+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error




TOWARDS six o'clock the next morning, the
light pouring in on her face awoke Magdalen in
the bedroom in Rosemary-lane.

She started from her deep dreamless repose of
the past night, with that painful sense of
bewilderment on first waking which is familiar to all
sleepers in strange beds. "Norah!" she called
out mechanically, when she opened her eyes.
The next instant, her mind roused itself, and
her senses told her the truth. She looked
round the miserable room with a loathing
recognition of it. The sordid contrast which the
place presented to all that she had been accustomed
to see in her own bedchamberthe practical
abandonment implied in its scanty furniture
of those elegant purities of personal habit to
which she had been accustomed from her childhood
shocked that sense of bodily self-respect
in Magdalen, which is a refined woman's second
nature. Contemptible as the influence seemed
when compared with her situation at that moment,
the bare sight of the jug and basin in a
corner of the room, decided her first resolution
when she woke. She determined, then and there,
to leave Rosemary-lane.

How was she to leave it? With Captain
Wragge, or without him?

She dressed herself, with a dainty shrinking
from everything in the room which her hands or
her clothes touched in the process; and then
opened the window. The autumn air felt keen
and sweet; and the little patch of sky that she
could see, was warmly bright already with the
new sunlight. Distant voices of bargemen on
the river, and the chirping of birds among the
weeds which topped the old city wall, were the
only sounds that broke the morning silence. She
sat down by the window; and searched her mind
for the thoughts which she had lost, when weariness
overcame her on the night before.

The first subject to which she returned, was
the vagabond subject of Captain Wragge.

The "moral agriculturist" had failed to remove
her personal distrust of him, cunningly as he had
tried to plead against it by openly confessing
the impostures that he had practised on others.
He had raised her opinion of his abilities; he had
amused her by his humour; he had astonished
her by his assurancebut he had left her original
conviction that he was a Rogue, exactly where it
was when he first met with her. If the one
design then in her mind had been the design of
going on the stage, she would, at all hazards,
have rejected the more than doubtful assistance
of Captain Wragge, on the spot.

But the perilous journey on which she had now
adventured herself, had another end in viewan
end, dark and distantan end, with pitfals hidden
on the way to it, far other than the shallow
pitfals on the way to the stage. In the mysterious
stillness of the morning, her mind looked
on to its second and its deeper design; and the
despicable figure of the swindler rose before her
in a new view.

She tried to shut him outto feel above him
and beyond him again, as she had felt up to this

After a little trifling with her dress, she
took from her bosom the white silk bag which
her own hands had made on the farewell night
at Combe-Raven. It drew together at the
mouth with delicate silken strings. The first
thing she took out, on opening it, was a lock of
Frank's hair, tied with a morsel of silver thread;
the next was a sheet of paper containing the extracts
which she had copied from her father's
will and her father's letter; the last was a closely
folded packet of bank-notes, to the value of
nearly two hundred poundsthe produce (as
Miss Garth had rightly conjectured) of the sale
of her jewellery and her dresses, in which the
servant at the boarding-school had privately
assisted her. She put back the notes at once,
without a second glance at them; and then sat
looking thoughtfully at the lock of hair, as it lay
on her lap. "You are better than nothing," she
said, speaking to it with a girl's fanciful tenderness.
"I can sit and look at you sometimes, till
I almost think I am looking at Frank. Oh, my
darling! my darling!" Her voice faltered softly,
and she put the lock of hair, with a languid
gentleness, to her lips. It fell from her fingers
into her bosom. A lovely tinge of colour rose on
her cheeks, and spread downward to her neck, as
if it followed the falling hair. She closed her
eyes, and let her fair head droop softly. The
world passed from her; and, for one enchanted
moment, Love opened the gates of Paradise to
the daughter of Eve.