Poor was when bits of your bare body hung through holes in your clothes. Poor was a pinch of tea brewed over and over for weeks till it was the colour of water.
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Her voice sagged like an old mattress.
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Ambition was an itch in Mary's shoe, a maggot in her guts. Even when she read a book, her eyes skimmed and galloped over the lines, eager to reach the end. She suspected ambition was what was making her legs grow so long and her mouth so red.
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'If you mix with muck, you'll end up just as brown,' she quoted contemptuously.
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'Did he have a knife?' whispered her mother, almost hopeful. Mary shook her head. She couldn't think of a single lie. 'A ribbon,' she whispered, husky.
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But the meek didn't inherit the earth, she knew.

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