laid in the materials for a bowl of punch, to be compounded
by Mr. Micawber; having provided a bottle of lavender-water, two
wax-candles, a paper of mixed pins, and a pincushion, to assist
Mrs. Micawber in her toilette at my dressing-table; having also
caused the fire in my bedroom to be lighted for Mrs. Micawber's
convenience; and having laid the cloth with my own hands, I awaited
the result with composure.
At the appointed time, my three visitors arrived together. Mr.
Micawber with more shirt-collar than usual, and a new ribbon to his
eye-glass; Mrs. Micawber with her cap in a whitey-brown paper
parcel; Traddles carrying the parcel, and supporting Mrs. Micawber
on his arm. They were all delighted with my residence. When I
conducted Mrs. Micawber to my dressing-table, and she saw the scale
on which it was prepared for her, she was in such raptures, that
she called Mr. Micawber to come in and look.