TIME PASSESby a red-hot poker among the nettles, or a scrapof china in the hemlock, that here once some onehad lived; there had been a house.

If the feather had fallen, if it had tipped thescale downwards, the whole house would haveplunged to the depths to lie upon the sands ofoblivion. But there was a force working; some-thing not highly conscious; something thatleered, something that lurched; something notinspired to go about its work with dignified ritualor solemn chanting. Mrs. McNab groaned;Mrs. Bast creaked. They were old; they werestiff; their legs ached. They came with theirbrooms and pails at last; they got to work. All ofa sudden, would Mrs. McNab see that the housewas ready, one of the young ladies wrote: wouldshe get this done; would she get that done; all ina hurry. They might be coming for the summer;had left everything to the last; expected to findthings as they had left them. Slowly and pain-fully, with broom and pail, mopping, scouring,Mrs. McNab, Mrs. Bast stayed the corruptionand the rot; rescued from the pool of Time thatwas fast closing over them now a basin, now acupboard; fetched up from oblivion all theWaverley novels and a tea-set one morning; inthe afternoon restored to sun and air a brassfender and a set of steel fire-irons. George,215
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