“Not at all,” said the agreeable Richard.
“The fact is, the spoons have slipped down somewhere; right under the other things. O yes, here’s one, and only one. You would rather have one than not, I suppose, Mr. Dewy?”
“Rather not. I never did care much about spoons.”
“Then I’ll have it. I do care about them. You must stir up your tea with a knife. Would you mind lifting the kettle off, that it may not boil dry?”
Dick leapt to the fireplace, and earnestly removed the kettle.
“There! you did it so wildly that you have made your hand black. We always use kettle-holders; didn’t you learn housewifery as far as that, Mr. Dewy? Well, never mind the soot on your hand. Come here. I am going to rinse mine, too.”
They went to a basin she had placed in the back room. “This is the only basin I have,” she said. “Turn up your sleeves, and by that time my hands will be washed, and you can come.”
Her hands were in the water now. “O, how vexing!” she exclaimed. “There’s not a drop of water left for you, unless you draw it, and the well is I don’t know how many furlongs deep; all that was in the pitcher I used for the kettle and this basin. Do you mind dipping the tips of your fingers in the same?”
“Not at all. And to save time I won’t wait till you have done, if you have no objection?”
Thereupon he plunged in his hands, and they paddled together. It being the first time in his life that he had touched female fingers under water, Dick duly registered the sensation as rather a nice one.
“Really, I hardly know which are my own hands and which are yours, they have got so mixed up together,” she said, withdrawing her own very suddenly.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” said Dick, “at least as far as I am concerned.”
“There! no towel! Whoever thinks of a towel till the hands are wet?”
“‘Nobody.’ How very dull it is when people are so friendly! Come here, Mr. Dewy. Now do you think you could lift the lid of that box with your elbow, and then, with something or other, take out a towel you will find under the clean clothes? Be sure don’t touch any of them with your wet hands, for the things at the top are all Starched and Ironed.”
Dick managed, by the aid of a knife and fork, to extract a towel from under a muslin dress without wetting the latter; and for a moment he ventured to assume a tone of criticism.
“I fear for that dress,” he said, as they wiped their hands together.
“What?” said Miss Day, looking into the box at the dress alluded to. “O, I know what you mean—that the vicar will never let me wear muslin?”
“Well, I know it is condemned by all orders in the church as flaunting, and unfit for common wear for girls who’ve their living to get; but we’ll see.”
“In the interest of the church, I hope you don’t speak seriously.”