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she would be ready that evening, and I returned home, and found Virginia in tears : her mother had again assailed her on account of her feelings towards Mrs. St. Felix ; and Virginia told me that she was crying at the idea of Mrs. St. Felix going away, much more than at what her mother had said ; and she requested me to walk with her to Mrs. St. Felix, that she might wish her farewell.
When we arrived, Mrs. St. Felix embraced Virginia warmly, and took her into the little back parlour. Virginia burst into tears. “ You are the only friend in the town that I dearly love,” said she, “ and now you are going.”
My dear girl, I am more sorry to part with you and Tom than I can well express
our pain is mutual, but we shall meet again.” “I see no chance of that," said Virginia, mournfully,
“ But I do; and what is more, I have thought about it since I have had the news. Tom, your sister, of course, only knows the common report ? ”
“Of course she knows no more than anybody else.”
“ Well, you do, at all events ; and I give you leave, as I know she is to be trusted, to confide my secret to her. And, Virginia, dear, when I tell you that I shall want you to come and stay with me, and shall arrange accordingly, after you have heard what your brother has to tell to you, you will understand that we may meet again. Good-bye, and God bless you, dearest ; go away now, for I have much to do."
When I told to Virginia what the reader is well acquainted with, her joy was excessive. “ Yes," said she, “I see now; my mother is so anxious that I should be taken into some grand family as a companion ; and when Lady O'Connor agrees to receive me, she will never have an idea that it is Mrs. St. Felix: if she had, nothing would induce her to let me go, that I am sure of; for she has taken an aversion to her, for reasons known only to herself.”
I returned to Mrs. St. Felix's house, as soon as I had escorted Virginia home, leaving her very happy. The doctor was there, mute and melancholy; and I was thinking that we should have some difficulty in getting rid of him, when Tom made his appear“ If you please, sir,” said he, “Mrs. Fallover wants you immediately : she's taken
bad." “ I can't help it."
Indeed, but you must help it, doctor," said Mrs. St. Felix ; “the poor woman is, as you know, in her first confinement, and you must not neglect her, so let's say good-bye at once, and a happy retur . I asked Tom to come down, that I might call upon his sister and one or two other people, before I go; so you see, doctor, as you can't go with me, you may just as well go and attend to the poor woman ; so, good-bye, Doctor Tadpole, I will write to you as soon as I know what I'm to do.”
The doctor took her hand, and after a pause said, “Mrs. St. Felix, Eheu, me infelix !” and hastened out of the shop.
“ Poor fellow!” said she, “ he'll miss me, and that's the truth. Good bye, Jane ; mind you look after every thing till I come back, and take care of the dog and cat. Come, Tom, we'll go now.”
I threw her trunk on my shoulders, and followed her till we came to the post-house : the chaise was ordered out, and we set off.
“ Tom,” said Lady O'Connor, as I again call her, now that she is clear of Greenwich, “there is one portion of my history which you do not know
-a very trifling part indeed. When I saw in the newspapers that my husband had, as I supposed, been executed, I am ashamed to say that I first thought of suicide ; but
better feelings prevailed, and I then resolved to change my name, and to let people suppose that I was dead. It was for that reason that I left my bonnet by the river-side, and all my apparel in the house, only taking away a few trinkets and valuables, to dispose of for my future subsistence. I obtained a passage in a transport bound to Woolwich, on the plea of my husband having arrived from abroad; and, by mere accident, I found the goodwill of the tobacconist's shop to be sold; it suited me — and there is the whole of my history which you do not know. “And now, as to Virginia - I intend to have her with me very
Your mother is anxious that she should get into a high
family, trusting that her beauty will captivate some of the members — a bad kind of speculation. I will advertise for a companion, and so arrange that your mother shall not see me; and when your sister does come to me, it shall not be as a companion, but as a child of my own. I owe you much, Tom,
indeed almost every thing; and it is the only way in which I can repay you. I have already spoken to Sir James on the subject: he is equally ready to pay the debt of gratitude, and therefore in future Virginia is our adopted child."
“ You are more than repaying me, Lady O'Connor," replied I, “and you are obliging me in the quarter where I feel the obligation the greatest.”
“ That I believe, Tom ; so now say no more about it.”
I may as well here inform the reader that I remained a week at Chathamn, and that during that time Lady O'Connor put an advertisement in the county paper, such as we knew would be a bait to my mother. This paper I forwarded to Virginia, marking the advertisement. My mother immediately replied to it, and Sir James O'Connor went up to Greenwich, and had an interview with my mother and Virginia, at apartments he had taken at the hotel appeared pleased with my sister, and said that as soon as Lady O'Connor was sufficiently recovered she would send for her to Chatham. This took place in two days afterwards ; my mother escorted Virginia there. Sir James stated that her Ladyship was too unwell to see anybody, but that she would speak a few words to Virginia, and leave Sir James to settle the rest with my mother. Virginia came down to her mother, declared that Lady O'Connor was a very ladylike elegant person, and that she should wish to take the situation. The terms were handsome, and my mother, although she regretted not seeing her Ladyship, was satisfied, and Virginia was to come in two days afterwards, which she did. Thus was my sister comfortably settled, and, after remaining two days, I took my leave of Sir James and Lady O'Connor, intending to return to Deal, when I received a letter from Peter Anderson, informing me that Old Nanny had been suddenly taken very ill,
and that Doctor Tadpole did not think it possible that she would survive more than twenty-four hours that she was very anxious to see me, and that he hoped I would come up immediately.
I showed the letter to Lady O'Connor, who said, “ You will go, of course, Tom.”
Immediately,” replied I, “ and the more so as this letter is dated three days back; how it has been delayed I do not know. Farewell, Lady O'Connor; and farewell, dearest Virginia. Old Nanny, as you both know, has many claims upon my gratitude.”
MY FATHER, MUCH TO HIS SURPRISE, HAS A BIT OF LAND TO PUT HIS
FOOT UPON, AND SAY, "THIS IS MY OWN."
“ You're too late, Tom," said Ben the Whaler, as I jumped down from off the basket of the coach ; "the old woman died last night.”
“ I'm sorry for it, Ben,” replied I, “as she wished so much to see me; but I did not receive Anderson's letter till this morning, and I could not get here sooner.”
This intelligence induced me to direct my course to the Hospital, where I had no doubt that I should find old Anderson, and obtain
every information. I met him as he was walking towards the bench on the terrace facing the river, where he usually was seated when the weather was fine. “Well, Tom,” said he, “I expected you, and did hope that you would have been here sooner. Come, sit down here, and I will give you the information which I know you have most at your heart. The old woman made a very happy end. I was with her till she died. She left many kind wishes for you, and I think her only regret was that she did not see you before she was called away."
“Poor Old Nanny! she had suffered much."
“ Yes, and there are great excuses to be made for her; and as we feel so here, surely there will be indulgence from above, where the secrets of all hearts are known. She was not insane, Tom; but from the time that she supposed that her son had been gibbeted, there was something like insanity about her: the blow had oppressed her brain, - it had stupefied her, and blunted her moral sense of right and wrong. She told me, after you had communicated to her that her son was in the Hospital, and, had died