« НазадПродовжити »
Day after day, week after week, goes by, told me, with tears, how much good I had done and yet I live-live, and living, keep the hor to Laurence. For this, thank God! rible secret in my soul. It must remain there! My husband! my husband! At times I buried for ever, now.
could almost think this horror was some deliIt so chanced, that after that hour I did not rious dream, cast it all to the winds, and see my husband for some weeks : Louisa and worship him as of old. I do feel, as I ought, I were hastily summoned home. So I had deep tenderness-compassion. No, no! let me time to think what I was to do.
not deceive myself: I love him ; in defiance of I knew all now—all the mystery of his fits all I love him, and shall do evermore. of gloom—his secret sufferings. It was remorse, Sometimes his olden sufferings come over perpetual remorse. No marvel! And for a him; and then I, knowing the whole truth, moment my stern heart said, “Let it be so." feel my very soul moved within me. If he I, too, was wronged. Why did he marry me, had only told me all : if I could now lay my and hide all this? () vile! O cruel! Then the heart open before him, with all its love and light broke on me: his long struggle against pardon ; if he would let me comfort him, and his love-his terror of winning mine. But he speak of hope, of heaven's mercy-of atonedid love me: half-maddening as I was, I ment, even on earth. But I dare not-I dare not. grasped at that. Whatever blackness was on Since, from this silence which he has seen the past, he loved me now-he had sworn it fit to keep, I must not share the struggle, but “ more than he ever loved woman.”
must stay afar off,—then, like the prophet who I was yet young: I knew little of the wick knelt on the rock, supplicating for Israel in edness of the world ; but I had heard of that the battle, let my hands fall not, nor my prayer mad passion of a moment, which may seize on cease, until heaven sendeth the victory. a heart not wholly vile, and afterwards a whole lifetime of remorse works out the expia Nearer and nearer comes the hour which will tion. Six years ago! he must have been then be to me one of a double life, or of death. a mere boy. If he had thus erred in youth, I, | Sometimes, remembering all I have lately sufwho knew his nature, knew how awful must fered, there comes to me a heavy foreboding. have been the repentance of his manhood. What, if I, so young, to whom, one little year On any humbled sinner I would have mercy ago, life seemed an opening paradise--what, how much rather must I have mercy on my if I should die-die and leave him, and he husband ?
never know how deeply I have loved-how I had mercy. Some, stern in virtue, may | much I have forgiven? condemn me; but God knoweth all.
Yes; he might know, and bitterly. Should He is I believe it in my soul – he is a Louisa tell-But I will prevent that. good man now, and striving more and more after good. I will help him I will save him. In my husband's absence, I have sat up half Never shall he know that secret, which out of the night writing; that, in case of my death, pride or bitterness might drive him back he may be made acquainted with the whole from virtue, or make him feel shame before me. truth, and hear it from me alone. I have
poured out all my suffering--all my tenderI took my resolution-I have fulfilled it.
ness: I have implored him, for the love of I have met him again, as a faithful wife should
heaven, for the love of me, that he would in meet her husband : no word, no look, betrays,
every way atone for the past, and lead for or shall betray, what I know. All our outward
the future a righteous life; that his sin may life goes on as before: his tenderness for me is
be forgiven, and that, after death, we may constant - Overflowing. But oh! the agony,
meet in joy evermore. worse than death, of knowing my idol fallen--that where I once worshipped, I can only pity,
I have been to church with Laurence-for weep, and pray.
the last time, as I think. We knelt together, and took the sacrament. His face was
grave, but peaceful. When we came home, He told me yesterday he did not feel like we sat in our beautiful little rose-garden : he, the same man that he was before his marriage. looking so content-even happy ;-0 tender He said I was his good angel : that through over me--so full of hope for the future. How me he became calmer, happier, every day. should this be, if he had on his soul that awsul It was true: I read the change in his face. I sin? All seemed a delusion of my own creatOthers read it too. Even his aged mother | ing: I doubted even the evidence of my
knew it. I woke out of a long blank dreama delirium of many weeks to find the blessing had come, and been taken away. One only giveth-ONE only taketh. Amen!
For seven days, as they tell me, my babe lay by my side--its tiny hands touched mineit slept at my breast. But I remember nothing-nothing! I was quite mad all the while. And then-it died-and I have no little face to dream of--no memory of the sweetness that has been : it is all to me as if I had never seen my child.
If I had only had my senses for one dayone hour : if I could but have seen Laurence when they gave him his baby boy. Bitterly he grieves, his mother says, because he has no heir.
* * * * My first waking fear was horrible. Had I betrayed anything during my delirium ? I think not. Louisa says I lay all the time silent, dull, and did not even notice my husband, though he bent over me like one distracted. Poor Laurence! I see him but little now: they will not suffer me. It is perhaps well: I could not bear his grief and my own too : I might not be able to keep my secret safe.
own senses. I longed to throw myself on his bosom, and tell him all. But then from some inexplicable cause, the olden cloud came over him ; I read in his face, or thought I read, the torturing remorse which at once repelled me from him, and yet drew me again, with a compassion that was almost stronger than love.
I thought I would try to say, in some passing way, words that, should I die, might afterwards comfort him, by telling him how his misery had wrung my heart, and how I did not scorn him, not even for his sin.
" Laurence," I said, very softly, “I wish that you and I had known one another all our lives
from the time we were little children.”
“Oh! that we had! then I had been a better and a happier man, my Adelaide!” was his answer.
“ We will not talk of that. Please God, we may live a long and worthy life together; but if not "
He looked at me with fear. “What is that you say ? Adelaide, you are not going to die ? you, whom I love, whom I have made happy, you have no cause to die."
Oh, agony! he thought of the one who had cause-to whose shame and misery death was better than life. Poor wretch! she, too, might have loved him. Down, wife's jealousy! down, woman's pride! It was long, long ago. She is dead; and he-Oh! my husband! may God forgive me according as I pardon you!
I said to him once more, putting my arm round his neck, leaning so that he could only hear, not see me. “Laurence, if I should die, remember how happy we have been, and how dearly we have loved one another. Think of nothing sad or painful; think only that, living or dying, I loved you as I have loved none else in the world. And so, whatever chances, be content."
He seemed afraid to speak more, lest I should be agitated ; but as he kissed me, I felt on my cheek tears-tears that my own eyes, long sealed by misery, had no power to shed.
* * * I have done all I wished to do. I have set my house in order. Now, whichever way God wills the event, I am prepared. Life is not to me what it once was: yet, for Laurence's sake, and for one besides-Ah! now I dimly guess what that poor mother felt, who, dying, left her child to the mercy of the bitter world. But, heaven's will be done. I shall write here no more-perhaps for ever.
I went yesterday to look at the tiny mound
all that is left to me of my dream of motherhood. Such a happy dream as it was, too! How it comforted me, many a time: how I used to sit and think of my darling that was to come: to picture it lying in my armsplaying at my feet-growing in beauty-a boy, a youth, a man! And this this is allthis little grave.
Perhaps I may never have another child. If so, all the deep love which nature teaches, and which nature has even now awakened in my heart, must find no object, and droop and wither away, or be changed into repining. No! please God, that last shall never be: I will not embitter the blessings I have, by mourning over those denied.
But I must love something, in the way that I would have loved my child. I have lost my babe; some babe may have lost a mother. A thought comes-I shudder-I tremble-yet I follow it. I will pause a little, and then
In Mr. Shelmerdine's absence, I have accomplished my plan. I have contrived to visit the place where lives that hapless child-my husband's child.
I do believe my love to Laurence must be such as never before was borne to man by woman. It draws me even towards this little
* . * * It is all past and gone. I have been a mother--alas! have been ; but I never
one: forgetting all wife-like pride, I seem to yearn over the boy. But is this strange ? In my first girlish dreams, many a time I have taken a book he had touched-a flower he had gathered-hid it from my sisters, kissed it, and wept over it for days. It was folly; but it only showed how precious I held everything belonging to him. And should I not hold precious what is half himself-his own son ?
I will go and see the child to morrow.
fiercely to me. “You'd better mind your own business: my Bess was as good as you."
I trembled violently, but could not speak. The woman went on :
* I dunnot care if I blab it all out, though Bess begged me not. She was a fool, and the young fellow something worse. His father tried-may-be he wished to try, too—but they couldna undo what had been done. My girl was safe married to him, and the little lad's a gentleman's lawful son.”
Oh! joy beyond belief! Oh! bursting, blessed tears! My Laurence! my Laurence!
* * * * I have no clear recollection of anything more, save that I suppose the woman thought me mad, and fled out of the cottage. My first consciousness is of finding myself quite alone, with the door open, and a child looking in at me in wonderment, but with a gentleness such as I have seen my husband wear. No marvel I had loved that childish face: it was such as might have been his when he was a boy.
I cried, tremulously, “Laurence ! little Laurence!” He came to me, smiling and pleased. One faint struggle I had-forgive me, poor dead girl !-and then I took the child in my arms, and kissed him as though I had been his mother. For thy sake--for thy sake-my husband !
Weeks have passed, and yet I have had no strength to tell what that to-morrow brought. Strange book of human fate! each leaf closed until the appointed time,--if we could but turn it, and read. Yet it is best not.
I went to the cottage--alone, of course. I asked the old woman to let me come in and rest, for I was a stranger, weak and tired. She did so kindly, remembering, perhaps, how I had once noticed the boy. He was her grandson she told me her daughter's child.
Her daughter! And this old creature was a coarse, rough-spoken woman ---a labourer's wife. Laurence Shelmerdine--the elegantthe refined-what madness must have possessed him!
"She died very young, then, your daughter?" I found courage to say.
“Ay, ay; in a few months after the boy's birth. She was but a weakly thing at best, and she had troubles enow."
Quickly came the blood to my heart-to my cheek-in bitter, bitter shame. Not for myself, but for him. I shrank like a guilty thing before that mother's eye. I dared not ask-what I longed to hear-concerning the poor girl, and her sad history.
" Is the child like her ?” was all I could say, looking to where the little one was playing, at the far-end of the garden. I was glad not to see him nearer. “Was his mother as beautiful as he?"
“Ay, a good-looking lass enough ; but the little lad's like his father, who was a gentleman born : though Laurence had better ha' been a ploughman's son. A bad business Bess made of it. To this day I dunnot know her right name, nor little Laurence's there, and so I canna make his father own him. He ought, for the lad's growing up as grand a gentleman as himself: he'll never do to live with poor folk like granny."
" Alas!” I cried, forgetting all but my compassion; "then how will the child bear his lot of shame!”
"Shame!" and the old woman came up
I understood all the past now. The wild, boyish passion, making an ideal out of a poor village girl -- the unequal union-- the dream fading into common day-coarseness creating repulsion — the sting of one folly which had marred a lifetime-dread of the world, selfreproach, and shame-all these excuses I could find : and yet Laurence had acted ill. And when the end came : no wonder that remorse pursued him, for he had broken a girl's heart. She might, she must, have loved him. I wept for her--I, who so passionately loved him too.
He was wrong, also, grievously wrong, in not acknowledging the child. Yet there might I have been reasons. His father ruled with an
iron hand; and, then, when he died, Laurence had just known me. Alas! I weave all coverings to hide his fault. But surely this strong, faithful love was implanted in my heart for good. It shall not fail him now: it shall encompass him with arms of peace : it shall stand between him and the bitter past : it shall lead him on to a worthy and happy future.
There is one thing which he must do: I will strengthen him to do it. Yet, when I tell him all, how will he meet it? No matter ; I must do right. I have walked through this cloud of misery-shall my courage fail me now?
SILARPE'S LONDON JAGAZINE.
He came home, nor knew that I had been must be made? But I have given him comfort away. Something oppressed him : his old -ay, courage. I have urged him to do his grief, perhaps. My beloved ! I have a balm duty, which is one with mine. even for that, now.
My husband has acknowledged his first • • • • I told him the story, as it were marriage, and taken home his son. His mother, in a parable, not of myself, but of anothermal though shocked and bewildered at first, refriend I had. His colour came and went-his joiced when she saw the beautiful boy hands trembled in my hold. I hid nothing: I worthy to be the heir of the Shelmerdincs. told of the wife's first horrible fear of her All are happy in the thought. And Imisery-and the red flush mounted to his very I go, but always secretly, to the small daisybrow. I could have fallen at his feet, and mound. My own lost one! my babe, whose prayed forgiveness; but I dared not yet. At face I never saw! If I have no child on earth, last I spoke of the end, still using the feigned I know there is a little angel waiting me in names I had used all along.
heaven. He said, hoarsely, “Do you think the wife -a good and pure woman-would forgive all Let no one say I am not happy, as happy as this?"
one can be in this world: never was any " Forgive! Oh! Laurence-Laurence !" and woman more blessed than I am in my husband I clung to him and wept.
and my son-mine. I took him as such: I will A doubt seemed to strike him. “ Adelaide fulfil the pledge while I live. tell me"
• The other day, our little Lau“I have told. Husband, forgive me! I rence did something wrong. He rarely does know all, and still I love you—I love you!" so—he is his father's own child for gentleness
I did not say, I pardon. I would not let and generosity. But here he was in error: he him think that I felt I had need to pardon. ! quarrelled with his Aunt Louisa, and refused
Laurence sank down at my feet, hid his to be friends. Louisa was not right either: face on my knees, and wept.
she does not half love the boy. . . * * The tale of his youth was as I I took my son on my lap, and tried to show guessed. He told it me the same night, when him the holiness and beauty of returning good we sat in the twilight gloom. I was glad of for evil; of forgetting unkindness, of pardonthis--that not even his wife's eyes might scan ing sin. He listened, as he always listens to too closely the pang it cost him to reveal me. After a while, when his heart was softthese long-past days. But all the while he 'ened, I made him kneel down beside me, saying spoke my head was on his breast, that he might the prayer Forgire us our trespasses, as we feel I held my place there still, and that no forgire them that trespass against us." error, no grief, no shame, could change my love Little Laurence stole away, repentant and for him, nor make me doubt his own, which I good. I sat thoughtful: I did not notice th: had won.
behind me had stood my Laurence-my hus
band. He came and knelt where his boy My task is accomplished. I rested not, day had knelt. Like a child, he laid his head on or night, until the right was done. Why my shoulder, and blessed me, in broken words. should he fear the world's sneer, when his wife! The sweetest of all were: stands by him—his wife, who most of all might į “My wife! my wife who has saved her be thought to shrink from this confession that i husband !"
It has been frequently said that, “Paris is ! " London is England," we should not meet so France," — the saying has become proverbial, tacit an acquiescence, inasmuch as our proand it is true in the main, inasmuch as in that | vincial citics have an independent character capital we see French character fully develop of their own, and do not look up to the capital itself, while its influence gives the tone to every for their guidance so entirely; neither are they provincial capital in its opinions, its habits, / without the pride of provincialism, and are and its fashions. But if we were to say that i less inclined to honour the capital at the ex
pense of their own native city or town. Yet were the windmills, where many a “lusty London may be taken as a fair epitome of miller" drove a brisk trade with the city; and England. Like the English Constitution, it far away the villages of Islington and Hackney, has modified itself to every age, has adapted and the hills of Hampstead and Highgate. itself to every
Within the walls was a dense population in
streets of narrow dimensions, the houses over“ Change of many-coloured life,"
hanging the pathways, on many of which the and thus preserved its supremacy in the nine sun never shone, and which were ill-drained teenth century, until the “Modern Babylon" and ill-cleaned; some idea of them may be has become the wonder of the world. Increas now formed by a visit to the still existing ing in size, as England has increased in power, streets of the cité of Old Paris, or the winds its warehouses are the receptacles of the in of Old Edinburgh. The pestilences which dustry of the world; its port the centre to once depopulated Old London have departed which all vessels steer; it shops the mart for with the manners which occasioned them. every trader of the universe. As England The inhabitants of the Ancient Town, has possessions in every hemisphere, so is its crowded thus within their walls, literally in cosmopolitan character shadowed in its streets ;
“populous city pent"-escaped whenever they the very names which meet the eye show the were able; those who could leave the alleys mixed character of the population; and the congregated in the wider principal thoroughstill increasing vastness of the enormous city fares, or met to talk and walk in the nave of is but a type of the commercial greatness of St. Paul's; or if they could get beyond the the Nation. Is not, then, London--England ?
walls, walked in Finsbury-fields, where the It was far otherwise within comparatively youths went to practise with pike or bow, and recent times. We need not go back to the the maidens to dance; while those “on pleaearly or middle ages, when commerce was sure bent,” crossed the Thames, and sought it neglected or crippled by the most absurd of on the Surrey side. Custom-house regulations, when “Protection," “ Southwark from an early time appears to in the fullest sense of the word, was accorded have been to the Londoners what “the playing in the blindest manner to all who had a shadow ground" was to the Indian-a place adjacent of claim to it, and trade meant business to his home, devoted to his amusement. Here bounded by our own seas. In those days, were “garden houses," selling cakes and ale London was a small, snugly-walled city, with for the old citizens ; bear-baiting and plays for one bridge well fortified, and a Tower strongly the younger ones--and, by natural consequence, formed to repel an enemy. Like England at
here also congregated the infamous of both that period, it was warlike and insecure; sexes, who had aught to gain by the stimulus throwing around itself restrictive and mural excited. Paris-garden achieved an early notoprotection. As England has progressed its riety in evil; it frequently occupied the attencapital has increased in wealth and importance; tion of satirists; one Crowley, a poet of the but where now are its wall and bastions, its reign of Henry VIII., as quoted by Pennant, gates and drawbridges—a true type of the declares : nation, it has learned the wisdom of the moral
“ At Paris Garden each Sunday a man shall not fail strength of universal trustfulness based on To find two or three hundred, for the bear-ward's native honour.
vale, Any one who has the opportunity and in One half-penny a-piece they use for to give.” clination to look at the old “bird's-eye" view But it was not the poor and vulgar only of London, executed in the reign of Elizabeth, who patronized these debasing amusements. will at once be struck with the small space it Collier, in his “History of the Stage," relates then occupied. Its walls were entire, and that the Earl of Northumberland went there enclosed the ground east and west from the to see bears baited in 1526 ; and a gentleman Tower to Blackfriars, reaching from the of the suite of the Spanish ambassador in Thames northwardly to Smithfield, Barbican, 1544, narrates his visit to the same “ fashionand Finsbury; while, from Cripplegate to able” locality; he describes the bears as Bishopsgate, “the maidens of London dried “ driven into a circus, where they are confined their clothes" on the grass plots immediately by a long rope, while large and courageous under the walls, and the eye had an uninter dogs are let loose upon them, and a fight takes rupted range over “fresh fields and pastures | place.” He narrates that horses were also new," where the young men of London met tobaited there; and describes a pony thus practise shooting with the bow, beyond which tormented with a monkey on its back, com