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was quite dissipated, and her husband in debt, so that he moved her about from one obscure lodging to another, that he might escape the annoyance of duns. It was a common thing for him not to return home at all, night after night, or perhaps he would come when the cold grey of the winter morning was beginning to dawn, and she had to rise from her bed on the third floor, and go down stairs, shivering, to let him in, and to meet his abuse. Intoxicated he would generally be—what else, save his not being in his sober senses, could have induced even a demon tauntingly to relate to an innocent wife the particulars of the scenes in which he had passed the night? Her charms had long ceased to attract him, he would insultingly say to her: and she would cross her meek arms upon her bosom, and pray for patience to bear.
But even this treatment, bad as it was, grew to worse. For the last twelve months—and they had been married between two and three years now—she had been in the frequent habit, in obedience to his imperious commands, often threats, of writing to Mrs. Vereker for money, and that lady had responded to these demands to an extent which had seriously impoverished herself. She therefore said that she would supply no more, especially as she had reason to believe that the whole of it went to support Mr. Lindon in his shameless habits; but she urgently entreated Georgina to abandon her miserable home, and to return to that of her childhood. This letter was addressed to Mrs. Lindon; it was intended for her eye alone; but Mr. Lindon—as if such a man could possess honour or scruples —took it from the postman, broke the seal, and read it. His conduct to his wife after this was worse than any she had yet experienced; blows even he had more than once the cowardice to resort to. It was about this period, also, that he introduced to her, in spite of her remonstrances, certain companions of his own sex: they overwhelmed her with their attentions; they spoke to her of sympathy for her sufferings; of redress; they breathed in her ear specious counsels. One or two of them were attractive as she had once thought him; nevertheless, she shrank from them. She had occasion once to complain to her husband of their conduct, and he answered her with a strange, mocking answer; an answer which brought the life-blood into her cheeks, and she retorted by asking whether he had forgotten that she was his Wife? Wife, he answered, sneeringly, he believed to his sorrow she was, but he had long thought he should be better without her. Georgina pressed her hands upon her eyes, and stifled the anger that would have arisen to her lips, but her indignant feelings were almost goaded to madness.
Mrs. Vereker was in London. For five long weeks had she heard nothing from Georgina, her own letters to her had remained unanswered, and unable to support the nameless fears that oppressed her, she, old and unfitted for the journey as she was, resolved to make it. Upon her arrival in town, she drove at once to the address last given by her daughter. She was almost, not quite, prepared for its mean appearance; but the occupier of the house, a decent-looking woman enough, told her she knew nothing of the movements of Mrs. Lindon.
"Is she not lodging here?" inquired Mrs. Vereker.
"She has left these several weeks past,"returned the landlady. "She left her husband one night, and never came back. Ah, ma'am, I have my fears—but for whatever may have happened, Mr. Lindon is to blame. I was thankful when I got rid of him, though he did not leave for three weeks afterwards: he is a bad, wicked man."
"What did the landlady mean, Mrs. Vereker asked; but the landlady would explain herself no further: she might get into trouble by speaking her thoughts, she observed; and after all she was not sure.
"I will give you this five-pound note," exclaimed Mrs. Vereker, "and thank you gratefully for all you may have done for my child when she was here: only, if you have any clue to her, for the love of God give it me."
"You surely cannot be that young lady's mother!" exclaimed the landlady.
"I am her mother," replied Mrs. Vereker. "I see you think me too old, but I did not marry till late in life: and I look older than I really am, for recent cares have helped to age my face. Oh, if you possess it, give me the clue to find my child."
"I have no clue, indeed," returned the landlady, in a compassionate voice. "I know that her husband was a perfect brute to her, and if— if she should have gone wrong," she continued, cautiously, "he drove her to it. But I know nothing scarcely, ma'am; and should not have known that till this morning. My son is an upper servant in a gentleman's family, and he called here to-day, and it was he told me."
"Told what?" gasped Mrs. Vereker.
"Well, ma'am, he saw a lady last night at the Opera, all blazing with jewels, and it was Mrs. Lindon. And the gentleman who put her into a carriage, and got in with her, was one of them fashionable rakes that used to come here when her husband was away."
Mrs. Vereker turned from the house, faint and sick at heart.
On the next Opera night, in the midst of all the blaze of light, beauty, and diamonds, in a box so placed as to command a good view of the general company, sat, partially hidden by the drawn curtain, a worn, white-haired woman. She was accompanied only by a gentleman, who looked like a solicitor, and those who caught a glimpse of her wondered what she did there. It was Mrs. Vereker. Never for a moment was her heart still—beating, beating; never were her eyes tired of watching the many lovely countenances, especially those who were but then entering. And now—now, at a distance, almost too far for her dim sight, she saw a form which seemed strangely familiar, adorned with satin and lace and glittering jewels: the face was a very lovely one; its luxuriant hair was wreathed in bands; a damask colour, not too deep, sat on the cheeks, beautiful, most beautiful to look at, but false as she was—and that face was the face of Georgina Vereker.
Of Georgina Lindon, rather. But it wore a look widely different from what her mother had even seen in her. That old, white-haired woman rose silently, and tottered from the box she had occupied, preceded by her solicitor. He took her to another part of the house, lonely and quiet, and bid her wait while he fetched her daughter to her. Once more they stood face to face, the mother and the misguided child.
"Georgina," uttered the former, kneeling in her bitter desperation, "the world would condemn and shun you, but I will only cling the closer. Leave all this wretchedness, and come home with me."
"Mother, mother," she answered, burying her face in her hands, "I was goaded to madness, and I became what you see. You must leave me to my fate: a career such as mine, once entered upon, admits not of retreat. Forget that you ever possessed a child."
"Do you know what that career leads to?" moaned the unhappy mother. "Do you remember that it brings Destruction?"
"Ay, both of body and soul. I tell you I was mad when I rushed upon it. But revenge on him seemed sweet."
Mrs. Vereker wrung her hands, the scalding tears blinding her sight as she spoke:
"Come to your early home, come back with me, my child; and for the remainder of your days find peace on earth."
"Peace!" uttered Georgina, "say, rather, scorn. Rich and poor, good and bad, would shun me now. Do you think I would willingly encounter that, in the place where they knew me a little child? No, no, retreat for me is impossible. Farewell, mother, mother! Forget me from this hour: or should your thoughts ever turn to me, pray that the fate which must inevitably be mine may fall speedily. I would now that my heart were broken."
Mrs. Vereker stretched out her arms piteously as Georgina retreated, her jewels glittering as she walked. A wild cry escaped her lips, but she was powerless to stop her. At that cry, Georgina turned. Perhaps she would have gone back to her mother, for she seemed to hesitate, when at the same moment, one of those stylish men who had been with her in the box, advanced and drew her with him.
Again she resumed her seat in it, he by her side, and others round her. Her mother watched it all—the dazzling beauty, the free manners, the painted face of her only child: and, as she looked, a sensation of sudden faintness stole over her; a film came across her eyes; and remembrance, as a vision, rose before her, carrying her back to that child's infancy, when she was lying, as they thought, upon her dying bed. And now came the mother's punishment.
What was it she had then prayed for? God had been about to take the child; to remove her from the evil days to come; and she, the mother, in her blind want of faith, had prayed, "Spare the child's life to gladden me. Not Thy will, Lord, but mine be done!"
Oh surely He was a God of love. He had foreseen a future for the child, that she, poor, weak mortal that she was, could not; and He had been willing, in His great mercy, to take her to Him then in her innocence. And look at that child now, at the thing she had become; living without God; scarcely hoping to come to Him hereafter. Oh that Mrs. Vereker could exchange this fearful scene before her for that early death-bed! She moaned aloud as she sunk upon her knees, and raised her hands to heaven in her bitter repentance, offering upwards, almost as sinful as were those of that early prayer:
"Oh, Father, Father! why didst Thou listen to me—why save my child from that happy death to destroy her now? Punish, punish me if Thou wilt: but oh! find a means to save the soul of my misguided child!"
No—no: it was not to be. There sat Georgina, in her destructive beauty; and there knelt Mrs. Vereker, in her repentant, hopeless despair. The faintness that had been stealing over her seemed to increase till she lost all consciousness, and—she awoke.
Mrs. Vereker awoke. The clock was on the stroke of midnight, and she found that she must have slept nearly four hours. Exhausted by grief, she had dropped asleep upon her bed, soon after uttering the shortsighted, rebellious prayer which had so pained Mr. Chenevix, had dreamed that Mr. Rice came into the room saying the child would live, had dreamed all the rest of that long dream. Not so elaborately as it is given here in its details, but all its essential points. Gradually, as her waking recollection grew perfect, she became aware, with an intensity of relief she could never describe, that it was but a dream—that the time of that early death-bed was indeed Present, not past; that Georgina was still but a child, secure in her early innocence, not yet grown up to encounter the cares and seductions of the world: and full of anguish as the dream was, she knew that God had sent it to her in His mercy.
She arose quietly, the perspiration still streaming down her face from the mental pain she had undergone. Mr. Chenevix had long left the house. One attendant only was in the room, and she was fast asleep in the easy-chair. Slipping on a warm covering, Mrs. Vereker stole to Georgina's room. Poor little innocent face! it was white now, and its eyes were closed, sleeping calmly the sleep of death. Thev had already prepared her for the grave: not to be disturbed again until she should be moved to her coffin.
Mrs. Vereker looked at her, as well as she could look for the tears. Not with the rebellious feelings of the former hours, but with a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness, although she knew that all her interest in life was over. Silently she sunk upon her knees at the bed's side, and once more Another prayer went up to God's throne:
"Father! Father! pardon me for my unteachable spirit, that would have rebelled against Thee. Give me strength to bear patiently this affliction that Thou hast seen fit to send; and enable me, enable all Thy creatures here, under whatsoever chastening of Thine, to say,
'THY WILL BE DONE ON EAKTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.'"
MOBILE.—PENSACOLA AND THE FLORIDAS.
COTTON BARQUE TO CAPE COD, ALONG THE GULF STREAM.
Br J. W. Hengiston, Esq.
I am hurried on to Mobile, and must steal a word or two more of New Orleans before I leave it—not to describe, but correct my own ignorance of simple facts. Thus I find there is a railroad leading to Carroltown, seven miles off, higher up the river—a favourite retreat for the richer merchants; and that Algiers, on the opposite side of the river, is considered the workshop of the city—particularly for carpenters, blacksmiths, and shipwrights; it has various manufactories, with steam motive power; several ship-building yards, and a large sailors' hospital, though it is washing away; and so may be this great city some of these days. Very lately they were inundated by the river's breaking in above them (by a short cut) over the trifling ditch-like elevations along the banks—the whole town being four feet below the higher level of this turbulent stream.
But nobody cares for possibilities or probabilities; it will or it may go on as it has for hundreds of years, so slow are the disappearances or creations of our earth, which, swampy as it is here, is as valuable in hard dollars for so many feet and inches "frontage," as it is in London; indeed, house-rent is dearer here, as is every necessary and every luxury of life. But the Americans everywhere live very expensively, whether they can afford it or not.
I did not go to what is called the "battle ground," six miles down the river, where the flower of our brave troops were so rashly led to slaughter —it can never be fairly called a battle. The Americans, secure behind their trenches and cotton bales (of all possible barriers the most impenetrable and safe), with their rifles at a rest, fired at our regiments as they might have done at so many moving targets. We had two thousand killed and wounded, while they had seven killed and six wounded! This sad affair lasted but a single hour, on the "plains of Chalmette." Our poor fellows might with infinitely more chance of life have been led against the curtain of a citadel unbreached, across a wet ditch. From behind this long line of cotton bales three or four thousand unerring rifles were levelled breast high. The whole thing was reduced to a certainty. What fatality could have prompted such an onset seems to me to this day unaccountable; for our mistake in attacking in this direction at all, must have been known after the first affair, a week previous, when our advancing army were engaged and fired on by the armed schooner stationed in the river three miles below this fatal spot; and from whence the Americans retreated back to these lines. Here both armies were six days looking at each other, till the disastrous Sunday morning, the 8th of January, 1814. "Slowly and steadily the columns advanced toward the American line. Behind their parapets all was silent until the British army had reached a convenient distance, when a deadly fire was poured in." This is the American account of it, and it seems fair enough: all these flats are more or less dry and firm according to the seasons. The left of the American intrenchment was secured by the swamp being impracti