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The next evening found us again together as on the preceding.--I entreated her not to resume her narrative, if it were painful to her-observing her in tears when I entered.
· Yes, Doctor-indeed I am pained; but, let it wring my heart as it may, I must go on with the black story I have commenced. Do but be prepared to hear with forgiveness much that will shock you that will make you look on me with loathing-no, no then I will say, pity!
I cannot pain you with a particular account of the means by which my destroyer succeeded in effecting my ruin. Once in the accursed travelling-carriage, we went, I afterwards found, in a far different direction to that of Gretna Green. I think I must have been mad throughout the journey. I recollect nothing distinctly; all seems yet in a mist-a mist of excitement, of mingled apprehension and delight. Captain was all tenderness, all persuasion. He kept me in a constant whirl. He never suffered me to be left alone for an instant-to think of what I was doing. No-that was not his plan! For two days, I do not think I had leisure to look back, and reflect on what I had left. I felt-strange, dreadful to say-no uneasiness. Oh, my very heaven was to be in the company of Captain , to look at him, to hear him speak to me, to think he was now mine, mine for life! But on the inorning of the third day-here she shuddered from head to foot, and paused—- I awoke in a fright; for I had been dreaming about the serpent I had dreamed of before we eloped. Then it glided about under the drawers at a distance; ÑOW it was writhing about on the very bed on which I lay! The vividness of my dream awoke me, as I said, in horror. Alas, my eyes were opened! BESIDE ine lay the serpent!
I shrieked aloud-I sprung out of bed-I tore my hair with frantic gestures. He leaped out after me in consternation, and attempted to pacify me, but in vain. My cries brought an elderly, respectable female into the room. He told her that 'bis wife' was only in hysterics—that I was unfortunately subject to them. I recollect nothing more distinctly, of that dreadful day. By the next, with Belial cunning and persuasion, he had soothed and flattered me into something like my former insensibility to my situation. I felt as if it was useless to resist his influence! Before the week was over, we were in Paris. Not all the inyriad gaieties of that place, however, could lull or distract the worm from gnawing at my heart! For three weeks, I was incessantly in tears-often in hysterics. Captain ' behaved to me with exquisite tenderness. He spent immense sums in procuring me amusement; and, in a month longer, I found
- spite of myself-my sorrow wearing off. He had accustomed me gradcally to wine, and at length he was obliged to check my increasing propensity to it with anger. Once-once only, do I recollect having inentioned the sacred name of my mother. He presently produced me a letter, which he pretended to have received from a friend at — , where I had lived; which said that my mother, on finding out what I had done, burnt the letter I had left for her-cursed me-called me by an infamous name, and vowed solemnly never to receive or acknowledge me again, How I recollect one sentence he read me!
«« The old woman goes on much as usual, only very furious when her daughter's name is mentioned. She says, as the slut has made her bed, so she must lie upon it!"
How-oh, how could I be for an instant deceived by such a shallow -such an infamous fabrication? I know not; strange as it may seem, I wished to think it'true, to pacify myself-to blunt the horriil sting of remorse. The Devil, too, had blinded me!
From that time, I began to find my feelings dulled, and got in a manner satisfied with my situation. I had talked about marriage till he al. most struck me in his fury; and I got wearied and frightened out of my importunities. We spent some time on the banks of the beautiful Rhine, and travelled over the most delicious parts of Switzerland; after which we returned again to Paris. Altogether, we spent about seven months in France. Towards the latter part of that time, stupified as I was, I discovered a gradual but melancholy change in his manner towards me. He seemned trying, I thought, to disgust me with him! He introduced to our table some English friends of his, noblemen and others, and did not seem to care how pointedly they paid their attentions to me, nor how I received them. Then he began to get piqued at iny “ impropriety," he said. That gave him a handle of offence against me. Our life was one of incessant bickering. He began to talk about his leave of ab sence having expired—that he must return to England. He told me, at length, abruptly, that he had but ten days longer to continue in France, as his regiment was unexpectedly ordered off for India, and I must return to England with him instantly. Return to England? The thought was horror! The day before that fixed for our return to England, I eloped with Lord — an extravagant, dissipated, but handsome young man; and we bent our course towards Rome. There I did indeed blazon my shame. I was allowed whatever dress—whatever ornaments I chose to order. I quite shone in jewelry-till I attracted universal attention. Alas, too well I knew the answer given to the perpetual inquiry_" who is she?" Bear with me, kind Doctor-bear with me in my guilty story, when I tell you that in less than three months I quitted Lord , for the society of an Italian nobleman; his, for that of a French Countand there I shall pause!
“Within two years of my first arrival in France, I found myself in Paris--alone. Ill health had considerably changed my appearance, and of course unfitted me, in a measure, for the guilty splendors of the life I bad been leading. My spirits had fallen into the lowest despondency; so that Sir , the man with whom I had last lived, quitted me in sudden disgust, with not more than a hundred pounds in my pocket-to manage as I could for myself.
I lived alone at Paris for nearly three weeks, doing little else than drink wine and take laudavum. Then I began to long for England, though I dreaded to see it. The flutter of my heart almost choked me, when I thought of home.
Restless as an evil spirit, I knew not what to do with myself, or wbither to go. Still something drew me to England, and accordingly I abruptly left France, and arrived at London in December. In the packet, I happened to meet a gentleman I often met at Captain 's table. Careless and stupified, I heedell not what I did; so he had but little difficulty in persuading me to accept his lodgings in London as mine. I lived with him about a month. Is not all this frightful, Doctor exclaimed Miss Edwards, abruptly. I shook my head, and sighed.
Yes!' she resumed, echoing my sigh from the very depths of her bosom; it is an awful catalogue of crime indeed; but let me basten through it, Doctor, while I have strength, for I sicken with the story.
'When I was left alone in London, my spirits grew more and more depressed. I felt sinking into what is called inelancholy madness. I went one evening to Drury-Lane Theatre, almost stupified with wine, which I had been drinking alone, for I should really have destroyed my
self but for the excitement of wine. I need hardly say to what part of the boxes, a young woman, elegantly dressed, and alone, was ushered. It was that allotted to my miserable sisters in guilt. I sat at the corner of the boxes, a large shawl almost concealing me from head to foot.
The orchestra was playing the overture. Oh, how sick, how faint that music made me, which all others listened to with ecstasy. It was of a pensive description, sad, but sweet beyond imagination; and it affected me so powerfully, that I was obliged to rush from the place, and seek fresh air. I returned in about half an hour. The vast house had conipletely filled while I was a way; all was light and splendor; and the merry audience was shaking with laughter at the scenes of a favorite comedy. 1-I could not laugh, but rather scream with the agonizing intensity of my feelings.
6" La, how she sighs! Mighty fine, to be sure,” exclaimed a rude wretch that sat beside me glaring in finery. My heart drooped under the insult. I could not resent it. I gazed languidly at the happy people occupying the private boxes. How I envied them! In casting my eye round them, it fell on a party in that nearest but one to me. Gracious God! it was Captain with three ladies, one of them very beautiful; and he was paying her the most anxious attentions.
I remember no more till I found myself, early in the morning, in bed at my lodgings, attended by a girl in fine clothes. I then found, ou inquiry, that I had suddenly fallen back on the floor of the boxes in a swoon, and was immediately carried out, altended by a girl that sat near me, who, having found by a paper in my pocket where I lived, brought me home. The woman of the house insisted on my quitting it immediately. I owed her po rent; “ But that was all one,” she said; “ I was a' slut, and must be off !” The girl I spoke of refused to leave my room till I had a little recovered; and easily persuaded me to accompany her to her lodgings. I had about £30 with me, and a few articles of elegant and expensive dress. I lay in bed at my new residence for two days, without once rising; and no words can tell the horror that was upon me! At the end of that time my companion prevailed upon me to accompany her to the play--whither, half intoxicated, I went. But I cannot pause over the steps by which I hurried on to the vilest excesses of infanıy. My money exhausted--all the dress, except what I wore, pawned; what was to become of me? With the wages of shame and sin, I strove madly to drink myself to death; yes, Doctor, to death! I tried to live hard, that my health might fail-that I might die, if it were the death of a dog. I was soon obliged to leave my companion in guilt. She was more iłreadfully addicted to drinking even than l; and in one of her sudden frenzies abused me, and at last struck me a blow with a decanter, that felled me in an instant, stunned and bleeding to the floor. See, Doctor, I have the mark of it!' said Miss Edwards, pushing aside her hair, and disclosing a large scar over the corner of her left forehead.
You may wonder, Doctor, that I have saiil so little about my mother; but must not suppose that I thought little of her. Her injured image was always before my eyes, and served but to drive me into deeper des. pair. My own shame and misery were tolerable indeed, when I thought of what her sufferings must be! I never dared to make any inquiries about her. How, indeed, could I? Suddenly, however, I resolved, I knew not why-for the thought came over me like a flash of lightningto go down to - , come what would to see her, if possible, in disguise, without her knowing me. I exchanged my gay clothes with a
poor woman of the town for her wretched rags; painted my face, concealed all my hair under my bonnet; and, with little more than money enough to pay my coach-hire down-careless about the means of coming up-got upon the --- coach, by night.
It rained and blew cruelly cold-but I had no umbrella-no protection against the inclement weather, but an old worn-out green cloak, that was comparatively useless to me. No one on the coach-indeed there were but three beside myself-would speak to such a wretched object as I looked, or offer me additional clotbing! By five o'clock in the morning of the 10th of February, 18-, at about two miles' distance froin the town, I told them to set me down. I was so nunub with cold, tbai I could scarcely keep my feet, till I found my way to a very small alehouse, by the roadside, where I called for gin, and drank off two glasses of it. Indeed, by the way, you would be horrified to know how I had accustomed myself to the use of raw spirits! Without waiting, I bastened onward. It was dark and dismal, truly. The rain, and the biter wind, chilled my very heart within me, but I saw felt-beard-thought of nothing but my wretched my heart-broken mother. It was nearly seven o'clock when I entered the town. How my guilty, wearied beart beat, as I recognised the places about me! I drew my bonnet over my face-fearful lest, disguised as I was, I should by any chance be recog. nised--and skulked, like a thief, towards the street in which our house stood. I was often obliged to stop and lean against the walls and railings, to rest my aching limbs. At length I neared the dreaded spot. I looked-1 strained my eyes till they ached. Alas! what was once our house, was now a shop, newly painted, with a sirange naine in great glaring gold letters over the bow-window. Oh my God! what feelings shot through my quivering heart at that moment !-I sat down upon the wet steps of a house nearly opposite. I wrung my hands-I bit my lips with the intensity of my anguish-for I was afraid of alarming the yet sleeping neighborhood with a shriek. At length an old man came slowly past, leading a horse. I asked him with a faltering voice, where Mrs. — (my mother) lived? He was deaf--and I was obliged to shout the name into his ear-though the effort seemed to exbaust all the little breath I had.
66 On-Mrs. — ?-why-let me see! Her whose daughter ran off with the officer some time since?"
I noulded, though my eyes could no longer distinguish the person I was speaking to.
666 Why-poor old lady-she's been dead this year and a half”
• I heard no more. I did not faint-I did not fall-I did not utter a sound-but while he was speaking, walked away steadily and rapidly. My body seemed to swell as I went on. I felt as if I hardly touched the ground. Strange lights were before my eyes. My head seemed whirling round and round. As I walked in this strange way, a coach passed me. I stopped it-found it was going up to London, and got on at once.
"“Going all the way up to London, young woman?” said the gruff guard.
I told him I was—and spoke not a word more, till we reached the coach-office in London. I had no money about me except a sbilling or two, and the fare was a pound. They helped me off the coach; and when they found I could not pay my fare, abused me dreadfully-called me an impostor-and handed me over to a constable, who took me to the police-office as a swindler. The magistrate, who was just leaving, soon disposed of the case. The coachman made his charge; and the inagistrate sternly inquired how I dared to act so dishonestly? I fell down on my knees, scarce knowing where I was, or what I was doing. He looked hard at me, and seemed to pity me.
o « Is it worth while to press for sentence on such a wretched creature as this? " he said, and flung me a small piece of silver. I fell down at full length on the floor, with a faint scream; and was, in an hour or two, sent off to the hospital. There I lay for six weeks, ill of a brain fever, which had several times nearly put an end to my wretched existence. When I was discharged, I had nothing to put on, and no home to go to. At the same time, another young woman left the hospital; who, seeing my utter destitution, invited me home with her, for at least a day, till I could turn myself about. She conducted me to a regular house of infamy! I wrote immediately to a gentleman, who had promised to send me money whenever I asked him. It was my first application, and was successful. He sent me £10 immediately, begging me not to write to him any more.-Shall I go on!
With part of this sum I purchased gay clothes, and commencedyes, the accursed life of a common prostitute! I seemed altogether changed since my visit to , and my illness in the hospital. My poor mother now dead-murdered-murdered by her vile daughter-I had scarce a relation in England that I knew of. Society, I was shut out from forever. I lived in a state of mind that I cannot describe; a sort of calm desperation-quite indifferent what became of me-often wishing that I might drop down dead in the streets. I seldom passed three hours in the day sober; every farthing of money I could procure, was instantly changed for the most scorching spirits! But I will not torture you with describing the life I led for a year after this; it was that of a devil! A few things, however, I may mention. As I was standing at the box-entrance of the theatre one night, in company with several other women like myself, I unexpectedly saw Captain — banding a splendidly-dressed lady out of a carriage. Without my wishing it-before, indeed, I was aware of it, bis eye fell upon me, and he knew me. He turned ghastly pale; and was obliged to return back into the carriage, with the lady, his wife I suppose, and drive home. Perhaps he thought I should make myself known; but no—I turned fainter far than be, and staggered away to some steps, on which I sat down to recover myself. By means of a Court Guide, which, by some accident or other, found its way into my hands, I soon afterwards found out where he lived. I often went, late at night, when it was dark and wet, so that no one seemed likely to be stirring, and paced to and fro before the large house where he lived, with feelings none can tell. How often has my heart's fluttering half-choked me, while I have listened to the sound of the piano in the drawing-room! No doubt, thought I, his wife is playing to him, and he is leaning on the sofa looking at her fondly ! Oh! the hours—the nights I have passed in this wretched way! I thought myself more like a fiend haunting him, than anything human. And yet, dreadfully as he had injured me, I would have died before I could have annoyed him ! And, Doctor, I have done the same often towards another house in London. There, also, have I paced for hours-bitter hoursand that house was yours!' She burst into tears, and was several minutes before she could resume her narrative. I suggested that I would hear her proceed with her history at some future day-but she told me it was now nearly over. At length she resumed.