Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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6                     Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. IL
and her two children went to live at Brighton and entertained me, who was at school there, on some of my Saturday half-holidays. The boy's name was Renouard, a name I have never heard since. He died as recently as 1909, as Major-General, R.E. The girl's name was Arabella. I do not know what became of her.
Ratton comes back to me as ihe'locale of my first Sussex children's party in January 1851. That also was associated with a tragedy. Amongst the guests-staying in the house was a Mr. Streatfeild of The Rocks, Uckfield, and his two little daughters, one of whom Marion by name was one of my partners in the dance. A few days afterwards Mr. Streatfeild was out shooting,, and carrying his gun carelessly it went off and wounded him in the heel. Lock-jaw ensued and he died. Besides the dancing, one item in the entertainment was a giant conjuror, or something of that sort. The part was taken by Mr. William Brodrick Thomas, a brother of the then Squire of Ratton. An amusing thing once happened to Mr. Thomas. He became famous as a landscape gardener,.
and the Duchess of --------, wishing to consult him,.
invited him to lunch. He arrived in due course, and asking for the Duchess was told by the butler that at the moment she was engaged. The butler, when he learnt that the visitor had come as the consulting gardener, thought he would do him a kindness, and invited him to have a bit of dinner in the servants' halL Mr. Thomas, who liked a joke, accepted the invitation, though the grandson of a peer. The repast being over,, he asked the butler whether there was any chance of his seeing the Duchess, and getting an affirmative reply was led upstairs to the drawing-room. Judge of the butler's horror when, on taking the "gardener" into the drawing-room, he was thus accosted by the Duchess : " Oh ! Mr. Thomas, I am so glad to see you. I have been expecting you to lunch and have been waiting for you;"' shaking hands effusively with the newly-arrived stranger. The butler, covered with confusion, tendered to Mr. Thomas the most abject apologies when he left the house in the afternoon.
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