Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush

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Authors: Susanna Moodie
old country like England,” said a lady, with whom I had been arguing on the subject; “but, Mrs. M—, it won’t do in a new country like this. You may as well cheat as be cheated. For my part, I never lose an advantage by indulging in such foolish notions.”
    I have no doubt that a person who entertained such principles would not fail to reduce them to practice.
    The idea that some country people form of an author is highly amusing. One of my boys was tauntingly told by another lad at school, “that his ma’ said that Mrs. M—invented lies, and got money for them.” This was her estimation of works of mere fiction.
    Once I was driven by a young Irish friend to call upon the wife of a rich farmer in the country. We were shewn bythe master of the house into a very handsomely furnished room, in which there was no lack of substantial comfort, and even of some elegancies, in the shape of books, pictures, and a piano. The good man left us to inform his wife of our arrival, and for some minutes we remained in solemn state, until the mistress of the house made her appearance.
    She had been called from the washtub, and, like a sensible woman, was not ashamed of her domestic occupation. She came in wiping the suds from her hands on her apron, and gave us a very hearty and friendly welcome. She was a short, stout, middle-aged woman, with a very pleasing countenance; and though only in her coloured flannel working-dress, with a nightcap on her head, and spectacled nose, there was something in her frank good-natured face that greatly prepossessed us in her favour.
    After giving us the common compliments of the day, she drew her chair just in front of me, and, resting her elbows on her knees, and dropping her chin between her hands, she sat regarding me with such a fixed gaze that it became very embarrassing.
    “So,” says she, at last, “you are Mrs. M—?”
    “The woman that writes?”
    “The same.”
    She drew back her chair for a few paces, with a deep-drawn sigh, in which disappointment and surprise seemed strangely to mingle. “Well, I have he’rd a great deal about you, and I wanted to see you bad for a long time; but you are only a humly person like myself after all. Why I do think, if I had on my best gown and cap, I should look a great deal younger and better than you.”
    I told her that I had no doubt of the fact.
    “And pray,” continued she, with the same provoking scrutiny, “how old do you call yourself?” I told her my exact age.
    “Humph!” quoth she, as if she rather doubted my word, “two years younger nor me! you look a great deal older nor that.”
    After a long pause, and another searching gaze, “Do you call those teeth your own?”
    “Yes,” said I, laughing; for I could retain my gravity no longer; “in the very truest sense of the word they are mine, as God gave them to me.”
    “You luckier than your neighbours,” said she. “But airn’t you greatly troubled with headaches? ”
    “No,” said I, rather startled at this fresh interrogatory.
    “My!” exclaimed she, “I thought you must be, your eyes are so sunk in your head. Well, well, so you are Mrs. M—of Belleville, the woman that writes. You are but a humly body after all.”
    While this curious colloquy was going on, my poor Irish friend sat on thorns, and tried, by throwing in a little judicious blarney, to soften the thrusts of the home truths to which he had unwittingly exposed me. Between every pause in the conversation, he broke in with –“I am sure Mrs. M—is a fine-looking woman – a very young-looking woman for her age. Any person might know at a glance that those teeth were her own. They look too natural to be false.”
    Now, I am certain that the poor little woman never meant to wound my feelings, nor give me offence. She literally spoke her thoughts, and I was too much amused with the whole scene to feel the least irritated by her honest bluntness. She expected to find in an author something

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