hand that morning, and thought she could not do better than consecrate it to gossip. Mrs. Float, who was so far an invalid as to be unable to do much for herself, having been crippled years ago by an attack of rheumatic-fever, was in her usual chair by the fireside in the small parlour behind the shop, and Blase Pellet was pouring out some hot milk for her. Let the weather be ever so warm, Mrs. Float would not go without her fire: and perhaps she needed it. She was a stout, easy sort of woman, who took the best and the worst sides of life equally calmly; even her husband's attachment to the Golden Shaft. Of Blase Pellet she was very fond: for he was always ready to render her little services, as he might have been to a mother. Blase Pellet had his good and his bad qualities—as most people have: it was chiefly on the subject of Rosaline Bell that he was crazed.

"I'll do that," said Mrs. Trim, taking the warming-can from him. "You are wanted in the shop, Mr. Pellet.

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