of the Tudor family. She could not but feel that Alaric had been
the means of disgracing and degrading one child; and truly,
deeply, warmly, as she sympathized with the other, she could not
bring herself to feel the same sympathy for the object of her
love. It was a sore day for her and hers, that on which the
Tudors had first entered her house.
Nevertheless she assented to Katie's proposal, and undertook the
task of asking Charley down to Hampton.
Since Alaric's conviction Charley led a busy life; and as men who
have really something to do have seldom time to get into much
mischief, he had been peculiarly moral and respectable. It is not
surprising that at such a moment Gertrude found that Alaric's
newer friends fell off from him. Of course they did; nor is it a
sign of ingratitude or heartlessness in the world that at such a
period of great distress new friends should fall off. New
friends, like one's best coat and polished patent-leather dress
boots, are only intended for holiday wear. At other times they
are neither serviceable nor comfortable; they do not answer the
required purposes, and are ill adapted to give us the ease we
seek. A new coat, however, has this advantage, that it will in
time become old and comfortable; so much can by no means be
predicted with certainty of a new friend. Woe to those men who go
through the world with none but new coats on their backs, with no
boots but those of polished leather, with none but new friends to
comfort them in adversity.
But not the less, when misfortune does come, are we inclined to
grumble at finding ourselves deserted. Gertrude, though she
certainly wished to see no Mrs. Val and no Miss Neverbends, did
feel lonely enough when her mother left her, and wretched enough.
But she was not altogether deserted. At this time Charley was
true to her, and did for her all those thousand nameless things
which a woman cannot do for herself. He came to her everyday
after leaving his office, and on one excuse or another remained
with her till late every evening.
He was not a little surprised one morning on receiving Mrs.
Woodward's invitation to Hampton. Mrs. Woodward in writing had
had some difficulty in wording her request. She hardly liked
asking Charley to come because Katie was ill; nor did she like to
ask him without mentioning Katie's illness. 'I need not explain
to you,' she said in her note, 'that we are all in great
distress; poor Katie is very ill, and you will understand what we
must feel about Alaric and Gertrude. Harry is still at Normansgrove.
We shall all be glad to see you, and Katie, who never forgets
what you did for her, insists on my asking you at once. I am sure
you will not refuse her, so I shall expect you to-morrow.' Charley
would not have refused her anything, and it need hardly be said
that he accepted the invitation.
Mrs. Woodward was at a loss how to receive him, or what to say to
him. Though Katie was so positive that her own illness would be
fatal - a symptom which might have confirmed those who watched her
in their opinion that her disease was not consumption - her mother
was by no means so desponding. She still thought it not
impossible that her child might recover, and so thinking could
not but be adverse to any declaration on Katie's part of her own
feelings. She had endeavoured to explain this to her daughter;
but Katie was so carried away by her enthusiasm, was at the
present moment so devoted, and, as it were, exalted above her
present life, that all that her mother said was thrown away upon
her. Mrs. Woodward might have refused her daughter's request, and
have run the risk of breaking her heart by the refusal; but now
that the petition had been granted, it was useless to endeavour
to teach her to repress her feelings.
'Charley,' said Mrs. Woodward, when he had been some little time
in the house, 'our dear Katie wants to see you; she is very ill,
Charley said he knew she was ill.
'You remember our walk together, Charley.'
'Yes,' said Charley, 'I remember it well. I made you a promise
then, and I have kept it. I have now come here only because you
have sent for me.' This he said in the tone which a man uses when
he feels himself to have been injured.
'I know it, Charley; you have kept your promise; I knew you
would, and I know you will. I have the fullest trust in you; and
now you shall come and see her.'
Charley was to return to town that night, and they had not
therefore much time to lose; they went upstairs at once, and
found Linda and Uncle Bat in the patient's room. It was a lovely
August evening, and the bedroom window opening upon the river was
unclosed. Katie, as she sat propped up against the pillows, could
look out upon the water and see the reedy island, on which in
happy former days she had so delighted to let her imagination
'It is very good of you to come and see me, Charley,' said she,
as he made his way up to her bedside.
He took her wasted hand in his own and pressed it, and, as he did
so, a tear forced itself into each corner of his eyes. She smiled
as though to cheer him, and said that now she saw him she could
be quite happy, only for poor Alaric and Gertrude. She hoped she
might live to see Alaric again; but if not, Charley was to give
him her best-best love.
'Live to see him! of course you will,' said Uncle Bat.
'What's to hinder you?' Uncle Bat, like the rest of them, tried
to cheer her, and make her think that she might yet live.
After a while Uncle Bat went out of the room, and Linda followed
him. Mrs. Woodward would fain have remained, but she perfectly
understood that it was part of the intended arrangement with
Katie, that Charley should be alone with her. 'I will come back
in a quarter of an hour,' she said, rising to follow the others.
'You must not let her talk too much, Charley: you see how weak
'Mamma, when you come, knock at the door, will you?' said Katie.
Mrs. Woodward, who found herself obliged to act in complete
obedience to her daughter, promised that she would; and then they
were left alone.
'Sit down, Charley,' said she; he was still standing by her
bedside, and now at her bidding he sat in the chair which Captain
Cuttwater had occupied. 'Come here nearer to me,' said she; 'this
is where mamma always sits, and Linda when mamma is not here.'
Charley did as he was bid, and, changing his seat, came and sat
down close to her bed-head.
'Charley, do you remember how you went into the water for me?'
said she, again smiling, and pulling her hand out and resting it
on his arm which lay on the bed beside her.
'Indeed I do, Katie - I remember the day very well.'
'That was a very happy day in spite of the tumble, was it not,
Charley? And do you remember the flower-show, and the dance at
Charley did remember them all well. Ah me! how often had he
thought of them!
'I think of those days so often - too often,' continued Katie.
'But, dear Charley, I cannot remember too often that you saved my
Charley once more tried to explain to her that there was nothing
worthy of notice in his exploit of that day.
'Well, Charley, I may think as I like, you know,' she said, with
something of the obstinacy of old days. 'I think you did save my
life, and all the people in the world won't make me think
anything else; but, Charley, I have something now to tell you.'
He sat and listened. It seemed to him as though he were only
there to listen; as though, were he to make his own voice
audible, he would violate the sanctity of the place. His thoughts
were serious enough, but he could not pitch his voice so as to
suit the tone in which she addressed him.
'We were always friends, were we not?' said she; 'we were always
good friends, Charley. Do you remember how you were to build a
palace for me in the dear old island out there? You were always
so kind, so good to me.'
Charley said he remembered it all - they were happy days; the
happiest days, he said, that he had ever known.
'And you used to love me, Charley?'
'Used!' said he, 'do you think I do not love you now?'
'I am sure you do. And, Charley, I love you also. That it is that
I want to tell you. I love you so well that I cannot go away from
this world in peace without wishing you farewell. Charley, if you
love me, you will think of me when I am gone; and then for my
sake you will be steady.'
Here were all her old words over again - 'You will be steady,
won't you, Charley? I know you will be steady, now.' How much
must she have thought of him! How often must his career have
caused her misery and pain! How laden must that innocent bosom
have been with anxiety on his account! He had promised her then
that he would reform; but he had broken his promise. He now
promised her again, but how could he hope that she would believe
'You know how ill I am, don't you? You know that I am dying,
Charley of course declared that he still hoped that she would
'If I thought so,' said she, 'I should not say what I am now
saying; but I feel that I may tell the truth. Dear Charley,
dearest Charley, I love you with all my heart - I do not know how
it came so; I believe I have always loved you since I first knew
you; I used to think it was because you saved my life; but I know
it was not that. I was so glad it was you that came to me in the
water, and not Harry; so that I know I loved you before that.'
'Dear Katie, you have not loved me, or thought of me, more than I
have loved and thought of you.'
'Ah, Charley,' she said, smiling in her sad sweet way - 'I don't
think you know how a girl can love; you have so many things to
think of, so much to amuse you up in London; you don't know what
it is to think of one person for days and days, and nights and
nights together. That is the way I have thought of you, I don't
think there can be any harm,' she continued, 'in loving a person
as I have loved you. Indeed, how could I help it? I did not love
you on purpose. But I think I should be wrong to die without
telling you. When I am dead, Charley, will you think of this, and
try - try to give up your bad ways? When I tell you that I love
you so dearly, and ask you on my deathbed, I think you will do
Charley went down on his knees, and bowing his head before her
and before his God, he made the promise. He made it, and we may
so far anticipate the approaching end of our story as to declare
that the promise he then made was faithfully kept.
'Katie, Katie, my own Katie, my own, own, own Katie - oh, Katie,
you must not die, you must not leave me! Oh, Katie, I have so
dearly loved you! Oh, Katie, I do so dearly love you! If you knew
all, if you could know all, you would believe me.'
At this moment Mrs. Woodward knocked at the door, and Charley
rose from his knees. 'Not quite yet, mamma,' said Katie, as Mrs.
Woodward opened the door. 'Not quite yet; in five minutes, mamma,
you may come.' Mrs. Woodward, not knowing how to refuse, again
'Charley, I never gave you anything but once, and you returned it
to me, did you not?'
'Yes,' said he, 'the purse - I put it in your box, because - - '
And then he remembered that he could not say why he had returned
it without breaking in a manner that confidence which Mrs.
Woodward had put in him.
'I understand it all. You must not think I am angry with you. I
know how good you were about it. But Charley, you may have it
back now; here it is;' and putting her hand under the pillow, she
took it out, carefully folded up in new tissue paper. 'There,
Charley, you must never part with it again as long as there are
two threads of it together; but I know you never will; and
Charley, you must never talk of it to anybody but to your wife;
and you must tell her all about it.'
He took the purse, and put it to his lips, and then pressed it to
his heart. 'No,' said he, 'I will never part with it again. I
think I can promise that.' 'And now, dearest, good-bye,' said
she; 'dearest, dearest Charley, good-bye; perhaps we shall know
each other in heaven. Kiss me, Charley, before you go,' So he
stooped down over her, and pressed his lips to hers.
Charley, leaving the room, found Mrs. Woodward at the other end
of the passage, standing at the door of her own dressing-room.
'You are to go to her now,' he said. 'Good-bye,' and without
further speech to any of them he hurried out of the house.
None but Mrs. Woodward had seen him; but she saw that the tears
were streaming down his cheeks as he passed her, and she
expressed no surprise that he had left the Cottage without going
through the formality of making his adieux.
And then he walked up to town, as Norman once had done after a
parting interview with her whom he had loved. It might be
difficult to say which at the moment suffered the bitterest
The immediate neighbourhood of Millbank Penitentiary is not one
which we should, for its own sake, choose for our residence,
either on account of its natural beauty, or the excellence of its
habitations. That it is a salubrious locality must be presumed
from the fact that it has been selected for the site of the
institution in question; but salubrity, though doubtless a great
recommendation, would hardly reconcile us to the extremely dull,
and one might almost say, ugly aspect which this district bears.
To this district, however, ugly as it is, we must ask our readers
to accompany us, while we pay a short visit to poor Gertrude. It
was certainly a sad change from her comfortable nursery and
elegant drawing-room near Hyde Park. Gertrude had hitherto never
lived in an ugly house. Surbiton Cottage and Albany Place were
the only two homes that she remembered, and neither of them was
such as to give her much fitting preparation for the melancholy
shelter which she found at No. 5, Paradise Row, Millbank.
But Gertrude did not think much of this when she changed her
residence. Early one morning, leaning on Charley's arm, she had
trudged down across the Park, through Westminster, and on to the
close vicinity of the prison; and here they sought for and
obtained such accommodation as she thought fitting to her present
situation. Charley had begged her to get into a cab, and when she
refused that, had implored her to indulge in the luxury of an
omnibus; but Gertrude's mind was now set upon economy; she would
come back, she said, in an omnibus when the day would be hotter,
and she would be alone, but she was very well able to walk the
She procured, for seven shillings a week, a sitting-room and
bedroom, from whence she could see the gloomy prison walls, and
also a truckle-bed for the young girl whom she was to bring with
her as her maid. This was a little Hampton maiden, whom she had
brought from the country to act as fag and deputy to her grand
nurse; but the grand nurse was now gone, and the fag was promoted
to the various offices of nurse, lady's-maid, and parlour
servant. The rest of the household in Albany Place had already
dispersed with the discreet view of bettering their situations.
Everything in the house was given up to pay what Alaric owed.
Independently of his dreadful liability to Madame Jaquetanape, he
could not have been said to be in debt; but still, like most
other men who live as he had done, when his career was thus
brought to a sudden close, it was found that there were many
people looking for money. There were little bills, as the owners
said of them, which had been forgotten, of course, on account of
their insignificance, but which being so very little might now be
paid, equally of course, without any trouble. It is astonishing
how easy it is to accumulate three or four hundred pounds' worth
of little bills, when one lives before the world in a good house
and in visible possession of a good income.
At the moment of Alaric's conviction, there was but a slender
stock of money forthcoming for these little bills. The necessary
expense of his trial, - and it had been by no means trifling, - he
had, of course, been obliged to pay. His salary had been
suspended, and all the money that he could lay his hands on had
been given up towards making restitution towards the dreadful sum
of L20,000 that had been his ruin. The bills, however, did not
come in till after his trial, and then there was but little left
but the furniture.
As the new trustees employed on behalf of Madame Jaquetanape and
Mr. Figgs were well aware that they had much more to expect from
the generosity of Tudor's friends than from any legal seizure of
his property, they did not interfere in the disposal of the
chairs and tables. But not on that account did Gertrude conceive
herself entitled to make any use on her own behalf of such money
as might come into her hands. The bills should be paid, and then
every farthing that could be collected should be given towards
lessening the deficiency. Six thousand pounds had already been
made up by the joint efforts of Norman and Captain Cuttwater.
Undy Scott's acknowledgement for the other four thousand had been
offered, but the new trustees declined to accept it as of any
value whatsoever. They were equally incredulous as to the bridge
shares, which from that day to this have never held up their
heads, even to the modest height of half a crown a share.
Gertrude's efforts to make the most of everything had been
unceasing. When her husband was sentenced, she had in her
possession a new dress and some finery for her baby, which were
not yet paid for; these she took back with her own hand, offering
to the milliners her own trinkets by way of compensation for
their loss. When the day for removal came, she took with her
nothing that she imagined could be sold. She would have left the
grander part of her own wardrobe, if the auctioneers would have
undertaken to sell it. Some few things, books and trifling
household articles, which she thought were dear to Alaric, she
packed up; and such were sent to Hampton. On the day of her
departure she dressed herself in a plain dark gown, one that was
almost mourning, and then, with her baby in her lap, and her
young maid beside her, and Charley fronting her in the cab, she
started for her new home.
I had almost said that her pride had left her. Such an assertion
would be a gross libel on her. No; she was perhaps prouder than
ever, as she left her old home. There was a humility in her cheap
dress, in her large straw bonnet coming far over her face, in her
dark gloves and little simple collar; nay, there was a humility
in her altered voice, and somewhat chastened mien; but the spirit
of the woman was wholly unbroken. She had even a pride in her
very position, in her close and dear tie with the convicted
prisoner. She was his for better and for worse; she would now
show him what was her idea of the vow she had made. To the men
who came to ticket and number the furniture, to the tradesmen's
messengers who called for money, to the various workmen with whom
the house was then invaded, she was humble enough; but had Mrs.
Val come across her with pity, or the Miss Neverbends with their
sententious twaddlings, she would have been prouder than ever.
Fallen indeed! She had had no fall; nor had he; he was still a
man, with a greater aggregate of good in him than falls to the
average lot of mortals. Who would dare to tell her that he had
fallen? 'Twas thus that her pride was still strong within her;
and as it supported her through this misery, who can blame her
She was allowed into the prison twice a week; on Tuesdays and
Fridays she was permitted to spend one hour with her husband, and
to take her child with her. It is hardly necessary to say that
she was punctual to the appointed times. This, however, occupied
but a short period, even of those looked-for days; and in spite
of her pride, and her constant needle, the weary six months went
from her all too slowly.
Nor did they pass with swifter foot within the prison. Alaric was
allowed the use of books and pens and paper, but even with these
he found a day in prison to be almost an unendurable eternity.
This was the real punishment of his guilt; it was not that he
could not eat well, and lie soft, or enjoy the comforts which had
always surrounded him; but that the day would not pass away. The
slowness of the lagging hours nearly drove him mad. He made a
thousand resolutions as to reading, writing, and employment for
his mind. He attempted to learn whole pages by rote, and to
fatigue himself to rest by exercise of his memory. But his memory
would not work; his mind would continue idle; he was impotent
over his own faculties. Oh, if he could only sleep while these
horrid weeks were passing over him!
All hope of regaining his situation had of course passed from
him, all hope of employment in England. Emigration must now be
his lot; and hers also, and the lot of that young one that was
already born to them, and of that other one who was, alas! now
coming to the world, whose fate it would be first to see the
light under the walls of its father's prison. - Yes, they must
emigrate. - But there was nothing so very terrible in that. Alaric
felt that even his utter poverty would be no misfortune if only
his captivity were over. Poverty! - how could any man be poor who
had liberty to roam the world?
We all of us acknowledge that the educated man who breaks the
laws is justly liable to a heavier punishment than he who has
been born in ignorance, and bred, as it were, in the lap of sin;
but we hardly realize how much greater is the punishment which,
when he be punished, the educated man is forced to undergo.
Confinement to the man whose mind has never been lifted above
vacancy is simply remission from labour. Confinement, with
labour, is simply the enforcement of that which has hitherto been
his daily lot. But what must a prison be to him whose intellect
has received the polish of the world's poetry, who has known what
it is to feed more than the belly, to require other aliment than
bread and meat?
And then, what does the poor criminal lose? His all, it will be
said; and the rich can lose no more. But this is not so. No man
loses his all by any sentence which a human judge can inflict. No
man so loses anything approaching to his all, however much he may
have lost before. But the one man has too often had no self-
respect to risk; the other has stood high in his own esteem, has
held his head proudly before the world, has aspired to walk in
some way after the fashion of a god. Alaric had so aspired, and
how must he have felt during those prison days! Of what nature
must his thoughts have been when they turned to Gertrude and his
child! His sin had indeed been heavy, and heavy was the penalty
which he suffered. When they had been thus living for about three
months, Gertrude's second child was born. Mrs. Woodward was with
her at the time, and she had suffered but little except that for
three weeks she was unable to see her husband; then, in the teeth
of all counsel, and in opposition to all medical warning, she
could resist no longer, and carried the newborn stranger to his
'Poor little wretch!' said Alaric, as he stooped to kiss him.
'Wretch!' said Gertrude, looking up to him with a smile upon her
face - 'he is no wretch. He is a sturdy little man, that shall yet
live to make your heart dance with joy.'
Mrs. Woodward came often to see her. She did not stay, for there
was no bed in which she could have slept; but the train put her
down at Vauxhall, and she had but to pass the bridge, and she was
close to Gertrude's lodgings. And now the six months had nearly
gone by, when, by appointment, she brought Norman with her. At
this time he had given up his clerkship at the Weights and
Measures, and was about to go to Normansgrove for the remainder
of the winter. Both Alaric and Norman had shown a great distaste
to meet each other. But Harry's heart softened towards Gertrude.
Her conduct during her husband's troubles had been so excellent,
that he could not but forgive her the injuries which he fancied
he owed to her.
Everything was now prepared for their departure. They were to
sail on the very day after Alaric's liberation, so as to save him
from the misery of meeting those who might know him. And now
Harry came with Mrs. Woodward to bid farewell, probably for ever
on this side the grave, to her whom he had once looked on as his
own. How different were their lots now! Harry was Mr. Norman of
Normansgrove, immediately about to take his place as the squire
of his parish, to sit among brother magistrates, to decide about