Mrs. Thomas, during the days on which she did not receive company, would have presented, to any one who might have had the honour to see that venerable lady, an entirely different appearance to that which she assumed on gala days. A white handkerchief supplied the place of the curling wig, and the tasty French cap was replaced by a muslin one, decorated with an immense border of ruffling, that flapped up and down over her silver spectacles in the most comical manner possible. A short flannel gown and a dimity petticoat of very antique pattern and scanty dimensions, completed her costume. Thus attired, and provided with a duster, she would make unexpected sallies into the various domestic departments, to see that everything was being properly conducted, and that no mal-practices were perpetrated at times when it was supposed she was elsewhere. She showed an intuitive knowledge of all traps set to give intimation of her approach, and would come upon aunt Rachel so stealthily as to induce her to declare, “Dat old Mrs. Thomas put her more in mind of a ghost dan of any other libin animal.”
One morning, whilst attired in the manner described, Mrs. Thomas had been particularly active in her excursions through the house, and had driven the servants to their wits’ ends by her frequent descents upon them at the most unexpected times, thereby effectually depriving them of the short breathing intervals they were anxious to enjoy. Charlie in particular had been greatly harassed by her, and was sent flying from place to place until his legs were nearly run off, as he expressed it. And so, when Lord Cutanrun, who was travelling in America to give his estates in England an opportunity to recuperate, presented his card, Charlie, in revenge, showed him into the drawing-room, where he knew that Mrs. Thomas was busily engaged trimming an oil-lamp. Belying on the explicit order she had given to say that she was not at home, she did not even look up when his lordship entered, and as he advanced towards her, she extended to him a basin of dirty water, saying, “Here, take this.” Receiving no response she looked up, and to her astonishment and horror beheld, not Charlie, but Lord Cutanrun. In the agitation consequent upon his unexpected appearance, she dropped the basin, the contents of which, splashing in all directions, sadly discoloured his lordship’s light pants, and greatly damaged the elegant carpet.
“Oh! my lord,” she exclaimed, “I didn’t—couldn’t—wouldn’t—” and, unable to ejaculate further, she fairly ran out of the apartment into the entry, where she nearly fell over Charlie, who was enjoying the confusion his conduct had created. “Oh! you limb!—you little wretch!” said she. “You knew I was not at home!”