The Old Wives' Tale
IV.4. End Of Sophia
The kitchen steps were as steep, dark, and difficult as ever. Up those steps
Sophia Scales, nine years older than when she had failed to persuade
Constance to leave the Square, was carrying a large basket, weighted with all
the heaviness of Fossette. Sophia, despite her age, climbed the steps violently,
and burst with equal violence into the parlour, where she deposited the basket on
the floor near the empty fireplace. She was triumphant and breathless. She
looked at Constance, who had been standing near the door in the attitude of a
"There!" said Sophia. "Did you hear how she talked?"
"Yes," said Constance. "What shall you do?"
"Well," said Sophia. "I had a very good mind to order her out of the house at
once. But then I thought I would take no notice. Her time will be up in three
weeks. It's best to be indifferent. If once they see they can upset you However, I
wasn't going to leave Fossette down there to her tender mercies a moment
longer. She's simply not looked after her at all."
Sophia went on her knees to the basket, and, pulling aside the dog's hair, round
about the head, examined the skin. Fossette was a sick dog and behaved like
one. Fossette, too, was nine years older, and her senility was offensive. She was
to no sense a pleasant object.
"See here," said Sophia.
Constance also knelt to the basket.
"And here," said Sophia. "And here."
The dog sighed, the insincere and pity-seeking sigh of a spoilt animal. Fossette
foolishly hoped by such appeals to be spared the annoying treatment prescribed
for her by the veterinary surgeon.
While the sisters were coddling her, and protecting her from her own paws, and
trying to persuade her that all was for the best, another aged dog wandered
vaguely into the room: Spot. Spot had very few teeth, and his legs were stiff. He
had only one vice, jealousy. Fearing that Fossette might be receiving the entire
attention of his mistresses, he had come to inquire into the situation. When he
found the justification of his gloomiest apprehensions, he nosed obstinately up to
Constance, and would not be put off. In vain Constance told him at length that he
was interfering with the treatment. In vain Sophia ordered him sharply to go
away. He would not listen to reason, being furious with jealousy. He got his foot
into the basket.
"Will you!" exclaimed Sophia angrily, and gave him a clout on his old head. He
barked snappishly, and retired to the kitchen again, disillusioned, tired of the
world, and nursing his terrific grievance. "I do declare," said Sophia, "that dog
gets worse and worse."