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In Homespun   By: (1858-1924)

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IN HOMESPUN

BY E. NESBIT

LONDON 1896

THESE tales are written in an English dialect none the less a dialect for that it lacks uniformity in the misplacement of aspirates, and lacks, too, strange words misunderstanded of the reader.

In South Kent villages with names ending in 'den,' and out away on the Sussex downs where villages end in 'hurst,' live the plain people who talk this plain speech a speech that should be sweeter in English ears than the implacable consonants of a northern kail yard, or the soft one vowelled talk of western hillsides.

All through the summer nights the market carts creak along the London road; to London go the wild young man and the steady young man who 'betters' himself. To London goes the girl seeking a 'place.' The 'beano' comes very near to this land so near that across its marches you may hear the sackbut and shawm from the breaks. Once a year come the hoppers. And so the cup of the hills holds no untroubled pool of pastoral speech. This book therefore is of no value to a Middle English scholar, and needs no glossary.

E. NESBIT.

KENT, March 1896.

CONTENTS

THE BRISTOL BOWL BARRING THE WAY GRANDSIRE TRIPLES A DEATH BED CONFESSION HER MARRIAGE LINES ACTING FOR THE BEST GUILTY SON AND HEIR ONE WAY OF LOVE COALS OF FIRE

THE BRISTOL BOWL

MY cousin Sarah and me had only one aunt between us, and that was my Aunt Maria, who lived in the little cottage up by the church.

Now my aunt had a tidy little bit of money laid by, which she couldn't in reason expect to carry with her when her time came to go, wherever it was she might go to, and a houseful of furniture, old fashioned, but strong and good still. So of course Sarah and I were not behindhand in going up to see the old lady, and taking her a pot or so of jam in fruiting season, or a turnover, maybe, on a baking day, if the oven had been steady and the baking turned out well. And you couldn't have told from aunt's manner which of us she liked best; and there were some folks who thought she might leave half to me and half to Sarah, for she hadn't chick nor child of her own.

But aunt was of a having nature, and what she had once got together she couldn't bear to see scattered. Even if it was only what she had got in her rag bag, she would give it to one person to make a big quilt of, rather than give it to two persons to make two little quilts.

So Sarah and me, we knew that the money might come to either or neither of us, but go to both it wouldn't.

Now, some people don't believe in special mercies, but I have always thought there must have been something out of the common way for things to happen as they did the day Aunt Maria sprained her ankle. She sent over to the farm where we were living with my mother (who was a sensible woman, and carried on the farm much better than most men would have done, though that's neither here nor there) to ask if Sarah or me could be spared to go and look after her a bit, for the doctor said she couldn't put her foot to the ground for a week or more.

Now, the minister I sit under always warns us against superstition, which, I take it, means believing more than you have any occasion to. And I'm not more given to it than most folks, but still I always have said, and I always shall say, that there's a special Providence above us, and it wasn't for nothing that Sarah was laid up with a quinsy that very morning. So I put a few things together in Sarah's hat tin, I remember, which was handier to carry than my own and I went up to the cottage.

Aunt was in bed, and whether it was the sprained ankle or the hot weather I don't know, but the old lady was cantankerous past all believing.

'Good morning, aunt,' I said, when I went in, 'and however did this happen?'

'Oh, you've come, have you?' she said, without answering my question, 'and brought enough luggage to last you a year, I'll be bound. When I was young, a girl could go to spend a week without nonsense of boxes or the like... Continue reading book >>




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