thousands to the Prince o' Wales, and they said my lady was going to pawn her
jewels to pay for him. But you know more about that than I do, sir. But, as for
farming, sir, I canna think as you'd like it; and this house--the draughts in it are
enough to cut you through, and it's my opinion the floors upstairs are very rotten,
and the rats i' the cellar are beyond anything."
"Why, that's a terrible picture, Mrs. Poyser. I think I should be doing you a service
to turn you out of such a place. But there's no chance of that. I'm not likely to
settle for the next twenty years, till I'm a stout gentleman of forty; and my
grandfather would never consent to part with such good tenants as you."
"Well, sir, if he thinks so well o' Mr. Poyser for a tenant I wish you could put in a
word for him to allow us some new gates for the Five closes, for my husband's
been asking and asking till he's tired, and to think o' what he's done for the farm,
and's never had a penny allowed him, be the times bad or good. And as I've said
to my husband often and often, I'm sure if the captain had anything to do with it, it
wouldn't be so. Not as I wish to speak disrespectful o' them as have got the
power i' their hands, but it's more than flesh and blood 'ull bear sometimes, to be
toiling and striving, and up early and down late, and hardly sleeping a wink when
you lie down for thinking as the cheese may swell, or the cows may slip their calf,
or the wheat may grow green again i' the sheaf--and after all, at th' end o' the
year, it's like as if you'd been cooking a feast and had got the smell of it for your
Mrs. Poyser, once launched into conversation, always sailed along without any
check from her preliminary awe of the gentry. The confidence she felt in her own
powers of exposition was a motive force that overcame all resistance.
"I'm afraid I should only do harm instead of good, if I were to speak about the
gates, Mrs. Poyser," said the captain, "though I assure you there's no man on the
estate I would sooner say a word for than your husband. I know his farm is in
better order than any other within ten miles of us; and as for the kitchen," he
added, smiling, "I don't believe there's one in the kingdom to beat it. By the by,
I've never seen your dairy: I must see your dairy, Mrs. Poyser."
"Indeed, sir, it's not fit for you to go in, for Hetty's in the middle o' making the
butter, for the churning was thrown late, and I'm quite ashamed." This Mrs.
Poyser said blushing, and believing that the captain was really interested in her
milk-pans, and would adjust his opinion of her to the appearance of her dairy.
"Oh, I've no doubt it's in capital order. Take me in," said the captain, himself
leading the way, while Mrs. Poyser followed.