kill all the lice ?

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marcolo

Senior Member
France, french
Hello everyone,
I have a problem with this sentence :

"Laws, spices, just in pudding, cloves and mace" Bett marveled, sniffing it, then scratching her head with the hand that held her sticky spoon.
If Elizabeth had not been so eager to continue her questions, she would have had Bett dipped in that pudding to kill all the lice.

In that scene, Bett is eating some pudding offered by Elizabeth in order to obtain answers from Bett (kind of homeless person). I feel that Elizabeth is disgusted by Bett, are lice bugs here ? Or 'kill all the lice' is an idiom ?

Thank you for your help.
 
  • timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Hello everyone,
    I have a problem with this sentence :

    "Laws, spices, just in pudding, cloves and mace" Bett marveled, sniffing it, then scratching her head with the hand that held her sticky spoon.
    If Elizabeth had not been so eager to continue her questions, she would have had Bett dipped in that pudding to kill all the lice.

    In that scene, Bett is eating some pudding offered by Elizabeth in order to obtain answers from Bett (kind of homeless person). I feel that Elizabeth is disgusted by Bett, are lice bugs here ? Or 'kill all the lice' is an idiom ?

    Thank you for your help.
    No, this isn't an idiom as far as I know. i read it as referring to literal bug lice.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, it's not an idiom. I think it's meant to be taken literally.

    I find the first sentence somewhat puzzling, though; what have "laws" got to do with "pudding" and "mace" etc? I know this might be off-topic, but I am curious.

    Edit: my post crossed with Timpeac's
     
    "Lice", which is the plural of "louse", are small, parasitic insects that live on human bodies. Various types of lice tend to concentrate on specific parts of the body; Bett seems to have head lice.
     

    marcolo

    Senior Member
    France, french
    Thank you for your answers. Actually, "laws" is used like an exclamation in the book, like "man", "gosh" ...
    I guess that it was an old interjection no longer used now. (the action takes place in 17th century)
     

    snorklebum

    Senior Member
    Mexico English
    Ah, yes, macolo, very good. Commonly seen as "Lawsy" an AMeridan Southernism. The character might a slave or servant.

    The idea is, she is scratching her head with the smeared spoon because she has head lice. She is thinking that dipping Betty's whole body in pudding might cure the problem (not seriously believng that, just an imaginary twist by the author, for humorous reasons.)
     
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