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Tilly Slowboy
by [?]

Although still in her earliest teens, Tilly Slowboy was a nursery-maid for little Mrs. Peerybingle’s baby, and despite her extreme youth, was a most enthusiastic and unusual nursery-maid indeed.

It may be noted of Miss Slowboy that she had a rare and surprising talent for getting the baby into difficulties; and had several times imperilled its short life, in a quiet way peculiarly her own.

She was of a spare and straight shape, this young lady, insomuch that her garments appeared to be in constant danger of sliding off those sharp pegs, her shoulders, on which they were loosely hung. Her costume was remarkable for the partial development on all possible occasions, of some flannel vestment of a singular structure; also affording glimpses, in the region of the back, of a pair of stays, in color a dead green.

Being always in a state of gaping admiration at everything, and absorbed besides, in the perpetual contemplation of her mistress’s perfections, and the baby’s, Miss Slowboy, in her little errors of judgment may be said to have done equal honor to her head and to her heart; and though these did less honor to the baby’s head, which they were the occasional means of bringing into contact with deal doors, dressers, stair-rails, bed-posts, and other foreign substances, still they were the honest results of Tilly Slowboy’s constant astonishment at finding herself so kindly treated and installed in such a comfortable home. For the maternal and paternal Slowboy were alike unknown to Fame, and Tilly had been bred by public charity, a foundling; which word, though only differing from fondling by one vowel’s length, is very different in meaning, and expresses quite another thing.

It was a singularly happy and united family in which Tilly’s lot was cast. Honest John Peerybingle, Carrier; his pretty little wife, whom he called Dot; the very remarkable doll of a baby; the dog Boxer; and the Cricket on the Hearth, whose cheerful chirp, chirp, chirp, was a continual family blessing and good-omen;–were collectively and severally the objects of Tilly’s unbounded admiration.

If ever a person or thing alarmed Tilly, she would hastily seek protection near the skirts of her pretty little mistress; or, failing that, would make a charge or butt at the object of her fright with the only offensive instrument within her reach–which usually happened to be the baby. Tilly’s bump of good fortune being extraordinarily well developed, the baby usually managed to come out from the siege unharmed, to be soothed and comforted in Tilly’s own peculiar fashion; her most common method of amusement being to reproduce for its entertainment scraps of conversation current in the house, with all the sense left out of them, and all the nouns changed to the plural number, as–“Did its mothers make it up a beds then! And did its hair grow brown and curly when its cap was lifted off, and frighten it, a precious Pets, a-sitting by the fire!”

It was a notable and exciting event to Miss Slowboy when she set out one day in the Carrier’s cart, with her little mistress and the remarkable baby, to have dinner with Caleb Plummer’s blind daughter, Bertha, who was Mrs. Dot’s devoted friend.

In consequence of the departure, there was a pretty sharp commotion at John Peerybingle’s, for to get the baby under weigh took time. Not that there was much of the baby, speaking of it as a thing of weight and measure, but there was a vast deal to do about it, and all had to be done by easy stages. When the baby was got, by hook and by crook, to a certain point of dressing, and you might have supposed that another touch or two would finish him off, he was unexpectedly extinguished, and hustled off to bed; where he simmered (so to speak) between two blankets for the best part of an hour, while Mrs. Peerybingle took advantage of the interval to make herself smart for the trip, and during the same short truce, Miss Slowboy insinuated herself into a spencer, of a fashion so surprising and ingenious, that it had no connection with herself, or anything else in the universe, but was a shrunken, dog’s-eared, independent fact, pursuing its lonely course without the least regard to anybody. By this time, the baby, being all alive again, was invested by the united efforts of Mrs. Peerybingle and Miss Slowboy, with a cream-colored mantle for its body, and a sort of nankeen raised-pie for its head, and in course of time they all three got down to the door, where the old horse was waiting to convey them on their trip.