The early 19th century equivalent of scratching chalk down a blackboard, setting your teeth on edge.  Molly is one of the most authentic characters in English literature, and can’t get used to the sugar-sweet falseness of her stepmother.

‘All this was said in that sweet, false tone which of late had gone through Molly like the scraping of a slate-pencil on a slate.’

Source: Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters (London: Penguin Classics, 1986 (1866)), p. 359

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