‘My faith,’ said M. Vandeloup, smiling to himself as he thought of the situation, ’it’s a capital comedy, certainly; but I must take care it doesn’t end as a tragedy.’
It is said that ‘creaking doors hang the longest,’ and Mrs Pulchop, of Carthage Cottage, Richmond, was an excellent illustration of the truth of this saying. Thin, pale, with light bleached-looking hair, and eyebrows and eyelashes to match, she looked so shadowy and unsubstantial, than an impression was conveyed to the onlooker that a breath might blow her away. She was often heard to declare, when anything extra-ordinary happened, that one might ’knock her down with a feather’, which, as a matter of fact, was by no means a stretch of fancy, provided the feather was a strong one and Mrs Pulchop was taken unawares. She was continually alluding to her ‘constitootion’, as if she had an interest in politics, but in reality she was referring to her state of health, which was invariably bad. According to her own showing, there was not a single disease under the sun with which she had not been afflicted, and she could have written a whole book on the subject of medicine, and put herself in, in every instance, as an illustrative case.
Mr Pulchop had long since departed this life, being considerably assisted in his exit from this wicked world by the quantity of patent medicines his wife compelled him to take to cure him, which unfortunately, however, had the opposite effect.
Mrs Pulchop said he had been a handsome man, but according to the portrait she had of him he resembled a bull-dog more than anything else in nature. The young Pulchops, of which there were two, both of the female sex, took after their father in appearance and their mother in temperament, and from the time they could talk and crawl knew as much about drops, poultices, bandages, and draughts as many a hospital nurse of mature age.
One day Vandeloup sent a telegram to Kitty saying he would be home to dinner, and as he always required something extra in the way of cooking, Kitty went to interview Mrs Pulchop on the subject. She found that lady wrapped up in a heavy shawl, turning herself into a tea-kettle by drinking hot water, the idea being, as she assured Kitty, to rouse up her liver. Miss Topsy Pulchop was tying a bandage round her face, as she felt a toothache coming on, while Miss Anna Pulchop was unfortunately quite well, and her occupation being gone, was seated disconsolately at the window trying to imagine she felt pains in her back.