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loses this cbild. She must never know used now and then for burying in of the exchange. Before the baby those days." dies, and it has not many hours to live, This brought back to Maria her the other must be put in its place while presence there, and all the scene with she sleeps, or is too confused in her Walsingham, and suggested to her head to know what we are doing. more vividly than any thing before Then when she comes round a little, the change of her position in the world. and sees the child strong and well, no She tried, however, to fix her thoughts doubt she'll recover too. She must upon the obscure grave and history of never know it;'-and he said the word her mother, and to find her own realnever as if he wanted to nail the notion ity in these new circumstances. Of into my head. I felt quite puzzled and Mrs Lascelles she did not dare to think. unsteady, and did not know what to But at last she asked again,-- Who say. There was the thought of the was my father ?” poor lady's death, and Mr Lascelles's “ He was a fisherman twenty miles grief, and perhaps his death too, for from this, and a very good young man. to be sure no one ever loved his wife But he was drowned, and his wife was more than he; and then I thought obliged to return to me. His name how ill I could do for my daughter was Williams." and her children, how often they would She mused for a few moments, and, be likely to want food and clothes and gathering strength and courage, said fire, and what worse would become of to Fowler—_“ My name, then, is Wil. them if I died ; and, after pondering liams, too? But there are other things a minute or two, I said-Sir, you that I must know in order to do what shall have the child, if I can manage is right.”—Then, by several distinct
questions, she drew from him the acThe whole story had gradually count of which the following facts are been unfolding itself in Maria's mind, a summary :though, in her amazement, she had Mr Lascelles had himself gone for much difficulty to comprehend it per- the child at night, together with the fectly. At last she exclaimed—“Do medical man, taking the corpse of his you mean that I am your grand. own baby to Fowler's cottage. This daughter, and not the child of Mrs was buried, a day or two afterwards, as Lascelles ?"
the child of Mrs Williams. Her liv. Startled at her tone of voice, he an- ing infant was, in the mean-time, conswered, hurriedly—“ That and no- veyed to the Mount; and, as Mrs Lasthing else is what I mean."
celles was far too ill to observe accuThen rose an agony of grief in her. rately, and the room was kept darkenShe covered her face with both her ed, there was no difficulty in deceiving hands, and her head sank down upon her. She then gradually recovered her lap. Her limbs, too, failed, and her health, and soon became perfectly she slid off the bench until she knelt well. Mr Lascelles had said to Fowler upon the ground. Fowler was bewil. that he should immediately make a dered between habitual respect for her will, bequeathing all his property to station and fond affection for herself, Maria after his wife's death, with an and he thought that he had best let annuity to Fowler and his daughter. her weep on for some minutes. Then He premised, however, that this had he went to her and touched her arm. not been done, as he had not since re. She shrank from him hastily, but the ceived any payment, and the omission next instant seized the great brown was easily explained, for Mr Lascelles furrowed hand, and pressed it to her was killed a very few months afterlips. She rose from her knees and wards by a fall from his horse. Mrs sat down again upon the bench, and Lascelles then removed to London, in desired him to sit beside her.-" Tell order to be near her mother and other me,” she said, “ what became of my friends. The nurse, who alone among mother?”
the servants knew of the exchange, “She lost her little boy by hooping- had been long dead. The medical cough, and then she too pined away man had gone to reside in the metroand died. They are both buried with polis, and of his further history Fowler my wife and our other children in the knew nothing. But he produced from churchyard of the old church that was an old tin snuff-box a certificate of the burned the other night. It was still principal fact written by Mr Lascelles himself, and signed both by him and The old man looked at her with the surgeon.
glistening and delighted eyes, and · The sight of this paper again agi- exclaimed, “ Well, when I have seen tated Maria violently, for although you, I have often thought you are a she had before no doubt of the truth deal prettier than ever your poor mo. of the narrative, this seemed at once ther was, though she was the prettiest to bring it into the class of admitted girl in the parish ; but I never knew and commonplace facts. Every thing you look half so beautiful before. which seemed to separate her from Perhaps when I see you again, if that Mrs Lascelles was to her excruciat. ever happens, it may be settled that ing: But she felt the necessity of you shall be nothing more to me than decision and external calmness, and a fine young lady, and, I daresay, that would think only of what was to be would be best for us both. But I done.
should like that you would give your * Why,” she said, “ did you not old grandfather one kiss before he tell me this sooner?"
dies." She threw her arms about his “Why should I? You were happy, neck, and kissed him repeatedly, while and so was I. And I did not know the tears ran down his face. “Now," what change it might make for you if he said, “ dear Miss Maria, you had I spoke of matters that had happened best go to the house, and leave me to twenty years ago. But now I think get home at my own pace.
You will I shall not live much longer, and I have plenty to think of, no doubt. could not die quietly without telling But, at all events, you may believe you the truth." But I shall never that you are dearer to poor old Jack speak a word of it to any one else. Fowler than to any of the great folks So you must settle for yourself whe- you have been living among. I never ther you choose any thing to be done saw the tail of your gown go by withabout it."
out praying God to bless you; and “I shall at once tell Mr and Mrs when you used to come down here Nugent the whole story. What they from London, I always fancied He had may wish I do not know. But I will sent an angel into the country to do send to inform you as soon as possible. every body good. God bless you, my In the meantime, take this,' giving darling! God bless you, and make him the contents of her purse, “I you as happy as I wish you, and as must not have money and you be in good as the Virgin Mary!” want of it."
When Maria had reached her own their descendants a race altogether room she threw herself upon her apart, in merit and dignity, from the knees, and prayed for strength to do rest of mankind. The notion that what was right in all things, and to any one not thus distinguished should bear meekly and cheerfully whatever appear as a sharer of the Nugent primight occur to her.
vileges, even on the mother's side, was She then sat down and began to very likely to strike him as an unreflect upon the steps requisite to be heard-of profanation. It might, pos. taken. Her heart was full of the me- sibly, seem to him an imposture violatmory of Mrs Lascelles, who had been ing the most sacred principles of huto her far more than a common mo- man existence, and entailing nothing ther, and who had died in the belief less than infamy on any one who that Maria was her child. But she should connive at it. As to the ques. knew that now was not the time fortion of money, Maria knew that her these feelings, and turned away from supposed father had possessed a conthem in order to act decidedly. The siderable fortune; but this, she believe question as to Mr Nugent's determi- ed, arose entirely from the produce of nation was far from clear. He was a a Cornish mine, which, she understood, haughty self-indulgent man, full of had now ceased to be profitable. She concentrated family pride, and believ. had, moreover, little doubt that he had ing that there was a specific virtue in not left a will, and that she, therefore, the blood of his ancestors to render would, at all events, possess no claim. Her supposed mother's small fortune, She was left alone to the indulgence she also believed, had come to her by of these reflections till nearly evening, inheritance, not bequest; as, indeed, when her maid knocked at the door Mrs Lascelles could have had no rea- and delivered to her a letter, which, son for making a testamentary dispo- she said, had been given to her by Mr sition in favour of an only child, who Nugent's man. Maria dismissed her, would naturally succeed to her posses- and with a firm hand opened the paper, sions. Any provision from this source which had no direction, but the conshe would, therefore, also be deprived tents of which ran thus :of; and, at all events, she would have had at least much hesitation in taking “Dear Miss WILLIAMS,- I address advantage of a bequest made under an you by the name which I learn from erroneous belief as to her birth. Thus your communication you must henceshe saw clearly that she was now alto forth bear, because it can never be too gether dependent on Mr Nugeut, who soon to act upon a sense of duty. You had always professed the intention of will not expect me to write very comaking her his heir, but who would herently while indignant, as I now now assuredly abandon any such de- must be, at the unprincipled deception sign, and might very possibly even so long practised upon me. Not that dismiss her from his regard and pro- I mean at all severely to blame you. tection. Mrs Nugent abounded in I have no doubt, from all I have seen good-will of a very ordinary and un- of you, that you would have shrunk discerning stamp, but, as to all more with just horror from assuming any serious matters, was a mere instrument claim to the blood of my family. Even of her husband's decrees. She bought if, as I cannot but suspect, you have some latitude of indulgence by an sometimes had instinctive suspicions idolatrous veneration for his wisdom providential intimations, as it werein every thing on which he condes- that your birth did not entitle you to cended to exert it.
the position you were placed in, yet Having thus reviewed for herself I cannot wonder that these were speedthe chief circumstances of her situa- ily suppressed by the consideration of tion, she wrote a full account of all the distinction you thus attained, to she had heard from Fowler, which she say nothing of the ease and elegance addressed to Mr Nugent, and begged of your life, which I candidly confess to know what he might decide. She that I esteem of less importance. sent the letter to him by a servant Neither do I unconditionally condemn within two hours of her return to the my late sister, who, doubtless, had dehouse. Having done this, her heart, rived from her ancestors a sense of though still deeply agitated, felt much honour that must have prevented her lighter than before; and she leant her from intruding any one of obscure dehead upon her hand, and retraced all scent into our family. I cannot, howher life with Mrs Lascelles, even in ever, but suppose that in earlier life, the most minute detail, as if on occa- and when nearer to the plebeian source sion of a second death-bed, again of your existence, your disposition and taking leave for ever of the only being appearance must have betrayed whom she had known as a mother. near observer some traces of vulgarity, She took out, and looked at all the of course, exquisitely painful to your little outward tokens in her possession supposed mother. I can, therefore, of warm and pure maternal affection, only presume that a due regard to her a miniature which she had always husband's memory withheld her from worn, a bracelet of her hair, a paper indulging any doubt on the subject, of practical directions for her conduct especially as, without even fancying in life, and some fragments of written any such substitution as had unhapprayer for her welfare. Long and pily taken place, it might have been sadly did she contemplate these things, believed that the signs of rusticity and and revolved the mystery of that re- meanness had arisen naturally from lation, so far higher and holier than him, as I have heard that one of his the outward and natural one, which grandmothers was little better than a had constituted, and would for ever farmer's daughter. For him, indeed, maintain the guide and guardian of I reserve my whole moral disapprobaher childhood as the true and imperish- tion, contempt, and disgust. If forging able mother of her spirit.
the name of a commercial house to a
piece of paper, which can only lead to tuation. Indeed, your continuance in the loss of money-so deservedly un- this house, even as an humble comdervalued by all moral writers—be panion of Mrs Nugent, would be so justly thought worthy of painful, dis- distressing to me as reminding me of graceful, nay, even of capital punish- the deception I have suffered from, as ment, how can we rate sufficiently high well, doubtless, as to Mrs Nugent, who the guilt of a culprit who has delibe- always governs hers views by mine, rately forged the name of an honour- that I could not think myself justified able family-for the Lascelles's are in so lacerating all our most sacred decidedly gentlemen—to a child, to a sentiments and principles. You deliving progeny of beggars, fishermen, rive no property from Mr Lascelles, peasants, and I know not whom-nay, and that of Mrs Lascelles, my late has involved in this disgrace an an- sister, now reverts to me as her brocestry beyond comparison more dis- ther. I am far, however, from desirtinguished, whom, through his wife, ing that you should be left without he has thus attempted to stain with in the means of subsistence in the rank delible contamination? Far, far better of life which you must now belong had my sister perished bonourably, to, and to which your origin so naturather than be saved by such an arti- rally consigns you. I therefore profice, and live in some degree to aid in pose to settle on you the sum of fifty so basely deluding me. It is doubtless pounds per annum, both as an act of an ordinance of the Divine mercy charity, and as marking my general which left him without a son who approbation of your couduct. I also might possibly have inherited his lax- wish you to remain in this house for ity of principle. But I restrain my a day or two, until you can make aroutraged feelings from regard to you, rangements for quitting it. You will who would, perhaps, be pained by the always find in me a sincere friend, and expression of them in their full force. it must be a relief to your mind to
“ As to yourself, my dear Miss know that I do not consider you as Williams, it will be obvious to your in any serious degree guilty of the good sense, which, for a person of foul and profligate treachery which your birth, certainly does you credit, has been exercised towards me. Bethat you have lived in my family only lieve me, my dear Miss Williams, very as my niece, and, the error being sincerely yours, cleared up, I owe it to myself to take
WALTER ALGERNON SIDNEY care, however reluctantly, that you
6 Nugent." should no longer occupy the same si
Well as Maria thought she knew the whole matter, distinctly released the writer of this letter, she was hard- him from his engagement, which, she ly prepared for all its contents, and said, she feared had been already she could not suppress her disgust at irksome to him, and stated that she many expressions in it. She took, designed to seek at once for a situahowever, a few hours to consider what tion as governess. She added, that she should do, and sent to beg that she she did not wish him to misunderstand might be excused from appearing at her views, and would explain them to dinner. The most pressing object him, although to no one else. She felt was to communicate with her grand- sure that any plan of residing with her father ; but for this purpose the only grandfather would, from their difperson she could apply to at the mo- ferent habits, be extremely unpleasant ment was the old housekeeper. The and disadvantageous to them both. good woman heard the story of her She referred, however, with earnest birth with amazement and bitter grief, admiration to the noble qualities of and readily undertook to go to Fowler the old man, and said that he was one that evening, and say that Maria was from whom a queen might be proud soon to leave the Mount, but could to have descended. not yet decide precisely what she She had hardly finished this letter should do. This being arranged, she before Mrs Nugent came to her in a wrote to Arthur a full statement of foolish flurry of sorrow, wonder, and good-nature. She had adopted all events a claim on her for the energy her husband's opinions on this as on required by them. Having made up every other subject, but her heart was her mind as to the future, she detertoo much for her head, and, in bidding mined to see Mr Nugent, for she knew Maria good-night, she showed real that her presence had an ascendency feeling. The housekeeper did not pre- over him which she would be far from sent herself till later, and then she equally certain of maintaining by let. came in with a face of paleness and ter. anxiety, and said, “ Ma'am, you need She went down to his study, knocknot think any more of doing him good. ed at the door, entered, and found him He is gone to a better place, and has sitting woc-begone over a parchment left you his blessing."
pedigree, examining to whom he ought This new shock for a time com- to bequeath his property. He rose at pletely overpowered Maria, and a long her approach, coloured, and stammerHood of tears gave her a melancholy ed out—" Well, dear Maria, Miss relief. When she could again collect Lascelles – Williams, I mean-I trust herself --so vanishes the thonght, the you are satisfied with the communi. last tie of human kindred that belong- cation you received from me."--She ed to me on earth—the image of the looked at him steadily and courteouscheerful, generous, unconquerable old ly, and said—“I have no complaint man rose strongly before her as she to make."--Then she took a chair and had seen him that very morning. She sat down; on which he grew more could hardly conceive the possibility confused and more civil, and, also sit. of his so sudden death, although he ting down, said—“ Can I do any thing had himself foreseen it. The house. for you? I shall be most happy if keeper said, in answer to her ques- you will let me know how I can serve tions, that a woman, the wife of a la- you." bourer, had come to attend on him. Pray, have you heard of the death By her account, he had returned from of my grandfather?” the Mount much exhausted, and had “ Yes; Mrs Simpson told me of it. lain down on his pallet, hardly able to Allow me to condole with you on the speak. The woman, whom he had subject. I assure you I have always called on in his way home, and begged entertained a favourable opinion of to accompany him, had given him him, and do not blame him—that is, I drink, and after a time he had regain- do not so very much blame him-for ed strength enough to explain himself, his concealment of the truth.” but was evidently fast declining. He “Of course nobody dares imagine was hardly alive when the housekeeper that any blame attaches to him. He reached him, yet he seemed pleased only complied with the eager wishes when she mentioned who it was that of Mr Lascelles, and could not suphad sent her. With closed eyes and pose himself in any way responsible joined hands he articulated very feebly, for the result of his private arrange
- Tell Miss Maria that I pray God ments.-But I now wish to say, that, to bless her— God Almighty bless as I have so long lived in your family, her!”- A few miuutes afterwards he and have not, I trust, at all disgraced again opened his bright blue eyes, it, I cannot conceive myself asking fixed them on the face of his visitor, any extravagant favour if I desire to with a slight smile--closed them again be allowed to remain here until I can -and expired.
make all the necessary preparations Maria, strange as it may seem, slept for quitting the house with propriety. during the night, and dreamed that she During that interval I trust I shall not was a child gathering daisies, which be pained by any superfluous remarks, she put into a basket that Jack Fowler either on my own parentage or on the held for her, and which he afterwards conduct of Mr and Mrs Lascelles. helped her to carry and present to These are points which cannot, I Mrs Lascelles. When she woke, all think, be very decently commented on the occurrences of the previous day before me, in the tone of your letter. also appeared a dream. But swiftly If, as I presume will be the case, you they broke upon her; and although agree to my wishes in these respects, at first she trembled, she soon regained it will give me pleasure to remain with her strength and calmness, and felt in you and Mrs Nugent for some days; the very gravity and sadness of the and I hope to show by my conduct