Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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110               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
warmer than her own cottage; and it was much better fed than herself. It was the one little drop of comfort in the domestic cup of poor Mrs. Colly, when the cottage had been emptied of its children and the stocking of its savings ; and it was a happy thing that Mrs. Colly died first. She died quickly, as Sussex cotters and their wives are apt to do. She had never had a day's illness until she was upwards of 70, and at that age she would walk long distances to take her milk to customers or little nosegays to friends. When sickness came, it came suddenly and sharply, and Mrs. Colly had not long to endure the misery, to her, of lying in bed doing nothing ! She would have preferred, if her wishes had been consulted in the matter, to die on her feet, upright as a post, and talking, most probably, about that £"100 and its where­abouts and wherewithals—her thin bony hands crossed before her and her bright eyes looking sharply into your's.
One of her dying symptoms was a strange fancy—it was only a fancy—that her husband had been experimentalizing upon her with some of his strange vegetable diet, to which she had a strong aversion. She never suspected that she was out of health in a natural way. She never had been unwell—had a thorough contempt for doctor's stuff, and wondered why people's hair turned grey. She went down to the tomb with her's as black as ebony, and, to use one of her quaint expressions, " carried all her teeth with her to the grave." A harder-working woman, a better mother or cottage-wife, never slept the last sleep. Some may be disposed to ask what was a life so passed in drudgery, so limited in its sphere, so barren of what we call pleasure—what was it worth ? But Mrs. Colly never asked herself such a question. No Sussex cottage-wife ever does. They have too much to do. A great modern philosopher has said that directly we ask ourselves if we are happy we cease to be so. And, certainly, Mrs. Colly never put her happiness to such a test! Perhaps she did not know what happiness was—certainly she had no knowledge of the enjoyments in which most of us
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