Woman's Wrongs (2)
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BOOK II.

THE YOUNG MILLINER.

1.—A GARRET WINDOW.


IN one of the quiet retired streets, within an easy walk of the Gower-street University, stood an old lodging-house, with walls of dingy brick, and antique windows that had once looked over the green country fields, and presided over a large garden well planted with luxuriant fruit-trees, whose annual burden had reddened and yellowed to many a summer sun.  Some ancient, now-forgotten family, had proudly claimed it as their manor-house, and dwelt within it from generation to generation.  The mouldering scutcheon still loomed above the entrance-door, in strange contrast with the gaudy Venetian shutters of a bright pea-green, and well-whitened copings that had grotesquely modernized the venerable pile.

    The fields and gardens had long vanished under rows of dull suburban houses, whose day of newness had long past, and that had witnessed many a downward change in the class of its inhabitants.   Here and there, too, that inevitable symptom of decaying old age in a suburban neighbourhood was painfully apparent to the proprietors.  Empty houses, with dirty windows, sashes and doors, from which the paint had long flown away on sunbeam, shower and wind, and large, dirty, torn bills along the casement, sooner shewing that the house was unletable, than inviting a tenant to its cracking walls.

    The house in question, however, formed an exception to the general rule.  It was dressed with an air of upstart smartness, quite insulting to its sombre fellows.  A portion of it overhung an ancient gateway (once the carriage entrance to the mansion), that led to a small square, where the former offices had been transformed to modern houses.  These were let to various parties, but most of them were lodging-houses of an inferior grade.

    At an open garret window, in one of the latter, which looked on the back of the great lodging-house already mentioned, sat, on a warm evening of June, 1850, a beautiful young girl.  The window was ornamented with many a sweet plant, and a canary hung warbling amid their flowers.  The young girl was busy with her needle; but often, when a step was heard passing by the carriage gateway, her hands would drop with their work, and she would gaze down in the court below, or on the street beyond, visible through the opening of the houses, with a momentary eagerness, that subsided in a dreamy reverie.  She was very beautiful—her age could not be more than eighteen years—and her light brown tresses fell over cheeks of so delicate a rose, her eyes were of such soft cerulean blue, her smile was so gentle and so confiding, her every motion so meek, so graceful, her demeanour so artless and so engaging, that the coldest heart could not gaze on her without a thrill of tenderness.

    In the lodging-house a man had lived for several years as footman, who had amassed some money in his various services.  He had lived in noble families, among the middle class, and in the army—he had passed through all the various grades of society, in intimate connection with their vices.  "No man is a hero to his own valet."  The worst phases of the master's character became apparent to the servant—the best are for the world.  The smooth side of the staff, of which society is made, is turned outward.  The rough is for within.  Thus, the man who enters service, pure though his heart may be at the start of his career, is soon inoculated by the evil influence of his position.  The example of his "superior," contagious in any, becomes to him a rule of action—the frivolous, the depraved, the heartless, comes before him clothed in sophisms, and sanctioned by authority.  He imitates, and he surpasses.  Thus, year by year, and day by day, some of the soundest frames and healthiest minds are inscribed on the muster roll of decay and perdition in the ranks of domestic service to the aristocracy and moneyed classes—and, alas! for the female portion—with weaker powers of resistance, with more susceptible natures, what a tragedy is daily enacted on the unrecorded stages of domestic life!

    Frederick Treadstone had passed through all the various stages of this social school.  Like the high-mettled racer, he had started with high places, and was one of the dandiest lacqueys about town.  But the dissipation of his master reacted upon him.  Late hours, night after night, the necessity of wiling away the hanging time —waiting morning after morning till the great sun of summer stood burning overhead, before his dissipated master vouchsafed to leave the orgy, and grant his minions rest—the myriad temptations that beset those hours, had undermined his manhood, and destroyed his health.  As his personal appearance decayed, and as his strength failed, his favour vanished also.  He was not one of the lucky few, who, from among the myriad competitors, subside, or rather rise, into the fat pomposity of butlership—and, like the moral satirist's famed horse, he came down in the social scale of servitude.  From the household of the noble he fell to that of the merchant, to whom it was still a recommendation that he had taken "his man Frederick from the Earl of Catsfolk's."  But there are plenty of Earls, and plenty of discarded footmen; and as poor Frederick grew drowsy and pursy, he warmed the roots of his withered heart by lubrications of the potent spirit.  He took to drinking, and became unsteady and forgetful.  The haughty, punctilious, and exacting merchant soon discarded him.  He had difficulty in procuring his next place: he had fallen to the household of the tradesman; there he frequently changed places, and fell one stage lower, before his age should be consigned to oblivion and neglect—he descended to the service of the lodging house.  There we find him.

    Luckily for him, he had been prudent enough to save in his many places something towards a maintenance in age—a rare occurrence—since, the higher the wages the more expensive is the place.  In his decay, the former habits of his life still ruled strongly in him:—he had noticed the beauty of Henrietta, the young milliner—and the libertine was aroused within him.  He was still personable—and his conversation and manners had some of the showy polish and dashing rouérie (if one may coin the word) but too captivating to the female character.  He courted, and attracted, the attention of the young milliner—not the affection of her heart—but he amused, he entertained her—and her mournful solitude was enlivened by his anecdotes and sallies.  By degrees, her gentle beauty won on his coarse, hardened nature—and he felt as much love as his blunted, worn-out passions permitted him to feel.  During their acquaintance, he had occasion to notice the keen poverty which the young milliner was forced at times to undergo.  At one of those moments of distress he had, seized by a sudden generous impulse, induced her to accept assistance.  Most reluctantly, under the alternative of starvation, of being turned into the street, to perish bodily or perish morally, had she accepted of that aid, faithfully promising herself to repay it shortly out of her next work.  But that work was long in coming—meanwhile other and more pressing debts occurred—they claimed her earnings when they came—again deeper, keener misery assailed the friendless orphan—once more the dread alternative, once more the proffered aid—and, with it, the deep, irksome obligation.

    Treadstone presumed on his position.  His coarse, indelicate nature, dead to all the finer impulses, had been somewhat elevated by his love for that sweet girl.  But the transient sentiment soon began to degenerate, and he sought to avail himself of the familiarity he had obtained, and the obligations he had conferred.  Henrietta had yielded to his importunities thus far, as to let him harbour tolerably certain hopes that she would consent to become his wife.  But she did not love him—she recoiled from him—and when, in what he has subsequently called "the dotage of his love," he pressed her to fix a time for their union—she ever put him off.

    On the evening on which our narrative begins—while sunk in mournful thought, that young recluse of toil and poverty was sitting at the window of her garret, the door suddenly opened, and Treadstone entered.  He took a seat opposite to her, without word or salutation.  Something had evidently soured his temper even more than usual; to Henrietta he seemed an unwelcome guest.  A soft smile was mantling over her face before he entered—a dreamy joy was sparkling in her eyes—some pleasing vision had been soaring before her—and he broke it.

    After a pause, he broke silence: "Well—have you been thinking over what I said?  I'm tired of this mode of life."

    "I told you, Frederick, there was time enough for that—I am too young."

    "Oh! perhaps you rather think I'm too old.  Perhaps you'd like some of those young chaps better, we've got in the house—"  A deep blush mantled over the face of Henrietta.  Several young medical students were lodgers in the boarding-house.

    "Ah! I see how it is—but I won't stand this nonsense any longer.  I'll put an end to it at once—you may depend on that."

    "Sir as you please!"

    "Oh! those fine airs won't do width me!  Remember you're a penniless pauper, I enabled you to keep life and soul together—and I'll be' d――d if I keep dancing on and off just as you choose to fiddle."

    I acknowledge my obligations to you, Mr. Treadstone," said the poor girl with recovered dignity—"and I'll repay them to the best of my ability.  You know my circumstances."

    "To be sure I do! my dear! to be sure I do!"—said Treadstone, who, as now frequently happened, was somewhat the worse for drink—"but you know what I've told you—now don't be obstinate"—and he passed his hand around her waist, and drew her towards him, while his tone and look left no doubt of his meaning.

    "Sir!"

    "Now, come! come! no fine lady's airs.  Though, by the bye! fine ladies don't show their airs in this way—just the contrarymany's the fine lady could tell you something about Frederick Treadstone and herself, if she chose—now don't be foolish!"

    "Leave me, sir!"

    "Why, hey day! what have you been leading me on for then, if you didn't mean this?  Now, come, it's all right, you know, we understand all about it—!"

    "Let me go! or I'll call for help!  Let me go!"

    "Pooh! pooh!" cried the lacquey, losing his temper, "I know what your sort of people are made of—I know you only lure one on to wheedle one out of one's money—and keep fighting shy to get the more—now I mean to have my money's worth one way or the other, and you can't pay me in cash, that's clear, so I'll take my payment in another way."

    It was a grand thing to behold the magnificent indignation of that gentle girl—she hurled her maudlin insulter back—a very heaven of scorn, (for scorn is heavenly when launched at grovelling vice), lighted in her face, and paralysed her vile assailant—but terror was mingled with her anger—in her fear she rushed to the door, and her cry for help rang down the narrow staircase.  Then the craven in the heart of Treadstone shewed itself.  He crawled after her in a bent position, whispering, gibbering, and motioning to silence, with imploring gesture.

    "Pray don't!  Pray be still! and I'll go!  I won't touch you!  I won't come near you!  Only pray be silent!  If my mistress should hear it, it would be the death of me!  It would lose me my place!  She's a presbyterian-methodist-dissenting-evangelical-puritanical-baptist-wesleyan-latter-day-saint.  Will you be quiet—and I'll go directly!"

    "Go!" answered Anna, almost relaxing into an involuntary smile.

    "Will you forgive me?" he cried, crawling up to her with outstretched hands.  "Give me your hand before you go, Henrietta he added, with a coaxing leer, mistaking the expression of her countenance.

    "Go, Sir," she said, in a firm, loud tone, as she recoiled, and entering her room, closed and locked the door behind her.

    He remained standing for a moment in the same bent posture on the landing; then rising, and looking cautiously around, he said in a low tone, while his livid eyes shot fire, "So, so! and may the――I seize me living if I don't pay you back a hundredfold for this!"


 
2.—A SUNSET.


ANNA sat mournfully at the window of her garret, screened from view behind her flower and her bird cage.  The little canary, with his plumage of bright gold, like an imprisoned sunbeam, flitted silently to and fro as though he could understand the sorrow of his mistress; for Anna was very sorrowful.  Poverty and non-employment were paling the roses on her face—friendless, an orphan thrown on the wide world, a sad and gloomy future was opening up before her.  Care and anxiety had strung her nerves too finely—they were ill fitted to bear the rude shocks of insult and calamity, and the big tears came coursing down her cheeks, as she leant droopingly against her window-sill.  She gazed on the grand sun, setting so nobly behind the distant country, dim glimpses of which were seen across the parted house-topssuch a scene and such an hour tone the raised feelings to soft and lofty sadness—she felt the fullness of her heart—she thought of her past life, and, young as she was, there was so much to mourn, so much to treasure—the young live years in days ! and the future looks with a microscope upon the little joys of early youth.  Anna was a daughter of the people; but from a child, her mother's calling (now her own), had thrown her somewhat in contact with the children of the rich.  She had witnessed the privileges of wealth—privileges so keenly felt by children—those eternal champions of equality!  Perhaps her childish heart had been hurt by the contrast; perhaps her childish ambition had been roused by the sightand she may have dreamed of robes, fairer than her tattered garment, of a hat more becoming than her battered bonnet—of a meal more delicate than her coarse, dry bread—for childhood is eager of enjoyment—childhood rebels at inequality.  She had seen the poetry and smiles of life, and she longed to share what she had a heart to desire, and a taste to appreciate.  Sometimes, in her days of childhood, she would stop at a garden gate to watch the fair little girls of the rich running about within, with their pretty coloured shoes along the smooth gravelled walks, plucking flowers as they listed, with soft gloves to screen their small white bands from sun and soil, grand dolls to play with, and stately nurses to carry them when tired.  Then she would gaze at her own poor hands, her little fingers worn and bleeding with premature toil—her half-bare feet swollen with the ceaseless errand on the stony road—and think of her hard, dull, cheerless home—and feel herself all the while as good and beautiful as those gay things within, and then she would cry, and hurry homeward to her toil.

    In after years, when she had grown into matchless girlhood, scarce had she heard the lid nailed down upon her mother's coffin, ere even the luxury of grief and solitude were denied her, and she had to turn away to toil for daily bread.  Day by day, and night by night, it was hers to rise before the sun, to work beyond the midnight, by the dim, dull, straining light in the close, hot, stifling room, while the gay children that she had envied of old, and who, like her, had grown up to womanhood, were seen passing in the streets, clad in silk and lace, rolling in gorgeous carriages, or reining fiery but docile steeds, escorted by handsome cavaliers, laughing, frolicking, gathering the hearts-ease and the rose of life.  And of evening, how often, when she took her hard day's work to the harsh task-mistress; how often she saw them gliding to the glowing ball-room and voluptuous dance, or preparing for the coming joy in the robes on which she had lavished eyesight and health, that she had wrought over her weary, aching heart, that she had moistened with her tears—and they would be dancing, and singing, and listening to the voice of love, while she had to wend her way to her miserable home, exposed to the coarse ribaldry, the indecent salutation, the degrading suspicion of the low, loose, sordid, pestilence-haunted street.  And again, she felt she was as beautiful and as good as the bright things that were dancing, and singing, ands listening to love within.

    And as she verged more and more to womanhood, her feelings and her longings took a deeper tone.  The human heart is made for affection.  Love is an involuntary impulse, a fountain spring of our nature—and at a given age of life, it sets in as surely as the spring floods fill the streams to overflowing.

    And these thoughts and longings often came over her, in the pauses of her work, as she sat gazing from her garret window out upon the great world below.  There they passed and re-passed, those countless shoals of seeming merry beings.  They all looked so happy!  From her little window she seemed gazing on some great festival, to which she was uninvited.

    And about this period, a soft tremor came mounting from her heart into her brain.  She sought her window more frequently than usual, at given hours, to see the tide of life flow outward from the city to the parks.  At a certain time came the students from the college—and her eyes followed involuntarily their tall forms, and dwelt on their laughing mien—and she would remain gazing after them in abstraction, when they had long been out of sight—and the glow of her face was heightened by the unconscious longing—to be loved!

    Sometimes—of a night—when she had said her prayers and put out her light—and when the moon shone into her room with its soft, dreamy lustre—between waking and sleeping, she seemed to behold one of those graceful forms seated besides her—and gazing at her, and speaking to her, as she had seen and heard the gay young cavaliers look ands speak to her richer, higher-born, and happier sisters!  Hers was the age of love!

    Such feelings had been broken in upon by the rude ribaldry of her unbidden guestand when the unwonted storm roused in her gentle breast had once more been lulled to calm, as she drunk in the pure glory of that soothing sunset, such were the feelings that once more swept over the void of her soul.

    Still she leaned musing at the window.  She noticed not, how a black cloud came stealing across the west, and blotting the fair image of the day.  It's shadow fell on her—but she heeded not the change, for a quick step had run along the pavement, and kindled animation in her countenance, as it approached.  Suddenly, she drew back, but a smile played on her lips—she seemed pleased—the footfall paused in the street—some one had greeted her from below—the passing pace was renewed—but paused, and wavered, like that of one lingering for a recognition.  Anna sunk back in her chair with beaming eyes—she heeded not that she had broken a bud from her pet rose tree.  It fell in her lap.  She was so happy!  Poor Henrietta!


 
3.OPPOSITE NEIGHBOURS.


"WHAT are you looking at, Weldon?―you have been gazing out into the street a long time"—said a young medical student to his friend.

    "I wager he's looking at a dog courting his mate in the sunshine,"—observed anther―"Or, perhaps, he's studying suggestions for the next sanitary commission."

    "Go to!" cried a third,—"the individual referred to is not half the philosopher you suppose him―I bet you what you like, he's looking at some young milliner curling her ringlets."

    And all the voices asked again—"What are you staring at, Arthur Weldon!"

    The young man thus addressed, was leaning carelessly over the window-sill of a back drawing-room in the old lodging-house; with his pale, thoughtful face up-turned to a building at the other end of the court—past the house where Anna lived.

    "I'm looking at the cross upon that chapel."

    There was a general burst of laughter.

    "I was thinking," said the young man, as though he had not heard the laughter, and was speaking to himself, "I was thinking that we ought to uncover our hearts before that image—for it is a symbol, touching and terrible!  Christ crucified is the incarnation of every new thought!  Christ crucified presents these TRUTHS, that the present ever crowns with thorns, and that posterity will kneel to!  He resumes in himself, the history of humanity!  Thus the Man of the People is nailed to the cross, who, with every blood-drop he lets fall upon the crowd, gives them a something of his faith and thought!—Yes! it is so—alas! the ethereal genius truth, never incorporates itself with the gross masses of mankind, excepting in a dew of blood!—of blood or tears!"

    This time, no one laughed.

    "Weldon retains his old infirmities," observed, after a pause, Charles Trelawney, his most intimate friend—in whose room the conversation occurred—"he looks upon life as a theorem from which he is bound eternally to draw conclusions."

    "You have expressed my thought exactly, Charles"—replied the young student.  "Ha! ha! why don't you look on life as we do? its like a bowl of punch, where the mixture of the sours and sweets makes pleasure."

    "He's a philosopher too"—cried the others.  Yes—but in another way—two schools were embodied in the words of those two young men—two great philosophies—that of the senses and that of the soul!

    "I say, Charles!"—observed another―"I think you ought to change your quarters—I fancy, the air here don't agree with you very well."

    "Why so, Harry?  I was never better in my life."

    "There are some flowers at that garret window opposite, the perfume of which is rather dangerous."

    Anna had just been giving water to her rose-tree.

    "Ah!—Ha! ha!" and Charles Trelawney blushed, despite the effrontery habitual to the social habits of his class, for he, and his friends, were medical students at the Metropolitan University.

    Soon the young students left the house to seek their nightly orgies or amusements—as they passed, did Trelawney look upward, and see a trembling little hand move back the blind at the garret window—and two soft loving eyes gaze after him!—ah! could he have heard the fond blessings of that gentle heart sink in whispers on his head!  Anna loved the student.


 
4.—ACQUAINTANCE.


OPPOSITE neighbours soon get acquainted, if the one is a blooming girl in the blush of youth—the other a young man in the heyday of gaiety.  Not that Charles Trelawney had a bad heart—he was even better than the generality of his age and order—but he was thoughtless, ardent, and impassioned.  He had noticed the young milliner from his window opposite to hers—he had attracted her notice as well.  She would come at regular hours to the window to tend her plants and birds—but she used formery to come at a time different from that selected since.  Somehow or other, it suited the convenience of her birds and flowers best to be watering them just at the hour in which Charles Trelawney returned home—and Charles—he too was out more at his window than he used to.  He never cared for flowers—but he, too, bought a rose—and he would play the flute of evenings, at his open window, after every one had gone to bed, and Anna's light would keep burning in her chamber—and it would not go out till he had done playing—and if he chanced to neglect his flute, any evening, the light would burn,—and burn—in silent reproach—till the soft sounds came stealing upwards—and when they ceased, the little window darkened!  Language?—yes! there was a language in all this.  Anna was very happy!  Charles was pleased.

    By degrees this mute intercourse ripened into actual acquaintance—brought on by the excuse of a trivial accident.  The modest, shy young girl, diffident and bashful, shrunk in the immediate presence of her lover from those innocent little freedoms which had endeared their distant communion.  Her demeanour might, indeed, have been taken for coldness and dislike.  Charles, too, was not obtrusive—to do him the justice, he was not a libertine—he harboured no sinister intentions towards the poor young girl—but gave himself up with the unreflecting impulsiveness of youth to the pleasing amusement of a gentle passion.

    Thus by degrees on either side—acquaintance ripened into love.  And little parties were planned—little excursions made, with, perhaps, a friend of Anna—till the one felt a void when not in the society of the other.


 
5.—REVENGE.


TREADSTONE had not failed to perceive the growing love of Anna and Trelawney, and he conceived, what can hardly be called jealousy, but anger, that sought to vent itself in malice.  Its readiest and easiest way was found in calumny, and he began to spread about the house and neighbourhood reports injurious to the poor young milliner; reports that obtained a general credence all the more, because Anna was met at times sauntering across the Regents'-park, or over Primrose-hill along the fields towards Hampstead, hanging on Trelawney's arm—with her sweet blushing face downcast,—before the ardent gaze of her young lover—while the holy stillness of evening heard the whispered words of fondness melting from his lips.  What did he mean—did Anna ever ask herself!  What did he mean—did he ever ask himself?  Distanced by the vile mockery of social rank—love never measures man by names or coins—and, conscious in her purity of thought, confident in her own spotless virtue, she feared not—and, because she trusted herself, she thought she could afford to trust him.  And he—he well knew the social barrier his family would place between him and her—he well knew his dependence on his family for the means of living, would preclude his thwarting them—he could not dream of marriage—but neither did he dream of any outrage—he committed a deep crime for a thinking being—he was thoughtless, though playing with another's happiness!

    The whispered calumny soon deepened to annoyance, and suddenly, Anna began to feel its effect.  Then all the prudes, whose ugliness or age prevents their sinning—turned round to point at another for winning that which they could not hope to gain—and were too withered to feel—love.  More than all did Anna's saintly landlady show her spleen.  She had long borne Anna a grudge, on account of Treadstone.  She wanted to have Treadstone to herself.  She coveted his savings.  She thought with them she could take a larger house, and set up as a lodging-housekeeper on a larger scale.  The wizzened saint, too (one of the devout prayers of the next-door chapel), sighed for the still respectable personableness of the decayed lacquey—and she sought to wreak vexation and humiliation in every way on the poor girl, who thwarted her unconsciously.  Moreover the refined and sensitive Anna had always shrunk from the acquaintance of the low grovelling woman—and her reserve was construed into pride, and resented as an insult.  Mrs. Beater accused Anna of alluring Treadstone and enveighling him—when, as we well know, she shunned him with scrupulous care; and Treadstone, despite his fear of his own mistress, could not resist the impulsive spitefulness of his nature, which made him falsely boast of undue familiarities with her orphan lodger.

    Mrs. Beater would long, ere this, have discarded the latter, had she not owed a long arrear of rent—and she thought her only hold on repayment was to keep the debtor underneath her roof.  Her avarice was greater than her jealousy.

    Things went on thus for some time—poor Anna being obliged to take the taunts and but slightly covered insinuations of her landlady, because she was bound down by the chain of debt.  She dared not—could not—leave.  For her worldly all was in that wretched garret—she could not take it away without paying her rent, and without it—her little "stock in trade"—she could not do the work that would enable her to earn more.  Reader! picture the position of a young girl thus situated—orphan—helpless—friendless—and forlorn—and in London!  No tyranny of Czar or Kaiser ever matches that, which one so circumstanced must suffer!

    At last, the spirit of spite got the better of that of avarice: moreover, the arrears grew so large, and the earnings of Anna ceased so completely, owing to the dull time of the year, and the competition for work, that Mrs. Beater saw she had nothing to gain by keeping her lodger any longer.  Accordingly, her malice could have full play, unimpeded by prudential considerations.  Accordingly, she gave Anna a harsh and peremptory notice to quit, and pay.  Day by day, Anna, with tears and prayers, obtained a surly and insolent permission to stop another night.  Fireless, lightless, workless, almost foodless, the poor girl hurried about town for employment, but in vain; and hungry, weary, faint, and heartbroken, she came back, in a tremor of nervous fear, to face the terrible presence of her harsh, relentless tyrant.  Sometimes the blood of indignation rushed to her pale, delicate cheek, till it was blanched back by fear and want.

    Thus she lingered awhile longer.

    One cold December morning, however, the irrevocable fiat was given: she must depart that day.  Anna was very feeble, cold, and hungered—she had spent her last penny the day before for a loaf, her entire food—she had nothing to buy a meal with, all her spare clothing had been pawned, her other effects were seized by the landlady—she was penniless and hopeless!  A sleeting snow was falling, with a keen north wind, as she went forth in a light shawl and bonnet—the cold striking bitterly to her very heart.  She went to seek work in a quarter where she had heard there was a chance.  But even the poor employment of a shirt-maker was denied her by the rosy-faced, well-wrapped Jew-Christian whom she sought.

    "I'm starving! give me work, sir! for God's sake for charity!"

    "Hout tout! get away with you.  I have told you I don't want any more work-girls."

    "Oh!  Oh! heaven!  What shall I do?"

    "Oh! you're too pretty to starve!" said the shopkeeper, with a brutal leer; and with a blush—not of shame, but of indignation—Anna turned into the street, in silence.

    She went back home.  Home? Oh! what a desecration of the hallowed word—she went back to her wretched garret; but, no! it was locked against her.  Dripping, wet, shaking with the cold, with streaming tears, she implored the landlady to shelter her.

    "Don't tell me!  I've sheltered you day by day, in hopes of your doing something for yourself.  This can't go on for ever, so don't come whining to me; get you gone, I can't have my house disturbed by your noise—I don't want any more scenes here."

    "And where-where shall I go?  What shall I do?"

    "Go?  Why where should such as you go to the workhouse, to be sure."

    Anna stood, an image of pale despair.  Brought up—a farmer's daughter—with care and kindness—the idol of parents who had been ruined, and sunk to a premature grave—the orphan had been cast upon the world, in youth, inexperience, and beauty.  And bravely had she battled—well had she done—that young girl !  More bravely than the proudest hero on the field of war!—against far stronger foes!

    "Don't stand looking at looking me!  Perhaps you're too proud for the workhouse—better than you have gone to it.  Perhaps, like all of your sort, you will prefer the street."

    "Ma'am!"

    "Oh! don't assume those airs!  I've known of your goings on—pretty doings, indeed.  I know you—your pretty proceedings with Treadstone are not unknown to me.  I wont have my house disgraced any longer; and your barefaced, shameless conduct with that young medical student, over there—I know it all.  I can't suffer such a person to darken my threshold.  Get you gone—I'm a woman of character, living in the blessed fear of the Lord, and the faith of the holy Church.  Don't look so impatiently at me—you hussy! minion! jade! d'ye hear me?  Get away, or I'll send for the police; away with you—to your paramours!"

    "God forgive you! woman!"—said Anna, as she turned out into the dark, cold, and undaylike day.


 
6.—A LAST EFFORT.


A few hours afterwards, a trembling hand rang the bell of a stately west-end villa.  It was about eight o'clock in the evening the snow had changed into a drafty mist the wind had veered more easterly; it was intensely cold.  Through the crimson curtains in the indoors streamed a warm rich light, and the heavy odour of sumptuous viands stole on the frosty air.  A powdered menial answered the door, and was about to close it in the face of the shivering stranger, but she importuned him so earnestly that he would bear a message to his mistress, that he admitted her into the hall.

    It was the dinner-hour in the villa.  The dining-room opened from the inner passage by a door on the left hand.  Several voices were in animated conversation, and the jingle of glasses, the merry laugh, the seasoned jest came ringing through the opened door, as the busy servants entered or came out.  After a long and anxious pause, a footman consented to take the message of the young girl.  She had done needlework for the lady of the house, she had called several times for her money, and she was at that moment in the direst extremity of distress.  After consulting the butler as to whether it would be right to take in the message at dinner-time, the former thought, that, as there was no company, but merely the family, it might be allowable; moreover, dinner was just over, and the family were going immediately to an evening party, so that now would be the best time.  Accordingly, the message was taken in.

    Now, Mrs. Goldfin was an extravagant woman—Mr. Goldfin rather a money-loving man—therefore she disliked having her milliners' bills brought to her in his presence.  Moreover, though very rich, she was always in debt, and it was not convenient just then to pay the account, though but trifling, of which she was now reminded.

    "Haven't I told you, John, never to come bothering me with these things at such hours?" cried a harsh voice in the parlour.  The poor young milliner trembled, her heart sank within her, for it was Anna, who had accidentally heard that the lady had just returned to town.

    "I told her so, ma'am; but she said, ma'am, she was in the greatest distress, or she wouldn't trouble you; she hadn't tasted food for—"

    "Stuff and pack o'nonsense!  That's always the story.  Tell her to call again to-morrow."

    The footman lingered involuntarily for a moment, for he had been touched by the appearance and manner of the young girl.

    "Do you hear?  Tell her to call again" said Mr. Goldfin, who disliked paying money away, or seeing it paid, unless it were to himself.

    The footman came out of the parlour.

    "But do tell them that—"

    "It's as much as my place is worth," whispered John. "You must go now," and the door closed on the hapless Anna.


 
7.—A WANDERER.


IT was near eleven o'clock at night.  A young man came from a lighted mansion in the Regent's Park.  He had been at a party: with his warm cloak wrapped around him, rather heated with having drank more wine than usual, buoyant with animal spirits, exhilarated by the keen fresh air, that carried health to him, but death to many an ill-clad, ill-fed outcast, he was speeding along, and had just reached Clarence-terrace, when the figure of a young girl, drooping over a curb-stone, caught his attention.

    "Heavens, Anna!  Is it you?"

    She raised her head feebly, and turned it away with an involuntary impulse; her features worked like those of one crying, but there came no tears.  He took her hand, and started at its coldness.

    Penniless, homeless, and friendless, she bad been wandering about the streets and parks, ever since she left the villa of Mr. Goldfin.  Exposed to insolent and obscene ribaldry, with breaking heart and failing strength, she had sunk at last, where we found her.  She had not tasted food the live-long day, and she had fainted where Trelawney found her—for him it is, we recognise in the home-returning guest.  Just before Trelawney's recognition of Anna, a policeman had come up.

    "Hallo! what's the matter with you?" said the guardian of the peace.  "Come, get up—no tricks.  You're drunk!"

    Anna was past answering or resenting.

    "Dye hear?" he cried, shaking her rudely.  We understand all this.  I know you of old.  I've seen you long upon this beat.  You're an old prison-bird.  But we allow no prostitutes to be lying about the road here."

    The showy feathered courtesans were flitting by along the pavement; but those were the richer sort, who could afford to fee the police.  With a curse on her drunkenness and obstinacy, the policeman was about to drag Anna to the station, when Trelawney interposed.  "And who are you? I'll take you into custody, too, if you dare to interfere with my my duty."

    Trelawney well understood the meaning of all this.  It was a threat to catch a bribe.  In other circumstances, he might possibly have enjoyed the fun of knocking the policeman down, and making off with his prize; but he loved Anna—and astonished at the scene of misery he beheld—really not knowing what to think—he gave the man the bribe he expected, sent him to Park Street for a cab, lifted the unconscious Anna into it, and drove away.


 
8.—THE FALL.


IT would be unjust to say that the young student harboured any sinister intentions when he bore Anna to the cab.  Astonished, unable at the moment to explain what he saw (for Anna had never confided to him her poverty), he spurned the coarse solution of the mystery offered by the policeman.  His first impulse was to take her direct to her own home—but, seeing her apparently dying state, he stopped at a house for some refreshment—he poured it forcibly down her mouth—she began to revive—and the sunrise of returning life to mantle over the cold alabaster of her dimpled check.  By degrees she recovered somewhat of consciousness—but the restoratives administered after her long fast, flew to her head, and rendered her incapable of controlling her own actions.

    The cabman was directed to drive to Anna's home.  It was nearly midnight—the way was long—darkness hung around.  The young student clasped her in his arms, strained her palpitating form to his—he really loved her in that hour—he would not have injured her for the prize of a world.  He joyed as the returning life beat from her heart to his, he joyed to press the small, cold hands, and mark them begin to glow beneath his touch—he joyed to feel that gentle little head lie so confidingly upon his breast, and gaze upward in his face, half love and half exhaustion.  No! he would not have injured her for more than worlds could give.  That was a holy—that was a happy hour—perhaps the happiest of both their lives—because the purest.

    And so they went on, rolling through the dingy and deserted streets in that wretched vehicle.  Ah! what tales could the street cabs tell—what errands have they not borne on—what scenes have they not stifled amid their low and narrow pannels!

    At length, they reached the outskirts of the town—the cab stopped—the student gave directions.  "Oh, no! not there! not there cried Anna, anxiously.  "Where will you go to then—dear Anna?  Tell me—and I'll take you."

    "Oh! not there—let me go!"—she murmured, half stupefied, alike by the effects of exhaustion, and of the stimulants that had restored her to life.  She tried to get out of the cab—he detained her.

    "But, for the love of heaven! Anna, tell me, where are you going?"

    "I don't know—anywhere.  Oh, heaven let me die!"—and a flood of tears burst from her breaking heart.

    "Anna! have you no home?"

    She was silent—but the tear rolled in great drops to the ground, and the low, half-stifled sobs answered bitterly.

    "Anna! you know I love you—you know you can trust me—tell me all—what has happened?—where would you have gone, had I not met you?—tell me, dearest Anna!"

    He soon gleaned the sad tale from her broke and sobs.  He asked her, to seek refuge with him, until returning day enabled them to take counsel as to the best course to be pursued.  Anna refused —refused resolutely.  Meanwhile the cab had been dismissed and drove off—they stood alone in the bleak midnight.  A deadly chill crept shuddering through the poor young girl.  "Come, Anna!" and he wound his arm around her waist, and drew her towards him.  But she tore herself away, with momentary strength, and hurried down the lane in the darkness.  The student rapidly pursued, but ere he could reach her, she had fallen senseless to the ground.   Without loss of time, he raised her in his arms, and bore her to the door of the old lodging-house, from which they were not more than about one hundred yards distant.  Its inmates had long retired to bed; but he was possessed of a latch-key; cautiously he opened the door; cautiously he closed it; stealthily and silently he bore his precious burden up the stairs, and entered his own rooms.  Once he started, and stopped; he thought he heard a creaking sound in the lobby; he turned, and a shadow seemed for a moment to flicker along the steps by the dim light of the expiring lantern in the hall—but it might have been merely the oscillation of the smoky light itself.

    He deposited the still unconscious girl on a sofa, and then shut and locked the door that led from the landing to his rooms.  A warm fire still glowed in the grate, quiet and rosy—the silver gleam of a night-lamp mantled through its alabaster lotus over the damasked walls.  Cordials and wines in crystal flagons stood on the table, beside dainty viands, placed ready for his return.  The thick sheltering curtains closed in rich mysterious folds before the windows,—there was a charm of secrecy and silence.  The student had suffered from the chillness of the night; he quaffed a glass of generous wine, and, stooping over his unconscious guest, moistened her lips alternately with the kisses of Bacchus and of love.

    A light flame began to leap upward in the grate, like the pulse of a hidden life—its genial glow played over the cold limbs and dripping robe of Anna—he chafed her hands, he unfolded her dewy shawl, he undid her moist torn bonnet; her hair's brown luxuriance fell in a ravishing shower over her white shoulders—her symmetrical beauty lay in listless helplessness;—the enjoyments of the social table he had left, the glass just added, began to make his blood bound hotter in his veins—he quickened his ardent kissers on the unconscious maid.  She was restored to animation—he hung over her, he clasped her to his breast—her cheek and eye soon brightened—her elastic form glowed—body and soul were vivified alike.  The heating draught, the nourishing viands, roused the dormant pulse of animal life, while the love in every look and tone, the strange magnetic influence of affection, lulled and charmed alike the higher faculties of heart and brain.  Half stunned, dizzy, and exhausted, stimulated by every condition of time and circumstance,—oh! Nature! why did you make them human?  Oh! Fate! why did you bring them thus together?

    World! judge not harshly of them.  She fell—let her who would have stood under the same circumstances, throw the first stone!  He sinned—be did sin—but, by the temptation and the danger, weigh the crime.

    That was a night of ecstasy.


 
9.—THE WAKING.


THE grey light of morning, like chiding finger of severest saint, came faintly through the window-shutter's cleft.  It scared the brightest dream, the fondest delirium, mortals ever knew.  The lovers rose—she blushing, abashed, distracted; he, like a victor, and without one pang of conscience,—the deed once done, his light philosophy played Stoic with the act.

    "Mine! mine! sweet Anna!—wholly, solely, mine!" and he clasped the shrinking maiden to his heart.  She was his—she felt it—yes, she felt instinctively the full force of that union; hesitation and fear had flown—and she gave herself up, after a passing coyness—the last faint stand of retiring innocence before its foe—to the full torrent of her generous, ardent, enthusiastic love.  She tried to drown reflection in continued ecstasy.

    This, too, had been a happy hour, had not the thin, wavering spectre of foreboding doubt, risen silently on the horizon of that warm heaven of passion now enfolded round her.  But counsel came with sobering chilling day.  The poor struggle was made to screen from the world without, what could not be screened from the world within the breast and brain.  The first object was to keep up appearances, and to get Anna out of the house unperceived.  Then the student was to take apartments for her—and what then?—what future?—what end?  Alas!

    All precautions had been taken: the student had been down to the very street door, to see that nobody was in the way—the moment seemed auspicious—he returned to fetch Anna, but scarcely had he re-entered his room for the purpose, and was beckoning to Anna, ere—

    "Good morning, sir!" said a voice close behind him, and Treadstone stood on the threshold.  Anna gave a shriek, and hid her face in her hands.

    "What do you want?  I did not call you!"

    "No! not likely, sir! with such pleasant company.  Good morning, miss! you needn't hide your face, for I know all about it—I saw you come ill at 12 o'clock last night."

    "I'm lost!" murmured Anna.

    "No! not a bit of it—you're found! just the other way.  You're found! just caught—found out—I've got you now.  He! he!"  And a devilish grin distorted his sinister countenance.  Poor Anna moaned cowering beneath the words.  The flush of anger mounted to the face of the student at the man's insolence, but he controlled himself.

    "Lower your voice, Treadstone! you've no occasion to speak of this further—you-understand."

    "Understand? to be sure I do.  I understand what I see—and the whole house shall understand it too.  Do you suppose I will allow my mistress's roof to be disgraced by bringing—"

    "Silence, sir," thundered Trelawney, thrown off his guard by indignation, then added in a subdued tone, "You know me—it shall be worth your while to be quiet," and he slipped a sovereign in his hand.

    "Take back your bribe, sir," said the lacquey, with a malicious sneer.  "I have a duty to perform—a painful duty—He, he, he!"

    Trelawney supposed that Treadstone merely stood out for a higher bribe, and was about to satisfy him, as he thought, when the spiteful tone and the revengeful triumph in his voice, showed him, for he was a keen observer of nature, that there was something more than sordid avarice working in his breast.  He paused.  The lacquey continued

    "So, so, Miss Anna! this is the why you gave me the cold shoulder.  You were hankering after a fine young spark like this—you were intriguing with a richer paramour—after you had got all the money you could wheedle out of me."  Anna remained silent and tearless.  "But I'm even with you now; I'll publish your disgrace to the whole house and the whole neighourhood.  I didn't think when you jilted me, you'd be brought in like a street-walker in the dead of the night into my mistress's house."

    "Out of the room this instant, fellow!" and Trelawney dashed the door open, and raised his clenched fist in menace.

    "Mercy! mercy! don't let all the house hear it," cried the miserable girl.

    Again Trelawney mastered his anger—"Name your price, sir!"

    "My price! ha, ha!  That I'll take out of her, not you!" and his keen, grey eyes shot livid fire.  The secret was out—he had loved as far as his coarse, callous nature could—and if he was unable to feel the higher and softening influences of love's holy passion, he was doubly open to the shadows it so often leaves—unpitying revenge and jealous hate.  Treasures could not have subdued, at that moment, the otherwise sordid, avaricious lacquey.

    "My price?  I wish you joy of your bargain.  You have but second-best though, Mr. Trelawney; she did that with me long ago, which you did only last night.  Ha, ha!"

    Before he could finish his laugh, the strong hand of Trelawney had beaten laughter and breath alike down the throat of the audacious libeller, but, having done so, he paused, as Treadstone, raised himself, writhing, from the ground.  He had struck the blow in the first generous confidence of indignant love.  But an after-thought came like ice upon his heart, an after-thought born of the hollow conventionality of his order.  What did he know of Anna?  She might, for aught he knew, be a beautiful, crafty, designing intriguante.  One glance at the girl stamped the doubt as sacrilege.  She had risen: there she stood, calm, grand, and glorious, confronting the traducer.  She spoke no word, but none, who saw, could waver.  Treadstone cowered beneath her look more than at the blow of her avenger; but he turned his face aside, and grew strong once more.

    "Help! murder! help!" he shouted at the top of his voice, as he clung to the banister of the landing, and the raised household thronged to the scene, and entered the room before Trelawney could close the door.

    "I take you all to witness, I've been murderously assaulted," cried the lacquey.

    "Pretty doings this, sir," said the wizzened landlady.  "When I had a reference of you, sir, I didn't think—.  Well, I never!  I have let lodgings for fourteen years, and I never knew a gentleman bring a street-walker into my house before.  Get out of my sight, you thing!" she continued, turning to Anna, whom she effected not to know, but whom she had long hated, as she did all that was beautiful and young.  "You will see, sir, you must leave my house at once—that ever such a thing should happen in a respectable house like mine!  I'm ruined!  I'm undone!  The honour of my establishment is gone!—Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear!—"and she pretended to cry, till the scanty crocodile tears did indeed ooze down her leathern cheeks.  "And as for you, you jade, you common harlot, I wonder you don't sink in the earth.  I wonder you're not ashamed to look an honourable woman like me in the face."  (She had been the discarded mistress of Lord Kickstool!)

    Poor Anna had once more cowered down overwhelmed.  She was tasting the first consequence of plucking the forbidden fruit.  Ere two moments had elapsed the intruders were driven pêle-mêle down the stair, as with a very whirlwind of unreflecting rage, Trelawney silenced the vile pack in their mid-cry.  But the stab had been given—the poisoned arrow had reached home—it struck its gentle victim mortally.

    The door was closed—the hungry world, a wolfish crew howling for reputations, was shut out—but that door would have to be opened, that ordeal of raving jaws and blighting eyes would have to be confronted and passed through!

    "Anna!" said Trelawney, and his calm, manly voice carried comfort and strength to her in every tone, "Anna! you are mine, and I am yours.  Rely on me!  Lean on this arm—it shall support and shelter you—and so we will walk out into the world together.  Come!"

    Lamb-like, she followed; she felt that she was helpless; with confiding or reckless resignation—gentle, impulseless, as though she had no longer a will of her own, she obeyed his every word, followed his every motion—and so they did go forth into the world.

    As they passed out of the house, terror of Trelawney silenced every voice, and forced some semblance of decorum on the crowd—for a crowd had gathered—but the voice of Treadstone was heard from the rear rank: "Assault and battery—he, he, he!—it'll be in all the public papers—he, he, he!"

    Trelawney's brow darkened; it was disagreeable, at the least—his family, his relations, would hear of it.  What would they say?  Trelawney had left his room with a proud, indignant love, with a heroic resolution to do his duty towards Anna, and "face down the prejudices of the world."  Those prejudices met him, ere he had reached the door-step, like cold water.  Not to say more, he felt daunted and uncomfortable.  Oh world, how strong thou art!  And Anna; she looked not right, nor left—she shunned the sneering glances that might be felt through the grim silence.  But once, she stole a timid look upward to Trelawney's face, and clung more fondly to his arm.  She new that her only protection, her only hope, now lay in him!  Alas, for her, whose sole refuge and dependence is the constancy of man!


 
10.—LOVE'S SUMMER.


CHARLES TRELAWNEY had taken lodgings for Anna in a respectable house.  He loved her too well (a true love is wedded to respect) to take her to a disreputable neighbourhood.  He was too jealous of her purity to take her a questionable abode; and in order to obtain an honourable dwelling-place for her, he passed her off as his sister.  But he came too often, he spoke too tenderly (ah! brothers do not love sisters so kindly, so devotedly!) for the safety of his secret.  He was watched—he was overheard; and while poor Anna mourned, with love's spirit of monopoly (for love is a monopolist) Trelawney's too frequent absence, his too frequent presence excited, and verified the suspicions of the mistress of the house.

    Her manner became rude and insolent to Anna, whose requests remained unobeyed and whose feelings were wounded every hour by the remarks and looks with which she was assailed.  She lived in a perpetual terror, yet she shrank from mentioning her fears to Charles, lest it should render his visits more scarce and short, and these visits were her only solace in her mournful, mournful solitude.  There was a perpetual constraint upon her—a continual apprehension.  She feared to speak to him above a whisper, and she feared to whisper, lest she should strengthen suspicion.  She lived a wretched life!  One by one she was passing through the stages of her bitter expiation.

    At length, one morning, the landlady came with a severe countenance—Charles had staid later than his wont on the preceding evening—and said, with violent upbraiding, she would no longer allow her to stop in her house.  It was a disgraceful thing for a disreputable person like her to palm herself off upon respectable people; and she insisted upon her leaving her house that very day.

    Anna could do nothing but bow to the reproof in silence—and weep.  What could she answer the world—the cold, inexorable world was against her.  It classed her at once with the great troop of the depraved, the designing, the fallen daughters of crime, and vice, and sin.  What did it know—what did it care for the extenuating circumstances?  What did it know—what did it care for the terrible trials of that poor child of want and suffering?—that tender young heart wrecked against its base conventionalities.

    Oh reader!  Do not imagine that our object is to extenuate sin, or to glaze over vice with sentimental sophistry—but we do say this,—broadly, boldly in the face of society and all its power, its prejudice, its ignorance, its cruelty, do we fling down the assertion: that young girl was better, more virtuous, more good—aye! more pure—than ninety-nine out of every hundred of the sanctimonious tyrants who, in their self-righteous morality, would trample that appealing spirit down into the street!

    Hunted down again—driven by the wolves of mock morality from her fresh refuge with tears and breaking heart, Anna faltered forth forth the fact of her expulsion to Trelawney when he came.

    Her lover pressed her in his arms; he kissed away the tears from those soft, sweet, blue, eyes.  He could not bear to see her grieving thus—he loved her still so dearly—and folding his arms around her, as though to shield her from the world, he swore to cherish and protect her—to tend her, and love her for ever; and cursing, with scornful laughter, what he called the hateful conventionalities of life—proud to show how he defied them, he bore her away from the house.

    The career of Anna was progressing rapidly.  She now lived with him openly and avowedly as his mistress.  She settled down in her shame.  But there was at least this comfort: there was not the constraint of concealment—the terror of discovery.  She breathed freer.  There was a pause in the bitter blast that was to chill her out of life.

    And those were happy days—those first few honey-days of their unblessed union!  Charles scarcely quitted her side—the domesticity of love was new to him—and its novelty was ravishing.  And Anna!—Oh! she grew more beautiful every day, her very soul came melting in her eyes—a sweet melody haunted her voice—a buoyant grace adorned her every movement.  Freed from the drudgery of heart-sickening toil and care, her mind expanded—the treasures of her intellect opened forth—but, alas! she became more sensitive—less proof against adversity—as her delicate hand grew softer and more white, so her nature grew less capable of tolerating the harsh, rough surface of society.  She was blessed, indeed, but those Oases of life make bitterer the barren desert that surrounds them !

    Soon the passion of Charles Trelawney be—an to cool.  A thousand little annoyances, that had been lost amid the unspeakable bliss of their new union, began to make themselves felt.  It was soon known that a young girl lived with him, and mothers and guardians, who speculated on his hand for their daughters or wards, for he had large expectations, ceased to invite him to their parties.  Young ladies ceased to flirt with him, and their mammas cast sinister looks.  His friends began to ridicule him, and to blame him: it was all very well to have an amour, but not to parade it in his home with all the sanction or legitimate domesticity.  They advised him to send Anna back, whence he had taken her: Anna—blighted, despised—ruined!  Anna—who lived by him, and for him only!

    Pecuniary embarrassments joined to these social vexations.  His allowance had been sufficient to maintain him in comfort; but they were inadequate to the new calls upon his purse.  He had to maintain another—to keep house—his purse could not support the burden —he got into debt.  Soon his parents heard of his conduct, and the most reproachful letters were sent to him: "Was this what his parents were pinching their household for, in the expectation that he was following up his profession, while, in reality, he was living in open disgrace with a common harlot?  Did he mean to bring his grey-headed father—his fond mother—in anguish to the grave!"  Everything was had recourse to, that could play upon his feelings.  He began to think—to doubt—to feel dissatisfied with himself.  But one look of Anna—so good, so gentle, so confiding, so innocent, so helpless—oh! it chased away all his misgivings, but it brought the tears to his eyes—it had once brought the fond, glad smile to his lips.

    His father threatened "to come up to town, to turn the woman out of his lodgings—illness alone prevented him."  Charles lived in constant terror and agony.  He trembled lest the visit should take place—Anna insulted and maltreated—he dared not quit the house, lest she should be left alone to face him; he trembled to remain, lest he should suddenly see the dreaded visitor come up to his door; he wanted to seek another dwelling, but now poverty tied him—he had not the money requisite to pay his way out of the neighbourhood.

    At last, by borrowing from friends, he moved to a humbler and a duller lodging, in a remote part of town.  Thus once more they were hunted from their refuge by the hounding spirit of society.  Like weary birds, scarce could they rest and breathe, ere the wolfish pursuit scared them on through the stages of ruin.

    They lived under a feigned name, to avoid the dreaded visit, and Charles broke off, is he thought, all clue to their wandering.  Here their economy became more rigid.  All that Anna could do, was done; she joyed to make his home pleasant to her lover—ever watchful for his slightest wish—her thousand winning ways—her thousand pretty devices —and the kind efforts of her helpless poverty to soothe—to amuse him—deserved the worship of angels; but alas! she could not supply him with what he wanted: money—ease—society—the world!  Intellectual, highly educated, versed in literature, politics, and the arts, as her lover was, poor Anna, with her neglected education, could bring him nothing but Nature and Love.  And, alas! with the child of the world, Nature and Love (after the first heyday of passion and enthusiasm is passed, and they live so short a time!) become insipid and unamusing, and to compensate for all the sacrifices of position and intercourse, of ease and affluence, he had a companion whom he could not own—whom, if any one called, he was obliged to motion out of the room with a blush, and with whom he could not venture to be seen in public, stealing out with her in the dusk along the parks, and at every step trembling to be recognised!

    Charles Trelawney's love began to chill beneath these thousand petty influences.  Anna still maintained a power over him, but it was another sentiment that called it forth—love had sunk into PITY.  Alas, for her whose reliance is only on the pity of her spoiler!  Trelawney's absences from home now became long and frequent—he grew moody and fractious.  It is true, when he saw Anna pained, the sight of a tear would recall him to her side; he would fold her in his arms, while her sad, sad eyes were turned so mournfully towards him!  Then, when alone, he would walk about with hurried steps, and begin—yes! to curse his folly!  With a self-righteous sophistry (though based on truth as well,) he dwelt on what he once before had spurned to think of—the grief and anger of his parents.  It was a shield against the arguments of his conscience, for, as his love waned, he summoned the self-reproach of the truant son to stifle the self-reproach of the truant lover.

    He never, again to do him justice, entertained the idea of abandoning Anna.  "No! he would have died first!  He would stand by the consequences of what he'd done—he would not do anything so dishonourable—but it was a sad business, and he cursed his folly!"  Love and pity had sunk a step lower—it was honour alone that Anna had for her reliance.  Alas for her, whose reliance is only on the honour of society!

    And Anna—did she mourn the peace and calm she-once had known—did she mourn her lost innocence? (Lost innocence!)  No! given with her whole soul to Charles, she mourned only his lost love—for she could feel its loss—she could see and hear its loss in every look and turn, save that now and then, and for a fleeting moment, the olden music returned to the voice, the former light to the eye, to make the blank more dreary when 'twas past.


 
11.—THE VISIT.


ONE morning, while Charles Trelawney was from home, and while Anna was working alone in her room, the door suddenly opened and an elderly lady of stern, repellent aspect entered uninvited.  Anna rose—her heart beat quick.  The lady looked at her intently and sternly.  "Does Mr. Charles Trelawney live here?"

    "Yes, madam."

    "And am I in his room?"

    "Yes, madam."

    "And who are you?  How is it I see you here?"

    "Me? ma'am?"

    "Who are you?"

    "Madam—I am—"  The poor girl felt her suffocating tears burning her heart, and a deep blush came scorching to her cheek.

    "Well?" said the lady, with a cutting coldness, and seating herself quietly.

    Anna burst into tears—her only answer.

    "You are his mistress—are you not?  I've not been mistaken."  The old lady rose, and added,—"I am his mother!"

    "You!  Oh, heaven—"

    "I suppose you didn't exactly expect me here?  And where is my son?  Answer.  You can cry afterwards."

    "Charles has gone out, madam."

    "And pray, where is he now?"

    "At the lecture theatre—at the University."

    "That's well: then we can finish before he returns. No doubt you understand the reason of my coming here.  I have been informed of the scandalous conduct of my son—I have written several letters without avail—and I have resolved on coming down myself, to put an end to this disgraceful business.  Hear me, young woman!  I do not come here for the purpose of reproaching you.  Reproaches with persons of your sort would be thrown away; but I order you forthwith to leave my son's house, and, as I detest all scenes and noise, and as I don't wish the matter to be carried further, here is a cheque on my bankers for £20.  There's no need of another word—the business is settled—you had best go."

    There was a deep silence.

    "Did you hear me?''

    "Well!  Have you heard me?"

    Anna remained motionless—her eyes fixed in agony on the speaker's face—her arms hanging helplessly by her side—her mouth open as one who was speaking—but there came no tone.  The old lady seized her rudely by the arm.  "Come!  We must end this, and quickly.  You have understood me, I suppose?  I order you to quit this room before my son returns!"

    "Mercy madam! mercy, for the love of God!" cried the poor girl, falling on her knees before the stern old woman.

    "Enough! enough!  I detest all scenes.  Do not constrain me to have recourse to force, to expel you from the house."

    "Madam! oh, madam! for heaven's sake, do not drive me away.  Let me see him once again."

    "To try to seduce him, eh?  To persuade him to disobey me?"

    "Oh, no! good heaven! no! but to wish him farewell—to embrace him once more!"

    "What impudence!—Embrace him!"

    "Oh!  If you but knew! it is because I love him.  Yes!  Great God! love him—love him I have ruined myself for his sake—to him I have sacrificed my reputation!"

    "The reputation of a milliner!—and, no doubt, it was not the first time you made the sacrifice."

    "Madam! madam! say not so, for the love of mercy!  I was pure—I was—I was believe me.  Ask all who knew me!—Madam! but do look at me—do I look like a bad girl?  Do you see my anguish?  If you but knew how I love him—his wife will never love him more—his wife will never be more true to him.  Enquire of the people in the house—I speak to no one but him.  I see no one but him—I do not even open the window.  Madam! do not tear him away from me—oh, spare me—spare me!"

    "Young woman you are insane !"

    "No!  Oh, no!  But Charles is my life—my hope—my all!  If you take him away from me, you kill me.  I have grown so to feel the need of seeing him—of hearing his voice; let me remain near him as his servant—as what you please—but let me be near him—on my knees, with folded hands—see —I beseech you!"

    "I regret you should put so much passion into the matter," said the lady, in a voice somewhat less harsh.  "You may be less guilty than you appear, but that is nothing to me.  I have come to save my son from disgraceful entanglements.  To-morrow he leaves town with me, therefore, resign yourself to see him no more, and forget him."

    "That is impossible!—he—leave me—forget him!  What—to remain alone!  I should go mad!"

    And Anna, in fearful excitement, bounded up from her attitude of supplication.

    Suddenly, she seized the hand of Mrs. Trelawney, and pressed it to her heart.

    "Do you feel—madam?  Do you feel?"  That's his child.  I shall soon become a mother.

    "Miserable creature!" cried the old woman, white with rage, "dare you confess this proof of your infamy?"

    "That is the child of your child," resumed Anna, folding her hands, and weeping.

    "And who assures me of that?"

    "Madam!—Oh! before heaven, it is his child!"

    "Oh! perhaps you want to have him recognised by that title.  I understand you, now—designing minion!  You try to frighten me with a public exposure."

    "No! no! no!—but it is his child—yours what is to become of it?"

    "You can't be ignorant on that head; there is the hospital, and the parish."

    Until then Anna had observed a meek and suppliant attitude: but wounded now in the dearest, holiest, sanctuary of her young heart—her dawning mother's love—the weeping girl suddenly raised her death-pale forehead, and stood erect, proud, noble.  The old lady looked at her, and said, "Take this cheque, and let us close this painful business."  Anna took the cheque—tore it coldly, and quietly returned to the chair she had occupied when Mrs. Trelawney entered.

    "We will wait till your son returns, madam.  This is his house," said she, with calm dignity.

    In vain Mrs. Trelawney tried to tear her from her grand silence.  She could not provoke a single word.  Enraged—she rushed to the door.  "I go—I will await his return.  But, miserable woman! he shall not mount that stair.  You shall never see him again."

    Anna made no motion, spoke no word—and the old lady descended the steps rapidly.  Anna sat in silence—waiting—and watching.  She waited, motionless, and speechless.  The twilight was descending—and no Charles Trelawney came.


 
12. — MORALITY.


WHERE was Charles Trelawney?  Back in his father's house, far away in the country.

    Mrs. Trelawney was a clever woman—a woman of the world.  She had gone to King's College—she had summoned her son; she began by telling him of his father's dangerous illness (he had, in truth, a severe cold), of their love, grief, and anxiety—she predisposed his feelings for her influence.  Then she told him what she had done—that she had settled everything with Anna, made her a handsome present, and that Anna had conceded that such an arrangement was the best.

    With keen tact, she carefully abstained from speaking slightly or offensively of Anna; she knew that would but rekindle Trelawney's love on the altar of antagonistic pride.  She said it was "an unfortunate business;" she spoke kindly of the "poor thing," and said that, "for the girl's own sake," they ought to separate, and she ought to be restored to the respectable walks of life.  Meanwhile she insisted on Trelawney not returning to his lodgings, but going straight to the railway from the college, and returning with her to see his "poor sick father."

    Charles resisted stoutly: he grew very violent, he tore his hair, gnashed his teeth, shed tears—he was saving appearances to his conscience, for he was tired of his false position, sated with Anna;—he would never have abandoned her, not he!—but how could one resist the prayers, entreaties, and commands of a mother—and his father, too, very ill!"  But let him see Anna! let him tell her, let him console her!". . . . .  He never wished it all the time; he merely wanted some really good excuse to "save his honour,"—some other duty behind which to screen himself, in breaking his duty to Anna.  The coward! he never wanted to go and see her—he was afraid of facing her—he was glad of some one to keep him away from her; therefore he raved, and foamed, and stamped—but one tenth of the violence, one mere volition, would have taken him back to his desecrated love-home, and the presence of his sacrificed love.

    But his mother knew too well the dangerous consequences that would result from permitting him to see Anna; she therefore said, in her own name and his father's, "that was the only condition of their pardon, that he should come away with her direct; no harm would be done, he might drop a line to the poor girl, and, at the worst, he could but return—it would do Anna no injury—they could then take counsel as to what was most for her advantage—how they could place her, in a respectable position—they would treat her most tenderly and most kindly—but all depended on his immediate and implicit obedience.  It was to Anna's own interest that he should do as he was told."  The poor sophistry was sufficient to soothe down Trelawney's easy conscience— and—he went!  His honour was saved—the encumbrance was got rid of—the wild oats were sown, and gathered, and winnowed away—oh! he was an honourable man

    In the midst of his family, Charles Trelawney was surrounded with every enjoyment and amusement.  We have seen how his passion had changed from love to pity, from pity to honour—now it changed from honour to remorse—but the remorse of a man of the world—a remorse that evaporates in champagne, or digests in a pâté de foie gras!  His mind was soon made up that "all was for the best," that he was doing his real duty to Anna—"saving her from the effects of her own unhappy passion"—and he accordingly wrote her a long letter—filled with the noblest sentiments—breathing the most disinterested platonic love—inculcating the highest possible morality—and enclosing a check of a moderate amount—"less," he said, "than his affection would bestow, but more," he protested, "than his means would warrant," —by way of closing his relations with his victim.

    One round of gaiety succeeded another at the house of the Trelawneys.  It was absolutely necessary to amuse him—and occupy his mind.  "Poor Charles was getting melancholy;" indeed he wore,—part affectation, partly a tribute paid his reproaching conscience,—a sort of sombre air, which he put on in his manner, the same as a heartless mourner puts on a sable coat upon his back—for decency's sake.  There was vanity in it too—it made him interesting—it was rumoured about that "the poor, dear young man suffered from a blighted affection—a breaking heart—a secret sorrow"—it was perfectly ravishing to all the young ladies and old maids in the neighbourhood—he was so much pitied! so much soothed and courted— it was quite delicious!  He played the guitar, sung sentimental songs—rowed, walked by moonlight, and danced with Miss Rosa, and Miss Matilda, and Miss Arabella—and soon the dance went in quicker time, the music in more lively cadence—the melancholy vanished—the laugh pealed out—and Charles Trelawney was himself again.


 
13.—THE HOSPITAL.


In a ward of the hospital, two men were standing by the bedside of a woman, who seemed plunged in a slumber of exhaustion.  The one was a physician—the other a medical student.

"Well, Mr. Weldon!" said the former, does this young woman continue in the same state?"

    "The same, sir!"—replied Arthur Weldon, for it was Trelawney's friend who answered.

    "Perspiration—shortness of breath—cheeks flushed?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Just as I said it would be," said the doctor, with a great satisfaction in his manner, and taking a deliberate pinch of snuff.  "Only I must be quite sure that the liver is attacked.  We must examine that, Mr. Weldon.  This young woman cannot last beyond the day—you will take care to have her dissected with the greatest attention."

    Weldon drooped his head, and a tear slowly gathered in his eye.

    "This is very important, for mark you," continued the physician, "I have at this moment three ladies of consequence attacked with the same complaint.  It's very fortunate we have this young woman to operate on.  Her anatomy will be of the greatest possible service to me in the treatment of the ladies I have alluded to."

    The physician passed on to another ward.  After a short time, the patient seemed to recover consciousness.  Her dull faded eyes wandered over the room.  The young student approached her bedside.  "Well, Anna! how are you now?"

    "Better, much better—I've slept.  But I am still so weak.  Oh! sir, may I not see my child?"

    The young man shuddered.  "Presently, Anna!  The sight of him, now, would excite you, and retard your recovery."

    "Is my child quiet?"

    "Very quiet Anna!" replied Weldon, sinking his voice.  The child had died three days before.

    Anna remained silent and thoughtful for a few moments, then stretching her head towards Weldon, she said, with that soft, indescribable smile of the dying—replete with a heartbreaking sadness:—"How kind you are to me, Mr. Weldon!  What would have become of me had it not been for you?  You gave me courage, for I have courage now—I feel that I ought to get well for my poor child's sake—I must work to support him—I will cheerfully undergo all the insults that can be heaped on me for his sake—I will beg, if need be, with my little Charles in my arms—but he shall not be torn, from my side!  I ought to thank Heaven that it is a boy!  Men are by far the happier in this world.  If they are born poor, they can work—if," and her voice trembled and broke--"if they love any one they are not disgraced by it. . . . . I wish I . . . . . She paused suddenly—crossed her long, thin hands together, and two tears coursed slowly down her sunken cheeks.

    Weldon bent over her.  "Dear Anna!—discard these melancholy memories!"

    "Yes! yes! you are right.  They do me harm.  Besides, I am seen to cry, and the other women in the ward laugh at me!  Oh sir! it is that which has added to my troubles since I have been here—all the women mock me; when they hear me groaning, they call me a hypocrite, and say I pretend to repent, only to stand well with the matron.  Oh! how hard it is to be in a room full of people—not to be able to bide my tears, or to speak his name!  How happy the rich are, that they can have a room all to themselves to mourn and die in!  I had never been here, but—oh! its horrible—this hospital!"

    She ceased again, and this time, seemed to succumb once more beneath exhaustion.  Her eyes closed and opened alternately for a few minutes, and then she sank into a deep lethargy.

    Anna had been four months in the hospital.  Arthur Weldon had made her the especial object of his care.  During her long illness, he had become intimately acquainted with the character of that young girl.  He had learned to respect it—to admire—to love its excellence.  An instinctive feeling of regret overcame him, to behold so sweet a flower so cruelly torn and trampled.  He lavished on her all that his position and his science enabled him to bestow for her cure—but in vain.  Anna's condition grew rapidly worse, as is the case at the close of mortal maladies.  On the very evening of the day in which the conversation above recorded occurred between her and Weldon, her last agonies approached with hurried strides.  Retaining all her consciousness, she felt herself to be dying, and asked for Weldon, who had rather avoided her of late, in order to save the last moments of her life from harrowing explanations.  When he came, she begged him to sit down by her bedside.

    "I am very ill, Mr. Weldon.  I am about to die—I know it, and I have asked to see you—to implore your protection for my child—my child! oh Heaven!"  Maternal love summoning all that remained of life and strength in that exhausted body, the dying girl raised herself, unaided, in her bed, and taking both hands of Weldon in her own, said, beseechingly, "Let me have my son—I want to see him once again.  Oh! bring him to me!"

    "Anna! what are you thinking of?"

    "Bring me my son—my poor orphan!  Oh! to leave him alone in the world—that thought makes death terrible!"

    "Yes!" said Weldon—suddenly, as a new thought flashed across his mind—"his fate will be very sad among mankind.  Why can you not take him with you into heaven?"

    "Oh! would that I could!" moaned the poor young mother.

    "You can."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Your child is dead."

    Anna made a sudden bound in her bed—her eyes flashed—her arms stiffened—it was but a moment, and then she breathed: "Dead?  Oh, my God, I thank thee!" and her eyes closed gently.

    "Anna!" said Weldon, after a long silence; "Anna! have you no question to ask me?"

    "None.  My child is dead.  I shall join him."

    "Anna! what do you wish me to say to—"

    "My child—"

    "To Charles?"

    "Yes—Charles, MY CHILD—"

    The lips of the dying still murmured some unintelligible sound.  Weldon dried his eyes, blinded with tears, and again whispered over her—"Anna! do you hear me?"

    "She's dead!" cried a hoarse voice near him.  Weldon started up—it was the warder, who threw a grave-cloth over the face of the corpse.


 
14.—THE STUDY.


ABOUT twenty young men were assembled in the anatomical theatre of the University.  It was one of the first lectures after a vacation, and acquaintances were being renewed.

    "Ah, that's your, Trelawney, is it?" cried several voices.  "Where have you been all this time?  When did you return?"

    "Yesterday—only yesterday.  Ah!  How are you, Harry?  How are you, Weldon?"

    And the young man advanced, offering his hand to Weldon, across two of the rows of seats; but the latter remained motionless, with his arms folded.

    "Well, don't you know me any longer?"

    "Just the reverse, you should suppose, because I refuse to shake hands with you."

    "What do you mean by that?"

    "You will learn presently," said the student, drawing back.

    The arrival of the professor interrupted further explanations.  The professor proceeded to his task.  He raised the cloth from a body that was stretched on the dissecting-table, and commenced his lesson.  It was on complaints of the chest.  The attention of the students was, as usual after the long vacation, very careless.  A buzz of conversation was maintained here and there in an under-tone; and it was only when the professor raised the cloth from a part of the body, that silence became at all general.

    "I have told you, gentlemen," the professor continued, "what was the state of the lungs when the complaint has reached its last stage: behold an instance.  The young woman whose autopsy we have made—"  All heads were raised—the words "young woman " had riveted attention—all eyes were fixed on the body.

    "This young woman died of a pulmonary complaint; here are the lungs—you can examine them.  With regard to the moral causes of this kind of maladies, the woman we are examining offers another striking case of what I have before explained to you—a great grief undermined her—a grief that even whitened part of her hair—as you see; she was only twenty years of age."   All the students turned towards the dissecting-table.

    Weldon raised the head of the body.  Suddenly a piercing cry came from the backmost seat, and Charles Trelawney fell senseless to the ground.  He had recognised the face of Anna!

    "What's the matter?—what is it?"—asked the professor.

    "Nothing, sir," said Weldon, coldly ; "it's only Mr. Trelawney, who has found out that this is the body of his mistress, and that it is he who killed her."

    "Ah! I understand," said the professor "take away the body."

    "Yes!" observed the young man in an undertone.  "Daughter of the People! you have worked—you have suffered—now your fate's accomplished: your body has ministered to the amusement and to the instruction of the favoured few: now to the pit that society gives you in the common graveyard; and

    SLEEP! DAUGHTER OF THE PEOPLE!"



END OF THE YOUNG MILLINER.



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