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OF* MadKE^^

FL(K^CE Maw^







Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2009 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign











\All Rights reserved.^




Crown Zvo^ cloth, 35-. 6d.

At all Booksellers in Town and Country, and at all Railway Bookstalls.
MY SISTER THE ACTRESS. By Florence Marryat,
Author of ' A Broken Blossom,' ' Phyllida,' ' How They
Loved Him,' etc., etc.

PHYLLIDA. By Florence Marryat, Author of ' My
Sister the Actress,' 'A Broken Blossom,' etc., etc., etc.

THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. By Florence Marryat,
Author of ' Love's Conflict,' ' Phyllida,' ' A Broken
Blossom,' etc., etc., etc.

A BROKEN BLOSSOM. By Florence Marryat,
Author of * Phyllida,' ' Facing the Footlights,' etc., etc.

F. V. White & Co., 31 SoTitliampton Street, Strand.



♦SENT TO HIS DEATH ! '—a/z/'/Vzz/^^, . i


MERE, 93







HAD been dreaming of the
ghost, and was conscious In a
moment, and sitting up in bed.
Whatever I had thought of
Bessie's tiles before, I beHeved them now,
for I could distinctly hear the low, gasping
breath which follows an inordinate fit of
sobbing, drawn apparendy close to us.

* What time is it ?' I exclaimed.

* It is just three. I have been listening
to it for som.e time, but did not like to rouse
you till I was sure. Is the door locked ?'

' Yes ; but I will unlock it at once,' I
said, springing out of bed.

' No, no ! pray do not,' cried Bessie,
clinging to me. ' What are you doing ?
It might come into the room.'


2 * Se7tt to His Death ! *

* My dear Bessie, if it is a ghost, no
locks can keep it out ; and if it is not a
ghost, what harm can it do us by entering ?
Pray be reasonable. We shall never clear
up this mystery if we are not a little brave !'

I shook her oft", and approached the door,
whilst she rushed back to her own bed.

I confess that as I turned the key in
the lock I felt very nervous. Do what
w-e will, it is hard to accustom ourselves
to think lightly of communication with the
dead ; neither did I relish the idea of a
trick being played us in that lonely house
at dead of night. The light was burning
brightly in my room, but as I threw the
door open, the corridor seemed dark and
empty. I stood upon the threshold and
looked from right to left. What was that
white, tall shadow in the doorway of the
spare room .'*

I called out, * Who are you ? What do
you want ? ' The answer I received was
a quick sob and a rustle. Then I saw an
indistinct figure move down the passage
with a hurried step, and disappear some-
where at the further end.

Shall I confess that for all my boasted
strength I had not the courage to follow
it .'^ It was one thing to have stood on
the threshold of my lighted room and

'Sent to His Death!' 3

addressed the apparition, and another to
venture out into the cold and darkness in
pursuit of it. I retreated to Bessie's bed-
room instead.

' I have seen it ! ' I exclaimed. * I
believe that you are right, Bessie, and for
the first time in my life I have seen a
ghost. I meant to have followed it ; but
I really felt I couldn't. To-morrow night I
may have more courage. But hark ! what
is that noise ? Isn't it baby crying } '

* Never mind baby ; Mrs Graham will
attend to him,' said Bessie. ' Lock the
door again, Dolly dear, do, and get into
bed with me, or I sha'n't sleep another
wink to-nif^ht. I'm shakinor from head to
foot as it is.'

But the cries from baby's room became
more distinct ; and my courage had re-
turned to me.

* Let me go and see what Is the matter
with little Dick first,' I said, taking up the
lighted candle.

Bessie yelled at being kept alone In the
dark, but I could not have lain down again
without ascertaininqr what ailed the little
fellow ; so, disregarding her remonstrances,
I walked off to Mrs Graham's room. Her
door was unlocked, and I entered without

4 ' Se7it to His Death I '

The child was still cryin^^ lustily ; and
what was my surprise to find his nurse,
utterly regardless of the noise, sitting up in
bed, with scared wide-open eyes, talking

* Go away ! ' she was exclaiming in a loud
voice ; * Go away ! and don't come back
again. You let the water in each time you
open the door : I tell you we don't want
you ! Go away, I say, and doiit come back
again ! '

She halted for a moment at this juncture,
and I was about to waken her from what I
perceived was a nightmare, when she
suddenly clapped her hands before her eyes
and screamed.

* Ah, Heavens! a wave — a fearful wave
that covers the deck — that covers every-
thing. Where is he ? Where is he gone
to ? I have sent him to his death I
Edward ! Edward ! come back to me ! I
didn't mean it — I didn't mean it ! Ah !
Lord have pity on me.'

Her agitation was rising so rapidly, and
the baby was crying so violently, that I
thought it time to interfere.

* Mrs Graham!' I exclaimed, shaking
her by the arm, ' wake up. Don't you hear
the baby wants you .'^'

She turned her big eyes upon me in such

' Sent to His Death!' 5

a pitiful vacuous way. Then she re-
cognised me, and looked frightened.

' Have I been dreaming ? Have I been
saying anything ? Oh ! I am so sorry,
she said apologetically, as she caught up
the child and held it to her breast.

* You have only been talking a little in
your sleep,'' I replied soothingly ; * don't be
alarmed ; you said nothing out of the
common way, and there is no one here but

She did not answer, but as she held the
child I saw how her arms trembled.

' Your agitation is the worst thing
possible for the baby, you know ; and you
must try and calm yourself for his sake,' I

* I should be so sorry to hurt him,' she
murmured ; ' and I will try and not dream
again, if it is possible.'

' Shall I fetch you anything ? '

* Oh no, madam, thank you. The best
thing I can do is to go to sleep again.
There is nothing for me but sleep — and
prayer,' she added in a whisper.

I felt deeply interested in this young
woman. There was an air of patient
mournfulness about her that betokened
deep suffering ; and as I returned to my
room I resolved to do my best to be of use

6 * Sent to His Death ! '

to her. She so completely occupied my
thoughts, indeed, that I had forgotten all
about the ghost, till Bessie asked me how
I could possibly walk through the corridor
"with so composed a step.

' My dear, I was thinking about baby
and his nurse, and quite forgot to be
frightened. Yes, they are all right now,
and going to sleep again comfortably ; and
I think the ghost must have followed their
example, for certainly there were no signs
of its presence as 1 returned : so I think
\ve had better try to make up for our broken
rest by a few hours' sleep.'

Bessie was quite ready to do so ; but for
my own part I lay awake until the loiter-
ing dawn broke through the shuttered

Mr Maclean's absence was really, I
found, not to be prolonged beyond the two
niohts ; so I could write Dick word to
fetch me home on the following day ; but
I resolved, before I went, to have some
sort of explanatory conversation with Mrs
Graham, with respect to her dream of the
night before. I told nothing of it to
Bessie ; for I felt she would spoil every-
thing perhaps by her awkwardness in
handling the subject, or wound the poor
girl's feelings by too abrupt a reference to

• Sent to His Death ! ' y

her grief. But I watched Mrs Graham
leave the house at about eleven o'clock
to take her h'ttle charge out for his morn-
ing walk, and as soon as Bessie descended
to the kitchen quarters to give her orders
for the day, I put on my bonnet and shawl
and ran after the nurse. There was a
cold wind blowing from the north, and I
knew I should find her in the sheltered
shrubbery, where she had been told to take
the child. It extended for some distance,
and when I came up with her we were
quite out of sight and hearing of the house.

* A fine cold morning 1 ' I remarked, by
way of a beginning.

* Very cold, madam.'

* With the wind in the north. A nasty
day for the sea — I pity the ships in the

To this she made no response.

* Have you ever been on the sea, Mrs
Graham } '

* Yes ! once ! ' with a shudder.
' And did you like it ? '

* Like it ? Oh ! for God's sake, mad im,
don't speak of it, for I cannot bear the
thought even.'

* You were unfortunate, perhaps ? You
had experience of a storm } But the sea
is not always rough, Mrs Graham.'

t Sent to His Death ! ^

She was silent, and I looked in her face,
and saw the tears streaming down it.

* My dear girl,' I said, placing my hand
on her shoulder, ' don't think me unkind.
I have guessed somewhat of your history,
and I feel for you — oh, so deeply. Con-
fide in me ; my husband is a man of in-
fluence, and I may be of use to you. I
see that you are superior to the position
you hold, and I have conceived an interest
in you. Don't keep your sorrows locked
in your own breast, or they will eat out
your very heart and life.'

As I spoke she began to sob piteously.

* You are not doing right by this poor
little baby, nor his parents,' I continued,
by brooding over a silent grief. You will
injure his health, when perhaps if you will
tell us all, we may be able to comfort you.'

' No one can comfort me, madam ! I am
beyond all relief

' No one dare say that in this world,
which God rules accordinor to His will.
You cannot tell what solace He may hold
in the future for you.'

* I have no future,' she said sadly. * If
you think I am likely to injure this little
one,' pressing it tightly to her bosom, * I
am very, very sorry ; but to have some-
thing to love and care for, seemed to be


* Sent to His Death I ' 9

the only thing to prevent my going

' Mrs Graham, I don't wish to be im-
pertinently curious, but I want to hear
your story. Won't you tell in to me ? '

* If you do, you will hate me — as I hate

'I hardly think that possible. Of what
crime can you be guilty, to accuse yourself
so bitterly.'

* / am a imtrdei'ess ! '

She brouorht out the w^ords so vehe-
mently that I started. Was it possible
she spoke the truth ? And yet I had seen
in our gaol, such young andsuperior-looking
criminals, that I knew it might be possible.
My thoughts flew at once to her child.

' Was it the baby ? ' I cried. ' Oh ! my
poor child ! what drove you to such an
awful deed ? '

' Do you pity me still ? '
' I pity you with all my heart.'
' Ah ! madam ; you are too good.'
She trembled so violently that I had
taken the child from her arms, and as I
stood there in the wintry path, she sank
down upon her knees before me and kissed
the border of my shawl, and hid her face
in it and cried.

' Mrs Graham, I cannot believe it! '

I o * Sent to His Death ! '

* No! you need not believe It. In that
sense I did not kill m)^ child. God took
It away from me In anger ; but I sent Its
father, my dearly-loved husband, to his

' Sent him to his death ! '

' Ah, madam ! have pity on me and listen.
We had been married but six months, and
we loved each other, ah ! so dearly. He
was a clerk In a city firm, and his em-
ployers sent him over to Ireland on busi-
ness. We could not bear to part — we
went together. In order to return to
England we embarked In a small sailing
vessel, and we had a fearful storm in
crossing. The sea ran mountains high,
and the women on board were assembled
together In a deck cabin. The men to
whom they belonged kept looking In every
now and then to tell them how we were
getting on, and every time the door of the
cabin was opened, the sea rushed in and
wetted them. They grew impatient, I the
most of all ; and when my dear husband,
in his anxiety lest I should be frightened
at our danger, put his head In for the third
or fourth time I called out, saying, * Go
away, Edward, and dont come back again!
And he went away, and he never did come
back. Ah, Heaven ! have mercy upon me ! '

' Sent to His Death!' ii

* My poor girl ! how did it happen ?'

* He was washed off the deck, madam,
by a huge wav^e that nearly swamped the
ship — so they told me afterwards. But I
never saw him more ! The glimpse I had of
his bonnie face as it was thrust in at the half-
opened door, beaming with love and anxiety,
was the last glimpse I was ever to have in
this world — and 1 sent him to his death. I
said, ' Go away, and don't come back — and
he never came back!' — he never came back!'

Her erief was so violent I almost thoui^ht
she would have swooned at my feet. I
tried to direct her thouMits in another

* Have you no friends to go to, Mrs
Graham } '

' None of my own. madam. I was a
soldier's orphan from the Home when
Edward married me. And I could not go
to his.'

' How did you lose your baby ? '

* It died of my grief, I suppose ; it only
lived a few days. And then they advised
me at the hospital to get a situation as wet
nurse ; and I thought the care of an infant
mio^ht soothe me a litde. But my sorrow
is past cure.'

' You have bad dreams at night, I fear.*
' Oh ! such awful dreams 1 He is always

12 ' Sent to His Death !

calling me — calling me to go to him, and I
can find him nowhere ; or else 1 am in
the ship a^^aln, and see that which I never
did see — the cruel wave that washed him
from me ! '

* Do you feel strong enough to take the
child ao^ain ? '

She had risen by this time, and was,
comparatively speaking, calm. She held
out her arms mechanically. I put the baby
in them, and then stooped and kissed her
swollen eyes and burning forehead.

' I will not discuss this subject with you
further to-day,' I said ; ' but you have
found a friend. Go on with your walk,
child, and may God comfort you. I am
glad you have told m.e the story of your

I hurried back to Bessie, fearful lest she
might come in search of me, and insist
upon hearing the reason of Mrs Graham's
tears. There was no doubt of one thing
— another nurse must be found as soon as
possible for little Dick, and I must take on
myself the responsibility of providing for
his present one. But all that required my
husband's permission and advice, and I
must wait till I had seen and confided in

Bessie, w4io had discovered that, not-

* Sent to His Death / ' 13

withstanding my deplorable deficiency In
the way of children, I could cut out their
garments far better than she could do her-
self, had provided a delightful entertain-
ment for me in the shape of half-a-dozen
frocks to be made ready for the nurse's
hands, and the whole afternoon was spent
in snipping and piecing and tacking to-
gether. But I didn't grumble ; m.y mind
w^as too much occupied with poor Mrs
Graham and her pathetic stor)^ I thought
of it so much that the temporary fear
evoked by the apparition of the night
before had totally evaporated. In the
presence of a real, substantial human grief,
we can hardly spare time for imaginary

As bed-time recurred, and Bessie and I
locked ourselves into our stronghold, I
refused the half of the bed she offered me,
and preferred to retain my own. I even
made up my mind, if possible, not to sleep,
but to Vv^atch for the mysterious sounds,
and be the first to investigate them.
So I would not put out my candle, but lay
in bed readino- lonor after Bessie's snores
had announced her departure to the land
of dreams.

I had come to the end of my book, my
candle, and my patience, and was just about

14 * Sent to His Death ! '

to give up the vigil as a failure, when I
heard footsteps distinctly sounding along
the corridor. I was out of bed in a
moment, with my hand upon the lock of
the door. I waited till the steps had
passed my room, and then I turned the
key and looked gently out. The same
white figure I had seen the night before
was standing a little be}ond me, its course
arrested, as it would appear, by the slight
sound of unlocking the door.

' Now or never,' I thought to myself.
' Dick always says I am the bravest woman
he ever met, and I will try and prove him
true. Why should I be afraid '^. Even If
this is a spirit, God is over it and us,

So I stepped out into the passage, just
as I should sit down to have a tooth drawn.
The figure had recommenced walking, and
was some paces farther from me. I fol-
lowed it, saying softly, 'What are you?
Speak to me.' But it did not turn, but
went on, clasping Its hands, and talking
rapidly to Itself.

A sudden thought flashed across my
mind. In a moment I felt sure that I was
right, and had solved the mystery of
Poplar Farm. I placed myself full in the
path of the apparition, and as the end of

' Sent to His Death!' 15

the corridor forced it to turn and retrace its
steps, I met face to face my poor, pretty
Mrs Graham, with the flaxen hair she
usually kept concealed beneath her widow's
cap, streaming over her shoulders and
giving her a most weird and unearthly

* Edward ! Edward ! ' she was whispering
in a feverish, uncertain manner, ' where are
you ? It is so dark here and so cold. Put
out your hand and lead me. I want to come
to you, darling ; I want to come to you.'

I stretched out my own hand and took
hers. She clung to me joyfully.

'Is it you?' she exclaimed, in the un-
disturbed voice of a sleep-walker. ' Have
I found you again ? Oh, Edward ! I have
been trying to find you for so long — so
long, and I thought we were parted for

I drew her gently along to her own room
and put her in her bed, whilst she continued
to talk to me in the fond, low tones in
which she thought she was addressing her
dead husband.

Bessie slept through it all.

Of course I told her all about it next
day, and equally, of course, she did not
believe half what I said. She did not like

.16 ' Sent to His Death!'

the Idea of parting with her cherished
grievance In the shape of the ghost, nor
havinor the trouble of chanorintr her wet

o o o

nurse. So I left her, as soon as ever Dick
arrived, rather disgusted with the manner
in which she had received my efforts for
her good, but still determined to do what I
could in the way of befriending Mrs
Graham. As 1 told her the last thing,
when I ran up to the nursery to say good-
bye to litde Dick, and received her grate-
ful thanks in reply. * Only nothing,' she
said with a deep sigh, * could ever do her
any good In this world again.'

* But I'm determined to get her out of
Poplar Farm,' I said to Dick, as we drove
homeward, after I had told him this long-
winded story. ' She's killing the baby and
herself too. She ought to have a much
more cheerful home and active employ-
ment. Now, can't you think of something
for her to do about the gaol or the hospital,
like a dear, darling old boy as you are ? '

* Well, I don't quite see how you can
take Mrs Maclean's servant away from her
against her will, Dolly. If Mrs Graham
leaves. It will be a different thing ; but as
things are, I'm afraid you ought not to

I called him a wretch : but I knew he

' Sent to His Death /' 17

was right for all that, and determined to
take his advice and wait patiently to see
how things turned out. And, as it hap-
pened, I had not long to wait, for a week
afterwards I received this doleful epistle
from Bessie : —

' My dear Dolly, — I am perfectly
miserable ; nothing ever goes right with
me. Tom threw Charlie out of the wheel-
barrow yesterday, and cut his forehead
right across. He will be scarred for life.
And nurse has entirely spoiled those frocks
you were so kind as to cut out for Lily and
Bessie. She is so obstinate, she would
have her own way, and the children posi-
tively cannot get into them. But the
worst news of all is, that Mrs Graham is
going to leave me, and I have had to wean
baby, and put him on the bottle.'

' Hurrah ! ' I cried, ' it's all right. I shall
get that poor child here after all, and
be able to patch up her broken life.
No, I sha'n't, though,' I continued, as
I went on reading, and then, to my hus-
band's astonishment, I fell on his neck, and
burst into tears. ' Oh, Dick, Dick, Dick, I
am so glad ! '

'Halloa! what's up now?' said that


1 8 ' Sent to His Death /'

vulgar Dick, In his own way of expressing

' My darling, she's got him again/

' Who's got which ? '

* Mrs Graham's husband has returned.
He wasn't drowned, but let me finish the
letter,' and drying my eyes I went on —

* Just imagine how awkward and un-
pleasant for me. The other evening there
was an awful screaming in the kitchen,
and when I went down, I found Mrs
Graham fainted dead away in the arms of
a man. I was very angry at first, natur-
ally ; but when she recovered I found it
was her husband whom she thought was
drowned at sea three months ago. It seems
he was picked up insensible by some ship,
and taken to Spain, where he had a fever,
and was delirious, and all that sort of thing ;
and when he recovered, he worked his way
home before the mast, and had only just
found out where his wife lived. But I
think it is excessively unreasonable of
people to take situations, and say they're
widows, and then — '

' Oh, don't read any more of that rubbish,
for heaven's sake ! ' said Dick, irrever-
ently. ' The long and the short of the

Sent to His Death !


matter is, that the girl's got her man

* Oh ! I a7n so thankful ! ' I exclaimed,
with the tears still in my eyes ; I couldn't
help it, they would come. ' Poor child !
poor, desolate, heart-broken child! What
a heaven earth must appear to her to-day.
Dick, will you drive me over to the farm
directly after breakfast .^ I want to see
her and congratulate her.'

* You seem to take a vast interest in this
Mrs Graham, and her joys and sorrows,'
said Dick ; ' why is it, Dolly ? '

' Because I can sympathise with them so
deeply. Because — because — oh, Dick, you
know — because God has given me — you,
and I am the very happiest woman in all
the world.'



N the east coast of the county
of Norfolk, there lay a village
which shall be distinguished by
the name of Corston. It was
bounded on the one side by the sea, on
the other by the open country, and beside
the two or three gentleman farmers whose
possessions comprised all the agricultural
land within a radius of five miles, it could
boast of a church and resident parson — a
coastguard with its attendant officer, and
above all, close contiguity with Rooklands,
the estate of the Earl of Worcester. And
those who are acquainted with the moral
and social aspect, as it existed forty or fifty
years ago, of the more insignificant villages
of Norfolk, will acknowledge that Corston
was favoured above its fellows. The sea
coast in its vicinity brought many a gay

22 Lost in the Marshes,

riding party over from Rooklands, either
to enjoy the fresh breezes, or to bathe in
the sparkHng waves from some sequestered
nook, whilst the congregation of the church
was made up of drafts from some four or
five outlying hamlets which had not the
advantage of a place of worship of their
own. Conceive then what a much larger
audience the Corston parson could depend
upon, when the women had a prospect of
seeing the bonnets from ten miles round
(to say nothing of a chance of the Rook-
land aristocrats taking it into their heads
to drive out), in addition to listening to his
somewhat uninteresting sermons. The
coastguard, too, was a cause of constant
excitement, on account of the Admiralty
having been in the habit of bestowing the
appointment on old, worn-out, half-pay
lieutenants who chose to expire almost as
soon as they obtained it, and really, not-
withstanding the church and the parson
and Rooklands, there was not much in
Corston worth living for. But at the time
this story opens, the charge of the coast

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

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