Back to the Index Page

 
 
 

The Life and Adventures of Lady Anne by E. V. Lucas

 

Chapter I

Of the first years of my life I have but a slight recollection, as I suddenly lost my mother by death, and was placed under the care of strangers soon after I had completed my fifth year. What passed before that time is like the faint remembrance of a long past dream, but it seemed to myself that I had lived among ladies and gentlemen—had been used to ride in a carriage, to be waited on by servants, who called me Lady Anne, and to be fondled by a lady and gentleman, who called me Annie, and their little darling, and whom I called father and mother. These pleasing visions seemed suddenly to pass away. I no longer saw my father, nor the ladies and gentlemen; we were no longer living in a large house; our servants were gone, and mother was almost always in tears. Then, all of a sudden, we were riding alone in a post-chaise; night came on, and we stopped at a house. There mother was very ill, and laid in bed, and did not speak to me for several days, and a great many people came and talked to her, but she did not answer any of them. At last I thought she was asleep, for her eyes were shut, and her hands were quite cold; then I wanted to get upon the bed that I might sit beside her, but the strange people that were there carried me out of the room, and teazed me with questions that I did not understand, or, if I had understood them, could not have answered for crying. After this two men came and put my mother into a large black box, and took her away.

These are painful remembrances, so sad and so painful that, at this distance of time, I cannot think of them without weeping.

What passed immediately after this I cannot remember, for I have been told that I had a violent fever, and was ill for a long time. Of all these things I have but a confused remembrance, yet I do remember them; but the time from which I can clearly recollect is from when I was about six years old, and from that period I remember every material circumstance of my life as clearly as if I had written them all down as they happened. I will now continue my narrative at the time from which I can correctly remember. I then found myself living in a large cottage with nearly twenty other children. We were under the care of an elderly woman, whom we called nurse. This house, I was told, when I was old enough to understand the meaning of the expression, was the place where the infant paupers, or poor children of the parish, were kept. Of our treatment there I have no cause to complain. We were well washed every morning, and our clothes were kept clean and tidy; our food was coarse and rather scanty, so that we always had a good appetite, yet we had sufficient to keep us in a good state of health, and the farmers' wives and cottage people who lived near would often give us pieces of bread and a little milk, so that, as I said before, we had no cause for complaint. Our nurse taught us reading and sewing, and, as she was rather a good-natured woman, she would frequently converse with us, if the prattle of children can be called conversation, and answer our little questions.

I must here make a digression to inform my young readers that, though I was a poor child, a mere pauper among a number of others who were not any poorer than myself, yet I was always treated with a great deal of respect both by the nurse and the other children. I was always called Lady Anne, and in all our little plays my companions would choose me to be a lady or their queen. Then I would, in a language which seemed natural to me, order the carriage for an airing, or propose a saunter in the park, or perhaps say we would go to the opera in the evening. The girls whom I admitted to the honour of visiting me I would address as ladies, and tell some of the others to come and say that 'Her ladyship's carriage was waiting,' or that 'Lady Sally's carriage stopped the way.' It was on one of these occasions that my nurse said to me:

'Ah, Lady Anne, it is a thousand pities that you are not among the lords and ladies you are so often talking about. It was an unlucky chance that brought you here, for, poor child, with us you are like a fish out of water.'

'What was it that brought me here?' said I. 'How did I come?'

'It is a long story to tell you,' replied she, 'but, as it is about yourself, you will not be tired of hearing it; so come, children, get your knitting and sit down, and you shall hear how Lady Anne came to live among us.'

In a few minutes we all had our knitting, and seated ourselves so as to form a semi-or half-circle round the good woman. Curiosity and expectation were painted in every countenance, myself the most curious and anxious of the whole group, for I often, in my own mind, wondered how it was that I no longer saw the gentlemen and ladies who it seemed to myself I had been in the habit of seeing, and where my father could be gone to, and why everything about me was so different to what it had once been. Our nurse having examined our work, and directed us how to go on with it, began her little narrative in the following manner:

'It will be two years on the twelfth of next November since one cold, wet evening, about eight o'clock, a lady, with a little girl that seemed about five years old, stopped at the Falcon Inn at E——. That lady was your mother, and that little girl was you, Lady Anne. Well, the chaise stopped, and your mother got out, and desired to be shown to a bedroom, and ordered tea, and tired and ill the landlady said she looked, but she did not know how very ill she really was. Well, after tea she put you to bed, and prepared to go herself, and she told the chambermaid to call her next morning at eight o'clock, for that, after breakfast, she intended to continue her journey. She ordered breakfast too, but, poor lady, when the morning came she was in a high fever.

'The good woman of the inn was terribly frightened, as you may suppose, at having a strange lady ill in her house, and not knowing whom she belonged to, nor whether she had money to pay her expenses, so she went to Mr. Sanders, our clergyman, to advise with him what was to be done. Then he went to the inn, and looked at your mother, and examined a little trunk, which was all the luggage she had. It contained just a change of linen for herself and you, and rather more than forty pounds in bank-notes and money, but no letters, nor any writing to tell who she was. The linen, both yours and your mother's, was marked A. M., and the trunk had the same letters in brass nails.

'Then the clergyman asked you your name; you said it was Lady Anne. Then he asked you your father's and mother's, and you said it was my lord and my lady, and that was all the answer he could get from you, for you did not know anything about a surname, and I must say I think it is a very foolish thing not to teach children their names and proper directions, for if you could have told yours, your friends would have been wrote to, and you would now have been with them, instead of being a poor little beggar in a workhouse; but I suppose, as your parents kept their carriage, they did not think there was any occasion that you should know your name and your direction; so much the worse for you.

'But to go on with my story. When Mr. Sanders asked your age, you said you were five years old, and that was all he could learn from you. Well, your mother was very ill, and did not know anything they asked her; she did not even know you, though you sat on the bed, by her, and did all you could to make her notice you, but it was all of no use, your poor mother could not notice anything. Then a doctor was sent for, and as soon as he came he said that the lady would die, but that he would do all in his power to save her, and so, I believe, he did, but it was all in vain, for on the third evening your mother died. The parish buried her very decently, for Mr. Sanders said that, as she had left money, she should not be buried like a pauper, and he would have taken you home and brought you up, but Madam Sanders said they had a large family of their own, and could not be burdened with other people's children, so you were sent to me, and I took all the care of you I could, for you had a bad fever, and were ill for a long time, and used to talk about lords and ladies, and would often say, if the earl would but forgive your father and mother you should all be very happy. When you grew better I asked you what earl you had been talking about, but you neither knew his name, nor what had been done to offend him.

[Illustration: The arrival at the inn.—Page 323.]

'Mr. Sanders drew up an advertisement that was put into several newspapers, describing your mother and you, and telling of her coming to E——, and of her death, and begging her friends to come and take away the child, or it must otherwise be sent to the parish poor-house; but nobody ever sent or came, and the churchwardens would not allow any more money to be spent upon advertisements, for they said they must keep what was left to pay them for their care of you, as you were left upon their hands, and many people said they thought that you and your mother were only sham ladies, and that there was some trick in it, but, for my part, I always said that you and your mother were real ladies, and so thinks Mr. Sanders, for he says he does not know what trick there could be in a lady being taken ill and dying. He says he hopes to see the day when you will be restored to your friends, and he keeps the little trunk that your mother had, and the picture of a gentleman that she wore hung from her neck, and two rings; one, I suppose, was her wedding ring, the other is a very handsome one, and has hair in it and letters, and a great many little pearls, and the clergyman says it is worth a great deal of money, and that no sham lady could have such a handsome ring, and, besides all that, he keeps the clothes that you and your mother wore, that in case you should ever meet with your relations all these things may prove you are the same child that was lost, and not an impostor.'

Chapter II

Young as I was this relation of my nurse made me weep very much; it brought to my memory things which I had long thought must have been dreams. I well remembered my father's picture; I had seen my mother weep over it, press it to her lips, and address it by the name of her dear Frederick. I earnestly entreated the nurse to take me to the clergyman's, that I might once more have the pleasure of seeing it. She told me to have patience till Sunday, and that when service was over she would speak to him about it. I submitted to this delay without a murmur, and the following Sunday, when service was over, as he was walking through the churchyard, nurse went up to him and told him my request.

'Ah,' said he, looking at the little troop of children that followed the nurse, and immediately fixing his eyes upon me, 'I suppose this is the little lady. What is your name, my dear?'

'Lady Anne, sir,' replied I, curtseying very low. I must here observe that I did not know that lady was a title, but thought it was as much a part of my name as Anne.

'What, still Lady Anne?' said he. 'You are determined not to lose your title. Well, my little lady, come home with me and I will show you your father's picture.'

We then followed the clergyman to his house. The children were told to stay in the garden, with strict orders not to touch anything, and nurse and I were permitted the honour of entering the study. Mr. Sanders then, opening the drawer of a cabinet, took out the miniature portrait of a young and handsome gentleman dressed in regimentals. I no sooner beheld it than a thousand recollections seemed to rush upon my mind. I caught it from his hand, pressed it to my lips, and bursting into a flood of tears, exclaimed:

'It is my father's picture. My own, my dear father. Oh, if I could but see him! Where is he gone to? Do you know where he is gone to?'

'Be calm, my dear child,' said the good man, taking me in his arms. 'We do not know where your father is, or we would write to him. If you could tell us his name, we might find him out. Do you not remember any name they used to call your father?'

'They used to call father my lord; and mother my lady, and they called me Lady Anne,' said I.

'Ah! that is the old story, we know it already,' replied the clergyman with a sigh; 'but who, my dear, was the earl? Can you not recollect his name? Try if you cannot remember.'

'I do not know his name,' replied I, 'but he came one day and was very angry, and made mother cry, and then she fell on the floor and I screamed, and then the Earl was more angry and stamped, and I screamed with all my might, and the Earl rang the bell and went away in a great passion, and then Sally—yes, it was Sally—came to mother.'

'Where was your father, then, my dear?'

'I do not know, father was gone, and I have never seen him since.'

The good clergyman asked me many more questions, to try if he could discover who my friends were; but, as I unfortunately could not tell either my own name, or that of any of the great people who had visited us, his enquiries were fruitless, and he closed the conversation by observing, 'that it was a great pity I had not been taught my own name and address.'

       * * * * *

[Lady Anne was then taken to an orphan home, where she was treated very harshly by Mrs. Dawson, the matron. Great fun was made of her grand name.]

       * * * * *

At last a man and his wife, who had come down from London on a visit to a relation of theirs in the town, having heard of me, came to the school to make their inquiries. I was accordingly ordered to stand up, that they might satisfy their curiosity with gazing at me, while Mrs. Dawson began to boast of all the good qualities I possessed, and some to which I had no claim.

'She is a very delicate looking child,' said the woman from London; 'she looks more like a gentleman's daughter than a parish girl.'

'She is straight, and tall of her age, ma'am,' replied Mrs. Dawson, 'and that gives her a genteelish look; but I assure you she is as strong as a little horse. She will wash and scour with any girl of her age; and, as for her needle, there is not a girl in the school can work as well. Show your work, Lady Anne.'

'Lady Anne!' repeated the Londoner, as she took my work into her hand, 'that is a strange name. What do you call her so for?'

Mrs. Dawson ran over my story to her as briefly as she could. The two Londoners found it very diverting, and laughed heartily, while the tears stood in my eyes as I thought of my dear parents, one in the grave, and the other I might never see again.

'Well, wife,' said the man, when he had laughed till he was weary, 'suppose we take this young lady on trial for a month; the good woman speaks of her very well; we can but see what she can do, and, if we find her strong enough for our place, it will be a rare piece of luck for us to have an earl's daughter for our servant. What say you, aye or nay?'

'I have no objection to try her,' replied the wife. 'She sews very well, and that is the greatest object with us.'

'Very well, then,' returned the husband. 'Let us away to the overseers, and settle with them about taking her upon trial, for I will not have her as an apprentice till we know what she can do.'

They then went away, and, in about two hours, the one that I called the good-natured overseer came to tell Mrs. Dawson to have me in readiness to go to London on the morning after the morrow with my new master and mistress.

'And I hope, child,' said he, addressing me, 'that you will do all you can to please them, for I give you my word for it, that if you are sent back to us we shall send you to the Bridewell, where you will be kept to hard labour, and be whipped every day; so now you know what you have to trust to.'

I assured him very sincerely that I would do to the utmost of my power to please my master and mistress; and then I very humbly entreated his permission to allow me to go the next day to pay a farewell visit to Mr. Sanders and my nurse, Jenkins.

'Yes, child, you shall go. And mind, Dawson, that you let her go early, that she may find Mr. Sanders at home, for he made me promise that we would not send her away without first letting her call upon him. Good-bye, child, there is a penny for you to spend, and if you are a good girl you shall have a shilling for yourself when you are bound apprentice.'

I curtsied, thanked him, and renewed my promises of good behaviour. He then went away, and Mrs. Dawson told me to sit down to my work, for that too much time had been lost in talking.

Chapter III

The next morning I arose before it was well light. It was a cold morning in the month of February, and the snow was lying upon the ground; but my heart felt so light at the thought of escaping from the ill-temper of Mrs. Dawson, and the hope of being more comfortable, that everything appeared cheerful and pleasant. I made what haste I could to get my morning work done, and, having breakfasted, set off about nine o'clock on my little journey. The distance from the workhouse to Mr. Sanders's was rather more than two miles; but the sun was now shining, and the road hard and dry, and I tripped along so lightly that I was therein a little more than half an hour.

'Good-morning to you, my dear,' said the kind gentleman when he saw me; 'you seem in excellent spirits. Have you got a place?'

'Yes, sir,' I replied. 'I am to go to London to-morrow, and then, I hope, I shall find my father soon.'

'My poor child, I wish you may,' answered he; 'but do not raise your expectations too high, for fear you should be disappointed. What sort of people are you to be with, and what is it you are to do?'

I then related all that had passed the preceding day between Mrs. Dawson and the strangers.

'Well,' said Mr. Sanders, 'I will call this evening upon the overseers, and hear what they say of these people. I hope they are respectable, and will be kind to you; and, my dear child, pray remember my advice, be honest and obliging; do not let any temptation lead you to take what is not your own; and never give a saucy answer, even though you should be found fault with unjustly. Will you think of my advice, and act by it?'

'I will, indeed I will,' replied I. 'And now, sir, if you please, let me once more look at my father's picture, for, you know, when I am in London, I cannot come to you then to look at it.'

Mr. Sanders, taking it from the drawer, gave it into my hand. I gazed at it, pressed it to my lips, and wept over it; and, at last, when Mr. Sanders desired me to give it him back, I begged of him to let me take it with me to London.

'If you take it to London,' said he, 'you may, perhaps, lose it, or it may be taken from you. The picture is valuable on account of the gold and pearls about it, and may tempt bad people to steal it. You had much better leave it with me.'

'I will hide it so securely,' replied I, 'that nobody shall ever see it, or know that I have it.'

'How can you hide it, my dear?'

'I will hide it in my bosom; but I am going to Nurse Jenkins, and she will fasten it inside my stays, so that it cannot be seen, and people will not think that I have a picture. Do, pray, sir, let me have it.'

'Well,' said Mr. Sanders, after a little pause, in which he seemed to consider whether it would be safe to grant my request or not; 'I will entrust it to your care, but be sure never to let it be seen, nor to tell anyone that you have such a picture in your possession.'

Most fervently I promised to take every possible care of this beloved portrait, and was about to take my leave when Mr. Sanders said:

'Stay, my dear, here is sixpence for you.'

'No, thank you, sir,' said I. 'I have the sixpence you gave me when I left my nurse.'

'What! have you not spent that yet?'

'No, sir.'

'And why not, pray?'

'Because you gave it to me, sir, I shall never spend it.'

'Then you are keeping it for my sake, I suppose. Well, do so, my dear, but take this sixpence, and mind you spend it.'

I took it with a curtsey, and tried to say 'Good-bye,' but the words seemed to choke me, and I burst into tears. Mr. Sanders seemed much affected, and putting his handkerchief to his eyes, walked about the room for some minutes without speaking; then, again approaching me, he kissed my forehead.

'Farewell, my dear child,' said he. 'I wish it was in my power to keep you, but I have a large family, and Mrs. Sanders is not willing that I should take you in addition, so farewell, we must part; be a good girl, and I hope we shall meet again in happier circumstances.'

He then again kissed me, bestowed his benediction upon me, and led me to the gate. I sobbed out my farewell, and, with the tears streaming down my face, took my way to the humble dwelling of my nurse. I had nearly two miles to walk before I reached her cottage. At first I went along with a slow and deliberate step, thinking upon my parting with Mr. Sanders, and comparing my lot with that of children who had fathers and mothers, and weeping at my own destitute situation; for, even among the children who were in the workhouse, there was not one excepting myself who had not relations who came occasionally to see them, and to whom they looked up for some sort of protection, while I was a poor little outcast in society, not knowing one creature in the whole world to whom I could say I was related. Mr. Sanders and my nurse were the only persons who seemed to care anything about me; and even these, my only friends, I must leave, and go and live among strangers. These thoughts made me very melancholy, and, though this second part of my journey was the shortest, yet I was nearly an hour in walking it. At last I saw the cottage, and, quickening my pace, I arrived there tired and out of spirits.

The good woman received me kindly, and placing me near the fire, gave me a basin of broth, with plenty of bread in it. After I had taken this refreshment, which I greatly needed, she began asking me a variety of questions, and by degrees I gave her the history of all that had happened to me from the time I had left her house, for since that time I had never had an opportunity of saying more to her than a few words when we happened to meet at the church.

'Poor child,' said she, when I concluded, 'I was afraid you would not be comfortable, for Mrs. Dawson is a woman of a very bad temper; but she does make the girls good servants, that nobody can deny, and that, I suppose, is the reason she keeps her place; however, your time is over with her now, so never mind what is past, but look forward to what is to come. What sort of people are you going to live with?'

'I hardly know,' replied I; 'but their name is Smith, and they live in a place called the Borough.'

'Do you know what their trade is?'

'They sell umbrellas and shoes, and I am to learn to make the umbrellas, and that is all I know about them.'

'Well, my dear, I hope that you will be able to do for them, and that they will be kind to you, and you must trust to Providence for the discovery of your friends.'

I then drew my father's picture from my bosom, and asked her if she would fasten it into my stays in such a way that I could wear it without its being seen.

'Yes, my dear,' said she, 'that I will, and you must mind how I do it, that, when you have a new pair of stays, you may be able to fasten it into them in the same manner.'

My stays were then taken off, and the portrait fastened inside of them; a piece of flannel was then sewed over it, which, being left loose at one corner, I could, when I had them off, raise it up, and take a view of the dear likeness. The first sixpence that Mr. Sanders gave me I had fastened in also, for I was determined never to part with it. This being done I produced the sixpence he had given me that morning, and the penny given me by the overseer, and begged the nurse to accept of them.

'No, my dear,' said she, 'I will not take them from you; keep them yourself, you do not know what you may want when you are in London. You will not then have anybody to give you a halfpenny should you need it.'

'I will not keep it,' replied I. 'Mr. Sanders told me to spend it, and if you will not take it I shall leave it upon the table.'

'Well,' said she, 'if it must be spent, I will go and lay it out in tea and sugar, and give you all a treat, for I suppose you have not tasted any tea since you have been with Mrs. Dawson.'

'No,' said I, 'not a single drop. How glad I am that you have thought of letting us have tea.'

My young readers who, perhaps, have tea every day, cannot imagine what a luxury a little of it is to a poor workhouse child, who never tastes it but when she is allowed to go out and see her friends. Children in workhouses have bread and cheese and small-beer about seven o'clock, which serves them for tea and supper, and I, as I had no friends to go and see, had not once tasted tea since I left my nurse's, who was a good-natured woman, and always gave us tea on Sunday evenings—weak, indeed, but we thought it delicious; on other evenings we had milk-and-water and bread-and-butter.

My nurse soon came back with her purchase. The large kettle was set on the fire, the great brown loaf was brought out, and nurse began cutting slices of bread-and-butter for us.

The children were so delighted at the thoughts of the treat they were to have that they began dancing about the floor, and I, forgetting my late sorrow, joined in their sports. When the repast was quite ready we took our places, some at the table, and some on the benches, as we could find room. Nurse gave each of us a little basin of tea and a good slice of bread-and-butter, and I think I may say that the whole body of aldermen dining at the Lord Mayor's feast never ate their meal with half the zest that we felt in sipping our homely tea, and eating our brown bread.

Soon after the tea was over nurse proposed my returning home, as the days were short, and as she did not wish me to be out after it was dark. I felt a pang at the idea of so soon parting with my good nurse, but without replying I immediately put on my bonnet and cloak. Nurse and the children accompanied me a full mile on my way home, and then we parted with tears on both sides.

Chapter IV

It was a very fine morning, the sun shone brightly, the fields, hedges, and trees were covered with snow, which, as the air was very cold, did not melt, but sparkled and glittered most beautifully. I gazed with much pleasure on the scenery as we passed along, and should have been cheerful, but I was with strangers, who took very little notice of me, scarcely speaking to me the whole day, so that I could not help feeling sorrowful, and sometimes even wished myself back again with Mrs. Dawson.

About seven o'clock in the evening we stopped at a small shop in one of the cross streets in the Borough. There I was told that we were at home. We entered, and I gave a curious and somewhat fearful glance round the place. The shop was set out partly with umbrellas and partly with shoes, but everything seemed dirty and in confusion. Shoe-lasts, umbrella-sticks, and a large quantity of whalebone, were lying in heaps about the floor, while in one corner stood a large pan of dirty water in which they soaked the leather, and which, not being often changed, sent forth a most unpleasant smell; the floor did not appear as if it was swept once in a month. We entered the parlour, which was in the same state of dirt and confusion as the shop. Three dirty children, whose ages I was afterwards told were thirteen, eleven, and nine, came to meet their parents. Their frocks were dirty and ragged, their stockings with holes in them, their shoes slipped down at the heel, while they wore strings of coloured beads round their necks, that did not seem as if they were washed oftener than once a month. They were clamouring round their parents to know what they had brought them from the country, and who I was.

Their father gave them a basket with cakes and fruit in it, and told them to take that, and ask him no questions till he was at leisure to answer them. The master's sister, who had taken charge of the house during his absence, was dressed much in the same style as the children, her stockings being dirty and with holes in them, her gown unripped in several places at the seams, and on her head a dirty cap, with a fine lace border and ornamented with pink ribbon. The room and furniture were in the same untidy condition, and as I looked around me I could not but fear that my situation in this house would be very uncomfortable.

We were all of us both tired and cold. The sister made tea, of which Mrs. Smith gave me a good basinful, and a thick slice of bread-and-butter. They then began talking among themselves, and me and my little history was the subject of their conversation. They were all much amused at my being called Lady Anne. Mrs. Smith declared that she would either call me Anne or Nancy, and Mr. Smith insisted that I should have my full title.

'I tell you what, husband,' said she, 'you may call her what you please, but I shall call her Nanny.'

'And I tell you what, wife,' returned he, 'I shall call her Lady Anne, and so shall the children, or I'll strap them well, and you ought to call her so. Who knows but that girl may be the means of making our fortune? If she really is an earl's daughter, her father may come into our shop some day to look at an umbrella or a pair of shoes, and when he hears us call her Lady Anne he will, of course, inquire the reason; then we shall tell him her history, he'll make us a present—a handsome one, too—not less than a thousand pounds, I should think, or, if it is not a handsome one, I'll send him in a swinging bill for her keep, so that I will have it one way or another.'

'Why, you know that we must keep her,' replied his wife; 'she is our servant, and will soon be our 'prentice, if she can do our work.'

'You know nothing about it,' returned her husband. 'If she is bound to us, we shall be bound to keep her; but if she is not, whenever we find her father we can send him in a good bill for her keep, and make him pay it too, that is my opinion of the matter.'

'And so,' answered his wife, 'for the sake of this fine dream you mean to lose the 'prentice fees, do you?'

'Aye, do I,' replied he, 'and you'll thank me for it too, when his earlship gives me the thousand pounds.'

'And in the meantime,' asked his wife, 'what is to be done with her ladyship? Is she to be kept for looking at?'

'You may look at her as much as you please,' answered her husband, 'but, as she will eat, so she must work or starve, and now give me a glass of gin and water, for tea is not worth drinking, and I have talked till my throat is dry.'

His wile brought out and mixed the liquor, repeating to herself: 'And so for this fine castle in the air we are to lose the 'prentice fees.'

Mr. Smith now had a pipe, and sat smoking and drinking, his wife and sister talked on indifferent subjects, and the children amused themselves by repeatedly coming to me, and saying, 'How do you do, Lady Anne? I hope you are very well,' and the like idle expressions. Their father laughed, and said they had learned their lesson already, but their mother, who was vexed at losing the apprentice fees, after some little time told them to be quiet, or she would send them to bed. This command released me from their silly questions; they got different playthings, and seated themselves on the floor near the fire, while I sat on a stool on a distant part of the room, but glad at any rate to be free from their questions.

At length nine o'clock came. Mrs. Smith gave each of the children a slice of bread-and-butter, and I was in hopes she would have given me one too, but I was mistaken. After the children had taken their supper she said to me:

'Now, Anne, you will go upstairs with us, and I will show you where you are to sleep. You must be up betimes in the morning, and let us see what you can do for your living; for, I assure you, we shall not keep you in idleness, though you are a lady.'

Without reply, I followed them upstairs into a large back attic, which was in the same comfortless state as the shop and parlour. There was only one bed in the room, and it had neither curtains or posts: it had not been made that day at the least. Mrs. Smith merely laid it smooth, while the children took off their clothes, which they threw in heaps upon the floor, and then scrambled into bed, without either nightgown or night-cap. Mrs. Smith then looked round the room, and said:

'I must now contrive a bed for you, child.'

I looked round, too, but did not see anything that seemed to me likely to answer such a purpose. There were, indeed, several heaps of dirty old clothes, but they did not appear to me fit for anything but to burn, or to send away among the ashes. Mrs. Smith, however, approached one of them, and said:

'Here, child, you may pick out plenty of clothes, and spread them upon the floor, and I will give you an old blanket to cover you: then, I think, you will do very well.'

I went to the heap, and my heart heaved with sickness and disgust as I lifted up dirty old coats, trousers, waistcoats, and gowns. It seemed as if all the old clothes of the family for the last ten years had been collected into this room; and out of this mass of litter I was to make my bed. This was, indeed, heart-breaking to me, for all my life I had been accustomed to cleanliness, even when in the workhouse; for there, though we lived hard and slept hard, yet everything was clean.

'What is the girl thinking about?' said Mrs. Smith angrily. 'Pick out a few things and make your bed. I cannot stand waiting upon you for half an hour.'

I did not dare to answer, but picked out a few of the things that looked the least dirty, and spread them upon the floor. Mrs. Smith then went downstairs, and in a few minutes brought me up an old blanket, which she threw upon the floor, saying:

'I cannot stay any longer; it is moonlight, and you must make your bed, and go to it as you can.'

She then went away, and I was no sooner alone than, seating myself upon the floor, I wept most bitterly.

'How unhappy I am!' thought I. 'Every change I make is for the worse. When I left my nurse I was worse off at the workhouse; and now I have left the workhouse I am worse off here; and my father—I shall never see him more, for he will never find me in such a dirty place as this.'

Again I wept, but, being overpowered with sleep, I wrapped the blanket round me, and, laying myself upon the old clothes I had spread upon the floor, I was soon in a sound sleep.

I was awakened the next morning at an early hour by Mr. Smith knocking at the room door, and telling me to make haste down and light the fire. This I did, and swept up the parlour, which I made look as tidy as I could. After breakfast, of which I had but a very scanty allowance, I was ordered into the shop, and Mr. Smith sat down, and began teaching me how to make the covers for umbrellas. The shop-door was open, and my hands were so cold that I could scarcely hold the needle; but I did as well as I was able, and worked till I was called to my dinner, which was not till the rest of the family had dined; then all the bits of fat and scraps that they did not like were scraped together into a plate for me, which, with a very small piece of meat in addition, and a few potatoes, was my dinner. Complaint was useless. I had no choice but to eat it or to go without. I then returned to my work till the family had taken their tea, when a small basinful was given to me, and one slice of bread-and-butter—not a slice all round the loaf, but half round it. After tea, Mr. Smith went out, and his wife and sister, with two other women that came in, spent the evening at cards. At nine o'clock the children had their supper and went to bed. I was in hopes that I should be allowed to go, too, nine o'clock being the hour when we had been sent to bed at the workhouse. I accordingly folded up my work and went into the parlour.

'Well, what do you want?' said Mrs. Smith.

'If you please, ma'am, may I have my supper and go to bed?'

'Supper and go to bed!' exclaimed she. 'Pretty talk for a workhouse girl! No, miss, you will have no supper. Three meals a day are enough for you, I should think; and as for bed, you will not go till your master comes home, and that will not be till twelve o'clock. So now, my lady, go and sit down to your work again.'

I obeyed in silence, for, indeed, having no choice, I could not do otherwise; but, being overpowered with sleep, I soon nodded over my work. This Mrs. Smith observed, for, the upper half of the partition between the shop and parlour being of glass, she could see all that passed, and, seeing me nod, she came out, and shook and beat me till I was thoroughly awake. At ten o'clock the shop was shut up by Mrs. Smith and her sister, Mrs. Smith telling me that would be my work as soon as I was tall enough to put up the shutters. I still kept to my sewing, though two or three times I fell asleep over it, from which I was as roughly awakened as at the first. At length, to my great relief, twelve o'clock struck, the two visitors departed, and soon after Mr. Smith knocked at the door. As soon as he came in his wife began scolding him for spending his time and money at a public-house, and said that he would bring them all to the workhouse. He retorted by saying that she lost more money at cards than he spent at the public-house. They then quarrelled violently. Blows were given on both sides, when Mr. Smith, happening to see me, told me to be gone to bed, or he would knock me down. I did not require to be told twice, but, hastening from the room, groped my way upstairs (for I was not allowed any candle), where, rejoiced at having escaped from the confusion below, I wrapped the blanket round me, and, laying myself upon the heap of rubbish, soon fell asleep.

The two succeeding days passed nearly as the one I have described. Then came Sunday, which, instead of being a day of rest, of worship of the great Giver of all good, and a day of innocent recreation, was, in this misguided family, a day of complete slavery, for I found that it was the only one in the whole week that was devoted to domestic business. The whole house was to be cleaned. The dishes, plates, and saucepans, which had been used over and over again without washing during the week, were now all to be washed. The knives were to be cleaned, the boots and shoes to be brushed and blacked, and all this it was expected I should do. I did the best I could, and kept on working from six o'clock in the morning till nine o'clock at night, without sitting down the whole time, except the few minutes when I took my three scanty meals; but now, overpowered with fatigue, I fainted away upon the floor.

I believe I continued insensible for rather a long time, for, when I began to recover my hearing, I heard Mrs. Smith and the sister talking together very earnestly, and as if they were fearful of getting into trouble on my account. They were sprinkling me with water, and holding hartshorn for me to smell, at the same time conversing in the following manner:

'I wish we had not taken this girl,' said Mrs. Smith. 'She has not strength to do our work. We cannot afford to keep her for nothing; and yet, if she dies, people will say that we killed her. How white she looks! I am afraid that she really is dead.'

'Pour a little gin-and-water down her throat,' said the sister. 'If she has life in her, that will bring her to; and, to tell you my opinion of the matter, I think you half starve her, and overwork her besides. But get the gin, or she will be dead to all intents and purposes.'

Mrs. Smith, I suppose (for, though I could hear, I was still unable to open my eyes), mixed the liquor, and poured a little of it into my mouth. It acted like a cordial upon me, for I was soon able to open my eyes, and I found myself supported in the arms of the sister, and Mrs. Smith holding the liquor.

'What is the matter with you, child?' said she. 'Are you subject to fits?'

Unable to speak, I burst into tears.

'Very well,' said she; 'you are better now. There, empty the cup, and I will give you some bread and cheese, and then you shall go to bed.'

I did as I was desired, and, after I had eaten the bread and cheese, I staggered, partly from weakness and partly from the effects of the liquor I had taken, up into my room, where sleep soon made me forget all my sorrows.

The weary week circled round, and the dreaded Sunday again appeared; but this day Mrs. Smith obliged the children to help a little in the work. What they did was but little, but to me every little was of consequence. She also allowed rather more victuals; and at eight o'clock in the evening she gave me a good slice of bread and cheese and a teacupful of porter, which strengthened me so much that I did all my work, and at ten o'clock was allowed to go to bed—my miserable bed, which at first I had beheld with so much disgust, was now the only place where I found any comfort, for there I was free from scolding and anger. There I slept soundly, there I generally forgot all my sorrow, and sometimes even dreamed that I had found my father.

Chapter V

The return of spring in some measure alleviated my sufferings, for, as the weather grew warmer, my hands and feet got better; but, to counterbalance this comfort, my quantity of work was increased; and, as the days lengthened, I was obliged to rise earlier, for during the three months in the middle of summer I rose every morning at four o'clock. Being allowed so short a time for rest occasioned me to be continually sleepy, so that I could not help sometimes falling asleep over my work, even during the day, and this was sure of being the means of my having a severe beating from either Mr. Smith or his wife. My health daily declined, and I was pleased that it did so, for I was in hopes that I should soon die, and be released from all my troubles. Thus passed away the summer and autumn. Winter approached. It was now the latter end of November, and the weather had set in extremely cold. A heavy fall of snow, with a sharp frost, was succeeded by a slight thaw, which made the streets worse to walk in than either a severe frost or completely wet, when one morning Mrs. Smith told me to take an apple-pie to the baker's. I took the pie and went as carefully as I could, that I might not fall, or get my feet wet, for my shoes were now so worn out that they did not keep my feet from the ground; but in crossing the main street in the borough, as I was trying to step over the gutter, which was choked up with snow and loose pieces of ice, my foot slipped, and down I fell. The pie went into the gutter, where the dish was smashed to pieces, and the paste, sugar, and apples mingled with the dirty water. At first I could not see, owing to the quantity of muddy water that had splashed up into my face; but, having cleared my eyes, I saw an old match-woman cramming the pie-crust into her basket, a crowd of ragged children were fishing the apples out of the gutter, and a number of men and women, who ought to have known better, were laughing at me.

'Pray, ma'am,' said I to the match-woman, 'give me back the dough that I may take it home.'

'La, child!' said she, 'what good can a bit of dirty pie-crust do you? I am sure your mistress would not use it, and when I have washed off the mud it will make me a little dumpling.'

'Pray give it me back,' said I. 'Oh dear! what shall I do? I shall be so beat!'

'Beat!' repeated a man, who at that moment came up and lifted me over the gutter on to the pavement, 'you will be killed. If I was in your place, I would run away. Depend upon it, if you go back, Mother Smith would beat you to death.'

This man lived in our street, and knew the Smiths very well. A woman, on hearing their name mentioned, looked at me and said: 'Is this Smith's girl? Why, they will kill her and eat her for their dinner as she has lost them their pie.'

'They would not gain much by that,' said a man, 'for the girl has not a pound of flesh upon her bones.'

'Run, I tell you,' said the man who had first spoken to me. 'It is impossible for you to be worse off than you are with them; and if they catch you, they will be the death of you.'

'Run, girl, run,' was shouted on all sides, 'run, run for your life!' called out the boys, who by this time had pretty well picked up all the apples. I still stood weeping, not knowing what to do, when a woman exclaimed:

'As I am alive, here comes Mother Smith with a great whalebone; now, girl, you'll be cut to pieces.'

A general shout of 'Run! run!' from men, women, and children almost deafened me. Without stopping to see if Mrs. Smith was really coming, I did run as fast as my feet would carry me, till, strength and breath failing, I was obliged to slacken my pace. I had by this time run nearly the whole length of the Borough, and was almost at London Bridge. I had never before seen the Thames, and thought it was the sea. The noise of the water-works frightened me, and I hesitated about venturing on the bridge; but, seeing others go over, I, with some fear, followed them, and thought that I had escaped a great danger when I reached the opposite end in safety. But this imaginary fear was but a short interruption to my more just one of Mrs. Smith, and I now ventured to look back to see if I was pursued. Terror, I suppose, deceived me, for I thought I saw her coming with a stick in her hand. I again set off running, and, following the stream of the people, was soon in Cheapside. My feet were now sore, and cut in several places by the ice; but I still hurried on as well as I was able, till I entered St. Paul's Churchyard. There, notwithstanding my fear, I stood still to gaze on the immense and beautiful building, which I now for the first time beheld, and for some minutes I was lost in a dream of astonishment. My dream was soon interrupted by the crowds of people who were hurrying on in different directions, and who pushed me about without any ceremony, so that I was soon obliged to collect my scattered ideas and consider what I was now to do. I had left Mr. Smith's, but I had no where else to go to, not a friend to receive me, nor a house to shelter me for a single night. As I thought of my miserable situation, the tears chased each other down my face. Of the great numbers who passed me, no doubt some observed them; but they were all too much engaged with their own concerns to make any inquiries into the sorrows of a poor little outcast like myself, and I passed on unheeded. Going on with the course of the people, I went through St. Paul's Churchyard, down Ludgate Hill, along Fleet Street, and entered the Strand. By this time I had made the determination of endeavouring to find my way back to E——; of going to Mr. Sanders's, and telling him how ill I had been treated by the Smiths; for I thought that his influence with the overseers would prevent their punishing me, as they had threatened, if I did not stay in my place. I therefore now began to look down all the streets as I passed them to see if any of them led to the country; but on the right hand side they all led to other streets. I began to think I should never come to the end of them. Being at length arrived opposite to Catharine Street, I looked up to it, and saw that it led to a wide space, where there was a great quantity of green that looked like small trees. 'Well,' thought I, 'this must be the way into the country, and the trees are beginning to grow here, but how little they are!'

[Illustration: The flight over London Bridge.—Page 349.]

I immediately crossed the Strand, went up Catharine Street, and entered Covent Garden. Disappointment damped my hopes when I found that this great space was surrounded by houses; but there was something so pleasing in the appearance of the evergreens that were exposed for sale, and the shops looked so pretty, being set out with holly and laurel, that I crossed into the market, and walked slowly along, examining the countenances of the shopkeepers, to see if there was one that looked sufficiently good-natured for me to dare to speak to her. At last I asked a woman who kept a fruit and flower shop if she would be so good as to direct me the way to E——.

'To E——, child? Why, you are near forty miles off. What do you want there?'

'I want to go to Mr. Sanders's,' replied I, 'and to tell him how ill Mr. Smith used me, and perhaps he would get me another place, and not let the overseers punish me.'

'I don't know what you are talking about, child,' said the woman. 'I know nothing of Mr. Sanders nor Mr. Smith. Who are they?'

I looked in surprise at the woman, for I thought it impossible but everybody must know Mr. Sanders. I, however, replied that he was the clergyman at E——.

'Well,' said she, 'and who are you? A parish 'prentice, I should suppose, by your gown.'

'And run away from your master,' said a man who had drawn near, attracted by curiosity.

'Come, tell the truth,' said the woman, 'what made you run away? For that, I suppose, is the case.'

I related the accident of the pie. The man and several others, who had come near to listen, laughed heartily.

'And so,' said he, 'the old woman picked up the pie-crust, did she? She was no bad judge. The boys had the apples, the gutter had the sugar, you had the mud; and, if you had gone home, I suppose you would have had the cane. Ha! ha! ha!'

All the people laughed at this, and I stood crying.

'Don't cry,' said the fruiteress, 'you shall not go back to Smith's again. I will see if I cannot get you another place, and a pair of stockings and shoes too, for you are barefoot.'

'So she is,' said the man who had laughed so heartily; 'she seems to belong to the ragged regiment, to be sure. But how comes it, child, that your father and mother did not look after you a little?'

At the mention of these dear names, my tears flowed afresh, and I sobbed out that I had no father or mother. The good-natured fruiteress absolutely wept; several women, who had come round us, shed tears; and the men said it was a great deal too bad that poor orphans should be treated so barbarously.

'Well,' said the man who had laughed so much, 'pitying will do her but little good without something more substantial, so there's twopence for you, child, towards a pair of shoes; and if all these good people will give you as much you will soon be shod.'

They did so far follow his example as to give me some a penny and some a halfpenny, so that in a short time I had one shilling and sevenpence halfpenny. They then went away, the fruiteress assuring them that I should have shoes and stockings, and that she had no doubt but that she could get me a place at a gardener's in the country where I might be comfortable. When the people were all gone, she told me to come into the shop and warm myself; but when she looked at my face, scratched with the ice and smeared with mud, she said:

'I think a good washing will be the best thing for you, for you cannot be made comfortable till you are clean.'

She then gave me soap, water, a towel, and I was not a little glad of having the means of washing myself well. She then looked at my feet, which were much cut with the ice, and still bleeding.

'Poor child,' said she, 'I think you have suffered enough for breaking a pie-dish. However, its done, and you shall soak your feet well with warm water; and when my little girls come with my dinner I will see if I cannot find you a pair of shoes.'

I accordingly washed my feet well, which was a comfort I had not experienced for many months. The good woman threw away my old stockings and shoes, and, doubling a piece of carpet under my feet, told me to sit by the fire till her children brought the dinner.

Thus refreshed, and seated on a low stool near the fire, I leaned my head against the wall, and was soon in a sound sleep. From this I was awakened in a little more than half an hour by a murmuring of voices. My first idea was that Mrs. Smith had discovered my retreat, and I started up in terror, exclaiming:

'Oh, save me from her, for she will kill me!'

'Do not frighten yourself, my dear,' said the fruiteress, 'it is only my little girls with the dinner. Come and sit to the table, I dare say you are hungry.'

That I really was, but I was so dirty and ragged that I felt ashamed of sitting at the table with people who had everything clean and whole upon them. I therefore stood back, and, telling my reasons, asked her to let me have my dinner upon the stool.

'Take off that ragged apron,' said she, 'and, Sally, my dear, let the little girl have yours, and then come and sit down to dinner with us, child.'

Sally, a good-natured girl, seemingly about fourteen years old, took off her clean coloured apron, which she gave to me, and then, observing my naked feet, exclaimed:

'Dear mother, she has no shoes! Shall I take off mine, and let her have them?'

'After dinner,' replied her mother, 'you must see if you have not a tolerable pair of shoes and stockings that you can give her; but now let us sit down, and be thankful that we have a good home to shelter us, and victuals to eat, and are not, like this poor child, without either.'

The fruiteress (whose name I found was Williams) then said grace, and we all sat down to a comfortable dinner of boiled mutton, turnips, and potatoes, to which I was helped very liberally. During the repast the children naturally inquired who I was, and why I was there. The mother merely answered them as to how I had come; but, when the dinner was over, she asked me many questions, such as my name, and what I could remember of my parents, etc., and I told them all I could remember, from the time of my mother's death to the misfortunes of the present morning, taking care, at the same time, not to mention that I had my father's portrait in my possession. The good woman shed tears several times, and the children seemed much affected.

'Ah, my dears,' said she to them, 'it is well for you that you have a mother to take care of you, or you would not be better off than this poor child is. I am sure, when your dear father died, I thought we must have all gone to the workhouse; but yet I kept striving and striving, and Providence has sent us a living. But now you had better take the plates and things home, and see if you have not some of your clothes that you can spare for this little girl. Jane, you can let her have your old bonnet.'

'Yes, mother, and my blue spencer, too, for I have left off wearing it. May I bring it?'

'Yes, and make haste, for the poor child is very cold, as you may see, without a bit of a handkerchief on her neck this cold weather!'

The children packed up the plates and the remains of the dinner on a tray, and took them to a room that their mother had at a small distance, where they slept, cooked, etc., as they could not do anything of that sort at the shop, on account of the fruit and flowers. The children soon returned with a bundle of clothes, which, though old, were by no means ragged, and, what was to me a great recommendation, they were all clean. From these things Mrs. Williams gave me a tolerably good pair of stockings and shoes, a very tidy straw bonnet with black ribbons, and a blue cloth spencer. The stockings, shoes, and spencer. I put on immediately, and felt so warm and comfortable that I seemed to myself quite a different creature. I offered to Mrs. Williams the money that had been collected for me in the morning, but she refused it, saying:

'No, my dear, keep your pence; you will want them when you are gone into the country, and I cannot think of taking money from a poor friendless child like you. I have children of my own, and can feel for other people's.'

This good woman then made up the remainder of the things into a small bundle, and told me that she should give them to me, and perhaps more, when I left her, which would most likely be the following day.

'To-morrow is market morning,' said she. 'Several men that I know will be here with their cartloads of vegetables from the country. There is one in particular whom I think a very honest-hearted man. He is married, and has children of his own, so he may feel for you. I mean to ask him if he will try to get you employed at his master's, who has very extensive grounds indeed, and raises vegetables, fruits, and flowers for the London markets. He keeps more than fifty people employed about his grounds, and I think it will be a hard case if he cannot find room for you among them. What do you say, my girl? Will you like to be a gardener?'

I replied that I did not know how to garden, but, if they would show me, I would do all I could to learn.

'That is right,' said she. 'I hope they will engage you, and then, I dare say, you will do very well. I shall tell John Davis all your story, and that you are to be called Lady Anne, for that, as the good clergyman said, will be a more likely way for your father to discover you. It was not at all likely that he should find you out in such a dirty place as Smith's was, but it is probable that he may find you out at Freeman's nursery grounds, for, in the fine weather, he has crowds of quality go to look at his flowers and eat his fruit; and then, in the flower season, he has exhibitions of prize-tulips and prize carnations, when the nobility will go to see them, and there's such a number of carriages and curricles, and horses and gigs, and I don't know what besides, that the road is choked up like St. James's Street on a Court day; and who knows but your father may go among these great people? What do you say to that, Lady Anne?'

Her description had brought former scenes to my mind, and the tears came into my eyes as I expressed my wish that my father might be among those who came to visit the gardens.

The two children stayed all the afternoon, and employed themselves in needlework. Several people came and bought fruit and trees, such as geraniums, myrtles, and other greenhouse plants, so that Mrs. Williams had what she called a good day, and said it would pay her for what she was doing for me. About five o'clock we had tea; and, about nine all the fruit and shrubs were taken inside the shop, which was then shut up, and I accompanied Mrs. Williams and her daughters home to her room. When we arrived there, one of the children made a fire, while the other set the things upon the table for supper. Mrs. Williams looked round the room and said:

'Well, you have been very good girls; everything looks neat and comfortable. We will first have our supper, and then we must think how we can make up a bed for this little girl.'

I now felt so comfortable that, if I could have stayed with Mrs. Williams, I should have been completely happy, and I may say that the few hours I spent in her family were like a bright gleam of sunshine darting through the gloom that had long surrounded me. After our supper, which was bread and broth made from the mutton that was boiled for dinner, Mrs. Williams spread a small mattress upon the ground, which, with two blankets and a pillow, made me a very good bed. She then, from her daughters' clothes, picked me out two pretty good chemises, a flannel petticoat, and an old stuff-frock, which still was a very good one. After I had put on my clean linen, Mrs. Williams took my old clothes, excepting my stays, which I doubled up and laid under my pillow, and tying them in a small bundle, opened the window and threw them into the street, saying:

'Bad as they are, they may be useful to some poor creature.'

We then retired to bed, and I passed some hours in peaceful repose.

Chapter VI

We arose about four o'clock in the morning and went to the market, which, at this early hour, was crowded with waggons, carts, and country people, who had brought various kinds of vegetables for sale. Mrs. Williams and her eldest daughter went among these people to make their purchases, while the younger one, Jane, and myself went to the shop, which we opened, kindled a fire, and prepared everything for breakfast. About eight o'clock Mrs. Williams returned, accompanied by a clean, good-looking countryman, to whom she said:

'This, Master Davis, is the little girl I was mentioning to you. I see breakfast is ready, so sit down and take a cup of tea with us, and I will tell you all I know about her, and how it was she came to me.'

The good man took his seat at the table, and during the time of breakfast Mrs. Williams told him all my little story, and concluded by urging the request that he would try to get me engaged to work in Mr. Freeman's gardens.

'I will do what I can,' said he; 'but this is a bad time of year to take on a fresh hand, and the child looks but weakly, and that, you know, is against her. However, I'll give her the chance, and take her down with me in the cart, and I'll go with her to Mr. Freeman and say what I can for her; and if he engages her, why, I'll let her be at my house as one of my children—that is, if my dame agrees to it, and belike she may, as we have children of our own, and don't know what they may come to; but if master will not engage her, why, I must bring her back again next market-day, for I cannot afford to keep her for nothing.'

'No, no,' said Mrs. Williams; 'I don't desire that you should. If Mr. Freeman will not engage her, bring her back, and I must try to do something else for her; but say all you can in her favour. She is a friendless child, and you don't know what your own children may come to.'

'Very true,' said he. 'I'll do all I can for her. But what be we to call her, as she has no right kind of name? Lady Anne is so long that I shall never get it all out.'

'It is no longer than Mary Anne,' replied she; 'and I think if you are a wise man you will call her by her title and make your children do the same. If it should be the means of discovering her father, it might put a pretty sum into your pocket.'

'Why, as for that, it might and it might not; but if it is the girl's name she shall be called by it, so there's an end to that. And now I must away to settle my money matters, and I'll come back for the child about eleven o'clock, so good-bye t'ye for the present.'

Away went the man, leaving Mrs. Williams much pleased with the success she had met with, as she said she had not a doubt but Mr. Freeman would engage me when he knew it was one of his best customers that asked the favour. I was much pleased too, for, as I could not stay with Mrs. Williams, I did not venture to form a higher wish than to be engaged at Mr. Freeman's, for my spirits had been so much broken during my stay at Smith's that I no longer dared to indulge the hope of ever finding my father.

About eleven o'clock my new friend, John Davis, came for me. Taking my little bundle under his arm, he conducted me to his cart. He lifted me in, and putting his horses into motion, we went shaking and rattling through the streets. This part of the journey was disagreeable enough; but when, at Knightsbridge, we entered the turnpike-road, then it began to be very pleasant. A complete thaw had succeeded to the frost; the fields and hedges looked green, and the air was as soft and mild as if it had been spring. I was seated on a truss of hay in the corner of the cart, and as we rode slowly along my spirits seemed to revive, and I once more indulged the pleasing hope of finding my father; then, again, as we advanced, my hope was damped by fear lest Mr. Freeman would not engage me, or lest Mrs. Davis should refuse to let me be at her house. I continued in this agitation of mind during the time of our little journey. At last we stopped at a cottage by the roadside, at a small distance from Turnham Green. John Davis lifted me out of the cart and led me into the house, where we were received by a woman, whom I immediately found was his wife.

'You are late to-day,' said she; 'and, pray, who is this you have brought with you?'

He took his seat near the fire (while I remained standing near the door), and briefly related my story to her, particularly dwelling on Mrs. Williams being such a good customer that he could not refuse to bring me.

'Bless thee, John!' she said, as he concluded; 'I wish thee had as much wit as good nature, and thee would not have brought another person's child to burden us with. Suppose Master Freeman should not engage her, what's to be done then?'

'I must take her back again, to be sure; but I don't see why he should not engage her—she's a clean, wholesome-looking girl.'

The dame had eyed me pretty well during this conversation. She now gave me another scrutinizing gaze, and then said to her husband:

'She may be clean and wholesome enough—I don't say anything against that—but she's as white as a curd, and does not look as if she has ever had a good meal of victuals in her life.'

'The more's the pity, wife. Then let us give her one. I told you how cruelly that umbrella-maker in the borough used her. I should like to have the dressing of them with my horsewhip. I would lay it on them with goodwill, I give you my word.'

'No fear of that,' replied his wife, 'and they deserve it, too. Come, child, don't stand there by the door; here's a seat for you by the fire. Dinner will soon be ready, and you shall not starve while you are with us, I give you my word; but whether we can let you stay or not is a different question.'

Soon after this their three children, two girls and a boy, who were employed in the nursery-grounds, came in to dinner. The table was quickly spread, and we sat down to an ample repast of good boiled potatoes and fried bacon. After we had dined and sat awhile, Mr. Davis said to me:

'Come, Miss Minnikin, let us go and see what Master Freeman will say to us. Why, wife, I'll be flogged if the girl does not look better already. I fancy she'll do credit to our keep.'

'I suppose the child was cold and wanted her dinner,' replied his wife, 'and now she has had it, of course she looks better. But do you see it is past one o'clock? You had better make haste; and you, children, be off to your work. You have stayed more than an hour at your dinner.'

We now all departed for Mr. Freeman's, which was about half a quarter of a mile distant. The children went to their work in the garden, and Mr. Davis led me up to the house. After having given an account to Mr. Freeman of the money he had taken at the market that morning, he presented me to him, and mentioned Mrs. Williams's request.

'Well, Master Davis,' said Mr. Freeman, 'I do not want another hand, you know very well; but Mrs. Williams is, as you say, a very good customer, and so, I suppose, we must give the child a trial. Take her to Master Joseph, and he will set her about something, and we shall be able to judge by Saturday night what she can earn, and you shall be paid what is right, for I suppose she will be with you.'

'Yes, sir,' replied Mr. Davis. 'She shall take lot and scot among my own children. I shall make no difference.'

'Well, well,' said Mr. Freeman, 'we will do what is right by her and you too.'

I was then taken into the grounds to Mr. Joseph, who was the head-gardener. We found him working at a flower-bed. When he saw Mr. Davis he said:

'Well, friend, what have you there—a lily or a snow-drop?'

'Which you please, Master Joseph,' replied the other. 'She is a little girl that I have brought to put under your government.'

He then gave him an account how he had met with me, told him I was an Earl's daughter, but had lost my father, and was to be called Lady Anne. At this Mr. Joseph laughed, and said 'he had no objection to call me Lady Anne, but that he should forget and call me Lady Lily.' After a little more talk it was agreed that I should go the following morning, as they both said it was too late for me to begin work that day. Mr. Davis then conducted me back to his cottage, and having told his wife that I was engaged, he went away to his work. The good dame told me that I might sit down and rest myself, for she supposed I was tired. I really was very tired, but seeing her engaged in mending the family clothes, I told her that if she pleased I would help her.

'What!' said she; 'can you sew? I am sure if you can I shall be very glad of your help, for my girls never put in a stitch, even for themselves, except it is some finery for Sundays, and then they do it because I can't do it well enough for them. There, my girl, if you can mend me those stockings you'll do me a service. They have holes large enough for you to put your hand through. I have sometimes thought that if the girls would not mend their stockings themselves they should wear them with holes in, and so they would, for never a stitch would they put in, and then I am ashamed of seeing them go about in rags, so I keep mending for them; but I have so much to do that I can hardly keep them tidy.'

I took the stockings and found the dame had described them very correctly, for one of the holes was so large that I actually did put my hand through it. However, by dint of close application, I mended two pairs of them before it was quite dark. I was then obliged to lay aside my work, as Mrs. Davis said she should not yet light a candle, and I need not do any more work till after tea. My having helped her at the needlework put her into high good humour, and she asked me a great many questions, and said she was glad that Mr. Freeman had engaged me, and that, if I behaved myself properly, I should be very welcome to stay with them till I was old enough to take care of myself. These kind expressions, so different to any I had heard for a long time, cheered my heart. I thanked her most sincerely, and promised to do all I could to please her. I then helped her to prepare the tea. Soon after this Mr. Davis and the children came in. We sat down to our tea, and during the repast the eager questions of the children as to who I was, where I came from, and what I was to do, were more attended to than they had been at dinner-time. Their father gave them some account of me, and made me relate all the particulars of my falling into the kennel with the pie. They all laughed heartily, and now that I was out of danger, I could not help laughing at it myself.

'That smashing of the pie is a good joke,' said Mr. Davis. 'I should like to see how the Smiths looked when you did not go back, and when they heard that you had laid their pie in the gutter. I warrant they would wear out more pairs of shoes than they would sell in a week in running after the old woman and the boys; but I can tell you, girl, it was a lucky chance for you that you did tumble down, or else you would still have been with them misericating in their dirty garret. By-the-by, dame, where's the girl to sleep?'

'That question is sooner asked than answered,' replied his wife. 'You know there is not a bit to spare in the house; the children cannot be put out of their beds. There is no way that I can see but for her to have a blanket and sleep among the hay in the loft over the stable. I have slept so many a time when I was a girl, and was none the worse for it.'

'I wish you could make room for her in the house,' answered her husband. 'I do not like the thought of turning her out of the house, as it were. Could you not make her up a bed on the floor?'

'No, no,' replied his wife, 'I cannot. I can see no hardship in her sleeping upon clean sweet hay, with a good blanket to wrap round her.'

To shorten the contest I said that I thought I could sleep very well upon the hay, though I certainly should have preferred sleeping in the house, but I was afraid they would quarrel on my account, which would have been to my injury; and, at all events, the hay-loft was a better place to sleep in than the wretched attic at Mr. Smith's. This point being settled, Mr. Davis went out, as he had not yet finished his day's work, and it being dark, so that no more work could be done in the gardens, the children remained at home.

I had now an opportunity of observing these children. The eldest was a girl, seemingly about thirteen, of a healthy, robust appearance, but by no means neat in her dress. The second, a girl of eleven, with much the same appearance as her sister; and the youngest, a boy, seemingly about nine, a chubby, good-natured-looking little fellow, and, I thought, very like his father. After the tea-things were put away, the girls brought each a little box to the table, in which was a quantity of odd pieces of muslin, ribbon, silk, etc., and they passed the evening in making these things up into frills and other articles of finery. The boy brought a quantity of wood to the further end of the table, and with no tool but a knife and a little saw, he employed himself in making little toys. That evening he made a dining-table and a chair.

'Tommy is a clever boy,' said the mother to me, seeing I was looking at his work. 'He amuses himself of an evening in making these kind of toys, and he sells them to young gentlemen and ladies in the neighbourhood, and I assure you they like his toys better than what they buy in the shops. What was it Master Watson gave you for the little boat, Tommy?'

'Half a crown, mother; but I was two weeks in making it; and last week I earned two shillings in making chairs and tables.'

I felt curious to know what Tommy did with his money, as he earned so much, but I did not like to ask the question, as that would have been rude. However, his mother, who seemed very fond of him, and, I thought, justly so, soon told me.

'Tommy earns a great deal of money by this kind of work, which is his play,' said she; 'and he gives every farthing of it to his father and me. Part of it we lay out in clothes for him, and the rest we are saving till he is ten years old, and then he is to go to school, and his own money will pay for it. We take what he earns at the grounds for his keep, but all that he earns of an evening shall be laid out upon himself. I wish my girls were half as industrious.'

'Why, la! mother,' said the eldest, 'you would never let us amuse ourselves at all, I believe. We go to the grounds as soon as it is light of a morning and work there till it is dark of an evening, and you have all the money we earn. I don't know what more you would have.'

'I would have you mend your own clothes, hussy, and not spend all these long evenings in making up a parcel of finery that only makes people laugh at you.'

I was much afraid that the mother and daughter would have quarrelled, but Tommy, showing his workmanship to his mother, took her attention from his sister, and thus peace was restored. Mrs. Davis and I spent the evening, till nine o'clock, in mending stockings. Then her husband came in, and we sat down to our supper of bread and cheese and small beer.

After supper was over Mr. Davis would not allow any more work to be done, so we sat and chatted till ten o'clock, which was bedtime. Mrs. Davis then gave me a piece of rush-light in a lanthorn, and I was shown to the hay-loft, where the fragrant smell of the hay was as refreshing as the dirt at Mr. Smith's had been disgusting.

I soon tossed up a sufficient quantity of hay to make myself a soft nice bed; and, after having on my knees returned thanks to the Almighty for having delivered me from such a state of misery as I had been in, I wrapped the blanket around me, and, laying down on the hay, was soon in a profound slumber.

Chapter VII

I was awakened the next morning about seven o'clock by Mr. Davis, who came into the stable below, calling out:

'What! hollo, lassy! Be you awake? Come, it's time to get up. Breakfast is almost ready, and you must be in the gardens by eight o'clock.'

I had slept so soundly, and had such an uncommonly long night to what I had for the last eight months been accustomed to, that I did not at first recollect where I was, but, quickly remembering everything, I answered Mr. Davis, and, dressing myself as expeditiously as possible I went down. Going into an outhouse, where there was plenty of water, I gave myself a good washing, and, having combed my hair with a comb that Mrs. Williams had given me, I went into the house and found the family just beginning their breakfast.

'I'll be flogged if the girl does not look five pounds better than she did yesterday morning, when I first saw her at Mrs. Williams's!' said Mr. Davis. 'You have slept well, girl, I'll answer for it.'

'Yes, sir,' I replied. 'I have slept better than I did all the time I was at Mr. Smith's.'

'I knew she would sleep well upon the sweet hay,' said Mrs. Davis. 'But, come, child, take your breakfast. It is almost time you should be gone.'

Breakfast being soon over, I accompanied the children to the garden, where, having conducted me to Mr. Joseph, they went to their own work in another part of the grounds.

Mr. Joseph was a grave man, between fifty and sixty years of age. He superintended all the work of the garden. Some of the children he instructed himself in what they were to do, and some he put under the care of other people. He had read a good deal, and understood botany, and knew the Latin names of all the trees and plants in the garden. That Mr. Freeman had sent me to be under his own care, I was very glad, for he seemed a very good-natured man. After a little conversation, in which he asked me if I could read, if I knew anything about gardening, and a few more of the like questions, he set me to pick the weeds and stones out of a bed of pinks, and, having shown me how to do it, he left me to myself. I worked diligently at my new employment (frequently congratulating myself on the happy change I had made). The clock struck twelve, when we all went home to dinner. One hour was allowed for that repast. When I returned in the afternoon, Mr. Joseph came to see what I had done. He commended my diligence, and, as the first bed was tolerably well weeded, he told me to go on to the next, and I was again left to myself.

In high spirits at being praised, which was quite a new thing to me, I worked on all the afternoon till about four o'clock, when it became too dark to distinguish plants from weeds; then, in company with the children, I returned home to Davis's cottage. What a delightful contrast did this cottage present to the miserable shop and parlour at Smith's! There everything was spoiled by dirt and confusion: here all was clean. The brick floor was nicely swept and sanded, a cheerful fire blazed in the grate, and the tea, with plenty of coarse bread and salt butter, was ready upon the table, and the countenances of the family expressed health and contentment. After tea was over I again offered my services to Mrs. Davis to assist her in her sewing. They were willingly accepted, and this evening passed as the former one had done. At ten o'clock I again retired to my bed in the loft.

The week passed rapidly away, and I had the pleasure of being very much praised by Mr. Joseph, who said I should soon be a better gardener than any of the children on the grounds. Saturday night came, and Mr. Davis received for my work at the rate of sixpence a day, which, he said, was rather more than he had expected. Mrs. Davis was also very well contented, and said that what with the money I earned, and what with the sewing I did for her of an evening, they should be very well paid for me. I was much pleased that my new friends were so well satisfied with me, and I looked upon myself as being now settled in a comfortable home. I was also upon very good terms with the children. The girls were pleased that I mended their clothes for them, which prevented their being so much blamed by their mother; and Tommy was so grateful to me for having mended some of his that he made me a little box for me to put my money in when I had any. I offered the money that had been given to me at Covent Garden to Mrs. Davis, but she told me to keep it till I wanted a pair of shoes, and that then they would make up the deficiency for me. I accordingly put it into my box and deposited it in a safe corner of my loft.

Thus passed away the winter months. I was under the care of Mr. Joseph more than the other children that were employed about the grounds; for, as I could read, he taught me the Latin as well as the English names of the different plants and flowers, so that I could bring him any that he wanted from either the green or the hothouse. When I had been there two months, my wages were raised to four shillings a week; besides that, Mr. Joseph often gave me a penny for myself.

The tranquil, and I may say happy, life I now led soon made a great alteration in my personal appearance. I grew plump, and by the time the month of March came, I had such a colour in my cheeks that Mr. Joseph said his lily was turned into a rose.

As the days increased in length, our hours of labour were also increased, for we were now on the ground by six in the morning, and did not leave work till seven in the evening. This lengthening of the days was a great advantage to me. I awoke with the dawn, and generally had a full hour to myself before any other part of the family was up. Then I used to contemplate the portrait of my dear father, which I used to talk to as if it could understand me, to mend my clothes, and to read in old school-books of the children's that were lying about, and never looked into by their owners. All the books I had ever read were the Bible, Testament, Prayer Book, and the spelling-book. The old books belonging to the children were an abridgment of the history of England, a small geography, and a little book of poetry. I took such pleasure in reading these books that I could soon repeat the whole pages of them without a single mistake, and the poetry I soon learned from the beginning to the ending of the book.

The flower season was now advanced, and ladies and gentlemen came to walk in the garden, and to buy flowers. I was always anxious to see them, that I might have an opportunity of observing if any of the gentlemen resembled my father's portrait. Mr. Joseph, who knew my story, was so good-natured as to send me to them with flowers, and, as I was always particular to keep myself neat and clean, the ladies were rather pleased with my attendance than otherwise. One day, when I carried a large quantity of flowers to a party, one of the gentlemen said:

'This little damsel is the finest plant in the whole garden, for she carries violets in her eyes and roses upon her cheeks.'

The ladies laughed at what they called his compliment, while I was so much abashed that, giving the flowers into the hands of one of the ladies, I retreated to a distant part of the garden. After this I made my observations at a greater distance, but, alas! among the hundreds who visited the garden, I could not discover one who resembled the portrait.

Thus employed, my days flew rapidly past, and I was so happy that, unless it had been to discover my father, I did not wish for any change in my situation; but clouds of sorrow again gathered around me, and I was soon very unhappy. My unhappiness arose from two causes: the first was that most of the children envied me on account of the partiality shown me by Mr. Joseph, and would jeer at me because I was called Lady Anne. Mr. Davis's children were not among the number of these, for, on account of my mending their clothes, they were upon very good terms with me. The second cause of my unhappiness was of a more serious nature, and arose from what I could not have expected, and from what I could not and would not alter, as I shall soon explain.

As the summer advanced, such of the children as were turned of twelve years of age, and were able to carry a basket upon their heads, were sent to town with flowers and fruit, which would have been crushed and bruised if sent to town in the cart. Mr. Davis's eldest daughter and myself were amongst the number of these.

At first I was much pleased at the thought of this walk, as it was an agreeable change from our usual mode of living; the flowers were light to carry, and the walk was not so long as to be a fatigue. I also looked forward to the pleasure I should have in seeing Mrs. Williams, and thanking her for having procured me such a happy situation.

On the appointed morning we left the garden and proceeded to town under the guidance of two or three women and one man, who was one of the principal gardeners. They also carried their baskets, which were larger and heavier laden than ours.

The walk to town was pleasant. We arrived at the market, and in about two hours had sold off all our stock. Mrs. Williams bought the contents of my basket, and congratulated me on the great improvement in my health and appearance.

Richard having paid some fees which were customary for the privilege of standing in the market, we took up our baskets and began to walk homeward. We had not gone far when Richard entered a public-house, the women and children followed, I, of course, did the same. We went into a room where there was no one but ourselves; there we all had to give up our money to Richard, which he counted over. He took out two shillings to be spent in the house, one shilling for himself, ninepence for each of the women, and sixpence apiece for the children; then, putting the remainder of the money together, said that was for the master. I was so astonished at this proceeding that I asked him what he meant by it. He laughed at me, and said it was a general rule among themselves to make a little deduction on market-days to pay them for the trouble of coming to town.

'I thought,' said I, 'that Mr. Freeman paid us for our work on Saturday night. Does he know that you take this money?'

'Know it, blockhead! no. And it will be the worse for you if you tell him. Come, take your sixpence, and think yourself well off that we let you share with us.'

'I do not want the sixpence,' said I, 'unless it is to give it to Mr. Freeman, for it is his money, and I will not keep it.'

'Lady Anne,' said Susan Davis, 'do not be a simpleton. Take the money, and do not pretend to more honesty than the rest of us.'

'I cannot take the money,' said I. 'Mr. Sanders told me never to take other people's property, but always to do as I would be done by.'

'You shall not have the money,' said Richard, at the same time giving me a violent slap across the shoulders. 'Mr. Sanders was a canting old Methodist, and you are like him. But take care, if you say a word of what has passed I will be the death of you.'

The women and children were also in a violent rage, and began beating me and pulling my hair, so that I was afraid they would really kill me, and I cried out, begging them not to beat me, and that I would not tell.

'Let her alone,' said Susan Davis; 'she will not tell, I'll answer for her. I'll talk to her when we are at home; and, I dare say, next market-day, she will do as we do.'

'Aye, let her alone,' said Richard, 'or Joseph will find out that we have been thumping her. She has a pretty swelled face to show. But mind, girl, if you say a word of what has passed I'll tie you neck and heels, and throw you into a pond.'

I was obliged to renew my promise of secrecy, and soon after we left the house.

When we came to town in the morning the distance had appeared as nothing to me, my heart was then so light; but now I felt so wretched that the distance seemed more than double, the empty basket felt so heavy on my head, and I felt myself like a guilty culprit who had robbed her master.

When we arrived at the grounds Richard went to give an account of the morning's sale, and what money he thought proper, to his master. The women and children went to their work in different parts of the garden, and I also concealed myself from Mr. Joseph's sight, lest he should see that I had been in tears.

In the afternoon he called for me, and I tremblingly obeyed his summons.

'Why, Lady Anne, how is this?' said he. 'Why do you not like to come to me as usual? How did you like your walk this morning? But what is the matter? You have been crying.'

'I am so tired,' I replied, 'and the basket was heavy.'

'That is not all,' said he, regarding me very earnestly; 'somebody has been beating you, for you have the marks of the blows upon your face and shoulders. Who was it?'

'Pray, sir, do not ask me,' said I; 'for if I tell you I shall be beat more.'

'Well, well,' said he, 'I will not ask you. I have long seen that the girls envied you. They think that I favour you, and, if I do, it is their own fault. There is not one among them that, if I sent to the greenhouse for a plant, but will either come back without it, or bring me a wrong one, though they have all been sent to school, and might have learned to read if they would. There are Davis's two daughters: Mr. Freeman paid for their schooling for two years, yet neither of them can read the names of the plants. But you are envied because I employ you in doing what they cannot do. Well, never mind, Rose, you shall not go to town any more with them, but stay here with me, and attend to the ladies and gentlemen.'

I was glad to hear Mr. Joseph say this, for I was in hopes I should be free from any further trouble, and be as happy as I had been; but sorrow had again burst upon me like a storm, and I was not yet to be rescued from its fury.

When we went home at night, Susan took an opportunity when her father was out of the house to tell her mother the adventures of the morning, with some alterations of her own; and I was astonished to hear her mother defend the conduct of Richard and the others, and blame me for not joining the robbery; and, when I would not say that the next time we went to town (for I did not dare to tell them that I was not to go any more) I would take my share in the plunder, she was completely in a rage, and kept repeating that there was no harm in taking the money. At last I ventured to say:

'Would you think it right of me, ma'am, if I was to rob you?'

'To rob me, child! No. But that is quite a different thing. To rob me! No. You would be the most ungrateful creature that ever lived if you did. I took you in, and sheltered you when you had not a hole to put your head in, nor a morsel of victuals to eat.'

'You did, ma'am,' I replied; 'and I would do anything I could to serve you. I would not rob nor injure you upon any account. And I cannot rob Mr. Freeman, for he gave me employment when I had none, and he pays me six shillings a week. How ungrateful I should be if I could rob him. I cannot do it; indeed, I cannot.'

'Take your supper and go to bed,' said Mrs. Davis. 'I cannot argue with you, but I know that you are a very foolish child.'

I did as I was ordered, and retired to my loft, and happy should I have been if this disagreeable business ended there, but a few evenings after, just before we left the gardens, I went to put a knife into a basket that belonged to Susan, and, to my surprise and grief, found that it concealed five fine peaches in it. I trembled so when I saw them that I could scarcely cover them over again, and soon after, as we were walking home, with great civility and humility I ventured to remonstrate with her on the great impropriety, and indeed danger, of her robbing the garden.

'What business have you to look into my basket?' said she. 'If you do not choose to take a little fruit yourself you have no right to meddle with them that do; however, I shall tell mother, and I hope she'll turn you into the wide world again as you were when you came to us.'

When we arrived at home Mr. Davis was in the house, and Susan did not choose to say anything till he went out; she then opened the basket, showed the peaches to her mother, and made a heavy complaint of my impertinence in telling her she ought not to take them, that it was stealing, and would, if discovered, most likely be the cause of her being discharged from the garden.

Mrs. Davis was in such a passion that she struck me several times, and said I should be the cause of her children being turned out of work.

'Don't say me, mother,' said Tommy, 'for I shall not steal. The Catechism says I am to keep my hands from picking and stealing, and father says if I steal I shall come to be hanged, so that you may depend upon it I shall not steal, and I wish sisters would not.'

'You are a little blockhead,' replied his mother; 'and as for Lady Anne, if she does not mind what she is about I shall turn her out of doors, and she may go a-begging.'

The peaches were then put out of sight. Soon after this Mr. Davis came in; we had our supper, and at ten o'clock went to bed.

In the course of the following day the peaches were missed at the garden, for Mr. Freeman had counted the fruit on some of the principal trees, and this day he found that three peaches had been taken from one tree and two from another. We were all questioned about it, and all our baskets were examined, but as all denied the theft and no fruit could be found, no one could be charged with it. Mr. Freeman was very angry on this occasion, as he well might, and ordered Mr. Joseph to keep a strict watch over all the workpeople, as he was determined to make an example of whoever should be detected robbing him, let it be who it might. I was anxious to know what the children did with the fruit, as I never saw them eating it, and I soon found that when their father was out of the house (for they did not dare to let him know of their ill practices) the fruit was exposed in the window for sale. Their father having a small garden, in which were a few fruit trees, served as an excuse for all the fruit they had to sell, and thus they contrived to deceive their father and rob their master.

The strict watch kept by Mr. Joseph, and some of the honest people in the garden, prevented any fruit being taken for some time, but the plum season coming on, and the plums on a tree not being so easily counted, nor so soon missed, as peaches, the children again ventured to take a few, and their father having two fine trees of the kind in his garden, if once the plums could be got home there was no likelihood of their being detected.

I did not watch the children, nor wish to know anything of what they did in the garden, yet somehow it seemed as if I was always to find them out in their thefts, for I one day suddenly came upon them just as they were cramming about a dozen fine Orlean plums into their pockets. I covered my face with my hands, and said:

'Oh, why will you do so? We shall all be discharged.'

'You shall be discharged,' said Susan, darting at me and slapping me with all her strength. 'What business have you to watch us? This is the first bit of fruit we have taken since those nasty peaches, and now, I suppose, you will go and tell.'

'No, I shall not,' replied I; 'but I wish you would not take any more fruit. You know what Mr. Freeman said.'

'Yes, and you shall know what my mother will say. I am not to be followed about and watched, and lose my place, for a tell-tale beggar-girl.'

I again assured her that I should not tell, and went away to a distant part of the garden, my mind being very unhappy, for I thought that if these thefts were discovered we should all be discharged, and again I thought that perhaps I was doing very wrong in concealing them, but then how could I bring people who were so kind to me into disgrace, and even into want of bread? I did not know what to do, but, after much considering in my own mind, I determined that when Saturday night came to ask Mr. Joseph to give me only five shillings, and not to ask me any questions, for I thought that the odd shilling would partly pay for the fruit Mr. Davis's children took. Having made this determination I felt rather happier, though I dreaded the resentment of Mrs. Davis and the children. When night came we went home together, the children not speaking to me once the whole way. When we arrived at the house Mr. Davis was out, and Susan asked her mother to give Tommy his supper, as she had something to say to her. The mother, who saw something particular was the matter, hurried the child to bed, while I sat on a chair near the door sick at my very heart. No sooner had her brother left the room than Susan told of the discovery of the plums, with many additions of her own. Mrs. Davis was in such a passion that she could scarcely speak for two or three minutes; she seized me by the arm, and shook me violently.

'I will put a stop to this,' said she as soon as she had recovered her breath. 'You shall not stay here to be the ruin of my children, you ungrateful creature. Don't we feed you and clothe you? Don't you have all the children's old clothes, and don't you mend them up and make them look so smart that you look as well dressed as they do, though their clothes are new and yours are old? Oh, you ungrateful creature. You would ruin us all for our kindness to you.'

She then ran over the affair of the peaches, and of my refusing to take the money at the market, reproaching me at every sentence, till she increased her anger to such degree that she seemed to lose her reason, and, again seizing me by the arm, she said she would give me cause to repent of my ingratitude to the latest moment of my life, when at the instant I expected to be dashed to the ground, to her great dismay, and to my great relief, an inner door opened, and her husband entered the room.

'Stop, mistress,' said he, 'do not dare to hurt that child. I came in by the wash-house, and have heard all Suke's story, and have heard who stole the peaches. Little did I think, when there was such a piece of work about them, that my own children were the thieves, and little did I think, when Suke was so pleased at going to market, that it was because she was to go shares with a parcel of thieves in robbing her master.'

'Now, John,' said his wife, 'how can you talk so? What harm is there in the children taking a few pence apiece? They have more trouble when they go to town, and they ought to be paid for it. You know that all the workpeople make a market-penny.'

'I know no such thing,' replied her husband. 'They are allowed money for refreshment when they go to town, and if they take more than the master allows I say that they cheat him, but I'll put a stop to Suke's tricks, for she shall not go to town any more. I shall speak to Mr. Joseph about that.'

'Why, surely you are not going to tell him that they divided a few pence among them.'

'No, wife, I am not, but I shall ask him not to let her leave the garden, for that I don't think she is steady enough to be sent to town yet. And now, you two girls, hear what I say to you. Every one of those plums must be returned. You must take all of them back again, and lay them under the trees that you took them from, and next time that I know you to steal a single thing, aye, if its only a single plum, I'll horsewhip you while I can stand over you.'

The father was now silent, the two girls sat weeping, and the mother, who had been very much agitated, first by anger and then by fear, threw herself into a chair, and burst into a violent passion of tears. Mr. Davis walked two or three times across the floor, and then stopping, said:

'Now what's the use of crying and taking on in this manner? Is it not as easy to be honest as to be thieves? Oh, wife, wife, you do not consider what a bad course our girls have begun in. They have begun with trifles, but they will go on till they take something great, and then they will either be transported or hung, and that will break our hearts, and bring our grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.'

'Oh, John, do not talk so,' said Mrs. Davis; 'I cannot bear to hear you talk about the grave. The girls shall not steal any more. If they bring home any more fruit I will not put it into the window, nor sell it, so now let us have done with it, and let us be friends again.'

'Aye, let us be friends, with all my heart,' said Mr. Davis, taking his wife's hand, 'and I hope nothing of this sort will ever happen again. Now, children, leave off crying, and be good girls, and remember that honesty is the best policy, for if you follow bad practices you will also be poor and despised.'

Soon after this we had our supper, which we took nearly in silence, for we were all of us in grief, though from different causes, and from some angry glances cast at me by Mrs. Davis I saw I had yet more to dread from her resentment. When I was going to bed Mr. Davis said: 'Good-night, Lady Anne, do not cry; I am not angry with you. You are a good girl. I wish my own children were as honest.'

Mrs. Davis and the girls also wished me good-night, but in such a cold, constrained manner that I trembled for what might be the consequences of their anger. When I reached my loft I gazed with tears upon my father's picture, and earnestly did I wish and pray that I might at some time be restored to his protection. I then retired to my bed among the hay, and there, for the first time since I had been in the family, I wept myself to sleep.

Early in the morning I went to the garden. Mrs. Davis's children did not choose to walk with me, so I went alone. When I returned home to breakfast (it being market-day Mr. Davis was gone to town) his wife and daughters did not speak to me once during the meal, excepting to tell me that the plums were laid under the trees. I finished my breakfast as soon as I could and returned to my work, grieved that I had lost the goodwill of people who were really kind to me, but whose practices were such as I could not follow. The hour of dinner came, and with a heavy heart I went to the cottage, dreading the angry looks, and perhaps reproaches, of Mrs. Davis. When I arrived there I found the brother and sister-in-law of Mrs. Davis were paying her a visit. I had seen these people once before, and soon after I came into the family; they were pedlars, and traversed the county from one end of it to the other. The man carried a large pack filled with linens, muslins, stuffs, and many other articles for clothing; his wife carried two boxes, with trinkets, lace, millinery, and a great variety of light goods. When I entered the room they turned their eyes upon me as if I had been the subject of their conversation, which I quickly found had been the case, for Mrs. Davis said to them:

'That is the girl I have been telling you of. She would be of great use to you, for she could carry one of the boxes, and in my house she is of no use in the world, but quite a burden to us, and she makes quarrels between my husband and me, for you know that Davis is so particular, and has such odd notions about honesty, that he seems to think it next thing to murder to take a bit of fruit or a sixpence belonging to Mr. Freeman. You never heard such a piece of work as we had last night because the girls had taken a few plums.'

She then in her own way told her brother of the keeping back part of the market-money and of the peaches. I was surprised that she was not ashamed of telling such things, but she was not, and her brother only laughed at them, and said that honesty was very well in its place, but that it was ridiculous to carry it so far.'

'But, however,' said he, 'I shall have no objection to Lady Anne (I think you call her) being very honest with us. I shall not be afraid of her robbing me.'

'No, indeed,' replied his sister; 'you will have no cause. You might trust her with your pack and boxes all open; she would not rob you of a farthing's worth; she is only too honest, that is her fault.'

'And it is a fault that perhaps I can cure her of,' returned her brother. 'But she has only been used to gardening. She will be of very little use to us, for we do not want a girl merely to carry a band-box.'

'She can work very well at her needle,' quickly answered his sister. 'It is unknown the sewing she has done for me since she has been here. I have never had the children so tidy in my life as since she has been with us. I shall miss her help very much, that I know I shall.'

'Do not let me go,' said I, for I was really frightened at the thought of being sent away with Mr. Sharpley and his wife. 'Pray let me stay. I will work so hard; I will do everything I can to please you.'

'Will you promise to take a little fruit, as the others do, and not say anything when you see my children take some, and to take a market-penny when you can get it?' answered Mrs. Davis. 'Promise me that, and you shall stay.'

'I cannot promise it,' said I, bursting into tears, 'for I must not steal.'

'Very well, then, you shall go,' returned she. 'It is entirely your own fault. I had no wish to part with you, but I cannot keep you to turn my children out of bread.'

'Lady Anne is a nonsuch of honesty,' said Mr. Sharpley; 'but I warrant she will tell a different tale by this time twelvemonths. What say you, wife? Shall we take her or not?'

'As she can work at her needle,' replied Mrs. Sharpley, 'suppose we give her a trial for a few months. If she does not do for us, we can bring her back again; and as for her honesty, that will not hurt us.'

'Well, then, I suppose it is a bargain,' said Mr. Sharpley, 'so, my girl, if you have any better clothes make haste and put them on; and, sister, let us have a bit of dinner, as I want to be going.'

'And I want you gone,' replied his sister, 'for if my good man comes home before you are off, it's ten to one but he knocks all the business on the head, and I shall have the girl on my hands again. Lady Anne, make haste; and you, Suke, look after her a little.'

This command to Susan to watch me prevented my following a plan I had just formed, which was to run back to the garden and tell Mr. Joseph that they were going to send me away against my will; but I suppose they were afraid I should do so, for Susan did not leave me a single moment till I was washed and dressed. I then entered the room where they all were, and presented myself before them, with the tears running down my face.

'She is a genteel-looking child,' said Mrs. Sharpley; 'but what are you crying for, simpleton? We shall not hurt you, and you need not steal unless you like, so pray set your heart at ease.'

I did try to check my tears, for I considered that I could never be happy at the cottage any more, though it grieved me to the heart to part with people who had been so kind to me, especially Mr. Joseph, Mr. Davis, and little Tommy, who was gone to town with his father; and these I was obliged to leave, without so much as saying good-bye to them. I was not able to eat a morsel of dinner, and Mr. and Mrs. Sharpley having finished theirs, we rose up to depart. I sobbed so that I could not speak. Mrs. Davis and the girls seemed a little affected. They shook hands with me, wished me well, and said they hoped I should grow wiser in time; then, with a band-box before me, that was fastened by a strap that went over my shoulders, I left the cottage, following my new master and mistress.

Chapter VIII

Being thus turned out of the cottage, where I had once been so happy, I followed the footsteps of Mr. and Mrs. Sharpley, frequently looking back to see if I could discover Mr. Davis and his cart coming from town, which, if I had, I should certainly have run back, told him what had passed, and asked him to take me back to Mrs. Williams, instead of sending me away with strangers. But no cart came in view, and a turning in the road soon hid even the cottage from my sight. I then walked pensively forward, meditating on my own unhappy fate, and comparing it with that of other children who were blessed with parents and relations. Mr. and Mrs. Sharpley had frequently looked back, as if to see that I followed them, but—here the path became wider—they told me to come and walk between them. I did so, and they then asked me a great many questions respecting my story, all of which I was obliged to answer, so that they soon knew every particular, excepting my having my father's picture, which I took care not to give the least hint of. They then asked me about my age, and, as I could not answer them exactly, they calculated it as well as they could from circumstances. Supposing I was five years old at the time of my mother's death, as I was seven years at E——, I must have been twelve years old the November before I went to the Smiths, thirteen last November, when I ran away from them; and should be fourteen next November. It was now the beginning of September. This point being settled, they began talking of other things, told me what a pleasant life I should lead with them, that all my employment would be to carry a light band-box during the days, and in the evenings, when they arrived at the inn where they were to pass the night, to work at my needle. To this I had no objection, and began to think I should not be so unhappy as I had at first supposed; but the idea of their stealing still predominated in my mind, though I could not imagine how they could do it, as the goods they carried were their own, and they could not rob themselves, and I was at a loss to think how they could commit theft. Simpleton that I was, I never thought that they could rob other people.

As we proceeded, they told me the names of the different places we passed through. They stopped at all the genteel houses, and many of the farmhouses, to ask them if they wanted any goods. Several bought a good many things of them; others would scarcely give them an answer, but almost shut their doors in our faces. Thus passed away several hours. The shades of evening were beginning to fall, and I was very weary with walking so much, when we entered a large town, where they told me we should pass the night. We went to a small inn, which they said was the house where they always slept when they came to this town. We were shown to a room that they called their own, as it was kept entirely for their use. Mrs. Sharpley ordered tea, and her husband said to her:

'Come, my dear, we must see if we have a remnant of some stuff to make a dress for Lady Anne. She is very well dressed for a gardener's girl, but not smart enough for us.'

The pack was then opened, and they picked out the remains of a piece of very pretty slate-coloured stuff sufficiently large to make me a dress.

'Now,' said Mrs. Sharpley, 'after tea we must stitch away, for your dress must be made this night before you go to bed.'

The tea was soon brought in, and we all sat down to it with a good appetite, for it was now past seven o'clock, and we had not tasted anything but a little porter since we dined, which was between twelve and one o'clock. After tea Mr. Sharpley went out. His wife very expeditiously cut out my dress, and gave me the skirt to make, while she sat down to make the body and sleeves. I had been used to do a great deal of sewing, and was not slow at my needle; but I think I never in my life had worked so fast as I did that evening; and, as for Mrs. Sharpley, she worked so quick that her hand seemed absolutely to fly to and from the work. She said very little to me, except occasionally a few words of commendation, such as:

'That is a good girl! I see you will do very well. If you are diligent you shall have no cause to repent having come with us.'

Thus encouraged, I worked with unabated diligence till about ten o'clock, when Mr. Sharpley returned, and soon after our supper, consisting of mutton-chops and potatoes, was brought up. After supper Mrs. Sharpley and I returned to our work, and Mr. Sharpley read aloud from a newspaper. Thus passed the time, till a few minutes after twelve, when my dress was finished, excepting a little trimming of ribbon, which Mrs. Sharpley said might be put on another night. It was tried on, fitted me extremely well, and Mr. Sharpley said that if I was properly dressed I might pass, not only for an Earl's daughter, but a Duke's daughter.

'But, Lady Anne,' said he very seriously, 'I would advise you to put all these fine thoughts out of your head, for, though I will not call your mother an impostor, as the people of E——did, yet I must say that, if she had been an Earl's lady, she would hardly have been travelling in a post-chaise without an attendant. It seems to me that, whatever your father was, he had left your mother, and that she was returning to her own friends to live with them, when she was taken ill at E——and died. If this is the case, which appears to me most likely, your father, if he was to see you, would not own you, nor give himself the least trouble about you; so I wish you to put all high thoughts out of your head, give your mind entirely to our business, and we will reward you according to your diligence.'

These words brought tears into my eyes, for, though in my own mind I feared I should never find my father, yet to hear another person say that I should not seemed to make it so certain that my heart appeared to die at the thought; and then, again, to hear it said that my father had deserted us—that if he was to see me he would not own me—oh! could that be possible? Yet how was it that I was really left a wanderer in the wide world? That I knew not, but the certainty that I was so made me weep bitterly. Calming my agitation as much as I was able, I promised to be diligent in their business, and to obey them in everything that I could. They both laughed, and said I was terribly afraid they should want me to steal. Mrs. Sharpley then showed me to a bed in a closet adjoining their room, and the oblivion of sleep soon made me forget all that had passed the preceding day.

The next morning we breakfasted early, and then left the inn. In going through the town Mrs. Sharpley went into a shop, where she bought me a very pretty straw hat trimmed with blue ribbons. My dress was now completely different to what it had been the day before, I now having a new hat, new dress, and a pretty silk handkerchief pinned over my shoulders. The purchase being made, my old bonnet was thrown down in the street, for the benefit of whoever chose to pick it up. We then proceeded on our way, and soon left the town. This day was passed nearly as the former one had been, some people buying, and others not even looking at the goods. In the evening when we arrived at our inn, Mr. Sharpley went out while the tea was being prepared, and returned in little more than half an hour. We then had tea, after which he went out again. Mrs. Sharpley then employed herself in making caps and frills to sell, and I passed the evening in putting the trimming on to my dress. I now began to feel more reconciled to my new mode of life. Mr. and Mrs. Sharpley were good-natured, and certainly treated me with kindness, and I thought, if they did not want me to steal, I might be very comfortable with them. The week passed away. Saturday night came, and they gave me sixpence, telling me they should give me as much every week, so long as I continued to behave well. Weeks thus passed on. Our days were employed in walking from place to place, endeavouring to sell the goods, and our evenings in making up caps, frills, etc., for sale, and I soon became so expert in making them that they increased my weekly money from sixpence to a shilling. This money was in reality but of very little use to myself, for, as I had everything provided for me, I did not want it on my own account; but, then, it was a source of very great pleasure to me, as it enabled me to relieve the distress of many poor objects that I met upon the road, whose pale faces told, without their speaking it, that they were in want of bread.

Mr. Sharpley did not go out every evening, but would sometimes spend it with us, and then he would read either the daily paper or some entertaining book, and when we had a good stock of caps and frills made up they would allow me to read books for my own amusement. Of these, as they sold them, they had a great variety, and thus circumstanced my life passed very pleasantly. Of stealing I never heard a word, and I began to think they had only talked of it to frighten me, but the time now came when I was to be undeceived. One evening when we arrived at our inn, before we sat down to tea, Mr. Sharpley took six silver teaspoons and a pair of sugar-tongs out of his pocket, and, laying them on the table, asked me what I thought he had given for them. As I did not know the value of such things it was impossible for me to guess, and after some time he said:

'Why, then, to tell you the truth, I—stole them.'

'Stole them!' I exclaimed with horror. 'How could you do so? Who did you steal them from?'

'I took them, for we do not generally say stole, from the farmer's wife who bought the stuff gowns and two caps of us this afternoon.'

I was so shocked at the ingratitude and baseness of the action that I burst into tears.

'You are a silly girl to cry, Lady Anne,' said he. 'These are by no means the first things I have taken since you have been out with us, for of an evening when I go out it is generally to some friend of mine, who takes this kind of goods off my hands, and gives me money instead of them. When once they are gone I am in no danger, for if I was to be taken up, and my pack searched, nothing could be found, so I should be set at liberty again.'

'But,' said I, 'suppose you were to be taken up before you had parted with them, and they were to be found in your possession, what would be done to you then?'

'I should most likely be hung,' replied he very calmly.

'Be hung!' I exclaimed. 'But why do you do it? Do you not get enough money to live upon from the things you sell? You know it is a very wicked thing to steal. You know the Commandment says “Thou shalt not steal.”'

'Very true, Lady Anne,' said he, laughing. 'It would be a good thing for the world if we were all as innocent and as well disposed as you are. I will not argue the subject any further with you now, but I wish, by degrees, to bring you into our business, and when you will take things as well as us, you shall have half for yourself.'

'Well, sir,' I replied, 'I would sooner be as poor and as miserable as I was at Mr. Smith's than I would be a thief.'

No more was at that time said on the subject, but Mr. Sharpley no longer made a secret of his evil practices, and I was sorry to observe that scarcely a day passed without his taking something from the people who bought of him. His wife, I do believe, if she had not been influenced by him, would have been very honest; indeed, I never knew her to take anything herself, and sometimes, when he laid his plunder before her, she would say:

'Ah, James, I am afraid these tricks of yours will one day bring you to the gallows.'

Several more weeks thus passed away, and I have no cause of complaint against them, except their taking other peoples' property, for they were good-natured, paid very honestly for everything they had at the inns, and often gave money to poor people they met on the roads.

Often of an evening Mr. Sharpley would amuse himself with what he called a mock trial—that is, he would make believe he had been taken up for theft, and I was to be examined before a judge to see if I had assisted him or knew anything about it; then he sat as judge, and I was always to deny having any knowledge of the theft, and when I did not answer right Mrs. Sharpley said what I was to say. I always disliked these trials, and could never go through them without tears, for I was always afraid they would one day be a reality.

The winter months passed away, and spring again returned. One day, in the month of April, as we were entering a large town, we were met by such a vast crowd of people that we were obliged to stand up against the houses to be out of the way while it passed. On Mr. Sharpley inquiring what was the matter, he was told it was a man going to be hung for privately stealing in a dwelling-house. My heart seemed to die within me when I heard the answer, for I thought that it would very likely one day be our own case. When we reached the inn where we were to dine, throwing myself into a chair I covered my face with a handkerchief and wept most bitterly.

'What is the matter?' said Mr. Sharpley. 'Are you ill?'

'No,' I replied; 'but that poor man was going to be hung. Oh, Mr. Sharpley, we may some day be taken up and be hung too. I do wish that you would be honest. Do not give me any more money, but keep it instead of stealing, and I have ten shillings that I will give you back again.'

'Indeed, James,' said his wife, 'I wish you would leave off taking. When you read of trials and executions in the newspapers, and when we met that poor man to-day you don't know how I felt. I am very much afraid, as well as Lady Anne, that we shall come to an untimely end.'

'You and Lady Anne are enough to drive a man mad,' replied her husband; 'but, however, I will make this bargain with you both. Whenever it happens that I am taken up for theft, and am brought to within an inch of my life, so that there seems no chance of escaping, then, if any unforeseen circumstance arises and delivers me from the danger, then, I give you my word, I swear to you, that from that day forward I will be an honest man, and content myself with the profits of my trade.'

'Then the sooner it happens the better,' said his wife, 'for I am sick of the life of jeopardy we lead.'

One would have thought that from the dreadful example that passed before his eyes, and from what his wife said to him, that Mr. Sharpley would in some degree have left off his bad practices; but he did quite the contrary, and took more and more. Sometimes, after committing these thefts, we were obliged instead of keeping along the road to cross the fields and go for miles out of our way, and at night to sleep in outhouses or barns, that we might not be seen before Mr. Sharpley had come to some place where he could part with his stolen goods. On these occasions I was truly miserable, and I determined, in my own mind, that whenever we should travel near to London I would contrive to leave them, and go to Mrs. Williams, who, I doubted not, would get me some employment to enable me to live in an honest manner.

Things went on in this way till the beginning of June, when one day, as we were passing a very fine park, we stopped to admire it. A broad avenue planted on each side with trees led up to the house, which was large and handsome.

'We will go in there,' said Mr. Sharpley; 'perhaps we may have the good fortune to sell something.' He opened the gate, we entered, and walked up the avenue to the house. As we passed one of the parlour windows he peeped in, and said in a low voice:

'There is nobody there, the cloth is spread for dinner, and there is a rare lot of plate.'

With an aching heart I followed him up the steps to the hall-door; there he saw a woman servant, whom he began to persuade to look at some of his goods. She said she would call the lady's maid, who she thought would show some of the muslins and laces to the ladies upstairs. She then went away, using the precaution of locking the dining-parlour door, and taking the key with her. She soon returned with the lady's maid, the pack and our boxes were opened, the women picked out what they chose, and after inquiring the prices took them upstairs.

'That is a clever girl,' said Mr. Sharpley; 'she has locked the door, but I rather think she has left the window open. I'll just take a peep.'

He went out upon the lawn, and returned in less than five minutes, smiling and muttering to his wife:

'The sooner those girls come down the better. We must not quit the park till they do come, for we might be seen from the upper windows, and they would send after and stop us.'

I trembled so when I heard this speech that I could hardly stand, and I determined to leave them the very first opportunity that I could find. In about ten minutes they came down, and brought the money for what things the ladies had chosen. They then made several purchases for themselves, which Mr. Sharpley let them have at their own price. Our goods were then expeditiously packed up, and we left the park. We had no sooner reached the road than he told us we must cross over and go into the field on the opposite side, where we must keep along under the screen of the hedge till we came to some place where we could cross over to a further distance. We followed his directions, and, when on the other side, we were obliged, each of us, to tie a coloured handkerchief over our bonnets, which a little altered their appearance. Mr. Sharpley put on a waggoner's frock which he always carried in his pack, and thus disguised we proceeded forward.

'We must go to a barn that I know of near N——,' said Mr. Sharpley. 'It is about seven miles off; so, Lady Anne, you must walk stoutly; there we shall sleep. We must be up again by four in the morning, and go on to A——; that is only five miles further, and will be a nice little walk before breakfast. There I know a man who will take my silver goods off my hands, and then we shall be all safe again.'

I followed in silence, for talking to him I knew was of no use, and I was so disgusted at the life I was compelled to lead that I determined to escape as soon as I possibly could. About nine in the evening we reached the field where the barn was situated, where we were to sleep, but it being summer-time, and many people about, we sat ourselves down in a retired corner of the field to wait till night was farther advanced, and the country people retired to rest. There we had our supper, consisting of cold victuals and a glass of ale apiece, for Mr. Sharpley always carried provisions with him in a wallet, in case of accidents, he said. Into this wallet he had crammed the plunder that he had taken from the gentleman's house. The shades of night every moment became darker, the dim figures of the countrymen, as they were returning to their homes, were seen less frequently, and the lights that gleamed from the cottage windows were by degrees all extinguished, but it was not until the clock of the neighbouring village had struck eleven that we dared to approach the barn, which we then did with cautious steps. Mr. Sharpley having found that the door was rather loose, pushed it so much aside as to admit us. We accordingly all entered; he replaced the board, and soon procured a light from a German matchbox that he always carried with him. He then emptied the wallet of the booty, which consisted of four large silver candlesticks, six table and six dessert spoons.

'Now, Lady Anne,' said he, 'I must put these things into your box, for in case of a pursuit I and my pack will be the first they will seize and examine. You must, if possible, step on one side and throw these things away into a ditch or pond, or anywhere; for, if they are not found upon us, they will have some difficulty to prove me the thief.'

I said very little, for I was determined this very night, when they should be asleep, that I would, if possible, make my escape from the barn and leave them for ever. Having arranged the things in my box, Mr. Sharpley locked it and returned the key to me, which I wore hung from my neck by a black ribbon.

       * * * * *

[Lady Anne then ran away, but only to be caught by a policeman. ]

Chapter IX

I endeavoured to liberate myself from his grasp, and asked him who he was and what he wanted.

'Pretty innocent!' said he. 'I suppose you really don't know.'

'If you come from Mr. Sharpley,' said I, 'tell him I shall not live with him any longer. I mean to go to London.'

'You will go with me first, my dear,' replied the man, 'and, as you will most likely see Mr. Sharpley this morning, you may tell him your message yourself; so come along.'

'Where are you going to take me to?' said I, struggling to free myself from his hold.

'I am going to take you to prison, where you will see your worthy friend, Mr. Sharpley. You will all be tried for your lives for the robbery you committed yesterday.'

When I heard this, I no longer resisted, but walked on in silence, meditating on the wretched state to which we were all reduced by the dishonesty of Mr. Sharpley. When we entered the road I found, to my surprise, that I had in the gloom of the night retraced my steps, and was within a short distance of the house where the robbery had been committed.

I was conducted into the town, which, in our hasty flight the day before, we had not dared to visit. I was then taken to the magistrate's house and locked up in a room with a stone floor, grated windows, and no furniture but a wooden bench. There I was left for nearly two hours, and had full leisure to think over my melancholy situation. It appeared to me most likely that we should all be condemned to die, and when I thought of my past life—how very little I had known but sorrow—when I reflected that I had no relations to be sorry for my death, I thought that, if it was not for the disgrace of dying as a thief, I should not wish to live, but be glad to die, that I might be free from all the troubles of this world.

In the midst of these reflections the man who had awakened me in the field opened the door and told me to come, for I was now going to be tried for my life. I instantly arose. He took me by the arm and led me into a large room, where there were a great many people assembled. Some were standing, and others sitting on benches. At the upper end of a large table sat a gentleman with a very severe countenance.

From the description often given me by Mr. Sharpley of a justice-room I instantly concluded that this was one, and that the gentleman I saw was the justice. By his side sat another gentleman and some ladies. I heard the people near me whisper that they were the persons who had been robbed, and that they were come to swear to the things. I did not look at them more than merely to see that three persons were there, for in one corner of the room stood Mr. Sharpley and his wife, guarded by two men; and on the floor near the table was placed the pack and our two boxes.

'All is over with us,' thought I, as I was led up to the table, which I found was called being put to the bar. I was then ordered to take off my hat, which I did, and the justice asked me what was my name.

'Lady Anne,' I replied.

A general laugh circled round the room.

'What is your surname?' demanded the justice, with great severity.

'I do not know,' answered I.

I must here observe that these very short answers were such as, in our mock trials, Mr. Sharpley had taught me to give, for he said I must never say more than was necessary to answer the question asked.

'What is your father's name?' with increased severity demanded the justice.

'I do not know.'

'What is the name you yourself generally go by?'

'Lady Anne.'

'Well, Lady Anne, since that is the name you choose to be called, what are you to Mr. Sharpley?'

'His servant.'

'Do you know for what reason you are brought here?'

'I cannot say.'

'Astonishing calmness!' said the justice in a low tone to the gentleman beside him. Then again addressing me: 'Lady Anne, you are accused of robbing, in conjunction with your master, James Sharpley, the Earl of Malbourne of various articles of plate. What do you say to this charge?'

'I did not take anything myself,' replied I, 'nor did I see my master take anything.'

'It is melancholy to see one so young in years so old in vice,' observed the justice. 'Who generally carries that small box?'

'I do.'

'Did you carry it yesterday?'

'I did.'

'Where is the key of it?'

I now with horror remembered that when I left the barn in the night I had forgot to take the key from my neck, and that it was still in my possession. With my eyes fixed on the ground, I remained silent. The question was angrily repeated.

'I have it,' I falteringly answered.

'Hand it over. We must see the contents of that box.'

I attempted to obey, but the key had slipped so low into my bosom that it had somehow got fixed in the ribbon belonging to my father's picture, and I trembled so violently that I could not disentangle it without drawing the picture entirely out, and holding it in my hand while I disengaged the key. The keen eye of the justice instantly caught it.

'What fine picture is that, set in gold and adorned with pearls?' said he. 'Hand it over, and let me look at it.'

'It is my father's picture,' I replied; 'it is my own property, and I will not part with it to anybody.'

'You must part with it to me,' said the justice. 'Hand it over immediately.'

I slipped it within my stays and spread my hands over my bosom, while I replied:

'It is my father's picture. It does not belong to anybody in the world but myself, and I will sooner die than part with it.'

'Take it from her, Johnson,' said the justice.

In vain I struggled. The man forced my hands from my bosom, and, catching hold of the ribbon, dragged the picture from me, and handed it to the justice. My misery was now complete—I could endure no more—and with a bitter scream I sunk to the ground in a swoon.

How long my insensibility lasted I do not know; but when recollection returned I found myself supported in a chair by a woman who was a spectator, and Johnson, the officer, was sprinkling me with water. It was some minutes before I could speak or stand, but, as soon as I could, I arose and earnestly entreated to have the picture restored to me.

'Keep your seat, Lady Anne,' said the justice. 'If the picture is yours, it certainly shall be returned to you; but try to recollect yourself, and give me some account how it came into your possession.'

'It is my father's picture,' I replied. 'My mother always wore it; and when she died a gentleman—Mr. Sanders, the clergyman of the parish—took care of it for me, and when I was sent to London he let me have it myself, that I might, if I should ever meet with my father, be able to know him. That is all I know. Now, pray, sir, let me have the picture again, for it is the only comfort I have in the world, and if you take it from me I shall die.'

'Do you not, then, child, know your father's name? Do you not know who he is?'

'Oh, if I knew his name I should not be here; but I do not know his name, and I do not know who he is.'

'Did you ever see him?'

'Yes; but it is very long since. He went away when I was five years old, and I have never seen him since.'

During these questions many heavy sighs had proceeded from some person near, but at my last answer that gentleman who was seated beside the justice rose up, and, coming round to me, took my hands, saying:

'Look at me, my child, and tell me if you think you ever saw me before.'

I did look at him; but, oh! how can I describe the astonishment and joy I felt when in his countenance I traced, though more advanced in life, the features of that portrait that had so long been my greatest comfort? I sunk down before him, and, clasping his knees, exclaimed:

'Surely, surely, you are my father—you are my mother's dear Frederick!'

Overpowered by my feelings, I again fainted. When I recovered, I found myself laid upon a sofa in a handsome apartment. One of the ladies whom I had seen in the justice-room was sprinkling me with water, another holding a vinaigrette to me, my father chafing my temples, and the justice standing near, looking on, not with the stern countenance he had before shown, but as if he really pitied me. I tried to rouse myself, and, as soon as I could speak, apologised to the ladies for the trouble I had given them.

'Compose yourself, my dear,' said the elder of the two. 'To see you well is all we wish.'

I was now able to sit upright. My father sat beside me, and, putting his arms around me, pressed me to his bosom. I leaned my head against him, and the tears rolled fast down my face; but they were no longer the chilling tears of sorrow I had long been used to shed, they were tears of joy and gladness at being restored to a kind father, to whom I had feared I was lost for ever. When he spoke, I seemed to recollect the tones of his voice; the scenes of my early childhood returned to my memory, and I asked him if he had not been used to call me his Annie and his little darling.

'Yes, my dear,' he replied, 'that I certainly did, But tell me, my child, by what miracle your life was preserved from the perils of the sea, and what was the final fate of your unfortunate mother.'

'My dear mother died at E——,' I replied; 'but I do not know what you mean by the perils of the sea, for I was never upon it that I know of in my life; and now, my dear father, tell me why you went away and left us, and has the Earl forgiven you yet?'

'Ah! my child,' said my father, with a deep sigh, 'I see that we have each a tale to tell, but it must be deferred till your spirits are more composed. And now, Sir Robert,' turning to the justice, 'I can only apologise for the great trouble we have given you this morning.'

'My dear lord,' replied the justice, whose name was Sir Robert Eldridge, 'accept my warmest congratulations on the happy discovery of your daughter; and to you, Lady Anne, I beg leave to return the portrait of your father, which has fortunately been the means of your being restored to his protection.'

A few more compliments having passed, we were departing, when Sir Robert said:

'What is your lordship's pleasure respecting the Sharpleys? Shall I remand them to prison for another examination?'

'My dear father,' said I, 'for my sake have pity on Mr. Sharpley and his wife, for indeed they have been very kind to me.'

'If they have been so, my child,' replied my father, 'I shall certainly show them lenity, but I wish first to hear your story, and then I shall know how to proceed. So, Sir Robert, if you will please to detain these people till to-morrow, I shall esteem it a favour.'

We then took our leave, and returned home in my father's carriage, and was soon conveyed to that house where the day before I had stood as a poor little pedlar, but which I now entered as the only child of the Earl of Malbourne.

[Illustration: Lady Anne finds her father.—Page 405.]

We proceeded to the drawing-room, and my father then informed me that the lady who had shown me so much kindness was his sister, Lady Caroline Beaumont. The young lady, who appeared about thirteen, was my cousin, Miss Beaumont; and another young lady, who seemed about eleven, was also my cousin, Miss Ellen Beaumont.

Refreshments were now brought, and my father and aunt, when they understood that I had been up the whole night, insisted that I should go to bed, and try to get a little rest before dinner, which I did, and in about two hours arose very much refreshed.

In the course of the evening I gave my father and new-found relations a circumstantial detail of everything that had happened to me as far back as I could remember. When I gave the account of my mother's death at the inn they were affected even to tears.

'Oh! how unfortunate was I to be out of England at that time,' said my father; 'and how cruel was my father by his resentment and ambition thus to occasion the death of the most amiable of women. But proceed, my child, with your melancholy story, and afterwards I will tell you mine, and explain circumstances of which you seem to have some recollection.'

I accordingly went on, and finished my narrative, by which time it was so late, and I was so much exhausted, that my father said he would defer his narration till the following day.

My aunt and cousins were extremely kind to me, and, when I retired to bed, I was furnished with night-clothes from Miss Beaumont's wardrobe.

       * * * * *

[On the next day the Sharpleys, on their promising never to steal again, were released, and later Sir Robert told Lady Anne the story of her life.]

       * * * * *

'It is a painful story, my dear child,' said he; 'and I must spare your feelings by relating it as briefly as I can. Your mother was of a very good family, and, during the earlier part of her youth, her parents were in affluence.

She was a boarder at the same school as my sister Caroline; and, by frequently going to see my sister, I became acquainted with Miss Norman, and was sincerely attached to her before I thought that I felt more for her than a common friendship. This, in some respects, was an unfortunate circumstance, for my father, who was then Earl of Malbourne, wished me to marry a lady of high birth and large fortune; but she was of such a disagreeable imperious temper that I could not endure the thought of passing my life with her.

'When Miss Norman was a little turned of seventeen, her mother died, and she went home to live with her father. I still visited her in company with my sister, for I hoped that my father would, at some time, consent to my marrying her. About a year after this, her father engaged in some mercantile business that failed; he was also very much defrauded by his agents, so that, from being what might be called a rich man, he was suddenly reduced to poverty. This sad change in his affairs affected him so much that he fell ill. I was grieved to my heart to see him in such a state, and to see Miss Norman pining, as it were, to death.

'I was certainly old enough to choose a wife for myself, for I was twenty-five, had a handsome estate, and was then major of a regiment. I had often told my father that I could never marry Lady Clara Froward, for that I was attached to another lady, and only wished for his consent to marry her. That, said my father, I never should have, for that he would never consent to my marrying anybody but Lady Clara Froward.

'I had waited a long time in the hope that he would change his mind, but he did not; and, when I saw Mr. Norman and his daughter in such distress, I determined not to wait any longer, but offered my hand to your mother, and urged her father to consent to the marriage. It was a long time before he would agree to it; but, finding his health every day worse, he gave his consent, and we were married.

'A few days afterwards I informed my father of our marriage, and entreated him to receive my amiable wife as his daughter. He wrote me word that I had married without his consent, he disowned me as his son, and would never receive either me or my wife.

'This determination was the subject of regret to us all; but we lived in hopes that time would soften his resentment, and that in the end he would relent. About two months after our marriage Mr. Norman died; and, after the funeral, I and my wife removed to a house I had in Piccadilly, near the park. There we lived very happily for a length of time; my sister, who had been bridesmaid to your mother, frequently came to see us; there you were born, and my sister was one of your godmothers. The reason of your being called Lady Anne was entirely owing to a whim of your maid's, for at that time you had no right to the title of Lady; but she said you would soon have, and that she should call you so now, that she might be used to it; and, from her continually calling you so, it by degrees became a general custom, not only with our own family, but also with our visitors.

'Time passed away very happily till you had just completed your fifth year, when I received orders to join my regiment, which was going upon foreign service. It is needless to say anything of the deep grief that your mother and I felt on this occasion. We parted, and I went abroad in the hope that I should return again in a few months.

'Two or three letters passed between your mother and me after my departure, when they suddenly ceased on her side. Unable to account for this strange silence, I wrote to my sister, entreating her to write immediately, and inform me if anything had happened. I soon received her answer, which informed me that my father, taking advantage of my absence, had unfortunately thought proper to pay a visit to your mother, and reproach her in the most cruel manner for having married me. Your dear mother was so terrified that it made her very ill.'

'Oh!' said I, interrupting my father, 'I remember it. The Earl was a tall, thin, old gentleman; and he was in such a passion that my dear mother fainted away on the ground, and a servant, I think her name was Sally, came and helped her up, and brought her to her recollection again.'

'My dear child, you are quite right,' said my father, holding his handkerchief to his eyes; 'that unfortunate visit was the cause of all the misery that has since befallen us. Your mother, being fearful of receiving such another visit, soon after the Earl was gone, sent Sally out to take lodgings for her in a private street, to which she removed the same evening, attended only by Sally and another woman servant. She then wrote an account of all that had passed to my sister (who was married to Sir Henry Beaumont), and concluded her letter by saying that she should continue in privacy in those apartments till my return, as she dreaded a repetition of the Earl's visit if she remained in Piccadilly. A few days after she had been in these lodgings she saw the Earl pass by on the other side of the street, accidentally he has since assured me it was. The idea instantly seized her that he was searching for her, and, not knowing what might be the consequences should he discover her retreat, she determined to leave England and come over to Holland to me. She wrote a few lines to my sister, telling her of her fears and determination, and that she intended to take her passage in a packet from H——. That very day a post-chaise was sent for. She would not allow Sally to accompany her; but, taking you for her only companion, and a few clothes in a small trunk, she set out on her melancholy journey. No letter has since been received from her, and my sister had hoped and believed she was with me in Holland.

'On the receipt of this distressing intelligence, I made every possible inquiry to ascertain the fate of my beloved wife and child; and, after some days, had the misery to hear that the hull of a packet had been found floating at sea keel upwards. Its name and port were legibly painted upon it, and on inquiry it was found that this very packet had left H——two days after your mother's departure from London, and, none having sailed for some days before, no doubt could be entertained but that your mother and you had been lost at sea. What misery was mine! How often did I wish that I had been with you, and that we had all been buried in the same watery grave! When the campaign was ended I returned to England, and resigned my commission. My grief was so great that I believed I should have lost my senses had it not been for the kindness of my sister and Sir Henry, who obliged me almost by force to reside with them. My father, too late repenting of his cruelty, and shocked at the dreadful calamity it had occasioned, sought a reconciliation with his wretched son. I shall not dwell upon the particulars of the distressing interview that passed between us; we were reconciled, but my father could never forgive himself for the misery his ambition had occasioned. Our firm belief that your mother and you had been lost at sea prevented our making any inquiries by land, and we were too much absorbed by grief to read the newspapers, so that we never saw the advertisements that you say were inserted. Since that time, my dear child. I have passed a very unhappy life. I have several times been on the Continent on government business. When in England, I reside chiefly with my sister and brother-in-law. Your uncle, Sir Henry, is at present at Vienna, and, during the time of his absence, your aunt and two cousins are staying with me. These, my dear, are the principal circumstances of my life.

'I will now say something of the events of yesterday. When my servants told me of the robbery committed by the pedlar there appeared to me so much ingratitude as well as roguery in the transaction, for the man had taken more than ten pounds in money for his goods, that I determined to let the law take its course with respect to him, and my servants were at the justice's to swear to the things; but the description the two women servants gave me of you interested your aunt and me very much in your favour, and we thought that if you were so young and innocent as they represented you to be it would be a deed of kindness to rescue you from the guardianship of such people, and it was for that purpose that we attended.

'When you were led forward to the bar the great resemblance you bear to your mother instantly struck me, and when in tones so dear, and so familiar to my ear you said that your name was Lady Anne, my agitation was extreme, though still without thinking it possible that you could be my daughter, but when at last my own portrait was produced, and you declared it to be your father's, then I thought it possible that your life might have been preserved, and I whispered Sir Robert, for I was too much agitated to question you myself, to inquire particularly how it had come into your possession. To what a happy discovery did that examination lead. My child is restored to me, and I am happier than I ever expected to be again in this world.'

My father tenderly embraced me at the conclusion of his narrative, so did my aunt and cousins, with many kind expressions of joy at my being restored to my family.

'Your likeness to your mother is very great,' said my aunt. 'She was my chosen friend at school from the time she came to it, which was when she was twelve years old. In features, in voice, you are as like what she was at your age as if you were the same person.'

In the course of the evening my father told me that in a few days, when I should have had a proper assortment of clothes made up for me, it was his intention to make a tour.

'We will go to town,' said he, 'again, and pay a visit to all those people who have been your friends, and even those who have been otherwise. I intend to go to those cruel people in the Borough. A few words of proper admonition may be of service to them, and induce them to treat another poor child with more humanity. And to Mrs. Williams, honest Davis, and that good man Joseph we must show our gratitude by deeds as well as words.'

About a week after this we went to town, and soon after paid a visit to Davis's cottage. We knocked at the door, which was opened by Mrs. Davis, who seemed surprised at so many fine people coming to her cottage, and asked, 'What was our pleasure?' My father told her that he was come to thank her for the kindness she had shown to a little friendless girl who went by the name of Lady Anne, and whom he had lately discovered to be his daughter. She looked astonished, but, fixing her eyes upon me, instantly recollected me, and burst into a flood of tears.

'Do not cry, Mrs. Davis,' said I, for I was grieved at seeing her weep. 'I do sincerely thank you, for you were very kind to me till just the last.'

'Ah, Lady Anne,' said she, 'I have never been happy since I sent you away. My husband was dreadfully angry with me, and I don't believe he has forgiven me yet. He said that I had turned an orphan out of doors, and that it would bring ill luck upon our heads, and so it proved, for about a week after Mr. Freeman himself caught Susan as she was filling her pockets with plums, and discharged her instantly. Luckily Phoebe had none in her pocket, and Tom they knew to be an honest boy, so they two escaped, but we had a world of trouble with Susan, for, as she had lost her character, we could hardly get her a place at all, but at last a woman in the village who takes in washing agreed to take her. There she has a great deal of work to do for very little money, but she is determined to be honest, and to stay there for a year that she may recover her character, and then we hope that she will do better, but it grieves me to the heart to think that I encouraged her to bring the fruit home, for if I had scolded her for it at the first, she would have left it off, and might now have been at Mr. Freeman's.'

'Well, my good woman,' said my father, 'you seem so sensible of your error, both with respect to encouraging your daughter in dishonesty, and your ill-treatment of mine at the last, that I shall say nothing further to you on the subject, but thank you for the kindness you did show to my child during the greater part of the time she was with you. Now I wish to see your husband. Is he here or gone to town?'

'He is at the garden, sir, for Richard and the women quarrelled about the money that they took, and at last one of them told Mr. Freeman of the tricks they played, so Richard and some of the women were discharged, and the rest had such a lecturing that I don't believe there is now a creature in the garden would dare to take so much as a gooseberry from it, but my husband is there a good deal to look after them, for Mr. Freeman says he shall not trust them too far.'

'Ah,' said my father, 'you see that honesty is still the best policy. Well, I wish you good-day, and hope you will continue in your good resolutions.'

I shook hands with the poor woman, and we then proceeded to Mr. Freeman's gardens. The door being open we entered. Mr. Joseph soon appeared, and came up to us with a bow.

'We would look at your greenhouses,' said my father. 'I wish to choose some plants.'

Joseph looked at me with a doubting, curious look, but without uttering any observation, and led the way to the nearest greenhouse. We looked at the plants, and my cousins took occasion to address me by my title. At this Joseph again gazed very earnestly at me, and hesitatingly said:

'I beg pardon, but this young lady is so like a child that used to be here last summer, and went by that name, that I could almost swear she was now before me.'

'And so she is, my good man,' replied my father, 'and I am come to thank you for the kindness you showed to her.'

'Well now,' said Joseph, 'this is the most joyful day that I have seen for this long time. To see the little drooping rose transplanted into its own garden was more than I ever expected, but I am glad to my heart that it has happened, and, Lady Anne, forgive the freedom of an old man when I say that I loved you as if you had been one of my own grandchildren, and had I known how uncomfortable you were at Davis's you should have been removed into the family of one of my own daughters, who lives near, and she would have treated you as one of her own children; but you see all things happen for the best, for by your being turned out of doors, as it were, you have discovered your father, and are much better off than ever we could make you.'

We all very cordially shook hands with this honest good man, and my father compelled him to accept of a handsome present.

Mr. Freeman was in town, so my father left his compliments and thanks to him for having given me employment, and ordered plants to the amount of twenty pounds to be sent to his house in Piccadilly. We went to a different part of the garden in quest of Davis and his son Tommy. We soon found them, and, on making myself known to the father, the poor man could not forbear shedding tears, and said he should be ashamed as long as he lived to think how I had been turned out of his cottage. My father begged him not to think of it any longer, for that we did not, and it was with difficulty that he prevailed on him to accept a present which Davis said he did not deserve, and that it was like a reproach to him.

'Say no more, I beg of you,' said my father; 'my daughter can only think of the kindness you showed her, and we shall always remember it with gratitude.'

Little Tommy, as soon as he felt convinced that I was the same Lady Anne that used to live in their cottage, took my hand, kissed it, and said he would make me a prettier box than I had ever seen, for that he made them much better now than when I lived with them. I gave the little fellow a guinea, and I gave his sister Phoebe five shillings, for though I did not entertain any resentment against her, yet I did not think it would be just to give her as much as her brother, who had always been kind to me, and was an honest boy. We then took leave of them, and returned to town.

The next morning, after breakfast was over, my father ordered the carriage, and we drove to Covent Garden to pay a visit to Mrs. Williams and her family. When we arrived at the Garden I led the way to the shop, and found her and her two daughters busy in setting out the fruit and flowers. I asked her the price of some of them, and though she answered me as a stranger, yet I saw that she looked at me very earnestly, but her daughter Jane, having observed me, whispered to her mother:

'I am sure that is the little girl that we took in who was in such distress; I am positive it was her.'

Mrs. Williams again looked at me very intently. I smiled, and said:

'Yes, Mrs. Williams, I am that poor child that you were so kind as to take in and feed and clothe.'

'Bless your sweet face,' said she, 'and so you are; and have you found your friends, and is your father living?'

'Yes, my good friend,' replied my father, 'I am that happy father, and can never be sufficiently grateful to you for befriending my poor child when she was almost dying of cold and hunger.'

Mrs. Williams made many exclamations of joy and surprise at the happy change that had taken place in my situation. We all entered the shop, and, seating ourselves as well as we could, my father gave her a slight detail of the circumstances that had brought me to his knowledge. We stayed with her nearly an hour, and, before leaving the shop, my father obliged her to accept of bank-notes to the amount of a hundred pounds. We then returned to the carriage, and my father ordered the coachman to drive to D——Street in the borough.

'For,' said he, 'we will now go and make our acknowledgment to Mr. Smith and his wife, for I think it is as proper to reprove them for their barbarity as to reward those who have treated you with kindness.'

When we arrived at the street I pointed out the house, but it was now in a different business. We entered the shop, and on inquiring for Smiths, were told that they had been gone away for some time, for that the husband had given himself up to drinking, and the wife to gambling till they were involved in debt to everybody that would trust them; and at last they had moved away in the night without paying anyone, and it was not known where they were gone to.'

'It is very well,' said my father, 'these people by their bad management and ill conduct have brought a punishment upon themselves. I shall not seek for them any further. It is not my wish to reproach those who are fallen into distress, and that, I think, is likely to be their present state.'

We then returned home, and my father informed us that it was his intention, in the course of two or three days, to take a longer journey, which would give us much pleasure and also much pain.

'For,' said he, 'we will go to E——. I wish to visit Mr. Sanders and your good nurse, and to go to the grave of your dear mother. She must not lie there; I must have her removed and laid in our family vault at Malbourne. Though so cruelly separated from her during my life, yet one tomb shall contain us at our death.'

       * * * * *

CONCLUSION.

Mr. Sanders was very happy to know that Lady Anne had found her father, and the Earl gave him a living worth two hundred pounds a year. He also provided for Nurse Jenkins and her children, and reprimanded the overseers of the workhouse, but made a present to the parish for the benefit of the poor children. Some time later the reformed Sharpleys called at Sir Robert's house, and being now honest pedlars, were liberally patronized.

 
 
 

Back to the Index Page