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May 26th, 2017
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  1. The passage below is an excerpt from the novel Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell:
  3. 1. IN the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of
  4. houses, above a certain rent, are women. If a married couple come to settle in
  5. the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to
  6. death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is
  7. accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in
  8. business all the week in the great neighbouring commercial town of Drumble,
  9. distant only twenty miles on a railroad. In short, whatever does become of the
  10. gentlemen, they are not at Cranford. What could they do if they were there?
  11. The surgeon has his round of thirty miles, and sleeps at Cranford; but every
  12. man cannot be a surgeon. For keeping the trim gardens full of choice flowers
  13. without a weed to speck them; for frightening away little boys who look
  14. wistfully at the said flowers through the railings; for rushing out at the geese
  15. that occasionally venture into the gardens if the gates are left open; for
  16. deciding all questions of literature and politics without troubling themselves
  17. with unnecessary reasons or arguments; for obtaining clear and correct
  18. knowledge of everybody's affairs in the parish; for keeping their neat
  19. maidservants in admirable order; for kindness (somewhat dictatorial) to the
  20. poor, and real tender good offices to each other whenever they are in distress,
  21. the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient. "A man as one of them observed to
  22. me once, " is so in the way in the house!" Although the ladies of Cranford
  23. know all each other's proceedings, they are exceedingly indifferent to each
  24. other's opinions. Indeed, as each has her own individuality, not to say
  25. eccentricity, pretty strongly developed, nothing is so easy as verbal retaliation;
  26. but, somehow, goodwill reigns among them to a considerable degree.
  28. 2. The Cranford ladies have only an occasional little quarrel, spirited out in a few
  29. peppery words and angry jerks of the head; just enough to prevent the even
  30. tenor of their lives from becoming too flat- Their dress is very independent of
  31. fashion; as they observe, 'What does it signify how we dress here at
  32. Cranford, where everybody knows us?" And if they go from home, their
  33. reason is equally cogent, 'What does it signify how we dress here, where
  34. nobody knows us?" The materials of their clothes are, in general, good and
  35. plain, and most of them are nearly as scrupulous as Miss Tyler, of cleanly
  36. memory; but I will answer for it, the last gigot, the last tight and scanty petticoat
  37. in wear in England, was seen in Cranford and seen without a smile.
  39. 3. I can testify to a magnificent family red silk umbrella, under which a gentle little
  41. spinster, left alone of many brothers and sisters, used to patter to church on
  42. rainy days. Have you any red silk umbrellas in London?
  43. We had a tradition of the first that had ever been seen in Cranford; and the little
  44. boys mobbed it, and called it "a stick in petticoats." It might have been the very
  45. red silk one I have described, held by a strong father over a troop of little ones;
  46. the poor little lady the survivor of all could scarcely carry it.
  48. 4. Then there were rules and regulations for visiting and calls; and they were
  49. announced to any young people, who might be staying in the town, with all the
  50. solemnity with which the old Manx laws were read once a year on the Tinwald
  51. Mount.
  53. 5. "Our friends have sent to inquire how you are after your journey to-night, my
  54. dear" (fifteen miles in a gentleman's carriage); "they will give you some rest
  55. tomorrow, but the next day, I have no doubt, they will call; so be at liberty after
  56. twelve from twelve to three are our calling-hoursl'
  58. 6. Then, after they had called,
  60. 7. "It is the third day; I daresay your mamma has told
  61. you, my dear, never let more than three days elapse between receiving a call
  62. and returning it; and also, that you are never to stay longer than a quarter of an
  63. hour"
  65. 8. "But am I to look at my watch? How am I to find out when a quarter of an hour
  66. has passed?"
  68. 9. "You must keep thinking about the time, my dear, and not allow yourself to
  69. forget it in conversation."
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