Harriet Martineau.

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"Sketches from Life" is truly the
description of these Tales. "Father
d'Estelan" is founded on a historical fact
nearly two hundred years old. The rest
have all fallen within my own cognizance
in regard to their leading incidents,
thouo:h I have taken liherties in the
mode of their presentment, for various
reasons, and especially for purposes of
disguise, in consideration of the feelings
of persons who might otherwise detect
the originals of my portraits. In almost
all cases, however, the subjects of these
sketches are dead; and several have left



no survivors wliosc feelinirs are in anv


Most of these tales appeared, under
the same title, in a weekly newspaper
of small circulation a few vears ai?o.
They were contributed on the express
understanding that they should remain
my property, and he re-issued if I should
think fit. The time for their republica-
tion appears to have arrived; and I hope
that their simple and accurate truth of
representation of character and conduct
may impart to them a quality of interest
which may secure their spirited publisher
from anxiety or repentance on account
of an enterprise planned at his express


T//fj K/io/l, Ambleside,

Fehruarji \%th, 185(5.


The Beide 1

The Teavellees 25

The Old Goyeeness 39

The Despised Woman 55

The Shopman 67

Fathee D'Estelan's Cheistmas Moening 83

The Black Sentinel 90

The Conteet ... ... ... •.. HI

The Factoey Boy 130

The Contict 139

The Collegian 153

"I must be off," said John Cros-
land, rising from the early tea-table,
in a January evening of forty years
ago. "The coach will be in in half
an hour/^

" Ah ! I hope you will be at the
coach door when it stops/' said his
mother. "It is not weather for
Agnes to manage for herself in the
"^X'^' inn yard. So, get you gone, my
boy ! — Stay, you may as well ^ /, V" ,,.
carrv mv old cloak over V \ "J^iS^^^C


your arm. It will keep off the snow, and save her

AVhile INIrs. Crosland was hastily fetching the

cloak, the postman knocked. He was later than

usual, the snow impeding the mails in some places

between London and Durham : but he was in time

to save John the trouble of going to meet his

sister. A letter from her announced that she

would for once spend her Im-thday away from

home. ]\Ir. and Mrs. Morris quite insisted on her

staying for a dance the next week. She did not

feel quite easy about it: she feared there would

be disappointment at home : she could not fancy

spending a birthday any where but with her

mother: but really, Mrs. Morris was so positive

about it that she had no choice. The Morrises

would not let her go, — would not send to take

her place ; and what could she do ? She was glad

to hear IMrs. Morris say that she meant to write

soon. Meantime, they all hoped Mrs. Crosland

would not be displeased, nor too much disappointed.

The mother and her two sons had therefore to

keep Agnes' birthday as well as they could without

luT. Tlu'y drank her health at dinner, and tliev

talked about her as they sat ronnd the lire at


night, after the lads' return from the office and the
counting-house. The one was learning to be a
law}'er, or a lawyer's clerk ; and the other to be a
merchant, or a merchant's clerk. Their father's
untimely death had left so small a share of
property to each child that that of the boys was all
spent, and some of their mother's pittance with it,
to prepare them for supporting themselves. Agnes
could, by great economy, make the interest of
her share supply her with clothes. She was
now resolved to be no longer any expense to her
mother ; and it was at present a matter of contro-
versy in the little household what form the industry
of Agnes should take. Her own opinion was that
she ought to go out as a governess. Her mother's
health and spirits were good; and while her sons
remained with her, her home would be an active
and cheerful one. It was clearly the season for
laying by money, Agnes thought : and it seemed
to her of great importance to let her little fund
accumulate, and to add to it now, that she might
be the better able to return to her mother at some
future time, when she would be more wanted. The
lads would be going to London, ere long; and
sooner or later, her mother must grow old. Surely

Till': JUllDh.

it would be wise to reserve the luxury of living
together for a season when she could be less easily

" She might at least try my plan," said Mrs.
Crosland, on this birthday night. "Her music
really is a power in her hands. It is no vanity of
oursj — no delusion, — about her playing. It is
certainly such playing as is seldom heard : and I
am persuaded she would get pupils enough in
Durham to ease her mind about my income, with-
out our being compelled to part."

" It is not that," observed Henry. '' She can
have no doubt about making her £100 a-year easily
enough by music lessons. It is consideration for
us that makes her wish to work out of sight of the
Durham people. She cannot be certain, she says,
that it may never be a disadvantage to John or me
to have a sister a music-teacher in Durham."

" Harry and I should know how to dispose of
that objection," said John ; " but she is not certain
of another thing, — that it would not be a trying
thing to you at times, mother. On rainy days,
when she would have to si)lash through the streets,
from house to house, meeting my father's old
county friends wlicre she is shown in as the music-


mistress, — she thinks it would make you more
uncomfortable than the general fact of her being a
governess, without the details."

That is just like her/' observed Mrs. Crosland.
"I know why it is that she has delayed even this
short time making up her mind how to set to work.
It is because she remembers my saying one day,
when some of our county friends were dining with
her father, that no young woman who has been
engaged in education can ever again move in
society like one who has not. I can't help think-
ing so still ; but my impression must not be any
embarrassment to her. We must submit to our
circumstances : there is no doubt about that. But
I must be as considerate about her as she is about
me. It is of no consequence whether I feel twinges
of silly pride, or what people would call proper
satisfaction in seeing my daughter a music-mistress
in Durham. I think her too young, too inex-
perienced, and, to say the truth, much too pretty
to go out as a governess."

^' She is excessively pretty, to be sure," said

^^But here is her birthday," said John: '^and
we promised we would settle the matter to-day.
A :}


She has made up her miiul, I have no doubt."
"Why, I don't know/' observed the mother,

looking into the fire, absently.

" I see what you mean," said Henry. " Tliere

may be something under this delay about coming


"Something! \Vliat?" exclaimed John. "Is

our Agnes going to be married? What a thing

that would be ! "

" A most unlikely thing, I am afraid," said her

mother, " considering the kind of people who are

to be met at the ]\Iorrise's. But it strikes me that

there is some reason for Mrs. Morris insisting on
her stay so peremptorily. It cannot be merely the
dance, — so many dances as they have had since
Christmas. —Well : Mrs. IMorris will write."

Mrs. Morris did write. It was a confidential
letter, such as perhaps only mothers of young
daughters write to each other. The lady of Oak-
bury Park wrote that her position was a somewhat
emljarrassing one ; and she feared that she might
be doing wrong in any course that she might take.
The safest and best was, und(uil)tedly, to write
unreservedly to the mother ol" her dear young
IViend. It appeared to i\lr. Morris as well as to


herself that a valued guest of theirs was captivated
by Agnes. Nobody could wonder at this : but it
was naturally a matter of some solicitude to the
friends who had introduced the young people to
each other. She could only say that the Baron
de Castile was regarded with high esteem by
Mr. Morris, who had become acquainted with
him in Italy, and was well pleased to renew the
intercourse, first in London, and now in his own
house. It was in the country-house, they found,
that intimate knowledge of a man^s mind and
manners was to be obtained; and every day had
deepened their regard for their friend. As for the
rest, the Baron de Castile was a little above thirty.
He had lost a large portion of his hereditary
property by political changes, and by the ravage
attending the Peninsular war: but he had saved
enough to enable him to go where he liked, and
settle where he pleased; and he fully expected
to recover at least one estate, — of which he was
never tired of talking to Mr. Morris, though it
was observable that that was almost the only
subject on which he never spoke to Agnes. It
appeared as if he were seeking to make himself
beloved for himself alone, and kept his recom-

Till-: BRIDE.

mendations of rank and fortune out of si«i-ht, as
far as possible. She liopcd she might truthfully
add that Agnes was yet mistress of her own peace
of mind : but it did not appear that she disliked
the Baron. In conclusion, IMrs. Morris hoped that
her old friend would find occasion to rejoice that
she had spared her dear girl to Oakbury, and
allowed her to remain somewhat longer than had
been promised.

The anxious mother kept this letter entirely to
herself, for Agnes' sake. It would be quite time
enough for her ambitious boys to hear of the Baron
de Castile when it was necessary that they should :
and it was not waiting many days. Agnes must
have something decisive to say when she returned.

She had indeed : or rather, Mrs. IMorris for her.
Agnes did not travel by the coach. Mrs. Morris
made the journey of sixty miles for the sake of
a personal consultation with Mrs. Crosland, and
of saving Agnes the awkwardness of ev^er again
travelling otherwise than in her own carriage.
The ladies brought a beautiful letter from the
Baron de Castile, requesting the honour of Agnes*
hand in marriage, and leave to present liimself at
her home, as her suitor, when her mother should

THE iniiDE.

have satisfied herself, through the Morrises, of the
character of his pretensions.

Who now so happy as the Croslands? The
amhitious youths saw in this connexion much more
than release from governessing or music-teaching
for Agnes, and restoration to the old social stand-
ing for their mother. They saw a fair world of
promotion, honour and wealth opening before
themselves : and gay were their daily and nightly
dreams. There was one immediate drawback, felt
by every body in the house but Agnes. What
would the Baron de Castile think of the small
house, the one maid-servant, the humble style of
living altogether? Agnes could tell them just
what he would think. She had explained and
described every thing to him. He had seen life
in all its varieties ; and his sympathies were with
something quite different from wealth and splen-
dour. If it were not so, how could he wish to
marry her ? This seemed to be necessarily true :
but it was so difficult to imagine, that Agnes had to
exert her influence very powerfully to prevent the
hiring of more servants for the time, and a world
of expensive preparations. She made a point of his
seeing her home and family exactly as they were.


Her confidence was justified by the manners of
the Baron, from the first moment to the last of
bis visit to Durham. He seemed to enjoy each
day more than the former, and to miss none of
the liixm-ies to which he was known to be accus-
tomed. The easy confidence which subsisted
between him and the Croslands was the subject
of much wonder to the Dm-ham acquaintances of
the family, and of the warmest pleasure to the old
friends who had grieved for the untimely death
of the head of the household, and the reduced
fortunes of his widow and children. No engage-
ment was perhaps ever so much talked about in
Durham; and there teas something remarkable on
the face of it. ]\Iany eyes stole towards the lovers
as they sat together in the Cathedral, or as they
^\ alked on the hill side above the river, or examined
the antiquities of the city. The Baron was learned
in antiquities ; and he had explored all great ruins
from Athens to Grenada. And then, — how they
sang together ! Agnes' playing quite inspired
him; and his was so good that it was a treat to
hoar lilm. But their singing was something not
to l>e forgotten. Old people speak of it to this


Quite as soon as could be expected, the Baron
begged for an early day. He had some business to
conclude abroad ; and he ventured, in a tentative
way, the proposal that Agnes should marry him
at once, and go. This was out of the question ;
and he presently saw that it was so. It was
settled that he should lose no time in going to
the Continent, and that he should have Agnes on
his return. He was full of hope that he could
get back in April; and the wedding was fixed for
Mayday. He took occasion before his departure
to intimate to Mrs. Crosland, with all delicacy, his
wish that Agnes should have the immediate benefit
of her pittance of a fortune. He should never
touch it, he said ; and she would never need it.
Let her indulge herself in spending it at once, in
any way she liked best. Of course, the way in
which it was spent was providing an admirable
outfit. Mrs. Crosland could not be prevented
spending something more than her daughter's
money in supplying the best wardrobe — the most
substantial, the most proper, the most tastefid
trousseau, — that had been seen in Durham for
many years. There were no expensive ornaments ;
and, if Agnes had been ever so rich, that might


have been left to her lover. When he returned
in April, he brought with hiiu the family jewels,
connected in his affections, he said, with the
memory of his mother; and if Agnes had cared
for jewels, she would have been, on this ground,
at the summit of happiness. She was so, for
other reasons than those contained in her jewel-
case. One of the new gifts was an elegant watch,
which the Baron desii-ed that Agnes should ex-
change for the clumsy old timepiece which had
been her grandmother's. The antiquity of this
family watch was its only merit; for it had no
beauty to boast of, and it never went well. Yet,
such was the delicacy of the Baron towards the
family feelings that he valued the watch, and said
that nothing should make him part with it. It
belonged to Agnes still; but she must indulge
him by wearing the modern one which would suit
exactly the gold chain which was Miss Morris's
wcddinir ffift. The fashion of wearing watches at
the waist had just come in ; and a more elegant
one than Agnes now wore was not to be seen.

Everybody thought it a piece of charming con-
siderateness in the Baron to invite Mrs. Crosland
to accomi)any her daughter to Paris. Slie would


feel forlorn at home, he was sure. She had never
seen Paris ; — no English ladies had, till the peace,
the year before. She might never have such an
opportunity again. She really must not refuse
him. She did not refuse, when Agnes joined her
entreaties to the Baron's; and an expenditure of
another fifty pounds improved her wardrobe in the
requisite degree.

There could have been no concealment about the
marriage day, if any body had desired to keep it a
secret. All Durham knew of it ; and half Durham
longed to see the ceremony. The church was ftiU ;
and all the serious-minded people were impressed
by the providential circumstance that the Baron,
foreigner as he was, should be an episcopalian, as
naturally, to all appearance, as if he had been born
and brought up under the shadow of Durham
Cathedral. It was really remarkable that he was
neither Romish, nor Mohammedan, nor Jewish,
nor Pagan; but as sensible of the privilege of
beins: married at an Eno'lish altar as if he had
been a native Briton. Very serious and fervent
was his demeanour; and his vows were spoken so
that all present could hear. As for Agnes, she
was lonff the tradition of brides. Ac^nes Crosland

1 1- Tin: HKTDE.

at the altar was the ideal henceforth of all who
had seen her standing there. It was the more
impressive from its being supposed to be the last
that would be seen of the Croslands as a family.
They were leaving their house to-day, one and all.
The mother was to pay a round of visits among
relations and old friends, when she retui-ned from
Paris: and the young men somewhat anticipated
the time of their going to London, on account of
the breaking up of the household. The one hoped
to find employment in a warehouse which should
afford him bread, and the other had an ofier of
a small clerkship. That night the doors were
locked and the shutters closed by an old servant
who was to stay in the house till INIrs. Crosland
should decide whether to keep or sell the furniture.
Neither of the ladies had ever been at sea ; and
tlie crossing to Calais was to them the grand event
tliat it was to all the English who went to the
Continent just after the peace. The Baron was
more kind and gentlemanly than ever when his
companions were beyond the range of their expe-
rience, and glad to rely on his information and
guidance. There were others on board who thank-
fully accepted his advice about their travels, and

THE BllIDE. 15

his present good offices. Colonel Alnngdon and
his wife and daughters, who were also going to
Paris, made a speedy friendship with the Baron^s
party ; and it was soon arranged that they should
travel together, and take up their abode at the
same hotel at the end of their journey.

For nearly a month they enjoyed themselves
prodigiously. They went every where, and saw
every thing to the utmost advantage. Mrs. Cros-
land^s letters to her sons and friends were read
widely, and listened to with generous pleasure :
and the confidence which Agnes poured out to
the Morrises rejoiced their hearts. But this was
only for the first fortnight; for Mr. Morris was
suddenly called to the West Indies ; and his family
went abroad for a year, — to Germany for the
summer, and to Italy for the winter: so that,
before the honeymoon was over, Agnes had lost
access to her friends for a time. She was dis-
cussing with her mother one morning how long
it would be before she could have their address,
when her husband entered the room. He inquired
whether there was no chance of their friends being
induced to come to Paris before they decided on
their German resting-place ; and he talked and


questioned his wife so much about it that she
almost hoped lie might contrive to bring them.
He shook his head and smiled, saying that akis !
he could not do every thing, as his little wife
seemed to suppose. He had wished to satisfy
himself; and he was compelled to admit that
there was no chance of seeing the Morrises at
Paris. If they could resist the pleasure of coming
to witness the conjugal happiness they had created,
he must confess he did not see what temptation
could be proposed. What he now came in to
say, however, was that he expected two friends
to dinner to-day, — Prince Luberode and his son.
Dinner must be ordered for six o'clock; and he
hoped Agnes and her mother would be kind
enough to see the maitre d'hotel, and make him
understand that it was to be the best and most
carefully served dinner that the house could supply.
He hoped, if he might be allowed to say so, that
Agnes would dress well, and justify his choice in
the eyes of his distinguished guests.

When the arrangements were all made, he pro-
posed a sight-seeing morning, and laid out a
charming scheme. The Abingdons were gone to
Yei*sailles, and would not be back till night : so


tlie three went out together. It was a lovely
day at the end of ^lay, and Paris never looked
brighter. There could not be a better day for
pictures, the Baron observed ; and then it occurred
to him that the ladies micrht as well wait for him


in the Louvre Gallery as any where else, while he
went to the watchmaker^s close by. The watch-
maker had assured him he could make the old
watch go well again; and he would step in with
it now, as it was so near.

" Wait for me in the Louvre," said he. " Wait
till I come. I may have to go to another shop;
but I shall not be long. Wait tiU I come.'''

He turned back after he had left them, sapng,
'^ My love, just lend me your watch for a minute.
I want to show it to the watchmaker. No — not
the chain,'' he added, putting it back over her
head. "I don't want the chain."

Agnes unscrewed the swivel clasp, and put the
watch into his hand.

They waited long at the Louvre, and no known
face appeared. For two hours, Mrs. Crosland con-
tended with her daughter's uneasiness; but when
the clock struck the fourth hour, she was herself
in dismay. They supposed they must obey the


reiterated instruction, "Wait till I come;'' and
they could think of nothing to be done elsewhere ;
for they did not know the name of the watch-
maker, nor where he lived. At last it was
necessary to go home, in order to be dressed to
receive the Prince. It was not far to walk; and
this was well, as they coidd not hire a carriage.
The Baron believed it unsafe for ladies to carry
money in Paris, and had taken charge of their

At the hotel, nothing had been heard of the
Baron. So they declared at first : but the porter,
when questioned, said he had seen him come in
about one o'clock ; — that is, just when the ladies
were beginning to be uneasy at the Louvre.
Before this was ascertained, Agnes was certain
that he had been run over in the street, imme-
diately after parting with them ; and, choked with
terror, she ran up to her own room to be alone,
and consider what was to be done. The door of
her chamber was locked. Nobody had the key;
so it must be in the Baron's pocket. Mother and
daughter slmt themselves into llicir drawing-room,
and wept together on the sofa. Neither dared
to suggest that inquiry should be made at tlie


hospitals. Ill the midst of their sobs, the clock
on the mantelpiece struck half-past five. The
Prince would come in half an hour. In a sudden
rally of courage, Mrs. Crosland was certain that
the Baron would appear also. If he should have
been merely detained by business, as was no doubt
the case, what would he think of finding Agnes, —
instead of looking her best, as he had particularly
desired, — not dressed, and with swollen eyes !

In a moment, the obedient wife was giving
directions for her door, and that of her mother's
chamber, to be forced. She was in a fever of
impatience to bathe her eyes and be dressed. The
lock-smith was on the spot presently; but, when
the doors were opened, it appeared that every
drawer was locked, and the wardrobe, and all the
trunks. The hospitable host, who had been re-
joicing for nearly a month in his admu-able party
of guests, quitted his supervision of the table to
see what was going on upstairs. As drawers,
wardrobe and trunks were opened before his
astonished eyes, they turned out to be all empty.
Not an article of dress or use was left !

To the horror and disgust of Agnes, the police
was the next power called in. She could not
B 2


suggest any explanation : Lut not the less vehement
was her indignation that her husband, — her gen-
erous, considerate, noble, affectionate husband, —
should be suspected of any thing wrong. She
would appeal to the Prince, his friend. If they
would only wait till Prince Luberode could advise
them ! And she haughtily commanded the host
to take no further steps till she had seen the
Prince. The host compassionately shook his head.
As he foresaw, no Prince arrived. Nobody arnved
till the Abinsrdons retm-ned from Versailles, a little
before midnight. Agnes ran out upon the stairs to

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Online LibraryHarriet MartineauSketches from life → online text (page 1 of 8)