THE HISTORY OF DWARF LONG NOSE 227
As he cried an old woman came across the Market Place. She looked very torn and ragged, and had a small sharp face, all wrinkled, with red eyes, and a thin hooked nose which nearly met her chin. She leant on a tall stick and limped and shuffled and stumbled along as if she were going to fall on her nose at any moment.
In this fashion she came along till she got to the stall where Jem and his mother were, and there she stopped.
'Are you Hannah the herb seller?' she asked in a croaky voice as her head shook to and fro.
' Yes, I am,' was the answer. 'Can I serve you?'
' We'll see; we'll see! Let me look at those herbs. I wonder if you've got what I want,' said the old woman as she thrust a pair of hideous brown hands into the herb basket, and began turning over all the neatly packed herbs with her skinny fingers, often holding them up to her nose and sniffing at them.
The cobbler's wife felt much disgusted at seeing her wares treated like this, but she dared not speak. When the old hag had turned over the whole basket she muttered, 'Bad stuff, bad stuff; much better fifty years ago — all bad.'
This made Jem very angry.
'You are a very rude old woman,' he cried out. ' First you mess all our nice herbs about with your horrid brown fingers and sniff at them with your long nose till no one else will care to buy them, and then you say it's all bad stuff, though the duke's cook himself buys all his herbs from us.'
The old woman looked sharply at the saucy boy, laughed unpleasantly, and said:
'So you don't like my long nose, sonny? Well, you shall have one yourself, right down to your chin.'
As she spoke she shuffled towards the hamper of cabbages, took up one after another, squeezed them hard, and threw them back, muttering again, ' Bad stuff, bad stuff.'