Home from Greenland
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One hot day, early in October of the year 1796, 26 two girls set off from their country homes to Monkshaven to sell their butter and eggs, for they were both farmers’ daughters, though rather in different circumstances; for Molly Corney 27 was one of a large family of children, and had to rough it accordingly; Sylvia Robson was an only child, and was much made of in more people’s estimation than Mary’s 28 by her elderly parents. They had each purchases to make after their sales were effected, as sales of butter and eggs were effected in those days by the market-women sitting on the steps of the great old mutilated cross till a certain hour in the afternoon, after which, if all their goods were not disposed of, they took them unwillingly to the shops and sold them at a lower price. But good house-wives did not despise coming themselves to the Butter Cross, 29 and, smelling and depreciating the articles they wanted, kept up a perpetual struggle of words, trying, often in vain, to beat down prices. A housekeeper of the last century would have thought that she did not know her business, if she had not gone through this preliminary process; and the farmers’ wives and daughters treated it all as a matter of course, replying with a good deal of independent humour to the customer, who, once having discovered where good butter and fresh eggs were to be sold, came time after time to depreciate the articles she always ended in taking. There was leisure for all this kind of work in those days.