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lay a girl evidently in the last stage of rapid decline. The invalid beckoned her visitors to take chairs close to the couch, for a cough, distressing even to hear, interrupted the poor girl every minute. Martha, who had recognized her opera rival, turned pale, and the tears came into her fine dark eyes; she evidently anticipated a heart-rending confession of wrongs and injuries done to herself; judge, then, how great was her surprise, when, after a paroxysm of coughing was over, and the sick girl able to speak, she addressed Mistress Wilson by saying, "I sent to tell you —for I could not die till I had done so—that your husband is innocent of all guilt as regards myself, for I am—his sister." An exclamation burst from the lips of Martha. She continued, "Hear what I have to say while breath is yet given me. It was shame first sealed Everard's lips, and pride seals them now, and the fear that false shame and wounded pride together will seal them when I am gone, has induced me to send for you to-day." A pause ensued; the unhappy young creature was breathless and nearly fainting; when a little recovered, she related such circumstances as I shall narrate precisely as I heard them.
At sixteen years of age Edith Wilson, notwithstanding the strictness of her education and the sobriety of her father's household, possessed an incorrigible levity of heart and mind. Gifted with great beauty, her gayety was not the pardonable effervescence of youth, but the frivolity and natural vicious tendency of an idle disposition joined to strong passions. She formed, secretly, acquaintances out of the society; and many a night, when her parents deemed her retired to rest, had she quitted her paternal roof, and been a partaker of all the secret and not over-reputable diversions, which even in the strict and Puritanical city of Philadelphia found votaries among the young and viciously inclined. Some natures are so warped, so gnarled, and knotted by secret vice, that not all the pious training in the world could bend them straight. One bad female acquaintance, many vile books, had so perverted Edith Wilson, that at sixteen she secretly laughed at all moral or religious notions. I do not wish, however, to dilate on the errors of this guilty young creature; suffice it, that when she was by her parents formally betrothed to a staid and somewhat elderly merchant of the Quaker persuasion, she eloped from her father's house, robbing his bureau of a large sum in money, and sailed from New York undiscovered, though her distracted brother and father lost no time in pursuit. She made her voyage alone and unprotected. On arriving in England, though to continue so formed no part of her plan, gifted with the rarest beauty and immense vivacity, destruction, seeking for it as she did, was inevitable. When her brother Everard (whose chief object in coming to England was to discover and reclaim her if possible), some short time after his marriage, did recognize her, to his unfeigned horror and subsequent torment, she was dressed in splendor, lolling in the carriage of a well-known profli
gate nobleman. Everard, though burning with shame and confusion, stopped the carriage, and addressing his sister by name, insisted on her alighting and entering a private hotel close at hand. The shameless girl defied him, till he, threatening to pursue her for robbery, she found herself obliged to succumb, and dismissing her gaudy equipage, accompanied her brother in silent rage to the house he pointed out. A long and most unsatisfactory conversation ensued. Edith persisting in her right to pursue any course of life she pleased; her brother, equally determined to force her into decorum and submission, asserted his resolution never to leave her unwatched or unguarded. At first the wretched girl laughed the idea to scorn, but she soon found Everard was perfectly in earnest. He dispatched a messenger with a note to an old servant of his, now retired from service, and to whom he resolved to intrust the charge of his sister when he was forced to be absent. When the old man arrived, obedient to his late master's summons, he desired him to call a hackney-coach, and to look for lodgings in a certain part of the town he named; and leading the indignant Edith to the coach, placed her in it, and drove slowly thither. She had then recourse to tears and entreaties, but they had as little effect as her passion. "Lost as she was," he told her, "irretrievably for earth, he would try to save her for heaven." She asked, with scorn and baffled rage flashing from her beautiful eyes, if he intended to take her to his house. He indignantly asked if she thought such a thing possible. What! pollute his pure and beautiful Martha's eyes with the sight of such a sister! Thus they reached the apartments which Andrew, who was waiting in a street previously agreed on, had hired; and here, these plainly-furnished rooms was Edith Wilson told she must consider her home for the present. She raved, stormed, and threatened, but to no purpose. She was never left unguarded by her brother or his servant; and being without money she had no means to break her chain. This life continued some time, till one day, reading the Gazelle, she discovered that a rich and childless relative, ignorant of course of her misconduct, had left her a large sum of money. Not being able to claim it without Everard's assistance, she formed a new plan—she affected extreme penitence and humility; and so perfectly deceived her brother, that having claimed the legacy for her, he was induced to place the power of disposing of it in her own hands, and hoped that she might be now trusted. She pursued this new conduct for some time, till Andrew and her brother off their guard, she gave unbounded license to her love of expense. Her object being to see her former admirer, she engaged a box at the Opera; and Everard found to his horror that opposition was in vain; nothing seemed effectual but his constant surveillance.
A billet from Lord having been inter
cepted by Andrew, and Edith persisting that she would frequent her Opera-box, Everard announced his determination to go with her. It was received with the wildest shouts of laughter. "In that dress?" "No," said her brother, "I shall wear the dress of the world: to save my sister from further sin it will be admissible." And assuredly his presence did preserve her from the interviews she so much desired, when Martha's inopportune appearance surprised them. Edith was about to tell her the truth—it was then that Everard by an expressive gesture forbid her communicativeness. During his absence
that night she contrived to sec Lord ;and
two months after her brother's formal separation from his wife, she eloped in the dead of night to her profligate lover.
The rest of her history I daro not dwell upon; it was such as Hogarth has described in some of his matchless pictures. Cards and extravagance soon dissipated her own money; and ho, whose protection she had sought, became wearied of her expensive whims.
A short time before her interview with Martha her brother had discovered her perishing from hunger, illness, and misery, in a low and wretched dwelling—into such an extreme of misery had her vice plunged her. He would have taken the wanderer to his own home, for he perceived the end was at hand; but she so ardently begged to be alone, that he permitted her to choose the humble refuge in which Martha found her. She entreated that she might effect a reconciliation between her brother and his wifo ere she died; but to this proposition he would not listen. "He thought," said she to Martha, " that you should have trusted him better."
"And so I should," said the weeping Martha, tenderly wiping the dying girl's brow, damp with the exertion of her narrative
Martha Wilson had many subsequent interviews with her fallen sister, and it was at the very last that, hastily summoned to the deathscene, husband and wife met again. It was by the side of that death-bed that they felt how slight had been their cause of dissension; and the only feeling which prevented a reconciliation—pride —in that awful hour of human suffering and expiation was crushed in the dust.
Edith Wilson died calmly and even happily, trusting that the tears with which, like the sinner of old times, she had washed her Saviour's feet, might in his eye wash away her many sins, and trusting, with a childlike devotion, that Faith in His mercy would save her.
THE YOUNG SURGEON.
THE rain fell heavily against the window-panes; the night was not only dark and gloomy, but a thick, black vapor seemed actually to penetrate into the interior of the mansion, the inhabitants of which were now locked in profound slumber. Not a single light appeared throughout the whole city of Brest, save in the windows of a large, square, dismal-looking building which stood on the left bank of the port. This edifice is the Bagne, or fatal prison, in which the captives, doomed to perpetual labor, are left to waste their useless sighs, or vent their idle execrations. In an upper room of that portion of this estab
lishment used as an hospital, a young man, in the undress uniform of a surgeon in the French navy, sat reading. He seemed so absorbed in his studies that he took no notice of the pattering rain, or the fast decay of the lamp which dimly lighted the book before him. On a sudden he started up, and carrying on the thread of the argument he had apparently been following, he exclaimed aloud, " True, true; the poor do but live, they do but exist, drag on a few miserable years, and then sink unheeded into a noisome grave. Riches alone can bring pleasure, and make each hour we live an age of enjoyment. Cursed is the lot of him unblessed by fortuno! At twentyseven years of age, here am I, doomed to a life of poverty, destined to pass my days in this miserable hospital! The author is right." And again De Launay plunged into his studies.
His task was, however, soon broken in upon by the entrance of one of the infirmary men, who came to inform him that " number seven had just breathed his last." Without the slightest emotion, save a shade of annoyance, which instantly stole over his countenance at this interruption, the young surgeon rose, and approached the double row of iron beds, each bearing the number of its tenant; for in the infirmary of the Bagne no prisoner bears a name. A single cipher stands for the appellative the convict has disgraced.
De Launay stopped when he came to '. number seven." He drew down the sheet which had been thrown over the face of the corpse, and gazed at it with deep interest. He placed his hand upon the head, and contemplated the form before him for some instants, then, as if struck with a sudden desire to ascertain some anatomical point, he ordered the body to be instantly carried into the dissecting hall. The wretched remains were those of one whose phrenological developments might have proved a study of deep interest. Condemned to hard labor for life, for robbery and attempt to murder, Pierre Cranon had now been an inmate of the prison for upward of ten years —ten years of continual study how to escape. No less than sixty times had the unhappy man endeavored to get away, and sixty times had he been detected and punished. For several months previous to his last illness had Cranon been bound to his labor by chains weighing some thirty pounds; every vigilance had been exercised by his guards to prevent the possibility of his flight, and yet the idea of escape haunted his imagination, and became a never-dying, never-yielding monomania. The pain, however, of his increased fetters, at length brought on a sullen despair. His strict confinement within the walls undermined his health, and wore out the last remnant of his miserable days. He pined; he sickened; and withering, sank.
The attendants re-entered with a bier, on which they placed the body, and carried it, as desired, into the dissecting-room. The anatomical hall of the Bagne, but rarely used, was still more horrible in its appearance than such places usually are. Strewed about lay several human limbs, thrown carelessly aside- half-eaten by the rats. Several shreds of human flesh, already putrid, clung to the large marble table used for dissecting, while the foot occasionally slipped as it glided through some filthy pool of half-coagulated blood. Near an open window hung a skeleton, which had already lost some of its parts, and which moved up and down, creaking and almost cracking as the breeze swung it about.
Although accustomed to such scenes, De Lauuay felt a chill steal through his frame, a nervous sensation hitherto unknown to him, but now brought on by the dreary damp of the horrid amphitheatre, whose terrors seemed to dance in grim array, as the flaming light kept waving in the breeze. The young surgeon quickly produced his instruments, and approached the corpse. The dreadfully attenuated frame, the lacerated ankles, where the iron had actually eaten into the flesh, all lay displayed before him, and he paused for a moment. De Launay, seizing his dissccting-knife, was about to plunge it into the body, when a slight movement of the arm made him start back; in another instant, Cranon opened his eyes, and slowly raising himself, peered anxiously around. The young surgeon stood aghast. Profiting by this, the prisoner quietly but quickly started up, and rushed toward the window. In a moment De Launay saw the artifice; he darted on the unfortunate wretch, and attempted to throw him down. The love of life, the hope of liberty, for a moment lent their whole force to the miserable captive. A deadly struggle took place, in which youth and vigor gained the mastery, and Cranon lay at the mercy of De Launay, who placed his knee upon his chest.
"Your attempts are useless; you are in my power. A single call will bring the guard. Say, then, what means this fresh, this mad attempt at escape!"
"For the love of God, let me go! Surely my escape can not hurt you, and the Almighty will reward you for the good deed. Nay, do not spurn the prayers of a miserable old man."
"What! think you I'll connive at such a thing?"
"Just Providence! think what I've suffered! ten long years of misery, and now two months of cherished hope thus crushed in a moment. I, who for three days refused all food, in order to become ill, and be admitted into the infirmary ; I, who counterfeited death so well that even you were deceived. But no, no; you will not detain me. Good Monsieur De Launay, you have a heart. 0 give me, then, my freedom!"
"Why are you so desirous of obtaining it!"
"Why! Ah! you have never been a prisoner, a prisoner for life, or you would never ask why I desire liberty."
"But how would you gain a livelihood? You are too old, too weak to work. You would starve."
The captive smiled; an almost disdainful sneer of triumph curled his lip, as he replied, "I am richer than yourself."
"You are indeed, then, fortunate." This was »aid with a degree of bitter irony, which, while it
conveyed a doubt of the truth of the assertion, told plainly how highly the young surgeon estimated the gifts of fortune.
"Would you also be rich? I have enough for us both."
"Do you take me for a fool, that you thus endeavor to deceive me!"
"I tell you I can make your fortune."
"Some robbery in which you would have me join!"
"No, not so; assist my flight, and I will place the money in your hands. I will give you half of all I havo got."
"Silence! keep your falsehoods for those who are credulous enough to believe them, and come instantly back to the guard-house;" and De Launay attempted to look careless, though his ears had drunk in each syllable the prisoner had uttered.
"Why will you not believe me?" despairingly asked the captive. "On my soul, I lie not. How can I prove the truth of my assertion?"
"Show me your treasure."
"I have it not here. You know well I can not have it in my possession. Let me go, and I swear you shall have your share of it."
"Thank you! thank you for nothing! I will instantly sign the receipt in full. So up, and in again!—up !" and he shook the wretched man.
Cranon groaned heavily. He pondered for a moment, and then suddenly exclaimed, in a tone which left no doubt on the mind of the young surgeon that he was speaking the truth. "Listen to me; so help me Providence, I possess the money I speak of. It is no fancy, no well-invented lie; I have a fortune enough to make us both rich. Now, say, if I prove this to be the fact, and consent to give you half, will you allow me to escape?"
"We'll see; go on."
"Not so, till you promise."
"Well, I suppose I may do so safely."
"Swear that you will."
"Well, then, on the beach at St. Michacl's, just behind the rock of Irglas, in a pit six feet deep, ten years ago I hid an iron case, containing 400,000 francs in bank-notes."
De Launay started. "Where did you get that sum?"
"From a traveler wo assassinated near the spot."
"Four hundred thousand francs," repeated the convict, with a voice of triumph, "is enough, I hope, for two—enough to make us both happy. Say, will you have half!"
The young surgeon paused, then added in a tono of doubt, "The tale seems scarcely credible. You have been a prisoner here for upward of ten years."
"Right; it is fully that time since Martin and I, being closely pursued, buried the treasure in the spot I have told you of. The very day after wo wero seized at Plestin, and brought hero. Martin died within these walls last year, and left me the sole possessor of this important secret."
Notwithstanding all his endeavors to appear indifferent, De Launay had listened with deep attention to Cranon's recital. When he had ceased to speak, the young man remained perfectly silent for some time, seeming to balance in his own mind the probability of the story he had just heard. Casting his eyes up fora single moment, he found those of the prisoner fixed on him. He blushed, and starting from his reverie, said, with an air of forced levity, which his former attention but too fully belied—
"Your story is well invented, but the theme is old. It wonl do. These hidden treasures arc a hackneyed subject, which even children laugh at now. Try and get up a better—a more probable one."
The convict shuddered. "You do not believe me!"
"I believe you to be a clever rogue, who might, perhaps, succeed in deceiving one less wary than myself."
Cranon threw himself on his knees. "Monsieur de Launay, for the love of God, believe me! I speak the truth; I can instantly find the spot, if you will only let me go and search for it."
"I will save you that trouble."
"Nay, then, I will give you two-thirds, two full thirds."
"Nay, I will also add the jewels, the trinkets; for there are also valuable jewels in the case.""Silence! I have listened too long; get up, sir."
Cranon uttered a wild scream of despair, and threw himself on the ground again. The convict now rolled himself over in agonizing misery; he groaned in mental torture. De Launay seemed perplexed; an inward struggle agitated his bosom. Bad passions began to spring up and shake his purpose. On the one hand, his violent desire for riches made him almost hope the tale he had just heard were true, and in this case he would not hesitate to accept the prisoner's proposals; on the other hand, he feared he might be duped, and become a laughing-stock, despised, disgraced, for thus conniving at the escape of a convict. This last reflection overcame his every other feeling He started up, and attempted, but without success, to drag Cranon toward the entrance. Foiled in this, he darted through the door, which he double-locked upon the prisoner, and rushing to the guard-house, obtained the assistance of a file of soldiers.
As he was unlocking the door, in company with the assistants he had brought, a sudden shot was fired; at the same moment a man stripped perfectly naked, covered with blood, bounded past him. It was Cranon, who, during his momentary absence had jumped out of the window, and been wounded by the sentinel on duty.
The unhappy man staggered a few paces, reeled, and fell a corpse into the arms of De Launay. .......
Badenwiller, an inconsiderable watering-place
in the neighborhood of the Black Forest, is one of the most picturesque spots on the continent of Europe. Nature seems here to have taken a strange delight in amassing her richest charms, and concentrating her every beauty within a singlo valley. As its name indicates, Badenwiller boasts mineral baths, famed from the earliest ages.
The bathers who lodged at the "Ville de Carlsruhe," the best hotel in the place, were assembled beneath a little grove of acacias planted in the garden of the inn. Madame Porschof, with her only unmarried daughter, had just joined the group, from which tho young bachelors shrank with terror at the approach of this regular husband-hunting dame, who, having managed to procure partners for her three elder damsels elsewhere, had come hither for the purpose of entrapping another son-in-law. After a short salutation to each of the company, the match-making parent sat down, and having made her spinster child take a place next to her—for caution is always commendable in prudent mammas at strange watering-places—the conversation, which had been interrupted for a moment by her arrival, again went on.
"I must confess," said a fat old lady, who occupied three chairs, "I must confess that the conduct of this Miss Morpeth is most strange. I can not make out her coming here with a sort of a governess, traveling about unprotected in a strange country."
"Oh, that is nothing," interrupted a psendoblue-stocking lady. "I know the customs of these islanders well; for my husband subscribes to the British reading-room at Frankfort; and I can assure you that English young ladies always travel alone, or with their lovers."
"How very immoral!" exclaimed Madame Perschof.
"And this Englishman, this Mr. Bums, who follows the young lady about to every place she visits! It is all very well for her to call him an old friend of the family; but I know better than that. I've watched his attentions, and I am sure he is a lover.
"But he is old enough to be her father."
"So much the more likely to be a gallant. She is just the girl an elderly man would admire. I will be bound to say Mr. Bums is rich."
"How very horrible !" cried Madame Perschof. "I am but a poor lone widow; but if I had a child like Miss Morpeth—"
"Yes, but you don't understand the character of these English," again chimed in the bluestocking. "England is a free country; they have their 'habeas corpus,' and their hustings, which decidedly affect their manners."
"That is all very possible, though I don' t understand it. But this I do know, the girl is a coquette, and has managed to tum Monsieur de Launay's head—a young man who might aspire to a far more beautiful and accomplished creature." And Madame Perschof looked approvingly at her buckram daughter.
"Hush!" cried the fat lady; "here he comes."
As she spoke, Edward de Launay approached. Apparently preoccupied by unpleasant reflections, he allowed the gesture of Madame Perschof to pass unheeded, although that gesture conveyed a direct invitation to the favored gentleman to take a seat next to her fair daughter; but taking his place at some distance from the rest of the company, he turned silently away, without deigning to cast another look on the fair Madame Perschof, and thus offended the worthy mamma, who, with some little acerbity, asked, "How it was that Monsieur de Launay was not on duty, keeping guard over the lovely Fanny Morpeth?"
"Miss Morpeth does not go out to-day: she is far from well."
"Indeed! I think you are wrong. I am almost sure I saw her pass some hours ago."
"I learned this from Miss Morpeth herself, in answer to a solicitation on my part to accompany her on an excursion we had planned last evening."
"Is it so? Then you are not the favored one I thought you. Behold!"
And, with a glance of triumph, Madame Perschof pointed to Miss Morpeth, who just then entered the grove mounted on a donkey. She had evidently returned from a long country ramble. Mr. Burns accompanied her on foot. De Launay started up, while his countenance betrayed surprise and mortification. Miss Morpeth blushed, and, hurrying past, entered the hotel without speaking to any one. Mr. Burns was following her, when De Launay, seizing him by the arm, begged for a few minutes' private conversation. The Englishman instantly assented, and they at once sought the retirement of the neighboring wood. Suddenly De Launay stopped.
"You doubtless know my reason for thus seeking a private interview?" "Perhaps I do."
"You can not be ignorant that I love, adore Miss Morpeth; that, to a certain extent, our affection is mutual; at least so I had every reason to believe, till you arrived here. Since that period her manner has changed; she is no longer the same."
"Surely a lady has a right to consider well, and weigh the consequences, ere she enters into an engagement to marry a perfect stranger."
"I scarcely understand you, nor your right to inquire; but if you seek the information, you shall have it. I am not ashamed of telling you who and what I am."
"I am all attention."
"I am a member of one of the oldest families in Brittany. My father, who commanded a frigate, died at Brest. Left an orphan at fifteen years of age, I became a surgeon in the French navy, a service I only quitted a year and a half ago. As to my fortune," and here his voice trembled as he added, "I possess four hundred thousand francs, of which I can give positive proof."
"All these assertions would doubtless be of great interest, and have their proper weight with
the young lady. As far as I am concerned, mere statement is not sufficient."
"Sir, this language, these doubts are insult
"Rather call it prudence."
"By what right do you thus dare either to question or disbelieve me? You are a stranger to me yourself; I know not who you are."
"A friend, warmly interested in the young lady's welfare; nothing more."
"In my turn, may I not re-echo your doubts? may I not declare such an explanation to be wholly unsatisfactory V
"Sir, you will remember that I never sought this interview. You chose to make me your confidant; it was a post I did not seek. I have told you all I intend to tell you. If this does not suit you, I wish you a good morning."
At this moment Miss Morpeth appeared.
"I come, my dear, I come," said the Englishman; and he instantly joined Fanny, leaving De Launay to his further reflections: Whether Miss Morpeth was a heartless coquette who had played with his affections? By what tie she was bound to the laconic Englishman? Had the young surgeon's vanity misconstrued her good nature, and magnified her simple civilities into encouragement? Was the whole a dream! or was she really attached to him? For the life of him, De Launay could not decide in his own mind.
When De Launay saw Miss Morpeth in the evening, he assumed all the coldness, the distance of an injured lover. He even attempted to conceal his jealousy by appearing to flirt with Mademoiselle Perschof, to the no small delight of her proud mamma, who occasionally came to the relief of her blushing daughter by a chance allusion to her uncle the burgomaster, a hint about family portraits, and a mere glance at her child's great accomplishments.
Fanny looked grave, but not angry. Day after day rolled past; her melancholy seemed to increase, an anxious excitement lighted her countenance, and on more than one occasion De Launay saw her rush with peevish impatience to meet the man who was employed to bring the letters to the hotel. At length the wished-for epistle reached her hands. Pale as marble, she received one morning a packet bearing the postmark " Brest," and with trembling haste she flew to Mr. Burns, to whom it was directed, as if her whole existence depended on the contents of that missive.
De Launay saw this, and again his jealous fears were roused. In misery and anger he rushed from the house, and entering the wellshrubberied garden, threw himself on one of the benches, where, unseen by any one, he might mentally review his misfortunes, jealous lest some prying eye should read his thoughts, and discover the pain he felt at being thus slighted, cast off, in favor of another. Here he had not sat long, when a fairy hand was placed on his shoulder, and the well-known tones of his loved Fanny was heard to utter his name. He started up: it was no vision. There stood the girl he