Page:Yorkshire Oddities, Incidents and Strange Events.djvu/287

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Nancy Nicholson, the Termagant.

The trustees were obliged to insist on an investigation. It was conducted with the greatest consideration for the feelings of Mr. Nicholson; but the investigation ended in the school being taken from him.

"Oh, Nancy, Nancy!" Mr. Nicholson would repeat, "you have disgraced me terribly!"

The humiliations he was obliged to undergo broke his spirit, and his self-respect, which had battled against adverse circumstances, gradually gave way. She used the most insulting language to him, not only in private, but in public, making the most odious insinuations, and bringing the scarlet spot of shame to his cheek. The unfortunate man was made to drink to the dregs the cup of degradation.

At last, maddened beyond self-control, he beat her with his horse-whip. A friend, whose house was situated a mile from that of the Nicholsons, has told me that his father has often heard at that distance the screams of rage uttered by Nancy when in a passion with her husband. Their quarrels became the gossip and scandal of Drax. Mr. Nicholson at last, driven of an evening from his home, would visit farmers, or sometimes the public-house, and forget his humiliation in the society of his inferiors. On these occasions he sometimes took too much.

When they lost the school-house the Nicholsons built a new house for themselves on some ground they had purchased at a place called Newland, near Drax, where Mrs. Nicholson had full opportunity for keeping cows, pigs, and poultry, her favourite occupation. But having no family, she would not be at the expense of a servant, and soon gave herself up to sloth and dirt, both in her person and house.

She would rarely admit any visitors, and if Mr. Nicholson occasionally ventured to invite a friend, she would either offend the guest at the time (unless she saw her way to