Mrs. Harden, be it observed, was the housekeeper: a woman after Mr.
Brocklehurst's own heart, made up of equal parts of whalebone and iron.
"Oh, very well!" returned Miss Temple; "we must make it do, Barbara, I
suppose." And as the girl withdrew she added, smiling, "Fortunately, I
have it in my power to supply deficiencies for this once."
Having invited Helen and me to approach the table, and placed before each
of us a cup of tea with one delicious but thin morsel of toast, she got
up, unlocked a drawer, and taking from it a parcel wrapped in paper,
disclosed presently to our eyes a good-sized seed-cake.
"I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you," said she,
"but as there is so little toast, you must have it now," and she
proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.
We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least
delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with which
our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the
delicate fare she liberally supplied.
Tea over and the tray removed, she again summoned us to the fire; we sat
one on each side of her, and now a conversation followed between her and
Helen, which it was indeed a privilege to be admitted to hear.