Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Last of his Kind.                 161
a man to take when he marries and has children—to be the head of a family—the master of a household—to have such things as servants, tradesmen, landlord, bills, rent, tax-papers, and all the multitudinous appendages of a man who " settles down " in a respectable sphere of life—all this to Osmond was as strange as knives and forks, bolsters and pillows would be to a Cherokee or a Pawnee, fresh from his forest or prairie! He had left all these things during his holiday life to his poor old mother (of course, he had been petted and spoilt by her), and she was gone. His wife—well, his wife was as inex­perienced as himself and had to learn everything. Before she could do so the lesson was useless: the children's doll-house —it was nothing more—was broken up—the last holiday of Osmond was over. He did not die: it would have been better had he done so : he went about the world some time longer, with a bewildered, dazed look, as if he had just woke up, or scarcely woke up, out of a sleep and was trying to remember the dream he had dreamt. Had he been dreaming all his life ? And was this the waking up ? He, who had always been so trim in his attire—of so smiling an aspect—so cheery in speech —whose thoughts, if not deep, were so fresh and sweet with the freshness and sweetness of the fields and the sky and the water—he now became, as at the touch of a wand, a seared and shrivelled figure—of dingy aspect, with a timid look that shrank from recognition, and a hesitating speech that only echoed with meaningless repetition the commonest sounds that fell from the lips of those who accosted him. His life— such as it had been—had gone out of him. He was now only a shadow of a shadow. Coming from the pleasant bye-ways of life in which he had played, into the crush of the highway, he was at an utter loss what to do. His light wares had been taken readily enough when he gave them, and looked for no return; but there was no one willing to buy them in the heavy-goods market. Here he was out-bid—fore-stalled—ridden down by stronger men—brow-beaten, roughly-elbowed— finally, heart-broken. He must have felt, poor fellow, that he was it trop—in the way—an impediment and an encumbrance M
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