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“ There's many a tender heart beneath a wrinkled skin."
“ The shell may be hard but the kernel sweet."
“ A rash action is soon repented.”
“ A good deed is never lost.”
“ A good knight is never at a loss for a lance."
Courage sometimes means endurance.”
- He who puts the armour on should not boast as him who takes it off.”
IN the upper room of a miserable, tumble
down-looking old house in a place called
“Wright's Yard," lived Mrs Brown, a poor and lonely old widow woman, who seemed to be without a single friend in the world. She was not a pleasant old woman to look at, and usually went by the name of “Sukey Pinpole." With her wrinkled features, elf-looking grey locks, long red cloak, and thick walking-stick, she inspired more terror in the children than any other inhabitant of Braintree, not even excepting Savile, the policeman. She was called a witch, and taunted with having performed many an evil deed. And I have been told by those who lived in the room underneath that in which she resided, she was by no means a pleasant neighbour, being partial to making loud noises at most unseasonable hours, 110 AN UNPLEASANT NEIGHBOUR. . and upsetting jugs of water at most inopportune times.
“It was no unusual thing,” Mrs Lankester remarked (the tenant of the lower room), “ to see a stream of water falling from the ceiling; and let me tell you, it is not pleasant by any means to have it fall into the sugar basin, or on to a dish of potatoes; yet it once fell into my Joe's basin of bread and milk, and into my Billy's plate of meat and potatoes.”
Poor Sukey! She was a harmless creature after all, leading a very lonely and secluded life, supported by the parish, and the charity of her wealthier neighbours. Beneath her withered and wrinkled skin she carried a heart which was very human, and one that had known many sorrows; but her sorrows had not led her to seek sympathy of her neighbours round about.
As some flowers, when touched by a rude hand, close, and retreat in upon themselves, so likewise her heart shut in her sorrow, and by no word did she let others know of its existence; she brooded over it alone.
When she first came to Braintree it was with her only son, a lad about sixteen years of age. All Sukey's earthly pleasure and hope seemed centred in her son. He was a bright, brave-looking boy, and returned his mother's love in every way he could express, while at the same time he worked hard for her support. It was a pleasant sight to see the poor widow leaning on her son's arm when he took her for an evening walk, or on the Sunday as they went to church. No one
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dared to call his mother by any other name than her own within his hearing, for, respecting her himself, he was swift to punish all those who treated her disrespectfully.
But one unfortunate October fair day Sukey's son had been making merry with several companions and taken too much to drink, and while in that state had accepted the shilling from a recruiting sergeant, and enlisted for a soldier. The next day brought unavailing repentance and bitter remorse, while his mother's tears nearly droye him frantic. A moment's thoughtless action affects a whole lifetime. Before he went away he entreated Lame Felix to visit his mother sometimes, and read to her what letters he wrote.
It was some time before Felix could gain admittance to poor old Sukey. This last blow was heard to bear; she barred the door against all comers, and endured her sorrow in silence and alone. Yet Felix persevered, and by degrees won his way to the old woman's heart, and every week he made his way to her upper room.
One evening, about two years after young Brown had left England with his regiment, Lame Felix was seen making his way to old Sukey's with a large newspaper in his hand, and exhibiting unusual signs of excitement. Every one he passed turned round, wondering what made the old man peg away so fast, while the boys who were on their way to his cottage for their evening's talk and lounge, stopped short on