Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 34

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Having thus expressively uttered his sentiments, Mr. Squod, after waiting a little to ascertain if any further remark be expected of him, gets back by his usual series of movements to the target he has in hand and vigorously signifies through his former musical medium that he must and he will return to that ideal young lady.  George, having folded the letter, walks in that direction.

"There IS a way, commander," says Phil, looking cunningly at him, "of settling this."

"Paying the money, I suppose?  I wish I could."

Phil shakes his head.  "No, guv'ner, no; not so bad as that.  There IS a way," says Phil with a highly artistic turn of his brush; "what I'm a-doing at present."

"Whitewashing."

Phil nods.

"A pretty way that would be!  Do you know what would become of the Bagnets in that case?  Do you know they would be ruined to pay off my old scores?  YOU'RE a moral character," says the trooper, eyeing him in his large way with no small indignation; "upon my life you are, Phil!"

Phil, on one knee at the target, is in course of protesting earnestly, though not without many allegorical scoops of his brush and smoothings of the white surface round the rim with his thumb, that he had forgotten the Bagnet responsibility and would not so much as injure a hair of the head of any member of that worthy family when steps are audible in the long passage without, and a cheerful voice is heard to wonder whether George is at home.  Phil, with a look at his master, hobbles up, saying, "Here's the guv'ner, Mrs. Bagnet!  Here he is!" and the old girl herself, accompanied by Mr. Bagnet, appears.

The old girl never appears in walking trim, in any season of the year, without a grey cloth cloak, coarse and much worn but very clean, which is, undoubtedly, the identical garment rendered so interesting to Mr. Bagnet by having made its way home to Europe from another quarter of the globe in company with Mrs. Bagnet and an umbrella.  The latter faithful appendage is also invariably a part of the old girl's presence out of doors.  It is of no colour known in this life and has a corrugated wooden crook for a handle, with a metallic object let into its prow, or beak, resembling a little model of a fanlight over a street door or one of the oval glasses out of a pair of spectacles, which ornamental object has not that tenacious capacity of sticking to its post that might be desired in an article long associated with the British army.  The old girl's umbrella is of a flabby habit of waist and seems to be in need of stays—an appearance that is possibly referable to its having served through a series of years at home as a cupboard and on journeys as a carpet bag.  She never puts it up, having the greatest reliance on her well-proved cloak with its capacious hood, but generally uses the instrument as a wand with which to point out joints of meat or bunches of greens in marketing or to arrest the attention of tradesmen by a friendly poke.  Without her market-basket, which is a sort of wicker well with two flapping lids, she never stirs abroad.  Attended by these her trusty companions, therefore, her honest sunburnt face looking cheerily out of a rough straw bonnet, Mrs. Bagnet now arrives, fresh-coloured and bright, in George's Shooting Gallery.

"Well, George, old fellow," says she, "and how do YOU do, this sunshiny morning?"

Giving him a friendly shake of the hand, Mrs. Bagnet draws a long breath after her walk and sits down to enjoy a rest.  Having a faculty, matured on the tops of baggage-waggons and in other such positions, of resting easily anywhere, she perches on a rough bench, unties her bonnet-strings, pushes back her bonnet, crosses her arms, and looks perfectly comfortable.

Mr. Bagnet in the meantime has shaken hands with his old comrade and with Phil, on whom Mrs. Bagnet likewise bestows a good-humoured nod and smile.