‘Dressedd ! Don’t tell me that woman ever dressed in her life. She stood in the middle of the room while her ayah—no, her husband—it must have been a man—threw her clothes at her. She then did her hair with her fingers, and rubbed her bonnet in the flue under the bed.’
This is from “A Second-rate Woman” (1888) collected in wee Willie winky and other stories.
The target of Mrs Hauksbee’s wit is Mrs Delville; she is dowdy, languid-voiced, and ill-dressed, in every way appearing second-rate, who nonethless – rather tiresomely – seems to have the knack of attracting men.
Then Mrs Delville surprises them, first by sending one man packing in no uncertain terms because he had paid court to her without admitting he was married. Then, when a child is dying of diphtheria, she saves its life, bravely and decisively.
Mrs Hauksbee is confounded: “They ought to build her a statue – only no sculptor dare copy those skirts.