Hard Times Book 2 Chapter 1 Page 36

Mrs. Sparsit’s eyebrows, with a propitiatory air, ‘but you know the family, and know the world. I am about to know the family, and may have much to do with them. Is the lady so very alarming? Her father gives her such a portentously hard-headed reputation, that I have a burning desire to know. Is she absolutely unapproachable? Repellently and stunningly clever? I see, by your meaning smile, you think not. You have poured balm into my anxious soul. As to age, now. Forty? Five and thirty?’

Mrs. Sparsit laughed outright. ‘A chit,’ said she. ‘Not twenty when she was married.’

‘I give you my honour, Mrs. Powler,’ returned the stranger, detaching himself from the table, ‘that I never was so astonished in my life!’