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Round About a Brighton Coach Office  —  £ 2.99

Go to the eBook Shop Maude Egerton King claims that this book, published in 1896, describes the family and the Regency Brighton that her father grew up in.

He was born in Brighton, in 1811, but I cannot prove his father was originally an agricultural labourer who built his own Coach business, only to be bankrupted by the coming of the Railways.

However, that does not matter because the stories and characters are so fascinating. I assume they were written as entertaining fables for older children, although the two school stories contain some frightening scenes.

This eBook version contains the entire text and all 31 illustrations. Please see the extract below for the Dedication, Contents and Chapter 1.

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Notes

The cover of my original shows a rather twee advertisement for The Arcady Library and is badly scuffed. Rather than reproduce it I made the one above, using the illustration from the frontispiece of the book.

Extract

The text and any images below are identical to the eBook; however, depending on the typeface, etc., that you select, they may not display here exactly as they do on your eReader. Also, pages turn as normal, rather than the scrolling effect seen here.

 

To the
Memory of my Father


HENRY GEORGE HINE

In whose character, under another name, I here try
to tell others all that he so often told me about
the people and places of his youth, and
to whose tender heart, retentive mind,
and happy gift of telling I
owe whatever is of
worth in
them,
I dedicate this handful of
true stories

~~~~~

Contents

Chapter I
The Brighton of My Boyhood

Chapter II
The Coachmaster

Chapter III
Miss Patten's School

Chapter IV
Our Gentleman Boarder

Chapter V
A Day of Punishment

Chapter VI
My Pretty Sister

Chapter VII
Our Odd-Men

Chapter VIII
Sukie

~~~~~

may be those who, seeing the title of this little book, will at once suppose they have alighted on a story of Brighton as it is to-day – the gay, big Brighton of the speculative hotel-proprietor and music-hall manager. Therefore I will in fairness tell them, and without more ado, that of this Brighton I have never a word to say. I am an old man now, and like many another of my kind I have an excellent memory and a clinging affection for the things that happened in times long gone, and so I am only going to gossip about the Brighton I knew and loved as a little boy; of which, and the simple kindly life that was lived in it, there is little now left, and what there is is being daily elbowed out of existence by a veritable plague of improvements.
      Possibly you will be wondering how long ago I was a little boy?
      One day when I was just the same height as the key-hole of the office-door, I sat out in our cobble-stoned yard where the clothes were drying, with my cat beside me. I was holding him down gently but firmly upon three nest-eggs borrowed from my mother's hen-coops. Very earnestly I awaited the hatching-out, whether of kits or chicks I was puzzled to know, any little live fluffy creatures would have been equally welcome and dear to me. Then the wash-house door opened, and Sukie came out with her arms full of clothes.
      "Harry," she said, putting down her basket, "Have 'ee heard the news?" And she flicked at my puss as he escaped my hold and trotted softly into the house. "The old King's dead at last, Harry," she went on, with a clothes-peg in her mouth, her hands busily fixing the linen on the line over her head. Whereupon, to her great surprise, I cried bitterly, for though I had heard little, and thought less, about the King. It seemed to me very sad that he should die. A little while after they gave me a medal of his late Majesty King George III. in the kind of wig he ordinarily wore, going up to Heaven, assisted by an angel and greeted by the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," issuing from a cloud. And so for the when-a-bouts of my childhood I will ask you to go and look in your history-book.
      My Brighton was a little town of a few thousand inhabitants, which had been growing up around the old fishing-village of Brighthelmstone ever since a great London doctor had begun to send his royal and noble patients to regain in sea-air and sea-bathing the strength they wasted in the racket of London life. The principal streets were Church Street and North Street running through the town from east to west, the latter taking a large curve northwards towards Henfield after passing the church. Out of North Street Great Russell Street, West Street, Middle Street, Ship Street, East Street ran southwards to the sea – some of them so downhill that as you went down the brick foot-ways the exuberant scent of the sea came up to greet you, and you saw it shimmer and heave at the end of the street. At the east end of North Street lay Castle Square, the ever-stirring scene of the goings and comings of the several coaches. Passing beyond this you came out upon the Steine, a beautiful greensward granted to Dutch refugee fishermen in Queen Elizabeth's time, for the drying of nets and harbouring of boats. On the south it lay open to the sea, looking north you had a peep of Hollingbury Hill; on its western side stood the pretty mansions of Mrs. Fitzherbert and other distinguished persons, while the eastern was as yet little built upon. This grassy space contributed greatly to the pleasant appearance of the sea-front. Such houses too as were then built along the cliff were good of their kind; they were of modest though varying heights, and were often constructed of water-worn flints cemented in mortar, and they had bowed glass windows of many panes. Of the inns here, or otherwhere in the town, the "Old Ship" ranked as far and away the most stylish. Along the cliff, and in front of these buildings, ran a roadway (in places only a footway) edged with a wooden paling and connected here and there with the beach by a rough-and-ready set of wooden stairs. Russell Street was the most westerly limit of my Brighton, and so, too, when you passed east of the Steine, Brighton ceased to be, and you were in open country from there to Rottingdean.
      And in the foreground of this old Brighton lay the beach full of the quaint life and business of the fishery folk. There, dotted about, stood the rope-shops, little huts made from the fore-parts of disused hog-boats, in which the fishermen stored their nets and ropes and many a wholesome tarry-smelling thing proper to their trade. Nets in tangled heaps, or widely spread for the drying, lay all about, craving careful stepping of the unaccustomed visitor. Here the fishermen, brawny fellows with hair falling to their very shoulders from under their red caps, and great boots more than knee high and meeting their full petticoats, tarred their boats, mended their nets or lolled against the great capstans, pipe in mouth. There, at the doors of the rope-shops the older among them, some so old that they had done with going to sea, sat in the sun and patched the russet and ruddy sails. And the brown beach-children threw ducks and drakes at the water's edge and played among the idle boats in which some day they too must put out to the perilous harvesting.
      On the spot where to-day the Aquarium stands, the fishermen held their market; and there, among a picturesque confusion of wicker creels, heaped nets, and the silver hillocks of writhing fish, you might hear some very fine bargaining between the townsmen and the fisher-folk. And if, to your thinking, bulk and lung-power indicated superiority, you would unquestionably have backed the latter; and yet it not unseldom happened that a quiet determination to secure the best at the lowest price, would outlast a deal of honest bluster and the broadest Sussex bawl.

      Down among the simple beach-folk there came from time to time the beaux and butterflies who were guests at the Pavilion, and sometimes the King himself. The burly fishermen accepted the petting and patronising with amused toleration; they taught the gentlemen to swim and grinned at their first flounderings: and they spoke of their anointed sovereign as "Jarge." The daintiest ladies delivered themselves delightedly into the hands of the fat bathing women in their short petticoats, and, were they duchesses or daughters of half-pay captains, submitted merrily to their duckings and dousings, and accepted as part of this charming topsy-turvy Lie by the sea that the old creatures should scold them for their venturesomeness and hail them each as "my dear."
      That was a place to be a child in, that old Brighton of mine! If it were granted me to live again the first years of my life in any place of my choice, I would first beg the loan of a magical wand, and waving it over Brighton, rid it of its nightmare of Ally Sloperism; and when the homely, happy little town had reasserted itself, I would go back up and down the brick-paved streets, and down among the boats on the beach, and live my merry healthy life over again.
      And yet what were the old place without the old company? "Ah, all are gone, the old familiar faces," parents, sisters, brothers, cousin Ridley, Sukie, and even Tim Hurst, for all the charmed life he brought through so many a sea-peril. And when I think of that, I do not want the old time back, save here upon paper, where I can at will bring the dear ones all about me again.
      Yes, it certainly was the place to be a boy in. We had all the beach and some of the sea for our playground, and from babyhood we were ruddied with sun and salt air, seasoned with countless sea-drenchings, and so rendered as wholesome and weatherproof as boys could be. It is true we saw an example of very rough-and-ready manners, and heard many strong words among our friends the fishermen and the manlike fisher-lads; but we took little harm of them. And, on the other hand, I know it was an undoubted good for us as growing lads to have such sort for our friends and comrades: men who lived in such untroubled if unexpressed faith within constant sound of the sea, from which, in frequent peril of death, they must wrest their means of livelihood; who at the call of distress would get up from sleep, or lay aside their pipes, as it were all a part of the day's work, and though the sea should fling their boats a dozen times back on the beach, win out at length by sheer strength of heart through the fury of wind and wave – to return, if God willed, with a burden of precious human wreckage, perchance to return no more at all.
      Old Master Hurst and his three sons (giants in size and strength were all the four of them) had saved more lives, it was said, than any other ten on Brighton beach; but if you questioned them on the matter they were shy as children, and did you press them to relate but one of their stirring adventures, would invariably ask you, had you ever heard of their grand- mother, old Mis' Hurst, who was reported the strongest woman 'lone all the coast in her time; for by simply sitting down and pulling at a rope, with her heels dug deep into the sand, she could haul up a boat as well as any capstan.
      "How many did ye say there was of them, father?" roared Tim Hurst when, at our earnest request, he took us into his rope-shop to show us his greatest treasure. This was a testimonial presented to his father and brothers by a number of persons they had rescued from a wreck one bitter night – a large roll of parchment, whereon were the signatures of those saved, surmounted by a deal of handsome and totally illegible blazoning in red, blue, and gold, which we all took on faith as expressive of their gratitude, admiring it hugely.
      "Thirt'-nine and a dog," said old Master Hurst, who was smoking with closed eyes in the sun outside.
      "Well, say forty and a dog," roared Tim again.
      "Thirt'-nine's the figger, I tell ye, boy," growled the old giant, opening one eye and peering in at us; "and don't go pilin' up reckonin's in that way, or mebbe th' Almighty won't let ye do the like again."
      The fisher-folk were quite able to stand up for their rights in those days, and fought sturdily against every encroachment of the growing health resort on the old fishing-town; and on the strength of their ancient right to draw boats up on to the Steine in rough weather, granted them, they claimed, by Queen Elizabeth, they made but short work of the railings which the Town Council, with an eye to the more private promenading of fashionable visitors, planted round its pleasant greensward. They had their way for the time, but they could not prove their claim; and so in the end the railings, and one by one the other improvements, came in, and thrust aside the old fishery, for all its stubborn traditions and unproveable rights, and built up the Brighton we have to-day.
      The fishermen were a great feature in the keeping of Christmas in old Brighton, for on Christmas Eve they went about the town with lanterns, singing carols and old-fashioned hymns. It was always our custom, when they reached our part of East Street, to listen to at least one carol before we admitted them, just for the pleasure of hearing the voices on the fine air; and then to welcome them into the coach-office. At the opening of the door they called out their seasonable greetings, and began stamping the snow off their great boots, the light of their lanterns showing their breath on the frosty air and catching them beneath noses and chins in a way that rendered the best-known face strange and grotesque. And then they came clumping in with:
      "How be you, Mast'r 'Yde, sir? "
      "Hopes you're pretty well, Mrs. 'Yde, ma'am?"
      "Nicely, thank you, Speedwell Jasper, and how are you?"
      And when all were gathered in, one would always say, " We've just looked in to sing you a little song, Mast'r 'Yde, if you please, sir."
      And so after such preliminary coughing, humming, and hoarse whispering as they deemed proper to the occasion, they let out their great voices, not altogether unmovingly, in those time-honoured Christmas songs, "Christians, awake, arise, rejoice, and sing;" "God rest you, merry gentlemen," and many another. There was also one purely secular song, which they evidently fancied hugely. It was a kind of rough love song; but I remember nothing of it now save the first line, which they gave with great gusto, "No di'monds was so br-i-ight." One of their company beat out the time with his great forefinger and slow wagging of the head. They sang very loudly, very slowly, retaining a hold on the last note of each verse as long as ever breath allowed. But we would not have had the singing altered even for the better, so good it was in its heartiness and simplicity and the glow of an old-world Christmastide. The carolling over, my Mother brought out spiced ale and Christmas cake, and my Father gave each man a coin; and so with many wishes for a merry Christmas on both sides, out they tramped again into the still frosty night.
      There was hardly a man among these fishermen (and yet for the most part they were as honest a set of fellows as heart could wish) that was not something of a smuggler; and there was not a soul among us Brighton folk, from the King himself to the straitest Quaker of the Black Lion Street Meeting, but was glad enough to buy the smuggled goods. 1 do not know they were always of the superior quality boasted by their vendors, but that their contraband character added a zest to their original worth, there can be no doubt at all; it lent a fine aroma to our cognac, it spiced the tobacco in our pipes and tinged a silken gown with the glamour of romance.
      The ugly stories of encounters between coastguards and smugglers, some of them stories of an inhumanity rare, as I like to believe, in our dear England, had died into history in my childhood, Smuggling had become so barefaced and was so persistently supported by the townsfolk in Brighton and otherwhere, that there was nothing for it but for the excisemen to wink at it as often as possible, very occasionally make a show of resistance, and at the worst clap a culprit into gaol for a few weeks by way of reminder that the law of Protection did yet exist, if only to be broken! There was not, I believe, a housewife in all the town but knew where to get her tea and brandy without paying duty, nor a lady that had not learned the trick of considerably reducing the outlay of her pin-money over "real French" fineries, without curtailing her stock of silks and laces at all; nor an innkeeper that would not wink as he assured you, you could not get such cognac as his at that price elsewhere! Indeed every gipsy and pedlar-wife would boast in strictest confidence, that she had the very pick of forbidden continental fruit stowed away beneath her homely wares. One such I remember well. She was an old woman who came round selling fowls, butter and eggs in a basket covered with a white cloth. She had glittering eyes, and brass rings in her ears, and a tongue off which the lies and the blarney rolled as easily as rain off a tulip leaf. When my Mother spied her coming she invariably cried, with a little pretence of vexation, "Dear, dear, there's that poor old creature come again! Are the spoons out of sight, Susan? " adding sometimes a little apologetically, " Not but what, for all I know, she may be as honest a body as you or I; and I'm sure a decenter whiter apron I couldn't wish to see." And then, housewife like, she brisked up at the prospect of a little bargain-driving.
      "Good morning, m'lady," the wily old gipsy would say, as she entered the kitchen. "Buy a nice fowl, m'dear? Here's a breast for you, did you ever see such a fine fat breast? Just you feel it now! " And then in a hoarse whisper, as Mother or Sukie bent over the basket, "What would you say to a little flask of the very best real French brandy? or a bit of baccy for the good man, m'lady; eh, my dear?" and she would raise the wine of an innocent fowl to show the coveted contraband dainties beneath.
      But if we little folk fostered the smugglers' trade the great folk came no whit behind. It was an open secret that every extra fine consignment from the Continent found its way first to the Pavilion, that the King might skim the cream off it; while in more than one instance the poor fellow that brought it over was fuming his heart out in Lewes gaol.
      When a boat laden with such a cargo was expected, the word was passed from one to another of the smuggling brotherhood – often to Innkeepers and others in inland villages – that on such a night they would be wanted at such a point along the shore. When she came in they were ready for her, an eager group unlading with all possible speed: some of them, armed with long clubs or "bats," stood on guard around them in a formidable ring. Did the coastguard and his little company appear, these would begin swinging their bats, rendering all approach impossible. For it must be remembered that the law forbade the coastguardsmen to fire until they had lost a man.
      One of them, a fine kindly fellow, told me how helpless and foolish he felt with the work going on under his very nose. "I might not fire," he said, "and quite right too; and I could not send a man in among them, as a blow from one of those bats meant certain death." He had had to endure a deal of rough pleasantry from these audacious fellows, he said.
      "I advise you to get along home to your little beds, gentlemen," sung out an old fisherman on one occasion, amid the appreciative roars of his comrades. "I'm afraid you'll be catching your death o' cold standin' there doing nothing."
      "And we took his advice," said my friend.
      When the coastguards went, the band would break up in a trice and disperse with the goods according to a before-made plan. Some rode away over the Downs, some made for the nearest village, and others disappeared with a suddenness which suggested the existence of caves there abouts for the storage of treasure.
      But my Mother had grim and thrilling tales to tell of the smuggling in her day. A rumour would run from neighbour to neighbour in the little village where she lived, that on such a night a cargo was expected, and that the smugglers were to pass through the village at such o'clock. Then every one went to bed a little earlier than usual, closed their windows and doors, drew their curtains and knew nothing about it. It was the supreme terror of her childhood.
      "There was no sleep for me those nights," said my Mother. " I used to say the Lord's Prayer over and over, and then just lie and quake in my bed hour after hour. And then I could hear a kind of trampling, only very far off, that came up the leg of my bed into my ear; for in those days the smugglers rode on horseback and all armed, as many as forty together. And then the sound came nearer and nearer till I could hardly breathe, and when at last they came clattering up the street right under my very window, I fairly went under the bed-clothes. Sometimes they stayed a few minutes to drop a few kegs at the 'White Horse,' but they were more like to rush through and out o' the village away and away till I couldn't hear them any more. Though, to be sure, I often thought I could hear them long after I couldn't at all." The morning after, one neighbour would find a little parcel of tea on his threshold, and another a chunk of tobacco, or flask of brandy, which was silently accepted as the fee for good faith and closed lips.
      More than once my Mother had heard another trampling, another rush and clatter through the sleeping village, hard on the heels of the first; and then she had cried with terror, for she knew it was a body of excisemen, and that to-morrow all the folk would be talking of a horrid fight somewhere on the hills; and one shuddered to think what that might mean, ever since the smugglers had whipped one wretched exciseman to death in Lady Holt Park, and thrown his comrade down the well with his eyes gouged out.
      In those days, before the Pavilion had become a third-rate museum and was still a second-rate palace, Brighton did not lack liveliness. The Master of the Ceremonies kept up a round of balls, concerts, card-assemblies, and other polite entertainments throughout the season. To these the Brighton townsfolk and visitors were admitted on payment of a certain sum, and on condition of wearing of such-and-such a dress, specified by the M.C. himself. Many of these functions took place in the ball-room of the Castle Tavern, a very gorgeous place in the eyes of Brightonians, decorated, according to the curious wording of the guide-book of that date, "with paintings representing Cupid and Psyche and divers other figures in the ancient grotesque style." They afforded a welcome opportunity for every Tom, Dick, and Harry who could borrow the price of the ticket, to rub shoulders with titled folk, and sometimes with Royalty itself – an opportunity seized upon with no less avidity by Mistress Tom, Dick, and Harry, who saw here a fit occasion for airing her last gown of smuggled Lyons silk, and its dainty furbelows of contraband lace from Brussels.
      The King had always set the fashion of hob-nobbing with the townspeople, fisher-folk, coach-drivers, shopkeepers, and others, and his friends and guests naturally following his lead, went about the town in among the people, patronising them, flirting with their daughters, and even playing practical jokes upon them with the greatest affability in the world. My Father used to say that when his Majesty was still the Prince Regent, the bearing of himself and his friends in Brighton, while significant of much kindliness of heart and sensible disregard of ceremony, was often not such as to deepen the subjects' reverence for the Throne. There was, unhappily, a certain looseness about the bloods and beaux of Royal set – my Lord Barrymore, Major Hanger, and others – which was by no means an influence for good among the young fellows of our town, who were bound to be in with the fashion, though they should sell their souls for it!
      "His Royal Highness would go a long way in those days," my Father used to say. "to see a fight between any two countrymen or fishermen that could be bribed to the work. Once I mind 'twas between an ostler and a butcher, and butchery it was if you like. His Royal Highness used to bet very heavy in those days, I heard tell." My father, like all old Brightonians, had many a tale to tell of the Prince's pastimes in our town. Anything in the form of a race had great charms for him, and he was delighted when, for his pleasure, a Captain of the Sussex Militia, mounted by a grenadier of eighteen stone, matched himself to run fifty yards against a pony carrying a feather, to run a hundred and fifty. And the Steine donkey-races were frequently favoured by the Royal presence. The riders, who sometimes rode with their faces to the tails of their steeds, were often gentlemen of noble birth, and once, as gossip says, even princes of the blood.
      On the occasion of these Royal romps the Steine was gay with the presence of all the elegant folk from the Pavilion. "The Nobility and Gentry who assemble on this celebrated Promenade," said the bombastic little guide-book of that date, "are not to be equalled for Numbers and Respectability by any in the Kingdom." Thither, too, came the burly fishermen and lads, shouldering their way through the dainty crowd to a good stand for seeing, and once there, they nodded, pipe in mouth, good-naturedly enough to their acquaintances among the aristocracy. There, too, you might see the wives and daughters of the townspeople, prinked out in their very best, and all a-tiptoe to study the fashion in the dress and bearing of the great ladies, and ever ready to giggle at and applaud the edifying behaviour of their future Sovereign and his boon companions.
      The local journals of the time dwelled lovingly upon the Prince's "elegance of deportment"; and a great London contemporary declared, "The return of the Prince to Brighton has given new life to its collective Population; Hilarity predominates in the Circles of Fashion, and the rays of Cheerfulness extend to the most humble Purlieus of the Town."

      Such doings were by no means over in my time, and for many a day after the public follies of the Regent had disappeared behind the enforced dignity of kingship, we could yet boast of several aristocratic visitors to Brighton who regarded their stay among us, not only as an opportunity for handsome, nay, lavish expenditure, but also as a legitimate occasion for their good-natured, if not very witty, horse-play. Several such cases are still fresh in my mind. For instance, there was one innocent citizen of our town who went to bed one Saturday night as usual, behind a modest white house-front, and awoke in the morning to find it variegated with broad stripes of fresh paint in scarlet and blue. Another victim was an old bachelor, a retired leather-merchant from London. He had long rendered himself ridiculous and unpopular by his frequent letters in the local papers, in which he "begged to call attention to" everything, in short, which he did not like, from the ringing of church bells to the playing of children in the streets. He met his reward: and was astounded well-nigh out of his wits on being informed by the early milkwoman, that all his front parlour windows, and his hall door too, were wholly plastered over with advertisements worded thus:

MOTHERS!

Inquire within for Prigg's Patent Panacea Powders for the alleviation of all the Disorders and Diseases incidental to Infancy!

I remember, too, when all Brighton turned out to see the race between the Marquis of Waterford and his friends in invalid carriages drawn by very doddering old men.
      The safety and good conduct of our rather rowdy little Brighton was left at nights in the care of the watchmen. Old Charlies, as we called them, who during their perambulations round the town, crying the time o' night and the kind of weather, were frequently claimed as lawful prey by the practical jokers who roamed the streets in the small hours. But it must be confessed that, as a rule, these scatter-brained gentlemen paid up very handsomely though anonymously for the privilege of playing their silly pranks. One old fellow I could name had five guinea-pieces left at his lodging the morning after he and his box were so mysteriously carried away into the churchyard and left high and dry on a steep granite tomb.
      For the better keeping of peace and order, we boasted a beadle, who was also town crier. Old Catlin was the terror of my childhood, and, as I believe, of many another. The story went, among us youngsters, that he was a monster of malice, consumed with a desire to commit small boys to prison, and fully empowered to do so could he but catch them. The mere glimpse of his ample and gorgeously clad person at the far end of the street so wrought upon my tender mind that there passed before me in horrid procession all my recent misdemeanours and mischiefs, for all the world like a little Judgment Day: and once indeed, when I had just succeeded to a nicety in setting a string-trap before a schoolmate's door, the sudden sound of the crier's bell in the next street thrilled me as it had been the last trump itself. Were we balancing along the rails by the cliff edge, the cry "Old Catlin's coming!" swept us down and away in a trice; or playing on the Steine, which in truth we had a perfect right to do, a glimpse of him in the distance sent us flying to the beach; and had the warning note of "Here's old Catlin!" followed us thither, I can answer for one at least that would have run straight into the sea, whither old Catlin, in his yellow stockings and gold braid, dared not follow.
      And yet he never caught us, and very like never wished to, nor did I ever meet with any of his victims; and in after years I learned that he was a kindly old fellow, and one that set great store by religion. But history says that he clapped a man into the pillory at the bottom of North Street the very year in which I was born, and perhaps that fact coloured my childish view of him.
      And now, lest in my reminiscent rambling I exhaust my readers' charity before ever I come to the people in whose dear memory this little book is to be written, I will, without longer delay, give some clue to their several identities. They were very simple people with uneventful histories, and yet such, I think, as may not wholly fail in winning the interest and affection of a kindly hearted reader.
      I think we were what people call "a very united family." The thought of a possible death among us crept very early into my mind, and was a secret dread which returned at intervals, generally on Sunday evenings, wet nights, and other dreary seasons for several years: indeed for a long period I privately added to my nightly prayers a petition that we, the whole family including old Sukie and Sprightly the outside porter, might all die in the same moment of time, so that no one should be left to lament the others. Our household at this time consisted of my parents, Mary, Esther, Fred and myself; and old Sukie; and I might add Cousin Ridley, for he was always in and about the the place when not on the coach.
      My Father was a Brighton coachmaster, and one of the very first men who drove a coach, properly so-called, between Brighton and London. He was an illiterate man, and yet no bumpkin; incapable of harbouring ill-will or suspecting an injury; stubbornly upright, gentle with all women, from his wife, "My tender soul," as he prettily called her, to any poor forlorn thing tramping it on the road; and gentle with all animals and dependent things. It is true he could not write his name; and yet when I remember how lovingly observant he was of every phase of the beauty through which he daily drove, and how simple and deeply rooted was his faith in God, and what a big tender heart he had for all His creatures, I cannot think he was greatly inferior for having lived before the days of compulsory education.
      My Mother was really a fine specimen of exquisite though homely housewifery, and although at times of house-cleaning and such repairs, a little fussy and put about, she was really the most devoted wife and mother in England. Having received little or no education herself, she could ill sympathise with Mary's tastes, and was sometimes a little short with her on the subject. But then she grew inconsistently proud and pleased when the clergyman commended Mary's gifts to her, and wished he had such a tongue for French as she. Dear soul! Like many another at such moments, she quite forgot her sometime grudge against her daughter's aspirations, and said she thanked God she had always made an effort to give her children a good education, although she must say she had certainly thriven very well without one herself.
      My eldest brother William was married and lived from home, and between him and Mary there was an interval of many years, during which two children had been born and had died; so that by the time that I, the youngest of all, came into this world, my father was already past middle age. Mary was my Father's clerk, and the right hand and head-piece of the whole house, a presence whose power we scarcely recognised until she once went away for a holiday to France, so quiet and untiring were the foresight and devotion which enabled the wheels of life to run so smoothly for us all. She went deep into her books in whatever little leisure her rigorous conscience granted her, and was always pleased to read aloud to us little ones, moving us to create wonder and delight with the marvellous doings of the Lady Britomart, and the Red Cross Knight, and the adventures of Christian, the Pilgrim. She read a great deal of French history in its proper tongue with Esther; but Esther was a pretty light-hearted girl, who would rather spend her leisure in walks among the hills, or visiting among friends, than in very much study.
      My cousin Ridley, the hero of my boy-hood, was only one of three of our kin whom my Father brought about him in Brighton, giving them regular work and a good wage in place of the dull life and insufficient earnings of the agricultural labourer of that period.
      And then there was Sukie, in whom a mingle of natural shrewdness, obstinate ignorance, beautiful devotion, and peppery temper went to make up a servant the like of which you may seek long enough in these days.
      But now enough of introduction. Come away with me into the last teens of this century, into old Brighton, and let us make straight for East Street, till we come upon my Father's office. Here it is, with the two large bowed-glass windows, all of small square panes, on either side the door, and with the pots of bright flowers in Esther's window above; and so, if you please, step up into the office, and through into the house behind, and let me make you better acquainted with the folk who live there.

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