Desert island muffs

In spite of overwhelming public demand, here are the top 10 occurrences of the word muff in pre-20th-century English-language novels.

***

I put down my muff on the stile, and went up to the tall steed; I endeavoured to catch the bridle, but it was a spirited thing, and would not let me come near its head.

[Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre]

***

“I came about him. I wished to know whether he were alive, and that you have been able to inform me: and where he was; and that you have not been able to inform me.”

“Why, you’re a regular muff!” said the bishop.

[Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil]

***

The flap of the bureau chanced to be open, and in placing her muff upon it her eye had caught a document which lay there. “Oh — only a — funny surprise!” she said, trying to laugh away her cry as she came back to the table.

[Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure]

***

“Anne Pearson showed me the bullet in the chamber-door,” remarked Caroline gravely, as she folded her mantle and arranged it and her muff on a side-table.

[Charlotte Brontë, Shirley]

***

She was wrapped in the very sables which Robert Audley had brought from Russia, and carried a muff that the young man thought seemed almost as big as herself.

[Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret]

***

“You have got a new muff, Elizabeth,” he said to her one day quite humbly.

“Yes; I bought it,” she said.

[Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge]

***

“What have you to do with me?” Isabel went on.

Madame Merle slowly got up, stroking her muff, but not removing her eyes from Isabel’s face. “Everything!” she answered.

[Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady]

***

She listened to him with the closest attention; only interrupting him now and then with little words, intended to signify her approval. He, as he told his tale, did not look her in the face, but sat with his eyes fixed upon her muff.

[Anthony Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset]

***

“Why, ma’am,” answered Mrs Honour, “he came into the room one day last week when I was at work, and there lay your ladyship’s muff on a chair, and to be sure he put his hands into it; that very muff your ladyship gave me but yesterday. La! says I, Mr Jones, you will stretch my lady’s muff, and spoil it: but he still kept his hands in it: and then he kissed it — to be sure I hardly ever saw such a kiss in my life as he gave it.”

[Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling]

***

Lucy found it very difficult to keep up a conversation with Mr. Crawley — the more so, as Mrs. Robarts and Mrs. Crawley presently withdrew into a bedroom, taking the two younger children with them. “How unlucky,” thought Lucy, “that she has not got my muff with her!” But the muff lay in her lap, ponderous with its rich enclosures.

[Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage]

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