Being thankful and a deaf Dutchess

The late Countess of Orkney, who died at an advanced age, was deaf and dumb, and was married in 1753 by signs. She resided with her husband at his seat, Rostellan, near Cork. Shortly after the birth of her first child, the nurse saw the mother cautiously approach the cradle in which the infant lay asleep, evidently full of some deep design. The Countess, having first assured herself that her babe was fast asleep, took from under her shawl a large stone, which had purposely been concealed there, and, to the utter horror of the nurse, who largely shared the popular notion that all dumb persons are possessed of peculiar cunning and malignity, raised it up, as if to enable her to dash it down with greater force. Before the nurse could interpose to prevent what she believed would bring certain death to the sleeping and unconscious child, the dreadful stone was flung, not at the cradle, however, but upon the ground, and fell with great violence. The noise awakened the child. The Countess was overjoyed, and, in the fulness of a mother’s heart, she fell upon her knees to express her thankfulness that her beloved infant possessed a blessing denied to herself—the sense of hearing. This lady often gave similar indications of superior intelligence, though we can believe that few of them equalled the present in interest.  

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