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
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
"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.
"Now, come! come! no fine lady's airs. Though, by the
bye! fine ladies don't show their airs in this way—just the contrary―many'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
Will you be quiet—and I'll go directly!"
"Go!" answered Anna, almost relaxing into an involuntary
"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!"
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-tops―such 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 sight―and
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
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
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
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 guest―and 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!
"WHAT are you looking at, Weldon?―you have been
gazing out into the street a long time"—said a young medical student to
"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,
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
"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
"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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"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."
"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
"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
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.
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.
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
"But, for the love of heaven! Anna, tell me, where are you
"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
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
That was a night of ecstasy.
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
"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,
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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,
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!
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
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
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
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.
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?"
"And am I in his room?"
"And who are you? How is it I see you here?"
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
"The same, sir!"—replied Arthur Weldon, for it was
Trelawney's friend who answered.
"Perspiration—shortness of breath—cheeks flushed?"
"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
"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
"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.
"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—"
"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
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
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
END OF THE YOUNG MILLINER.