Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/21

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checked her. "He can't hear. Deaf as an adder, or a bad man's conscience."

Her look of incredulity, her sniff, were equivalent to disputing her employer's word. He thought best to explain.

"Listen," he said, "I don't want you to dislike him. He can't help it. When he was a young man he had spinal meningitis. It left him deaf. Before that he was a tutor of languages. He taught me all I know, so I shall always keep him. He can tell what you say to him only by watching your lips—lip reading we call it in English. I want you and every one else to be kind to him, because he's sensitive. Stop picking at him, and be kind."

She shook her head doubtfully; but won over by natural sympathy said, "Too bad! Who'd have thought it! I see how it is. I had a dog with three legs. Four he had until he had an accident with a scythe. Couldn't pull a cart to market after that. My man wanted to kill it. I told him dogs were like men because nobody wants to lose his leg or his tail if he can help it. And nobody wanted a three-legged dog, and he loved me, so I kept him. I'm sorry I ever scolded that Ivan. He's your three-legged dog and you keep him because he loves you."

Kent tried to discourage her limberness of tongue by picking up a book; but she talked un-