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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about The Old Wives' Tale.

“She’s given notice!  And Sunday too!”

“What did she say?”

“She didn’t say much,” Constance replied vaguely, hiding from Sophia that Amy had harped on the too great profusion of mistresses in that house.  “After all, it’s just as well.  She’ll be all right.  She’s saved a good bit of money, and she has friends.”

“But how foolish of her to give up such a good place!”

“She simply doesn’t care,” said Constance, who was a little hurt by Amy’s defection.  “When she takes a thing into her head she simply doesn’t care.  She’s got no common sense.  I’ve always known that.”

“So you’re going to leave, Amy?” said Sophia that evening, as Amy was passing through the parlour on her way to bed.  Constance was already arranged for the night.

“I am, m’m,” answered Amy, precisely.

Her tone was not rude, but it was firm.  She had apparently reconnoitred her position in calmness.

“I’m sorry I was obliged to correct you this morning,” said Sophia, with cheerful amicableness, pleased in spite of herself with the woman’s tone.  “But I think you will see that I had reason to.”

“I’ve been thinking it over, m’m,” said Amy, with dignity, “and I see as I must leave.”

There was a pause.

“Well, you know best. ...  Good night, Amy.”

“Good night, m’m.”

“She’s a decent woman,” thought Sophia, “but hopeless for this place now.”

The sisters were fronted with the fact that Constance had a month in which to find a new servant, and that a new servant would have to be trained in well-doing and might easily prove disastrous.  Both Constance and Amy were profoundly disturbed by the prospective dissolution of a bond which dated from the seventies.  And both were decided that there was no alternative to the dissolution.  Outsiders knew merely that Mrs. Povey’s old servant was leaving.  Outsiders merely saw Mrs. Povey’s advertisement in the Signal for a new servant.  They could not read hearts.  Some of the younger generation even said superiorly that old-fashioned women like Mrs. Povey seemed to have servants on the brain, etc., etc.

II

“Well, have you got your letter?” Sophia demanded cheerfully of Constance when she entered the bedroom the next morning.

Constance merely shook her head.  She was very depressed.  Sophia’s cheerfulness died out.  As she hated to be insincerely optimistic, she said nothing.  Otherwise she might have remarked:  “Perhaps the afternoon post will bring it.”  Gloom reigned.  To Constance particularly, as Amy had given notice and as Cyril was ‘remiss,’ it seemed really that the time was out of joint and life unworth living.  Even the presence of Sophia did not bring her much comfort.  Immediately Sophia left the room Constance’s sciatica began to return, and in a severe form.  She had regretted this, less for the pain than because she had just

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