Chapter 14

Topsy Continued…

‘Do you know how to sew?’ asked Miss Ophelia, quite shocked.

‘No, missis.’

‘What can you do? What did you do for your master and mistress?’

‘Fetch water, and wash dishes, and clean knives, and wait on folks.’

‘Well, now, Topsy, I’m going to show you just how my bed is to be made. I am very particular about my bed. You must learn exactly how to do it.’

‘Yes, missis,’ said Topsy, with a deep sigh and a face of woeful earnestness.

‘Now, Topsy, look here. This is the hem of the sheet. This is the right side of the sheet. This is the wrong. Will you remember?’

‘Yes, missis,’ said Topsy with another sigh.

‘Well, now, the under-sheet you must bring over the bolster—so, and tuck it right down under the mattress nice and smooth—so. Do you see?’

‘Yes, missis.’

‘But the upper sheet,’ said Miss Ophelia, ‘must be brought down in this way, and tucked under, firm and smooth, at the foot—so, the narrow hem at the foot.’

‘Yes, missis,’ said Topsy as before. But while Miss Ophelia was bending over the bed she had quickly seized a pair of gloves and a ribbon, which were lying on the dressing-table, and slipped them up her sleeves. When Miss Ophelia looked up again, the naughty little girl was standing with meekly-folded hand as before.

‘Now, Topsy, let me see you do this,’ said Miss Ophelia, pulling the clothes off again and seating herself.

Topsy, looking very earnest, did it all just as she had been shown. She did it so quickly and well that Miss Ophelia was very pleased. But, alas! as she was finishing, an end of ribbon came dangling out of her sleeve.

‘What is this?’ said Miss Ophelia, seizing it. ‘You naughty, wicked child—you have been stealing this.’

The ribbon was pulled out of Topsy’s own sleeve. Yet she did not seem a bit ashamed. She only looked at it with an air of surprise and innocence.

‘Why, that’s Miss Feely’s ribbon, an’t it? How could it a got into my sleeve?’

‘Topsy, you naughty girl, don’t tell me a lie. You stole that ribbon,’

‘Missis, I declare I didn’t. Never seed it till dis blessed minnit.’

‘Topsy,’ said Miss Ophelia, ‘don’t you know it is wicked to tell lies?’

‘I never tells no lies, Miss Feely,’ said Topsy. ‘It’s jist the truth I’ve been, tellin’ now. It an’t nothin’ else.’

‘Topsy, I shall have to whip you, if you tell lies so.’

‘Laws, missis, if you whip’s all day, couldn’t say no other way,’ said Topsy, beginning to cry. ‘I never seed dat ribbon. It must a caught in my sleeve. Miss Feely must’a left it on the bed, and it got caught in the clothes, and so got in my sleeve.’

Miss Ophelia was so angry at such a barefaced lie that she caught Topsy and shook her. ‘Don’t tell me that again,’ she said.

The shake brought the gloves on the floor from the other sleeve.

‘There,’ said Miss Ophelia, ‘will you tell me now you didn’t steal the ribbon?’

Topsy now confessed to stealing the gloves. But she, still said she had not taken the ribbon.

‘Now, Topsy’, said Miss Ophelia kindly, ‘if you will confess all about it I won’t whip you this time.’

So Topsy confessed to having stolen both the ribbon and the gloves. She said she was very, very sorry, and would never do it again.

‘Well, now, tell me,’ said Miss Ophelia, ‘have you taken anything else since you have been in the house? If you confess I won’t whip you.’

‘Laws, missis, I took Miss Eva’s red thing she wears on her neck.’

‘You did, you naughty child! Well, what else?’

‘I took Rosa’s ear-rings—them red ones.’

‘Go and bring them to me this minute—both of them.’

‘Laws, missis, I can’t—they’s burnt up.’

‘Burnt up? What a story! Go and get them, or I shall whip you.’

Topsy began to cry and groan, and declare that she could not. ‘They’s burnt up, they is.’

‘What did you burn them up for?’ asked Miss Ophelia.

‘Cause I’s wicked, I is. I’s mighty wicked, anyhow. I can’t help it.’

Just at this minute Eva came into the room wearing her coral necklace.

Chapter list