The Woodlanders HTML version

Chapter 29
She walked up the soft grassy ride, screened on either hand by nut-bushes, just
now heavy with clusters of twos and threes and fours. A little way on, the track
she pursued was crossed by a similar one at right angles. Here Grace stopped;
some few yards up the transverse ride the buxom Suke Damson was visible--her
gown tucked up high through her pocket-hole, and no bonnet on her head-- in the
act of pulling down boughs from which she was gathering and eating nuts with
great rapidity, her lover Tim Tangs standing near her engaged in the same
pleasant meal.
Crack, crack went Suke's jaws every second or two. By an automatic chain of
thought Grace's mind reverted to the tooth- drawing scene described by her
husband; and for the first time she wondered if that narrative were really true,
Susan's jaws being so obviously sound and strong. Grace turned up towards the
nut- gatherers, and conquered her reluctance to speak to the girl who was a little
in advance of Tim. "Good-evening, Susan," she said.
"Good-evening, Miss Melbury" (crack).
"Mrs. Fitzpiers."
"Oh yes, ma'am--Mrs. Fitzpiers," said Suke, with a peculiar smile.
Grace, not to be daunted, continued: "Take care of your teeth, Suke. That
accounts for the toothache."
"I don't know what an ache is, either in tooth, ear, or head, thank the Lord"
"Nor the loss of one, either?"
"See for yourself, ma'am." She parted her red lips, and exhibited the whole
double row, full up and unimpaired.
"You have never had one drawn?"
"So much the better for your stomach," said Mrs. Fitzpiers, in an altered voice.
And turning away quickly, she went on.
As her husband's character thus shaped itself under the touch of time, Grace
was almost startled to find how little she suffered from that jealous excitement