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(21)be coming for the summer; had left everything to the last; ex-pected to find things as they had left them. Slowly and pain-fully, with broom and pail, mopping, scouring, Mrs. McNab, Mrs.Bast stayed the corruption and the rot; rescued from the pool oftime that was fast closing over them now a basin, now a cupboard;fetched up from oblivion all the Waverley novels and a tea setone morning; in the afternoon restored to sun and air a brassfender and a set of steel fire irons. George, Mrs. Bast's son,hammered nailscaught rats, cut grass. They had the vbuilders. Attended withthe creaking of hinges and the screeching of bolts, the slammingand banging of damp-swollen wood-work some rusty laborious birthseemed to be takeing place, as the women, stooping, rising, groaning,singing, slapped and slammed, up stairs now, now down in thecellars. Oh, they said, the work!

They drank their tea in the bedroom sometimes, or in the study;Xbreaking off work at midnight with the smudge on their faces, andtheir old hands clasped and cramped with the broom handles.Flopped on chairs they contemplated now the magnificent conquestover taps and bath; now the more arduous, more partial triumphover long rows of philosophy, black as ravens once, now white-stainedbreeding pale mushrooms and secreting furtive spiders. Once more,as she felt the tea warm in her, the telescope fitted itself toMrs. McNab's eyes, and in a ring of light she saw the old gentle-man, lean as a rake, wagging his head, as she came up with thewashing, talking to himself, she supposed, on the lawn. Nevernoticed her. Some said he was dead; some said she was dead.