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And oh, the glowing pictures he painted of the life she would lead with him! For he was endeavouring to entice her to leave madame's house; and what was the use, he argued, of severing herself from him now. Her days should be passed in one round of luxurious enjoyment; her attire of that richness hitherto only seen when making it up for others; the jewels it should be his privilege to lavish on her; the nights at the Opera, hitherto a sealed place to her ; the drives in the park in his own carriage, and how he would love and cherish her!
At length she yielded to his prayer, and left the dressmaker's house to take shelter in his ; for what he said was true, that she could not be more degraded than she already was. Far be it from me to extenuate guilt, but let those who blame Annie Lee without extenuation, reflect upon her life of painful slavery, and compare it with the prospect of ease held out to her-there lay the all-powerful temptation to yield to a life of sin. Few, none of the hundreds of toilworn dressmakers who exist, will read this, for how should they have the opportunity ; but let me suggest to those young and favoured women, sheltered in their luxurious homes, who will read it, that, however they may turn from Annie Lee with a shudder, had circumstances placed them in her position, overworked as she was, their days one continued scene of never-ceasing toil, their natural rest forbidden them, their spirit chafed, rebellious, repining, even they might have found their moral rectitude to be as weak as hers was had temptation assailed it.
A short whirl of delirious happiness, mixed with a still, small voice, was passed by Annie. She loved Captain Stanley with all the strange passion of a first attachment. The change in her life had been like passing from earth to heaven. When she retired to rest at night there was no heart-sickening certainty of being compelled to rise after an hour or two's unnatural and death-like sleep to resume her toil. When she awoke in the morning she would start with fear and trembling, dreading to hear the harsh voice of the forewoman; but a moment's reassuring recollection, and she could turn upon her pillow to sleep again, and dream of peace and rest for the weary.
But this was not to last-believe me, such purchased happiness never does. In this case the break was given to it by Captain Stanley's being ordered on foreign service. There seemed to be no time given him for preparation, or Annie thought there was not, before he was gone.
What was to become of Annie now? Oh! how she wished, now that such regrets were useless, that she had never listened to the tempter. A terrible remorse took possession of her. She lay for days in bed, her burning temples buried amongst the pillows, and her drooping eyes shunning the clear light of day. Why, what a wretched, guilty thing she was ! What blind infatuation could have possessed her ? Oh, she saw things now in their true colours. The veil which sophistry and his specious arguments had cast over her conduct was lifted, and she knew how wild and inexcusable had been her sin. What would she give, now, to be restored to what she had been to be toiling night and day, as she then was, but with a mind at rest! How was this disastrous 'news to be broken to her father ; to her cold, stern, but most correct sisters? They imagined she was still in the house of madame, for Captain Stanley had so managed matters that, to prevent any startling communications, the unsuspicious Frenchwoman had been led to believe Annie was withdrawn by her relations. “A messenger would call occasionally to receive such letters as might arrive for Miss Lee from any stray acquaintances," he had caused to be communicated to madame. Break this news to them! No, no! the burning blush of remorseful shame dyed her brow at the bare thought of it, and she felt that she would far rather perish in the street than go home with her tale of sin. And so she lived on alone. In reality, not much more than three months, but it seemed to Annie like so many years. How she got through the days she never could tell, the dreadful days; one after another, one after another. In looking back upon this period in after years, it seemed to her like a lengthened-out horrible dream, only to glance at which turned her sick even then. She never went out during the whole time ; she shunned as much as possible the face of the servant who attended upon her; and when her money was quite exhausted, and she had none wherewithal to purchase food, or to pay for the rooms she occupied, she felt it almost a relief, for surely it would be no crime now to lay herself down and die. But the landlady thought differently. She divined how matters were at present, and she gave a pretty good guess as to the past. She was a kind-hearted woman, resolved, plain spoken, and, in her manner, authoritative; and she came in one day to demand the address of her friends, and so crossquestioned Annie, and startled and unnerved her, that the latter, like a little child who feels its own self-will glide away and vanish in the presence of its masters, handed over to her the address of Mrs. Henniker.
The landlady's summons was urgent, and Mrs. Henniker hastened up to London. To describe her dismay when she saw Annie, and learnt the facts given here, would be beyond the pen of the most powerful writer. She was a proud woman, had always lived in great respectability, and she felt the disgrace keenly. But what availed her regrets and reproaches ? Nothing. Regrets were lamentably useless, and reproaches fell upon the passive girl who listened to them without apparent effect. Once only she answered, answered meekly—that her aunt could not think worse of her than she thought of herself, and her only hope now was to diè : it was all the expiation remaining to her.
But however openly Mrs. Henniker blamed Annie, it could not equal the inward blame she bestowed upon herself. Had she not taken pains, but little more than fifteen months before, to convince her brother-in-law that London, or at least some of its ways, was only another name for vice, and angrily remonstrated with him for sending Annie thither, inefficiently protected, almost prophesying that the result would be what it had now proved? Yet, because the unfortunate girl, but a child at best, had embraced the deceitfully alluring prospect opened to her, and shunned the less specious one offered by Mrs. Henniker, she had shrouded herself in her indignant pride and anger, and when the repentant letters of her niece came to her, setting forth her bitter disappointment and the weary life she had rushed upon, and imploring to be removed from it, she-she - the well-conducted, and self-deemed religious Mrs. Henniker, had turned a deaf ear to the prayers, and had presumed to say, “ For that girl's ingratitude she shall be punished, and receive no help from me.” Alas ! alas ! the punishment was worse than she had bargained for. What would her departed sister say, she asked herself, could she look down and behold Annie now? But she would make atonement so far as it was possible, she would now make atonement.
The first step towards doing so was to conceal the disgrace not only from their relations but from the world. She inwardly resolved that Annie should never see her child. When all was over she would convey her to her own residence—there would be no resistance on Annie's part now—and tell the farmer and his elder daughters that she had removed Annie from London, finding she still continued dissatisfied with her employment, and had had a dangerous illness.
The time of trial soon came : it had wanted but a few days to it when Mrs. Henniker arrived in London. And if Annie could have foreseen before her fall the sufferings she now went through, that fall might never have taken place.
Two days afterwards, Annie, who had been too alarmingly ill to speak or think before, inquired timidly after the baby.
“ The child is dead,” replied Mrs. Henniker. “ Dead !” gasped Annie. “Well, well, perhaps it is best,” she sighed. But may I not see it, aunt-only for a moment?”
“ Compose yourself to sleep, Annie,” said Mrs. Henniker. “ The child is dead and buried.”
6 It was not born dead,” observed Annie, faintly.
“ No," answered Mrs. Henniker, “it lived to be baptised. Go to sleep, if that be possible, and say not another word, or your own life may not be spared."
" And happier for me if it be not,” she murmured to herself. “ Was it a boy or a girl ?" she asked aloud; “it is my last question.”
“ Annie,” answered the lady, “it was a boy. But,” she continued, sorrowfully and sternly, “ these questions are of no moment now; it would have been different had the unfortunate child lived. Let the subject drop between us for ever, and resolutely dismiss it from your own mind. And let us pray that in time we may be brought to look upon it as a dream-a thing that has never BEEN.”
MORTEN L A N G E.
A CHRISTMAS STORY. .
FROM THE DANISH OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.
By Mrs. BUSHBY. Each midnight from the farthest Thule, to isles the South Sea laves, To exercise themselves awhile the dead forsake their graves ; But when it is the Christmas time they stay much longer out, And may in the churchyard be seen, then, wandering about; And as they dance their merry rounds, the rattling of their bones Produces, 'midst the wintry blasts, somewhat unearthly tones. Poor things! For them there's neither wine, nor punch, nor supper there, The icicles are all they have, and a mouthful of fresh air. When shines the moon strange forms are seen, tall spectral giants some : Such sights as these might even strike a chattering Frenchman dumb. Scoff not at my poor hero, then, though once in a sad frightHe is a most discreet young man, and Morten Langè hight. One Christmas night the fates ordained a journey he must make, So, for despatch, 'twas his resolve a horse and sledge to take. Dark was the hour, and in the skies the ranks of stars looked pale, While from a tower near hooted owls, as in a German tale. And Morten Langè, by-the-by, was not unlearned, for About Molboerne's exploits*--also the Trojan war, “ Octavianus,” Nisses, Trolls, Hobgoblins well he knew, And all about “ the spectre whitę," whose story is so true. Too soon the sleigh stood at the door, with many a jingling bell ; But ah! these sounds to his sad ears seemed like his funeral knell. Yet, though the snow-flakes fell around, of them he took no heed, But like a British runaway pair, he started at full speed. He passed a regiment of old trees, whitened from top to toe, And soon he gained an open plain, where nought he saw but snow. Like Matthison's “ Gedichte,” 'twas very, very cold, But still our hero tried to think that he was warm and bold. He did not care to gaze about, and so half-closed his eyes; Yet, spite of this precaution-lo! a curious sight he spies : A muster of the Elfin-folk enjoying a gay spree, The men were just five inches high, the women only three ; And though 'twas at the chill Yule-time, when cold reigns over all, In clothes of flimsy cobwebs made they capered at their ball; The ancient dames, however, wore some more substantial gear, For of bats' wings their shawls were formed—but, softly-what comes
Twelve harnessed mice, with trappings grand, fit for a monarch's own, They draw a car of fairy work, where a lady sits alone.
* For these, and “Octavianus,” see Ludwig Tieck's works. They have been translated into Danish by Adam Oehlenschlæger.
It stops, and Morten Langè sees the lady getting out“Heav'n help me now! Heav’n help me now!” he sighed, for he dared
not shout. “ I'm no poltroon, and yet I feel the blood within my veins Is freezing fast.” In mortal fear, his cold hand dropped the reins ; Then stooping to recover them out of the sleigh he fell, And with it scampered off the horse, whither he could not tell. He felt that his last hour was come, all helpless as he layAnd with such thoughts upon his mind he fainted quite away. At length, when consciousness returned, and when his swoon was o'er, He heard a fearful buzzing sound, that frightened him still more. What had he done to be exposed that night to such alarms ? A troop of demons round him thronged-one imp secured his arms, Another seized his lanky legs, another caught his headAnd powerless to resist them then, away with him they sped. They carried him to some strange place, flames shone upon the walls, Into another fainting-fit, half dead with fright, he falls. But when the pains of death seemed past, and trembling he looked
round, He saw that in the other life a sad fate he had found. The vaulted roof was black with smoke, and awful was the heat; The devils stood with naked arms—he dared not scan their feet. One held a hammer in his hand, and threatening, waved it nigh, And in a burning furnace there, red flames were Aashing high. Soon guessed our hero where he was, and set himself to kneel, And lustily for mercy prayed—but they laughed at his appeal. Then to his side an angel came, benignant was her smile, And holding out her small white hand, she said to him the while: “Well, Heaven be praised, you're better now! But why are you
afraid ?” Shaking with fear in every limb, in a faint voice he said: 6 Oh, angel ! 'tis not death I dread, but help me out of hell !” The angel laughed : 6 You're in good hands--you ought to know us
NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR. The ghost-story alluded to — Den hvide Qvinde” (The White Woman) --is to be found in Thiele's collection of Danish “ Folkesagn.” This spectre is said to haunt some old ruins near Flensborg. Two soldiers, long, long ago, were keeping their night-watch on the ramparts of the castle ; one of them left his post for a short time, and when he was gone the other sentry was approached by a tall female figure in white, who