Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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or undetected for many years, it was silently identified by a dealer who happened to be buying some biscuits. He made a casual remark about it, learned that any value that might be set upon it was sentimental rather than monetary, and returned home. He laid the matter before one or two friends, with the result that they visited Beeding in a party a day or so later in order to bear away the prize. Outside the shop they held a council of war. One was for bidding at the outset a small but sufficient sum for the picture, another for affecting to want something else and leading round to the picture, and so forth; but in the discussion of tactics they raised their voices too high, so that a visitor of the widow, sitting in the room over the shop, heard something of the matter. Suspecting danger, but wholly unconscious of its nature, she hurried downstairs and warned her friend of a predatory gang outside who were not to be supplied on any account with anything they asked for. The widow obeyed blindly. They asked for tea—she refused to sell it; they asked for biscuits—she set her hand firmly on the lid ; they mentioned the picture—she was a rock. Baffled, they withdrew; and the widow, now on the right scent, took the next train to Brighton to lay the whole matter before her landlord. He took it up, consulted an expert, and the picture was found to be a portrait of Mrs. Jordan, the work either of Romney or Lawrence.
Furniture is the usual prey of the dealer who lounges casually through old villages in the guise of a tourist, asking for food or water at old cottages and farmhouses, and using his eyes to some purpose the while. Pictures are rare. The search for chests, turned bed-posts, fire-backs, Chippendale chairs, warming pans, grandfather's clocks, and other indigenous articles of the old simple homestead which are thought so decorative in the sophisticated villa and establish the artistic credit and taste of their new owner, has been prosecuted in Sussex with as much energy as elsewhere—not only by the professional dealer, but by amateurs no less unwilling to give
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