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CHAPTER 44. OUR HOUSEKEEPING (continued)
Her name was Paragon. Her nature was represented to us, when we engaged her, as being feebly expressed in her name. She had a written character, as large as a proclamation; and, according to this document, could do everything of a domestic nature that ever I heard of, and a great many things that I never did hear of. She was a woman in the prime of life; of a severe countenance; and subject (particularly in the arms) to a sort of perpetual measles or fiery rash. She had a cousin in the Life-Guards, with such long legs that he looked like the afternoon shadow of somebody else. His shell-jacket was as much too little for him as he was too big for the premises. He made the cottage smaller than it need have been, by being so very much out of proportion to it. Besides which, the walls were not thick, and, whenever he passed the evening at our house, we always knew of it by hearing one continual growl in the kitchen.
Our treasure was warranted sober and honest. I am therefore willing to believe that she was in a fit when we found her under the boiler; and that the deficient tea-spoons were attributable to the dustman.
But she preyed upon our minds dreadfully. We felt our inexperience, and were unable to help ourselves. We should have been at her mercy, if she had had any; but she was a remorseless woman, and had none. She was the cause of our first little quarrel.
'My dearest life,' I said one day to Dora, 'do you think Mary Anne has any idea of time?'
'Why, Doady?' inquired Dora, looking up, innocently, from her drawing.
'My love, because it's five, and we were to have dined at four.'
Dora glanced wistfully at the clock, and hinted that she thought it was too fast.
'On the contrary, my love,' said I, referring to my watch, 'it's a few minutes too slow.'
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