Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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hammered at on an anvil without sustaining any injury. Forty years at least had elapsed since the Peruvian mines had been the death of Mr. Pipchin ; but his relict still wore black bombazeen, of such a lustreless, deep, dead, sombre shade, that gas itself couldn't light her up after dark, and her presence was a quencher to any number of candles. She was generally spoken of as "a great manager " of children ; and the secret of her management was, to give them everything that they didn't like, and nothing that they did—which was found to sweeten their dispositions very much. She was such a bitter old lady, that one was tempted to believe there had been some mistake in the application of the Peruvian machinery, and that all her waters of gladness and milk of human kindness had been pumped out dry, instead of the mines.
The Castle of this ogress and child-queller was in a steep bye-street at Brighton ; where the soil was more than unusually chalky, flinty, and sterile, and the houses were more than usually brittle and thin ; where the small front-gardens had the unaccountable property of producing nothing but marigolds, whatever was sown in them ; and where snails were constantly discovered holding on to the street doors, and other public places they were not expected to ornament, with the tenacity of cupping-glasses. In the winter-time the air couldn't be got out of the Castle, and in the summer-time it couldn't be got in. There was such a continual reverberation of wind in it, that it sounded like a great shell, which the inhabitants were obliged to hold to their ears night and day, whether they liked it or no. It was not, naturally, a fresh-smelling house ; and in the window of the front parlour, which was never opened, Mrs. Pipchin kept a collection of plants in pots, which imparted an earthy flavour of their own to the establishment. However choice examples of their kind, too, these plants were of a kind peculiarly adapted to the embowerment of Mrs. Pipchin. There were half-a-dozen specimens of the cactus, writhing round bits of a lath, like hairy serpents ; another specimen shooting out broad claws, like a green lobster ; several creeping vegetables, possessed of sticky and adhesive leaves ; and one uncomfortable flower-pot hanging to the ceiling, which appeared to have boiled over, and tickling people under­neath with its long green ends, reminded them of spiders—in which Mrs. Pipchin's dwelling was uncommonly prolific, though perhaps it challenged competition still more proudly, in the season, in point of earwigs.
From Mrs. Pipchin's Paul Dombey passed to the forcing-house of Dr. Blimber, Mrs. Blimber, Miss Blimber and Mr. Feeder, B.A., also at Brighton, where he met Mr. Toots. " The Doctor's," says Dickens, " was a mighty fine house, front-
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