This commencement took the colour from their cheeks. Arabella invited her inside, and sent Adela for Cornelia.
“Oh, and ye poor deers!” cried Mrs. Chump to Arabella, who remarked: “Pray wait till my sisters come;” causing the woman to stare and observe: “If ye’re not as cold as the bottom of a pot that naver felt fire.” She repeated this to Cornelia and Adela as an accusation, and then burst on “My heart’s just breakin’ for ye, and ye shall naver want bread, eh! and roast beef, and my last bottle of Port ye’ll share, though ye’ve no ideea what a lot o’ thoughts o’ poor Chump’s under that cork, and it’ll be a waste on you. Oh! and that monster of a Mr. Paricles that’s got ye in his power and’s goin’ to be the rroon of ye—shame to ’m! Your father’s told me; and, oh! my darlin’ garls, don’t think ut my fault. For, Pole—Pole—”
Mrs. Chump was choked by her grief. The ladies, unbending to some curiosity, eliminated from her gasps and sobs that Mr. Pole had, in the solitude of his library below, accused her of causing the defection of Mr. Pericles, and traced his possible ruin to it, confessing, that in the way of business, he was at Mr. Pericles’ mercy.
“And in such a passion with me!” Mrs. Chump wrung her hands. “What could I do to Mr. Paricles? He isn’t one o’ the men that I can kiss; and Pole shouldn’t wish me. And Pole settin’ down his rroon to me! What’ll I do? My dears! I do feel for ye, for I feel I’d feel myself such a beast, without money, d’ye see? It’s the most horrible thing in the world. It’s like no candle in the darrk. And I, ye know, I know I’d naver forgive annybody that took my money; and what’ll Pole think of me? For oh! ye may call riches temptation, but poverty’s punishment; and I heard a young curate say that from the pulpit, and he was lean enough to know, poor fella!”
Both Cornelia and Arabella breathed more freely when they had heard Mrs. Chump’s tale to an end. They knew perfectly well that she was blameless for the defection of Mr. Pericles, and understood from her exclamatory narrative that their father had reason to feel some grave alarm at the Greek’s absence from their house, and had possibly reasons of his own for accusing Mrs. Chump, as he had done. The ladies administered consolation to her, telling her that for their part they would never blame her; even consenting to be kissed by her, hugged by her, playfully patted, complimented, and again wept over. They little knew what a fervour of secret devotion they created in Mrs. Chump’s bosom by this astounding magnanimity displayed to her, who laboured under the charge of being the source of their ruin; nor could they guess that the little hypocrisy they were practising would lead to any singular and pregnant resolution in the mind of the woman, fraught with explosion to their house, and that quick movement which they awaited.
Mrs. Chump, during the patient strain of a tender hug of Arabella, had mutely resolved in a great heat of gratitude that she would go to Mr. Pericles, and, since he was necessary to the well-being of Brookfield, bring him back, if she had to bring him back in her arms.