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they?' said I.

'Well, sir,' replied Mr. Chillip, 'a medical man, being so much in
families, ought to have neither eyes nor ears for anything but his
profession. Still, I must say, they are very severe, sir: both as
to this life and the next.'

'The next will be regulated without much reference to them, I dare
say,' I returned: 'what are they doing as to this?'

Mr. Chillip shook his head, stirred his negus, and sipped it.

'She was a charming woman, sir!' he observed in a plaintive manner.

'The present Mrs. Murdstone?'

A charming woman indeed, sir,' said Mr. Chillip; 'as amiable, I am
sure, as it was possible to be! Mrs. Chillip's opinion is, that her
spirit has been entirely broken since her marriage, and that she is
all but melancholy mad. And the ladies,' observed Mr. Chillip,
timorously, 'are great observers, sir.'

'I suppose she was to be subdued and broken to their detestable
mould, Heaven help her!' said I. 'And she has been.'

'Well, sir, there were violent quarrels at first, I assure you,'
said Mr. Chillip; 'but she is quite a shadow now. Would it be
considered forward if I was to say to you, sir, in confidence, that
since the sister came to help, the brother and sister between them
have nearly reduced her to a state of imbecility?'

I told him I could easily believe it.

'I have no hesitation in saying,' said Mr. Chillip, fortifying
himself with another sip of negus, 'between you and me, sir, that
her mother died of it - or that tyranny, gloom, and worry have made
Mrs. Murdstone nearly imbecile. She was a lively young woman, sir,
before marriage, and their gloom and austerity destroyed her. They
go about with her, now, more like her keepers than her husband and
sister-in-law. That was Mrs. Chillip's remark to me, only last
week. And I assure you, sir, the ladies are great observers. Mrs.
Chillip herself is a great observer!'

'Does he gloomily profess to be (I am ashamed to use the word in
such association) religious still?' I inquired.
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