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child, and know little of myself."

"Was it Munday?" inquires the old man. Scarce has he lisped the name
before she catches it up and repeats it, incoherently, "Munday!
Monday! Munday!" her eyes flash with anxiety. "Ah, I remember now. I
was called Anna Munday by Mother Bridges. I lived with her before I
got to the den of Hag Zogbaum. And Mother Bridges sold apples at a
stand at the corner of a street, on West street. It seems like a
dream to me now. I do not want to recall those dark days of my
childhood. Have you not some revelation to make respecting my
parents?" The old man says the signs will not aid him further. "On
my arm," she pursues, baring her white, polished arm, "there is a
mark. I know not who imprinted it there. See, old man." The old man
sees high up on her right arm two hearts and a broken anchor,
impressed with India ink blue and red. "Yes," repeats the antiquary,
viewing it studiously, "but it gives out no history. If you could
remember who put it there." Of that she has no recollection. The old
man cannot relieve her anxiety, and arranging her hood she bids him
good night, forces a piece of gold into his hand, and seeks her
home, disappointed.

The antiquary's predictions were founded on what Mr. Soloman Snivel
had told him, and that gentleman got what he knew of Anna's history
from George Mullholland. To this, however, he added what suggestions
his suspicions gave rise to. The similarity of likeness between Anna
and Madame Montford was striking; Madame Montford's mysterious
searches and inquiries for the woman Monday had something of deep
import in them. Mag Munday's strange disappearance from Charleston,
and her previous importuning for the old dress left in pawn with
McArthur, were not to be overlooked. These things taken together,
and Mr. Snivel saw a case there could be no mistaking. That case
became stronger when his fashionable friend engaged his services to
trace out what had become of the woman Mag Munday, and to further
ascertain what the girl Anna Bonard knew of her own history.






CHAPTER XIX.

A SECRET INTERVIEW.





WHILE the scene we have related in the foregoing chapter was being
enacted, there might be seen pacing the great colonnade of the
Charleston hotel, the tall figure of a man wrapped in a massive
talma. Heedless of the throng of drinkers gathered in the spacious
bar-room, making the very air echo with their revelry, he pauses
every few moments, watches intently up and then down Meeting street,
now apparently contemplating the twinkling stars, then turning as if
disappointed, and resuming his sallies. "He will not come to night,"
he mutters, as he pauses at the "Ladies' door," then turns and rings
the bell. The well dressed and highly-perfumed servant who guards
the door, admits him with a scrutinizing eye. "Beg pardon," he says,
with a mechanical bow. He recognizes the stranger, bows, and motions
his hands. "Twice," continues the servant, "she has sent a messenger
to inquire of your coming." The figure in the talma answers with a
bow, slips something into the hand of the servant, passes softly up
the great stairs, and is soon lost to sight. In another minute he
enters, without knocking, a spacious parlor, decorated and furnished
most sumptuously. "How impatiently I have waited your coming,"
whispers, cautiously, a richly-dressed lady, as she rises from a
velvet covered lounge, on which she had reclined, and extends her
hand to welcome him. "Madame, your most obedient," returns the man,
bowing and holding her delicate hand in his. "You have something of
importance, - something to relieve my mind?" she inquires, watching
his lips, trembling, and in anxiety. "Nothing definite," he replies,
touching her gently on the arm, as she begs him to be seated in the
great arm-chair. He lays aside his talma, places his gloves on the
centre-table, which is heaped with an infinite variety of
delicately-enveloped missives and cards, all indicative of her
position in fashionable society. "I may say, Madame, that I
sympathize with you in your anxiety; but as yet I have discovered
nothing to relieve it." Madame sighs, and draws her chair near him,
in silence. "That she is the woman you seek I cannot doubt. While on
the Neck, I penetrated the shanty of one Thompson, a poor
mechanic-our white mechanics, you see, are very poor, and not much
thought of-who had known her, given her a shelter, and several times
saved her from starvation. Then she left the neighborhood and took
to living with a poor wretch of a shoemaker."

"Poor creature," interrupts Madame Montford, for it is she whom Mr.
Snivel addresses. "If she be dead-oh, dear! That will be the end. I
never shall know what became of that child. And to die ignorant of
its fate will - " Madame pauses, her color changes, she seems seized
with some violent emotion. Mr. Snivel perceives her agitation, and
begs she will remain calm. "If that child had been my own," she
resumes, "the responsibility had not weighed heavier on my
conscience. Wealth, position, the pleasures of society-all sink into
insignificance when compared with my anxiety for the fate of that
child. It is like an arrow piercing my heart, like a phantom
haunting me in my dreams, like an evil spirit waking me at night to
tell me I shall die an unhappy woman for having neglected one I was
bound by the commands of God to protect-to save, perhaps, from a
life of shame." She lets fall the satin folds of her dress, buries
her face in her hands, and gives vent to her tears in loud sobs. Mr.
Snivel contemplates her agitation with unmoved muscle. To him it is
a true index to the sequel. "If you will pardon me, Madame," he
continues, "as I was about to say of this miserable shoemaker, he
took to drink, as all our white mechanics do, and then used to abuse
her. We don't think anything of these people, you see, who after
giving themselves up to whiskey, die in the poor house, a terrible
death. This shoemaker, of whom I speak, died, and she was turned
into the streets by her landlord, and that sent her to living with a
'yellow fellow,' as we call them. Soon after this she died-so report
has it. We never know much, you see, about these common people. They
are a sort of trash we can make nothing of, and they get terribly
low now and then." Madame Montford's swelling breast heaves, her
countenance wears an air of melancholy; again she nervously lays
aside the cloud-like skirts of her brocade dress. "Have you not,"
she inquires, fretting her jewelled fingers and displaying the
massive gold bracelets that clasp her wrists, "some stronger
evidence of her death?" Mr. Snivel says he has none but what he
gathered from the negroes and poor mechanics, who live in the
by-lanes of the city. There is little dependence, however, to be
placed in such reports. Madame, with an air of composure, rises from
her chair, and paces twice or thrice across the room, seemingly in
deep study. "Something," she speaks, stopping suddenly in one of
her sallies - "something (I do not know what it is) tells me she yet
lives: that this is the child we see, living an abandoned life."

"As I was going on to say, Madame," pursues Mr. Snivel, with great
blandness of manner, "when our white trash get to living with our
negroes they are as well as dead. One never knows what comes of them
after that. Being always ready to do a bit of a good turn, as you
know, I looked in at Sam Wiley's cabin. Sam Wiley is a negro of some
respectability, and generally has an eye to what becomes of these
white wretches. I don't-I assure you I don't, Madame-look into these
places except on professional business. Sam, after making inquiry
among his neighbors-our colored population view these people with no
very good opinion, when they get down in the world-said he thought
she had found her way through the gates of the poor man's
graveyard."

"Poor man's graveyard!" repeats Madame Montford, again resuming her
chair.

"Exactly! We have to distinguish between people of position and
those white mechanics who come here from the North, get down in the
world, and then die. We can't sell this sort of people, you see. No
keeping their morals straight without you can. However, this is not
to the point. (Mr. Solomon Snivel keeps his eyes intently fixed upon
the lady.)

"I sought out the old Sexton, a stupid old cove enough. He had
neither names on his record nor graves that answered the purpose. In
a legal sense, Madame, this would not be valid testimony, for this
old cove being only too glad to get rid of our poor, and the fees
into his pocket, is not very particular about names. If it were one
of our 'first families,' the old fellow would be so obsequious about
having the name down square - "

Mr. Snivel frets his fingers through his beard, and bows with an
easy grace.

"Our first families!" repeats Madame Montford.

"Yes, indeed! He is extremely correct over their funerals. They are
of a fashionable sort, you see. Well, while I was musing over the
decaying dead, and the distinction between poor dead and rich dead,
there came along one Graves, a sort of wayward, half simpleton, who
goes about among churchyards, makes graves a study, knows where
every one who has died for the last century is tucked away, and is
worth six sextons at pointing out graves. He never knows anything
about the living, for the living, he says, won't let him live; and
that being the case, he only wants to keep up his acquaintance with
the dead. He never has a hat to his head, nor a shoe to his foot;
and where, and how he lives, no one can tell. He has been at the
whipping-post a dozen times or more, but I'm not so sure that the
poor wretch ever did anything to merit such punishment. Just as the
crabbed old sexton was going to drive him out of the gate with a big
stick, I says, more in the way of a joke than anything else:
'Graves, come here! - I want a word or two with you.' He came up,
looking shy and suspicious, and saying he wasn't going to harm
anybody, but there was some fresh graves he was thinking over."

"Some fresh graves!" repeats Madame Montford, nervously.

"Bless you! - a very common thing," rejoins Mr. Snivel, with a bow.
"Well, this lean simpleton said they (the graves) were made while he
was sick. That being the case, he was deprived-and he lamented it
bitterly-of being present at the funerals, and getting the names of
the deceased. He is a great favorite with the grave-digger, lends
him a willing hand on all occasions, and is extremely useful when
the yellow fever rages. But to the sexton he is a perfect pest, for
if a grave be made during his absence he will importune until he get
the name of the departed. 'Graves,' says I, 'where do they bury
these unfortunate women who die off so, here in Charleston?' 'Bless
you, my friend,' says Graves, accompanying his words with an idiotic
laugh, 'why, there's three stacks of them, yonder. They ship them
from New York in lots, poor things; they dies here in droves, poor
things; and we buries them yonder in piles, poor things. They
go-yes, sir, I have thought a deal of this thing-fast through life;
but they dies, and nobody cares for them-you see how they are
buried.' I inquired if he knew all their names. He said of course he
did. If he didn't, nobody else would. In order to try him, I desired
he would show me the grave of Mag Munday. He shook his head, smiled,
muttered the name incoherently, and said he thought it sounded like
a dead name. 'I'll get my thinking right,' he pursued, and
brightening up all at once, his vacant eyes flashed, then he touched
me cunningly on the arm, and with a wink and nod of the head there
was no mistaking, led the way to a great mound located in an obscure
part of the graveyard - "

"A great mound! I thought it would come to that," sighs Madame
Montford, impatiently.

"We bury these wretched creatures in an obscure place. Indeed,
Madame, I hold it unnecessary to have anything to distinguish them
when once they are dead. Well, this poor forlorn simpleton then sat
down on a grave, and bid me sit beside him. I did as he bid me, and
soon he went into a deep study, muttering the name of Mag Munday the
while, until I thought he never would stop. So wild and wandering
did the poor fellow seem, that I began to think it a pity we had not
a place, an insane hospital, or some sort of benevolent institution,
where such poor creatures could be placed and cared for. It would be
much better than sending them to the whipping-post - "

"I am indeed of your opinion-of your way of thinking, most
certainly," interpolates Madame Montford, a shadow of melancholy
darkening her countenance.

"At length, he went at it, and repeated over an infinite quantity of
names. It was wonderful to see how he could keep them all in his
head. 'Well, now,' says he, turning to me with an inoffensive laugh,
'she ben't dead. You may bet on that. There now!' he spoke, as if
suddenly becoming conscious of a recently-made discovery. 'Why, she
runned wild about here, as I does, for a time; was abused and
knocked about by everybody. Oh, she had a hard time enough, God
knows that.' 'But that is not disclosing to me what became of her,'
says I; 'come, be serious, Graves.' (We call him this, you see,
Madame, for the reason that he is always among graveyards.) Then he
went into a singing mood, sang two plaintive songs, and had sung a
third and fourth, if I had not stopped him. 'Well,' he says, 'that
woman ain't dead, for I've called up in my mind the whole graveyard
of names, and her's is not among them. Why not, good gentleman, (he
seized me by the arm as he said this,) inquire of Milman Mingle, the
vote-cribber? He is a great politician, never thinks of poor
Graves, and wouldn't look into a graveyard for the world. The
vote-cribber used to live with her, and several times he threatened
to hang her, and would a hanged her-yes, he would, sir-if it hadn't
a been for the neighbors. I don't take much interest in the living,
you know. But I pitied her, poor thing, for she was to be pitied,
and there was nobody but me to do it. Just inquire of the
vote-cribber.' I knew the simpleton never told an untruth, being in
no way connected with our political parties."

"Never told an untruth, being in no way connected with our political
parties!" repeats Madame Montford, who has become more calm.

"I gave him a few shillings, he followed me to the gate, and left me
muttering, 'Go, inquire of the vote-cribber.'"

"And have you found this man?" inquires the anxious lady.

"I forthwith set about it," replies Mr. Snivel, "but as yet, am
unsuccessful. Nine months during the year his residence is the
jail - "

"The jail!"

"Yes, Madame, the jail. His profession, although essential to the
elevation of our politicians and statesmen, is nevertheless
unlawful. And he being obliged to practice it in opposition to the
law, quietly submits to the penalty, which is a residence in the old
prison for a short time. It's a nominal thing, you see, and he has
become so habituated to it that I am inclined to the belief that he
prefers it. I proceeded to the prison and found he had been
released. One of our elections comes off in a few days. The approach
of such an event is sure to find him at large. I sought him in all
the drinking saloons, in the gambling dens, in the haunts of
prostitution-in all the low places where our great politicians most
do assemble and debauch themselves. He was not to be found. Being of
the opposite party, I despatched a spy to the haunt of the committee
of the party to which he belongs, and for which he cribs. I have
paced the colonnade for more than an hour, waiting the coming of
this spy. He did not return, and knowing your anxiety in the matter
I returned to you. To-morrow I will seek him out; to-morrow I will
get from him what he knows of this woman you seek.

"And now, Madame, here is something I would have you examine." (Mr.
Snivel methodically says he got it of McArthur, the antiquary.) "She
made a great ado about a dress that contained this letter. I have no
doubt it will tell a tale." Mr. Snivel draws from his breast-pocket
the letter found concealed in the old dress, and passes it to Madame
Montford, who receives it with a nervous hand. Her eyes become fixed
upon it, she glances over its defaced page with an air of
bewilderment, her face crimsons, then suddenly pales, her lips
quiver-her every nerve seems unbending to the shock. "Heavens! has
it come to this?" she mutters, confusedly. Her strength fails her;
the familiar letter falls from her fingers. For a few moments she
seems struggling to suppress her emotions, but her reeling brain
yields, her features become like marble, she shrieks and swoons ere
Mr. Snivel has time to clasp her in his arms.






CHAPTER XX.

LADY SWIGGS ENCOUNTERS DIFFICULTIES ON HER ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK.





A PLEASANT passage of sixty hours, a good shaking up at the hands of
that old tyrant, sea-sickness, and Lady Swiggs finds the steamer on
which she took passage gliding majestically up New York Bay. There
she sits, in all her dignity, an embodiment of our decayed chivalry,
a fair representative of our first families. She has taken up her
position on the upper deck, in front of the wheel house. As one
after another the objects of beauty that make grand the environs of
that noble Bay, open to her astonished eyes, she contrasts them
favorably or unfavorably with some familiar object in Charleston
harbor. There is indeed a similarity in the conformation. And though
ours, she says, may not be so extensive, nor so grand in its
outlines, nor so calm and soft in its perspective, there is a more
aristocratic air about it. Smaller bodies are always more select and
respectable. The captain, to whom she has put an hundred and one
questions which he answers in monosyllables, is not, she thinks, so
much of a gentleman as he might have been had he been educated in
Charleston. He makes no distinction in favor of people of rank.

Lady Swiggs wears that same faded silk dress; her black crape
bonnet, with two saucy red artificial flowers tucked in at the side,
sits so jauntily; that dash of brown hair is smoothed so exactly
over her yellow, shrivelled forehead; her lower jaw oscillates with
increased motion; and her sharp, gray eyes, as before, peer
anxiously through her great-eyed spectacles. And, generous reader,
that you may not mistake her, she has brought her inseparable
Milton, which she holds firmly grasped in her right hand. "You have
had a tedious time of it, Madam," says a corpulent lady, who is
extensively dressed and jewelled, and accosts her with a familiar
air. Lady Swiggs says not so tedious as it might have been, and
gives her head two or three very fashionable twitches.

"Your name, if you please?"

"The Princess Grouski. My husband, the Prince Grouski," replies the
corpulent lady, turning and introducing a fair-haired gentleman,
tall and straight of person, somewhat military in his movements, and
extremely fond of fingering his long, Saxon moustache. Lady Swiggs,
on the announcement of a princess, rises suddenly to her feet, and
commences an unlimited number of courtesies. She is, indeed, most
happy to meet, and have the honor of being fellow-voyager with their
Royal Highnesses-will remember it as being one of the happiest
events of her life, - and begs to assure them of her high esteem. The
corpulent lady gives her a delicate card, on which is described the
crown of Poland, and beneath, in exact letters, "The Prince and
Princess Grouski." The Prince affects not to understand English,
which Lady Swiggs regrets exceedingly, inasmuch as it deprives her
of an interesting conversation with a person of royal blood. The
card she places carefully between the leaves of her Milton, having
first contemplated it with an air of exultation. Again begging to
thank the Prince and Princess for this mark of their distinguished
consideration, Lady Swiggs inquires if they ever met or heard of Sir
Sunderland Swiggs. The rotund lady, for herself and the prince,
replies in the negative. "He was," she pursues, with a sigh of
disappointment, "he was very distinguished, in his day. Yes, and I
am his lineal descendant. Your highnesses visited Charleston, of
course?"

"O dear," replies the rotund lady, somewhat laconically, "the
happiest days of my life were spent among the chivalry of South
Carolina. Indeed, Madam, I have received the attention and honors of
the very first families in that State."

This exclamation sets the venerable lady to thinking how it could be
possible that their highnesses received the attentions of the first
families and she not know it. No great persons ever visited the
United States without honoring Charleston with their presence, it
was true; but how in the world did it happen that she was kept in
ignorance of such an event as that of the Prince and Princess paying
it a visit. She began to doubt the friendship of her distinguished
acquaintances, and the St. Cecilia Society. She hopes that should
they condescend to pay the United States a second visit, they will
remember her address. This the rotund lady, who is no less a person
than the distinguished Madame Flamingo, begs to assure her she will.

Let not this happy union between Grouski and the old hostess,
surprise you, gentle reader. It was brought about by Mr. Snivel, the
accommodation man, who, as you have before seen, is always ready to
do a bit of a good turn. Being a skilful diplomatist in such
matters, he organized the convention, superintended the wooing, and
for a lusty share of the spoils, secured to him by Grouski, brought
matters to an issue "highly acceptable" to all parties. A sale of
her palace of licentiousness, works of art, costly furniture, and
female wares, together with the good will of all concerned, (her
friends of the "bench and bar" not excepted,) was made for the nice
little sum of sixty-seven thousand dollars, to Madame Grace Ashley,
whose inauguration was one of the most gorgeous fЋЖtes the history of
Charleston can boast. The new occupant was a novice. She had not
sufficient funds to pay ready money for the purchase, hence Mr.
Doorwood, a chivalric and very excellent gentleman, according to
report, supplies the necessary, taking a mortgage on the
institution, which proves to be quite as good property as the Bank,
of which he is president. It is not, however, just that sort of
business upon which an already seared conscience can repose in
quiet, hence he applies that antidote too frequently used by
knaves-he never lets a Sunday pass without piously attending church.

The money thus got, through this long life of iniquity, was by
Madame Flamingo handed over to the Prince, in exchange for his heart
and the title she had been deluded to believe him capable of
conferring. Her reverence for Princes and exiled heroes, (who are
generally exiled humbugs,) was not one jot less than that so
pitiably exhibited by our self-dubbed fashionable society all over
this Union. It may be well to add, that this distinguished couple,
all smiling and loving, are on their way to Europe, where they are
sure of receiving the attentions of any quantity of "crowned heads."
Mr. Snivel, in order not to let the affair lack that eclat which is
the crowning point in matters of high life, got smuggled into the
columns of the highly respectable and very authentic old "Courier,"
a line or two, in which the fashionable world was thrown into a
flutter by the announcement that Prince Grouski and his wealthy
bride left yesterday, en route for Europe. This bit of gossip the
"New York Herald" caught up and duly itemised, for the benefit of
its upper-ten readers, who, as may be easily imagined, were all on
tip-toe to know the address of visitors so distinguished, and leave
cards.

Mrs. Swiggs has (we must return to her mission) scarcely set foot on
shore, when, thanks to a little-headed corporation, she is fairly
set upon by a dozen or more villanous hack-drivers, each dangling
his whip in her face, to the no small danger of her bonnet and
spectacles. They jostle her, utter vile imprecations, dispute for
the right of carrying her, each in his turn offering to do it a
shilling less. Lady Swiggs is indeed an important individual in the
hands of the hack-drivers, and by them, in a fair way of being torn
to pieces. She wonders they do not recognize her as a distinguished
person, from the chivalric State of South Carolina. The captain is
engaged with his ship, passengers are hurrying ashore, too anxious
to escape the confinement of the cabin; every one seems in haste to



Online LibraryF. Colburn AdamsJustice in the By-Ways, a Tale of Life → online text (page 14 of 29)