‘DRESSED ! 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. I know she did, as well as if I had assisted at the orgy. Who is she ?’
This is from “A Second-rate Woman” in “Under the Deodars”, within the collection Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories.
Mrs Hauksbee is expressing her exasperation that a woman who she sees as dowdy seems able to attract the attention of crowds of men. However, later in the tale she finds that the ‘dowd’ is very much to be respected.