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‘Dressed! Don’t tell me that woman ever dressed in her life. She stood in the middle of the room while her ayah&#8212no, her husband&#8212it must have been a man&#8212threw her clothes at her. She then did her hair with her fingers, and rubbed her bonnet in the flue under the bed. I know she did, as well as if I had assisted at the orgy. Who is she?’ said Mrs. Hauksbee.


This is from “A Second-rate Woman” in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories”.

Mrs Hauksbee and Mrs Mallowe are gossiping as usual about life and love and flirtations in Simla. They are intrigued by Mrs Dellville; 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.