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Selina of Sussex 1818-1886
by Leonard Holder
Family life in Sussex, southern England, seen through the eyes of Selina, the wife of Eli Page, farmer and Baptist minister
22.9 x 15.2 x 2.1 cm
Published by Xlibris
This link with Christian groups in other villages gave us youngsters contact with other children, and as we progressed into our teenage years, we began to think about more serious relationships. It was difficult for us girls to get to know the boys at a casual level because once we got old enough to appreciate them, our parents seemed to do their utmost to stop us spending time together! Church anniversary services were good times to mix. … The time between the services was the time to get to know each other. The grown-ups chatted happily, and it was a natural thing for us youngsters to sit together without the parents getting suspicious. …..
A farmer named Richard Page who had a farm in Hellingly and was a keen supporter of Thomas Pitcher had roped in his son Eli to help with practical arrangements for the service and tea. Eli sat next to me at tea and casually asked me whether I would walk out with him. This was the phrase then used when asking for a date. I must say I was a bit shocked and didn’t give him a clear answer. …..
Why did it have to be Eli? I thought. Everyone knows he’s not the best of boys. And yet I was fascinated by him.
A week or so later when I was weeding carrots, someone called my name from the other side of the hedge, and there, sitting on a pony, was Eli. I looked around to see if anyone else was watching, but in fact, everyone else was doing other things that afternoon, so I went across to him.
‘I mean it,’ said Eli with a smile. ‘And I’m not taking no for an answer! I know I’ve been a bit wild, but I want a serious girl. I find you very attractive, and I think if I could get to know you a bit better, I could really love you. How about it? Will you give me a chance?’
The first time I walked out with Eli was a beautiful Sunday evening. Eli had called round to see me again during the week, and I had agreed to spend an hour or so with him after the Sunday evening service. ….
I shyly asked him to tell me a bit about himself. He began by saying no girl had ever asked him that before, all they had seemed to be interested in was a kiss and a cuddle behind a haystack. This had embarrassed me a bit at first, but I soon realised he had intended it as a compliment.
We were married in the parish church in Ripe on the 12 February 1838, almost exactly one year after Eli’s father died. We were both still legally minors, Eli being twenty years old and I ten months younger and still nineteen. …
Our marriage night was wonderful. I think physically Eli enjoyed it more than me, but I was so happy to be able to give myself fully to the man I loved with a clear conscience. Ringing in my thoughts were his words, ‘I take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife to love and to cherish and to have and to hold till death does us part.’ I relaxed in Eli’s arms, feeling myself loved as never before.
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