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I once walked several streets after you and Mrs. — , and felt as if I could have kissed the ground you walked on. I dared not draw near, lest I should pollute you-lest I might, horrid creature, be seen and recognised; and when I lost sight of you, I had nothing for it but to hurry home, and drown my agony in drink. Did you never hear of my elopement, Doctor, before now?' she inquired abruptly. I answered that I had not; that, as the air did not suit my wife, we never went again to
and that after she and Miss Edwards had ceased corresponding, the pressure of domestic and professional engagements prevented our inquiring after her. She sighed, and proceeded.
I have often seen in places of ainusement, and in the streets, sowie of the persons to whom Captain - introduced me in France, but they either could not, or would not, recognise me and I never attempted to remind them of me. At length, however, even liquor was insufficient to keep up my spirits. I wandered about the streets-1 herded with the horrible wretches about me-as if I was only half aware of what I did and where I was. I would have lived alone-but I dared por! The most dreadful thoughts assailed me. The guilt of my past life would often gleam back upon me in a way that almost drove me mad, and I have woke a whole house with my moanings! To occupy my thoughts, when obliged to be alone, I used to send for the papers, in one of which, while carelessly casting my eyes over the list of deaths, I saw the name of my cousin, by which I knew at once that I was entitled, as I told you before, to the sum of £3000. I instantly determined never to touch it-never to apply for it. I felt I had no business with it; that the dead would shake in their graves if I stretched out my hands towards it. Once I saw my name at the head of an advertisement, stating that by applying somewhere or other I should hear of something to my advantage! I had resolved in my own mind, to leave the whole, when I died, to a particular charity, on condition that they would not allow my name to be kuown. You can guess the charity I mean, Doctor?' She paused, as it waiting for :in answer.
i The Magdalen Hospital,' said I, in a low tone.
“Yes,' she replied with a sigh_but to return, Doctor, let me now tell you of a dreadful circumstance, marking indeed the hand of Providence, which occurred only about six months before the period when you first saw me at - Court. As I was walking about tive o'clock in the afternoon, in Oxford street, miserable as I always was, both at home and abroad, I heard a sudden shout of alarm in the street; and, on turning round, saw everything clearing hastily out of the way of a horse galloping along like lightning towards where I stood, its rider evidently almost falling from his seat. As I stood near one of the cross-streets, the horse suddenly shot past me, round the corner, and, frightful to tell, in the act of turning round, swift as light, being, I suppose, startled by some object or other, threw its unfortunate rider over its head with stunning force against a high iron pump, and galloped off faster than before. A crowd of course collected instantly about the sufferer; and I could not help joining it, to find out whether or not the gentleman was killed. The crowd opened suddenly in the direction where I stood, making way for two men who were carrying their stunned and bleeding burden to a doctor's shop close by. He was quite motionless, and the blood pouring from his head. The sight made me, you may suppose, sick and faint, but'She pause-Doctor,' she continued with a gasp, her face blanching with the recollection, a glance at the countenance, half covered with
blood though it was, showed me the features of Captain !' Here Miss Edwards agaiu became exceedingly agitated, trembling from head to foot, and continuing deadly pale. I also felt rieeply shocked at the incident she bad been telling. At length, in a broken and rather indistinct tone, she proceeded, I shrieked at the spectacle, and swooned, and was helped by some bystanders to an adjoining shop, which it was nearly an hour before I could leave, in a hackney-coach, for my lodgings. I never recovered the shock of that terrible occurrence. The next day's newspaper, which you may believe I bought with sickening apprebension, announced that Captain had been killed on the spot, and that his heart-broken widow was within only a few days of her confinement.
The moment I recognised the bleeding body as I have told you, a strange pain sbot across my breast. I felt-I knew it was my deathstroke-I kuew I had not long to live-that the destroyer and bis victim would soon be once inore within the dreadful sight of each other! My health and spirits-if it is not a mockery to call them such, soon broke dowu altogether; every night was I scared with the spectre of Captain — , every day tortured with the recollections of his bleeding corpse, and the horrid associations of my past and present guilt! Unable to follow my foul, revolting line of life as before, I wandered like a cursed spirit, from one house of infamy to another, each worse than the former,-frequently beaten with cruel violence, half-starved, and sometimes kicked out of doors into the street, because I would not work! „Twice have I been dragged disgracefully before a magistrate, on false accusations of robbing the vile wretch that owned the house in which I Jived! I have lodged in places that were filtbier than hog-sties; I have heard robberies planned-and have listened with silent horror to schemes for entrapping the innocent of both sexes to their destruction. Onceonce only I dared a whisper of remonstrance-and it earned me a blow from the old Jewess with whom I lived, that stretched me senseless on the floor amid the laughter and derision of the wretches around us. Pressed by horrid want, I have plied the detestable trade I exercisedand been compelled to smile and caress those who chose to call for me
to drink with them-at the inoment when my heart was dying within me! when I felt that consumption was working deeper and deeper into my vitals !
About three weeks before you saw mc, I happened to be prowling about the streets, when my haggard appearance struck a gentleman who was passing by on horseback. He eyed me earnestly for some moments, and then suddenly dismounted, and gave his horse into the hands of his servant. He had recognised me--spite of the dreadful alteration in my appearance-told me he had known ine in what be called, alas! my. "earlier and better days '—and I recognised in him the nobleman for whose company I had quitted Captain ! He could hardly speak for the sbock he felt. At length he uttered a word or two of commiseration-and taking out a bank-note from his pocket-book, which I afterwards found was for twenty pounds, he gave it me, telling me to look after my health-and, a little agitated, I thought, left me, as if ashamed to be seen for an instant speaking with such a wretched object as mysef I, who had £3000 and more at my command, accepted the charity--the bitter charity of this gentleman, with sullen composure-or resignation--as I thought; fancying, that by so doing, I was, in a manner, atoning for the enormity of my crimes. At the moments of my uttermost need, when fainting beneath the agonies of starvation-I felt a savage pleasure in thinking how much money I had within my reach, and yet refused to touch!-Guilty-ignorani creatoreas if this could be viewed with satisfaction by Hin-Him whom I had most offended! With the help of this £20, which I was afraid to trust myself with in the house where I then resided, for fear of being robbedperhaps murdered by those about me, I went over to a distant part of the town, and took up my residence- forget how-in the filthy place from which you rescued me. I had not been there a week, when I took to my bed, finding it impossible to drag my aching-my trembling limbs more than a few steps at a time. I felt that death had at last got his cold arms completely around me; and, partly in despair-partly under an influence I knew not how to resist-kind, inestimable Doctor, I sent off the line which brought you like an angel of mercy to my bedside - My life at that place, though for so short a period, was a perpetual Hell-worse, I found-far worse than any I had before known.
Why did not I, you may ask, with the £20 I have been speaking of, seek out a decent and virtuous place of residence? I can only answerask the Devil-the Devil that never once left me! Guilty myself, I went naturally to the scenes of guilt ; I could not-I dared not go to any other! -And suppose I had taken lodgings at a place of good character—that such people would have received a wretch as I too plainly appeared-what was I to do when the £20 was gone? No-I preferred keeping in the black waters of pollution, till they closed over me! But I was saying how dreadfully I was treated in the last house to which I removed, and where you found me. When too late, I discovered that it was a noted house of call, for-thieves, in addition to its other horrors; and the scenes I was compelled to witness, I cannot attempt to describe! Would you believe it, Doctor?-one morning, the woman who called at your house, actually struck me upon the mouth, till the blood gushed out, because I told her I was too ill to get out of bed and accompany the rest of her wretched flock to some place of low entertainment I submitted to it all, however, as to purgatory-thinking I might as well die there as anywhere else Believe me, Doctor-in my ignorance, my blindness to the horrors of hereafter-I looked on death, and longed for it—as a worn-out traveller looks out for the place of his evening's rest! I expected to find in the grave, the peace, the quiet, the forgetfulness which the world denied me: and as for anything beyond, my mind had grown unable to comprehend the thoughts of it -to understand anything about it. But from this long and dismal dream -this trance of guilt and horror-the Providence of God'
.Miss Edwards here paused, and languidly drew her handkerchief over her face, which showed me, alas, by its color and expression, how much she was exhausted. While I was speaking to her, in as kind a tone of sympathy as my emotion would admit of—for I need hardly say how I felt overcome with her long and melancholy narrative-she fainted. Though I used every known means, on the impulse of the moment, to recall her to consciousness, they seemed of no avail: and greatly alarmed, I summoned in the nurse, and the apothecary. As the latter entered, however, she slowly opened her eyes, and a sigh evidenced the return of consciousness. I continued by her side for nearly an hour longer, speaking all the soothing things my heart could devise-imploring her not to harrow herself with useless recollections of the past.
• But what a wretch-what a monster must you think me, Doctor!' she exclaimed, faintly, averting her face. Is not the air I breathe, pollution ?'
• Eleanor, Eleanor ! The Redeemer of the world said not so to the
trembling one that washed his feet with her tears.' The poor girl, overpowered with the recollection, sobbed hysterically several times, and clasped her hands in an ecstasy of emotion-murmuring, but so indistinct 17, I could scarce catch the words. He said go in peace!'
"That blessed history,' she continued, when a little recovered, is alli that makes life tolerable to me. I cling to it, as an earnest of the pardon of Heaven! Oh, it was written for me-for the guilty such as me feel, I know it was-Oh! world, cruel world—I can bear your scorn! I can bear the finger of contempt pointed at me! I can submit to hear you curse me- I turn from you my eyes—I look to Him, I listen only to Him that looked on Mary, and forgave her!'
Well, Eleanor, such thoughts as these are sent to you from Heaven! He you speak of has heard, and answered you !- But I must not stay here, I see your feelings are too much excited; they will injure you. You must be got into bed immediately--and, if you wish it, the chaplain shall read a prayer, beside you! Farewell, Eleanor, till to-morrow! May your thoughts this night be of happier hue! Sleep-sleep easier, breathe freely, now that so black a burden has been reipoved from your feelings!'.
She uttered not a word, but grasped my hand with affectionate energy, and kissed it. I returned home, filled with mournful recollections of the sad story I had heard, and buinble hopes that the mercy of Heaven might yet beam brightly upon the short period that was allotted her upon the earth! The next day, as indeed I anticipated, I found Miss Edwards in a: very low depressed frame of mind, suffering tbe re-action consequent upon: excitement. Poor girl, she would not be persuaded but that I only forced myself to see her, from a sense of duty; that her touch, her presence, was intolerable ; that what I had listened to of her confession, had made me? despise her.
Oh!' she exclaimed, with bitter emotion, how I abhor and hate myself for having told you so much; for having so driven from me my only friend!' * Not all my most solemn assurances availed to convince her how deeply she was mistaken. She shwok her head and wrung her hands in silent wretchedncss. She even despaired of the mercy of Heaven. All this,' however, I saw, was only a temporary mood of feeling, which I hoped would shortly disappear. She would not allow me, but with difficulty, to shake hands with her on leaving. Her whole frame shrunk from me as: she exclaimed,- Oh, touch me not!' To my great regret, and even as tonishment, she continued in this melancholy humor for a whole week, till I accused myself of imprudence and cruelty in suffering her to tell me her: history. My wife, on her return to London, called upon her; and her cordiality and affection a little re-assured the sorrow-sinitten sufferer, and had far more effect than all the medicine of the Dispensary and the physicians there could do for her.
We supplied her, at her own earnest wish, with a little employment, to : divert ber mind from preying upon her already lacerated feelings. She's worked at small articles of sewing, embroidery, &e. &c., which were af terwards taken, at her desire, to a charitable bazaar in the neighborhood. The interest taken in her case by the other medical attendants at the Dis pensary, was almost as great as that I felt myself. All that our united experience could suggest, was anxiously done for her. Every symptom of danger was anxiously waited for, watched, and, with the blessing of Provie" dence, expelled... All the nourishment she was capable of receiving, was given her in the most inviting frame. My wife, she chaplain, myself, ande the resident apothecary, were frequent visitors, for the purpose of keeping her spirits in cheerful and various exercise ; and, with the aid of Heaven, these combined efforts proved eminently successful. I have very rarely, in the case of consumption, known a patient recover from such a hopeless degree of bodily and mental prostration, so satisfactorily as Miss Edwards. Her whole nature, indeed, seemed changed; her gentle, cheerful, graceful piety--if I may be allowed the expression-made piety lovely indeed. Not that she gave way to what is too often found to be the exacerbations arising from mere superstition acting upon weakened powers; that she affected what she did not feel, and uttered the sickening language of cant or hypocrisy. There was a lowliness, a simplicity, a fervor, a resignation about her, that could spring from sincerity alone!
The chaplain had given her a copy of the incomparable- the almost divine · Saints' Rest' of Baxter. Morning, noon, and night, did she ponder over its pages, imbibing their chastening, hallowing, glorifying spirit; and would often lay down the book in a kind of transport, her features glowing with an expression that rivalled my recollections of her former beauty.
She was soon able to bear the motion of a hackney-coach, and, attended by her faithful nurse, took several drives about the aitiest parts of the suburbs. In short, her recovery was marked by the most gratifying signs of permanency. How my heart leaped with joy, after so long, painful, and anxious, often hopeless, an attendance on her, to enter her neatly-arranged room, and see her, not stretched upon the bed of agony and death-Dot turning her pale face to the wall, her soul filled with frightful apprehensions of an infinitely more frightful hereafter, but sitting clothed, and in her right mind,' reading, beside the window, or walking to and fro, supported by the nurse, her figure, elegant and beautifully moulded, yet painfully slender, habited in a neat dark dress ; for 'white,' she said with a sigh,
she was now unworthy to wear,'-white-the vesture of the innocent! With what honest pride, too, did the nurse look at her,-her affectionate heart overjoyed at witnessing a recovery her own unwearied attentions had so materially conduced to ensure !
Finding Miss Edwards's convalescence so encouraging and steady, I proposed to her, seriously, to niake claim, through a respectable solicitor, to the property she was entitled to, and employ a part of it in engaging a omall cottage, a few miles from town, before the beantiful summerweather passed away. I suggested my advertising in the newspapers for such a place as we wanted, to be engaged from year to year, ready furnished ; adding, that at a very trilling cost, the nurse could be prevailed on to accompany and attend upon her."
. Come, Eleanor, now what possible rational objection can you have to all this?" I inquired, finding she listened to my proposal in seriousness and silence.
'Only,' she replied, with a sad, sweet smile, only that it would make me too-too happy !' Matters were soon arranged. A respectable solicitor was duly instructed to put her in the proper way of obtaining what was due to her. There was little difficulty in doing so. The solicitor of her uncle, when written to, came up to town, acknowledged her right, and recognised her in a moment, though he had delicacy enough to abstain from any appearance of surprise, or unnecessary inquiry. There was, consequently, no obstacle on the score of identity; and the property was at once conveyed to her absolutely. I inserted in ihé newspapers such an advertisement as I spoke of, and it was answered the next day by the proprietor of precisely such a place as I wanted, which, therefore, I'at once engaged,