Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/78

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DEVONSHIRE CHARACTERS

Her name was Mary Baker. She was born at Witheridge in Devonshire in 1791, and had received no education, being of a wild disposition and impatient of study. At the age of eight she was employed spinning wool during the winter, and in summer she drove her father's horses, weeded the corn, etc. At the age of sixteen her father and mother procured a situation for her at a farmhouse with a Mr. Moon, at Brushford, near Witheridge. She remained there two years as nurse and general help, but left because paid only tenpence a week, and she demanded that her wage should be raised to a shilling, which Mr. Moon refused.

Her father and mother were highly incensed at her leaving, and treated her so ill that she ran away from home and went to Exeter, where she knew no one, but had a written character from her former mistress. She was engaged by a shoemaker named Brooke at the wage of £8 per annum. But she remained in this situation only two months. She spent her wage on fine clothes, especially a white gown, and went home in it. Her father was angry at seeing her dressed in white like a lady, and peremptorily ordered her to take the gown off. She refused and left, returned to Exeter, and went about begging. She wandered to Taunton and thence to Bristol, begging from house to house. From Bristol she made her way to London, where she fell ill with fever, and was taken into St. Giles's Hospital. There she enlisted the pity and sympathy of a dissenting preacher, who, when she was well enough to leave, recommended her to a Mrs. Matthews, 1 Clapham Road Place, and with her she tarried for three years. Mrs. Matthews was very kind to her, and taught her to read; but she was a strict woman, and of the straitest sect of Calvinists. One day Mary heard that there was to be a