The Quality is not Strained - 12 June 1858

I really feel sorry for poor young Mercy Onmey. I mean, unmarried mother of five, and threatened with an indefinite stay in the "underserving poor" division of the Workhouse.
It's interesting that, although the local hierarchy and lesser gentry disapprove of this kind of thing, the average village pauper is too busy trying to keep his or her own head above water to worry about Mercy's morals.
So I've taken a decision. Mercy and her brood can have the second-best shepherd's cottage. Apart from anything else, it will be handy for her when hay-making starts next week. She won't have to walk so far to work. And Mrs Hnaef will be keeping a close eye on things, to see if we can find out who the father is. Currently one of the Dewys is favourite, but I hear down at the Three Tranters they're offering 6/1 on it being Parson Maybold. We'll judge when he comes round to tell me I'm encouraging sinners.

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