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The Turnpike House


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It stood where four roads met--a square building of two storeys, with white-washed walls and a high slate roof. The fence, and the once trim garden, had vanished with the turnpike gate; and a jungle of gooseberry bushes, interspersed with brambles, shut off the house from the roads. And only by courtesy could these be so-called, for time and neglect had almost obliterated them. On all sides stretched a flat expanse of reaped fields, bleak-looking and barren in the waning November twilight. Mists gathered thickly over ditch and hedge and stubbled furrow a constant dripping could be heard in the clumps of trees looming here and there in the fog. Through the kitchen-garden jungle a narrow, crooked path led up to the door where two rough stones ascended to a broken threshold. Indeed, the whole house appeared ragged in its poverty. Many of the windows were stuffed up with rags; walls, cracked and askew, exuded green slime; moss interspersed with lichen, filled in the crevices of the slates upon the roof. A dog would scarcely have sought such a kennel, yet a dim light in the left-hand window of the lower storey shewed that this kennel was inhabited. There sat within--a woman and a child. The outer decay but typified the poverty of the interior. Plaster had fallen from walls and ceiling, and both were cracked in all directions. No carpet covered the warped floor, and the pinched fire in the rusty grate gave but scanty warmth to the small apartment. A deal table, without a cloth, two deal chairs, and a three-legged stool--these formed the sole furniture. On the blistered black mantelshelf a few cups and saucers of thick delf ranged themselves, and their gay pinks and blues were the only cheerful note in the prevailing misery. The elder of these two outcasts sat by the bare table; a tallow candle of the cheapest description stuck in a bottle shed a feeble tight, by which she sewed furiously at a flannel shirt. Stab, click, click, stab, she toiled in mad haste as though working for a wager. Intent on her labour, she had no looks to spare for the ten-year-old boy who crouched by the fire; not that he heeded her neglect, for a brown toy horse took up all his attention, and he was perfectly happy in managing what was, to him, an unruly steed.

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  • We started tracking this book on July 14, 2018.
  • This book was £4.19 when we started tracking it.
  • The price of this book has changed 98 times in the past 2,135 days.
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