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old lover because she had placed her affections upon Edwin Lechmere, whom she was endeavouring to "entrap," was not to be mistaken ; and the country girl was altogether unprepared for the burst of indignant feeling, mingled with much bitterness, which repelled the untruth. A strong fit of hysterics into which Mary Charles worked herself was terminated by a scene of the most painful kind-her father being upbraided by her mother with “ loving other people's children better than his own,”: while the curate himself knelt by the side of his betrothed, assuring her of his unaltered affection. From such a scene Miss Adams hastened with a throbbing brow and a bursting heart. She had no one to counsel or console her; no one to whom she could apply for aid. For the first time since she had experienced her uncle's tenderness, she felt she had been the means of disturbing his domestic peace; the knowledge of the burden she was, and the burden she and hers were considered, weighed her to the earth;
and in a paroxysm of anguish she fell on her knees, exclaiming, “Oh! why are the dependent born into the world? Father, father! why did you leave us, whom you so loved, to such a fate!” And then she reproached herself for having uttered a word reflecting on his memory. One of the every day occurrences of life—so common, as to be hardly observed--is to find really kind good-natured people weary of well-doing. “Oh, really I was worn out with so and so; they are so decidedly unfortunate that it is impossible to help them,” is : general excuse for deserting those whose continuing misfortunes ought to render them greater objects of sympathy.
Mr Charles Adams was, as has been shown in our little narrative, a kind-hearted man. Estranged as his brother and himself had been for a number of years, he had done much to forward, and still more to protect, his children. At first this was a pleasure; but somehow his “ benevolence,” and “kindness,” and generosity” had been so talked about, so eulogised, and he had been so seriously inconvenienced by the waywardness of his nephews, the thoughtless pride of his sister-in-law, the helplessness of his younger nieces, as to feel seriously oppressed by his responsibility. And now the one who had never given him aught but pleasure, seemed, according to his daughter's representations, to be the cause of increased sorrow—the destroyer of his dear child's happiness. What to do he could not tell. His daughter, wrought upon by her own jealousy, had evinced under its influence so much temper she had never displayed before, that it seemed more than likely the cherished match would be broken off
. His highminded niece saved him any farther anxiety as far as she was concerned. She sent for, and convinced him fully and entirely of her total freedom from the base design imputed to her. “Was it likely,” she said, “ that I should reject the man I love lest I should drag him into poverty, and plunge at once with one I do not care for into the abyss I dread? This is the common-sense
view of the case; but there is yet another. Is it to be borne that I would seek to rob your child of her happiness? The supposition is an insult too gross to be endured. I will leave my mother to-morrow. An old schoolfellow, older and more fortunate than myself, wished me to educate her little girl. I had one or two strong objections to living in her house; but the desire to be independent and away has overcome them.” She then, with many tears, intreated her uncle still to protect her mother; urged how she had been sorely tried; and communicated fears, she had reason to believe were too well founded, that her eldest brother, feeling the reverse more than he could bear, had deserted from his regiment.
Charles Adams was deeply moved by the nobleness of his niece, and reproved his daughter more harshly than he had ever done before for the feebleness that created so strong and unjust a passion. This had the contrary effect to what he had hoped for: she did not hesitate to say that her cousin had endeavoured to rob her both of the affection of her lover and her father. The injured cousin left Repton, bowed beneath an accumulation of troubles, not one of which was of her own creating, not one of which she deserved; and all springing from the unproviding nature of him who, had he been asked the question, would have declared himself ready to sacrifice his own life for the advantage of that daughter, now compelled to work for her own bread. To trace the career of Mary Adams in her new calling would be to repeat what I have said before. The more refined, the more informed the governess, the more she suffers. Being with one whom she had known in better days, made it even more hard to bend; yet she did her duty, and that is one of the highest privileges a woman can enjoy.
Leaving Mary for a moment, let us return to Repton. Here discord, having once entered, was making sad ravages, and all were suffering from it. It was but too true that the eldest of the Adamses had deserted : his mother, clinging with a parent's fondness to her child, concealed him, and thus offended Charles Adams beyond all reconciliation. The third lad, who was walking the London hospitals, and exerting himself beyond his strength, was everything that a youth could be; but his declining health was represented to his uncle, by one of those whom his mother's pride had insulted, as a cloak for indolence. In short, before another year had quite passed, the family of the once rich and fashionable Dr Adams had shared the fate of all dependents—worn out the benevolence, or patience, or whatever it really is, of their best friends. Nor was this the only consequence of the physician's neglect of a duty due alike to God and society: his brother had really done so much for the bereaved family, as to give what the world called just grounds to Mrs Charles Adams's repeated complaints, “ that now her husband was ruining his industrious family to keep the lazy
widow of his spendthrift brother and her favourite children in idleness. Why could she not live upon the fine folk' she was always throwing in her face?” Their daughter, too, of whose approaching union the fond father had been so proud, was now, like her cousin whom she had wronged by her mean suspicions, deserted; the match broken off after much bickering; one quarrel having brought on another, until they separated by mutual consent. Her temper and her health were both materially impaired, and her beauty was converted into hardness and acidity.
Oh how utterly groundless is the idea, that in our social state, where one human being, must so much depend upon another, any man, neglecting his positive duties, can be called only “his own enemy! What misery had not Dr Adams's neglect entailed, not alone on his immediate family, but on that of his brother! Besides, there were ramifications of distress; he died even more embarrassed than his brother had at first believed, and some tradespeople were consequently embarrassed; but the deep misery fell upon his children. Meanwhile, Mrs Dr Adams had left Repton with her younger children, to be the dependents of Mary in London.
It was not until a fatal disease had seized upon her mother, that Mary ventured to appeal again to her uncle's generosity. second brother,” she said, “ has, out of his small means,
remitted her five pounds. My eldest brother seems altogether to have disappeared from amongst us: finding that his unhappy presence had occasioned so fatal a separation between his mother and you -a disunion which I saw was the effect of many small causes, rather than one great one-he left us, and we cannot trace him. This has broken my poor mother's heart; he was the cherished one of all her children. My youngest brother has been for the last month an inmate of one of the hospitals which my poor father attended for so many years, and where his word was law. My sister Rosa, she upon whom my poor father poured, if possible, more of his affection than he bestowed upon me—my lovely sister, of whom, even in our poverty, I was so proud-so young, only upon the verge of womanhood—has, you already know, lett
Would to God that it had been for her grave, rather than her destroyer !-a fellow-student of that poor youth, who, if he dreamt of her dishonour, would stagger like a spectre from what will be his deathbed to avenge her. Poverty is one of the surest guides to dishonour; those who have not been tempted know nothing of it. It is one thing to see it, another to feel it. Do not think her altogether base, because she had not the strength of a heroine. I have been obliged to resign my situation to attend my mother, and the only income we have is what I earn by giving lessons on the harp and piano. I give, for two shillings, the same instruction for which my father paid half-a-guinea a lesson; if I did
since my mother left her bed; and my youngest sister, bending beneath increased delicacy of health, is her only attendant. I know her mind to be so tortured, and her body so convulsed by pain, that I have prayed to God to render her tit for Heaven, and take her from her sufferings. Imagine the weight of sorrow that crushed me to my knees with such a petition as that! I know all you have done, and yet I ask you now, in remembrance of the boyish love that bound you and my father together, to lessen her bodily anguish by the sacrifice of a little more; that she, nursed in the lap of luxury, may not pass from life with starvation as her companion. My brother's gift is expended; and during the last three weeks I have earned but twelve shil lings; my pupils are out of town. Do, for a moment, remember what I was, and think how humbled' I must be to frame this supplication ; but it is a child that petitions for a parent, and I know I have never forfeited your esteem. In a few weeks, perhaps in a few days, my brother and my mother will meet my poor father face to face. Oh that I could be assured that reproach and bitterness for the past do not pass the portals of the grave! Forgive me this, as you have already forgiven me much. Alas! I know too well that our misfortunes drew misfortunes upon others. I was the unhappy but innocent cause of much sorrow at the Grange; but oh! do not refuse the last request that I will ever make!” The letter was blotted by tears.
Charles Adams was from home when it arrived, and his wife, knowing the handwriting, and having made a resolution never to open a letter “from that branch of the family,” did not send it after her husband, “lest it might tease him.” Ten days elapsed before he received it; and when he did, he could not be content with writing, but lost not a moment in hastening to the address. Irritated and disappointed that what he really had done should have been so little appreciated, when every hour of his life he was smarting in one way or other from his exertions-brokenhearted at his daughter's blighted health and happiness—angered by the reckless wildness of one nephew, and what he believed was the idleness of another-and convinced that Rosa's fearful step was owing to the pampering and mismanagement of her foolish mother-Charles Adams satisfied himself that, as he did not hear to the contrary from Mary, all things were going on well, or at least not ill. He thought as little about them as he possibly could, no people in the world being so conveniently forgotten (when they are not importunate) as poor relations; but the letter of his favourite niece spoke strongly to his heart, and in two hours after his return home, he set forth for the London suburb from whence the letter was dated. It so chanced that, to get to that particular end of the town, he was obliged to pass the house his brother had occupied so splendidly for a number of years; the servants had lit the lamps, and were drawing the curtains of the noble dining-room; and a party of ladies were
descending from a carriage, which prevented two others from setting down. It looked like old times. “ Some one else," thought Charles Adams, “ running the same career of wealth and extravagance. God grant it may not lead to the same results !” He paused, and looked up the front of the noble mansion; the drawing-room windows were open, and two beautiful children were standing on an ottoman placed between the windows, probably to keep them apart. He thought of Mary's childhood, and how she was occupied at that moment, and hastened onward. There are times when life seems one mingled dream, and it is not easy to become dispossessed of the idea when some of its frightful changes are brought almost together under our view.
“ Is Miss Adams at home?" inquired her uncle of a woman leaning against the door of a miserable house.
“I don't know; she went to the hospital this morning; but I'm not sure she’s'in. It's the second pair back; it's easy known, for the sob has not ceased in that room these two nights; some people do take on so
Charles Adams did not hear the concluding sentence, but sought the room : the door would not close, and he heard a low sobbing sound from within. He paused; but his step had aroused
“Come in, Mary-come in. I know how it is,” said a young voice; "he is dead. One grave for mother and son-one grave for mother and son! I see your shadow, dark as it is. Have you brought a candle? It is very fearful to be alone with the dead-even one's own mother in the dark."
Charles Adams entered the room; but his sudden appearance in the twilight, and evidently not knowing him, overcame the girl, his youngest niece, so much, that she screamed, and fell on her knees by her mother's corpse. He called for lights, and was speedily obeyed, for he put a piece of gold in the woman's hand : she turned it over, and as she hastened from the room, muttered, “ If this had come sooner, she'd not have died of starvation, or burdened the parish for a shroud : it's hard the rich can't look to their own."
When Mary returned, she was fearfully calm. “No; her brother was not dead,” she said. “The young were longer dying than those whom the world had worn out; the young knew so little of the world, they thought it hard to leave it," and she took off her bonnet, and sat down; and while her uncle explained why he had not written, she looked at him with eyes so fixed and cold, that he paused, hoping she would speak, so painful was their stony expression. But she let him go on, without offering one word of assurance any kind feeling or remembrance; and when she stooped to adjust a portion of the coarse plaiting of the shroud-that mockery of “the purple and fine linen of living days”-her uncle saw that her hair, her luxuriant hair, was striped with white.