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So does the eye of Heaven itself become an
evil eye, when incapable or sordid hands are
interposed between it and the things it looks
upon to bless.

Mrs. Sparsit sat in her afternoon apartment
at the Bank, on the shadier side of the frying
street. Office-hours were over; and at that
period of the day, in warm weather, she usually
embellished with her genteel presence, a
managerial board-room over the public office. Her
own private sitting-room was a story higher,
at the window of which post of observation
she was ready, every morning, to greet Mr.
Bounderby as he came across the road, with
the sympathising recognition appropriate to a
Victim. He had been married now, a year;
and Mrs. Sparsit had never released him from
her determined pity a moment.

The Bank offered no violence to the wholesome
monotony of the town. It was another
red brick house, with black outside shutters,
green inside blinds, a black street door up
two white steps, a brazen door-plate, and a
brazen door handle full stop. It was a size
larger than Mr. Bounderby's house, as other
houses were from a size to half-a-dozen sizes
smaller; in all other particulars, it was
strictly according to pattern.

Mrs. Sparsit was conscious that by coming
in the evening-tide among the desks and
writing implements, she shed a feminine, not
to say also aristocratic, grace upon the office.
Seated, with her needlework or netting
apparatus, at the window, she had a self-laudatory
sense of correcting, by her lady-like
deportment, the rude business aspect of
the place. With this impression of her
interesting character upon her, Mrs. Sparsit
considered herself, in some sort, the Bank
Fairy. The townspeople who, in their passing
and re-passing, saw her there, regarded
her as the Bank Dragon, keeping watch over
the treasures of the mine.

What those treasures were, Mrs. Sparsit
knew as little as they did. Gold and silver
coin, precious paper, secrets that if divulged
would bring vague destruction upon vague
persons (generally, however, people whom
she disliked), were the chief items in her
ideal catalogue thereof. For the rest, she
knew that after office-hours, she reigned
supreme over all the office furniture, and over a
locked-up iron room with three locks, against
the door of which strong chamber the
light porter laid his head every night, on a
truckle bed that disappeared at cockcrow.
Further, she was lady paramount over certain
vaults in the basement, sharply spiked off
from communication with the predatory
world; and over the relics of the current
day's work, consisting of blots of ink, worn-
out pens, fragments of wafers, and scraps of
paper torn so small, that nothing interesting
could ever be deciphered on them when Mrs.
Sparsit tried. Lastly, she was guardian over a
little armoury of cutlasses and carbines,
arrayed in vengeful order above one of the official
chimney-pieces; and over that respectable
tradition never to be separated from a place
of business claiming to be wealthya row of
fire-bucketsvessels calculated to be of no
physical utility on any occasion, but observed
to exercise a fine moral influence, almost equal
to bullion, on most beholders.

A deaf serving-woman and the light porter
completed Mrs. Sparsit's empire. The deaf
serving-woman was rumoured to be wealthy;
and a saying had for years gone about among
the lower orders of Coketown, that she would
be murdered some night when the Bank was
shut, for the sake of her money. It was
generally considered, indeed, that she had
been due some time, and ought to have fallen
long ago; but she had kept her life, and her
situation, with an ill-conditioned tenacity that
occasioned much offence and disappointment.

Mrs. Sparsit's tea was just set for her on a
pert little table, with its tripod of legs in an
attitude, which she insinuated after office-
hours, into the company of the stern, leathern-
topped, long board-table that bestrode the
middle of the room. The light porter placed
the tea-tray on it, knuckling his forehead as
a form of homage.

"Thank you, Bitzer," said Mrs. Sparsit.

"Thank you, ma'am," returned the light
porter. He was a very light porter indeed;
as light as in the days when he blinkingly
defined a horse, for girl number twenty.

"All is shut up, Bitzer?" said Mrs. Sparsit.

"All is shut up, ma'am."

"And what," said Mrs. Sparsit, pouring
out her tea, "is the news of the day?
Anything?"

"Well, ma'am, I can't say that I have
heard anything particular. Our people are
a bad lot, ma'am; but that is no news, unfortunately."

"What are the restless wretches doing
now?" asked Mrs. Sparsit.

"Merely going on in the old way, ma'am.
Uniting, and leaguing, and engaging to stand
by one another."

"It is much to be regretted," said Mrs.
Sparsit, making her nose more Roman and
her eyebrows more Coriolanian in the strength
of her severity, "that the united masters
allow of any such class combinations."

"Yes, ma'am," said Bitzer.

"Being united themselves, they ought one
and all to set their faces against employing
any man who is united with any other man,"
said Mrs. Sparsit.

"They have done that, ma'am," returned
Bitzer; "butit rather fell through, ma'am."

"I do not pretend to understand these
things," said Mrs. Sparsit, with dignity, "my
lot having been originally cast in a widely
different sphere; and Mr. Sparsit, as a Powler,
being also quite out of the pale of any such
dissensions. I only know that these people
must be conquered, and that it's high time
it was done, once for all."

"Yes, ma'am," returned Bitzer, with a

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