University of Virginia Library




“Je n'ai ni bien, ni rang, ni gloire,
Mais j'ai beaucoup, beaucoup d'amour.”

Martha Young, with the common feeling that a lawyer's
pen has some latent magic, had sought Lisle, in the hope
that a letter he should write might reach Jessie's mother
when all she had heretofore sent had failed. Turning, sorely
disappointed, from his door, she next sought and gained
admittance to Madam Copley, an old patron—patronage
being the word she selected to express her employment of a
capital sempstress, at moderate wages. But Martha was
meekly grateful; and Madam Copley entered the patronage
on the credit side of her spiritual records. Alas, for the
Madam Copleys; another hand than theirs must balance
their accounts.

If it be not a popular fallacy that mothers shape the
morale of their childrens' character, it may be well to give
a more expanded introduction of the mother of Horace
Copley. She was born of the privileged class—in our
medieval national life, when we confessed such a class—and
she had gone from youth to age erectly forward on a beaten
road. As a young woman, she was observant of precepts,
and proprieties. She was confirmed at the prescribed age,
and married at the right time, combining her position and
fortune with their exact equivalents. She had claimed
the honors of wifehood, and motherhood, and when, in


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process of time, she became a widow, she exhibited the
charities that the world holds to be the fitting garniture of
that condition. Her affection for her son had the exacting,
and intense quality of self-love. Even a mother's love, that
divine inspiration, is adulterated in a worldly spirit. But
Madam Copley was a model-woman, uniformly well spoken
of in life, and destined, at her departure, to be illustrated by
a long obituary, and an elaborate epitaph. The world is
very kind to its formalists; but “God is a Spirit, and they
that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit, and in truth.”

When Martha Young entered Mrs. Copley's formidable
presence, she was so paled and aged in the few months since
her patron had seen her, that she did not recognize her till
she had put on her spectacles. “Oh, it's you, Martha
Young, is it?” she said; “why, what's the matter, woman?
You may sit down.” The bend of the lady's very stiff neck
expressed her conscious condescension.

“Why, Madam Copley,” said Martha, sinking into a chair,
“there is not so very much the matter of me. I am not so
strong as I once was, and I am leg-weary; and I have just
met with a little disappointment.” She wiped away tears.
“Excuse me, madam, tears come without leave, now-a-days.
I think it's anxiety that's pulled me down so.”

“You should not indulge anxiety, Martha; you are a professing

“Oh, I know it's sinful, ma'am. I have always found it
true, that, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof—poor folks
a most part do. Anxiety was never my besetment, so
Satan takes me unawares. But, Madam Copley, when one
has helpless age on one side, a depending, and more helpless
youth t'other, and health is a failing, and strength pretty
much gone, so that one lies down every night, afeard next
day will be too much for them, why, Madam Copley, 'tis
not very pleasant, you know, ma'am,”


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Madam Copley did not know, and she had not those
ready sympathies that are a substitute for experience. She
looked at her watch, and rung the bell to order her carriage.
“I have no more time to spare, Martha,” she said;
“you know I never fail at morning prayers during Lent.
My housekeeper will give you a bundle of work, and here is
a dollar for you.”

“Oh, it is not that I am after, Madam Copley; thank God
I have not come to beggary, though I am every day a looking
for it.”

“What is it then you want? tell me quickly, Martha.”
Martha began rather confusedly far back in Jessie's story.
Madam Copley interrupted her. “My good woman,” she said,
“I have no time to hear any romantic story about a pretty
girl; they go for nothing with me, you know. I am connected
with so many benevolent societies, that I am quite
used to them, and tired of them. It's my duty I do, independent
of all circumstances,” and the lady bridled up her
head in conscious Roman virtue. “There's the carriage—
despatch, Martha, and tell me what you want.” Martha,
eager to gain her point, was frightened into directness and
brevity. She told Madam Copley how she had devoted the
last six months to teaching Jessie Manning the art and mystery
of her craft, how the neat-handed “little dear” had
profited by her instruction; how, feeling her own strength
over-taxed by the care of her father—now utterly helpless,
and fearing, each day, that they might both have no place
but the alms-house, she was desirous to place Jessie in a safe
position, and it had come into her mind somehow, that
Madam Copley, partly from charity, and partly that she
might “be a wanting more help than she had for sewing,
would take the poor little dear.” It so happened, that Martha
hit half the truth. Madam Copley intended to pass the
coming summer at watering-places; her sempstress was to


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be transferred to the place of lady's-maid, and Jessie would
opportunely fill the void. “Of course,” Madam Copley said,
“she should not choose a young and inexperienced girl, but
she was always one that sacrificed herself. The child would
not expect full wages?”

“Wages were no object,” Martha said; “it was kindness
the poor little dear wanted, and a home out of danger, and
all temptations.”

“For that, she could not do better than to come to me,”
interposed Madam Copley. “I discourage visitors, and
dress, and amusement, and every thing of the kind in my
servants, and always require them to be at morning and
evening prayers. Immediately after Easter we go to the
country, so you may send her to-morrow, Martha; it's providential
your applying to me just now.”

“I hope so, ma'am,” said Martha; but somehow the prospect
did not seem so cheering to her as to assume the aspect
of a providence, and she went away with so heavy a heart as
almost to warrant the belief that dark events do cast their
shadows before.

“It's hard giving up the little fluttering dove that I have
cherished, as it were, in my own bosom,” thought Martha;
but she presented the best aspect of the change to Jessie, and
reserved her tears and sighs for the night, and all night; and
the next week, Jessie went from the battered tenement,
where love was, to the splendid habitation of the self-righteous
Madam Copley, where it was not.

Mrs. Copley's family were removed the following week to
her beautiful country place on the Hudson. A little room
overlooking a garden, was assigned to Jessie—a garden of
Eden to her—fruits, flowers, fiend, and all. Baskets of
sewing for the whole summer, were profusely provided by
Mrs. Copley's maid, and industry enjoined by the mistress,
whom she only saw at morning and evening prayers, and


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who, on her departure for the summer, delivered herself of
a long lecture upon the duties of a servant to her employer.
The duties of the higher contracting party were left a

But Jessie was happy, never so happy. She breathed for
the first time in her life, the air of sweet blossoming spring
in the country. The wondrous volume of Nature was open
before her. The rapid processes of vegetation amazed her.
Every opening flower was to her the miracle it is; every
singing bird God's messenger. For weeks this new life was
an enchantment to her. She found time, and did her tasks
most dutifully, to wander over the garden, and along the
river-side in the early morning, or through the long summer
twilights, with her little spaniel frisking at her heels, and
she enjoyed all with the freshness of childhood, and the zest
of a newly-created spirit. After a while, the keenness of
novelty was dulled; she longed for companionship. She
thought much of her mother, and with little hope, but much
longing, wrote again and again to her. Fond thoughts
reverted to poor old Martha, and she would murmur aloud,
“I should like to spend a day again in that poor, dear, dark
old room, and sit down on my little bench at Miss Martha's
feet, and lay my head on her lap, and feel her dear old hand
patting it; hey, Beau, would not it be nice?” But Beau
fared sumptuously every day; fortune had corrupted him,
as it sometimes does his betters. He had grown lazy, and
luxurious, and he wagged his tail languidly.

“Oh, you naughty Beau,” said Jessie, “you arn't half
so lively, and loving, as you used to be, and I think my heart
is getting stony, living in this great, beautiful, lonely place.”

At this moment, Beau sprang up with a growl. It was a
sure token a stranger was near. Growl on, Beau, your
instincts are true! A stranger to Jessie and Beau was
there—Mr. Horace Copley, the future master of the place;


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and a very handsome, sweet-looking young gentleman,
Jessie thought, as she turned her startled look upon him.

“What a gem to be sparkling in this solitude,” he thought.
“I believe,” he said, in a gentle voice, “you are Mrs. Copley's—my
mother's sempstress? I am here for a few days
from Newport, where I left her; she desired me to inquire
for some linen you were to send her.”

From this moment, what a change came over the spirit of
Jessie's life-dream! What enchantments followed! What
a new and thrilling companionship! What stealthy rowings
by moonlight on the Hudson! What pretty gifts, ribbons,
'kerchiefs, rings, chains! What tender words! What
fond promises of `sweet breath compounded!' What caressing
of her pretty hands! What partings, and what meetings!
Newport no longer attracted Copley. In vain its beautiful
aspirants lamented his sudden passion for farming. In vain
was he reminded by messages from his fair fashionable
lovers of promises to be present at “yacht races, fancy balls,
and theatricals.” He came not; or if he came, it was for
a hurried day to talk to his mother of changes to be made
on the place, that no eye but his could oversee. Poor Jessie!
she, the while, like an unconscious child, was plucking
flowers on the brink of a precipice.

Madam Copley returned to her home in October, and on
the very evening of her arrival, Jessie, at her humble request,
was admitted to her presence. She was wan, pale,
and dejected, and wrapped in a shawl. Madam Copley
stared at her for a moment, uncertain if she were the girl
she had left. “Why, child!” she exclaimed, when she had
assured herself by a gaze at the lovely features, that it was
the same, “what ails you? what makes you so shaky? have
you had the chills?”

“No, madam,” said Jessie. The world was all a chill to


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“I am glad it is not that; I should be very sorry to have
chills and fever on the place. Neither I nor my son could
stand it.” This seemed an audible reflection of the prudent
lady. “Sit down, girl,” she continued. Jessie sat down;
she could not stand, for weakness and dread. “Stop that
dog's yelping!” Jessie opened the door and took up Beau,
who was vehemently pawing against it, and again sank into
her seat. “You must send away that animal,” resumed the
lady; “I never allow dogs here.”

“We are both going away, ma'am, please.”

“You going to leave! too sick to work?”

“I am, ma'am,” said Jessie, scarcely audibly. “My
month was up yesterday, and I think—I—I hope, I may be
better in the city.”

“You've no reason to hope any such thing. The country
is far better for you; but that's the way with you all—
crazy after the city! You may take two or three weeks to
recruit. John shall give you a ride now and then; there's
nobody more indulgent to servants than I am.”

“I wish to go, Madam Copley.”

“Oh, I dare say you do; but it's all nonsense. We shall
all go to town at Christmas; that's quite time enough.”
Madam Copley paused, and Jessie, making no reply, she resumed:
“You are too young to judge for yourself. Stay
where you are well off; I believe no one ever complained of
my want of liberality; you are very young, child, but I will
overlook that. I will raise your wages when you go back
to work.”

“I can not stay, ma'am,” replied Jessie. There was decision
in her very weakness, and Madam Copley yielded,
saying, after she had called to her maid to reckon up Jessie's
dues, and pay her, “You are all alike; you never know
when you are well off. Where will you get the privileges
you have here? and I wonder who will make you the offers


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I have.” Mrs. Copley's offers were based upon the conviction
that she had never had so neat-handed a sempstress as

She replied not a word, but took her wages meekly and
crept to her room, and when there, laid her head on Beau's,
and wept in agony till quieted by nature's great nurse.

As Jessie left the room by one door, Horace Copley
entered by another. He threw a piercing glance at his
mother, and then adjusting his cravat before a mirror, he
said carelessly, “Was that the little sempstress that left the
room as I came in?”

“Yes; she is to leave to-morrow.”

“Why? does she not suit you?”

“Yes, remarkably; but she is sick or fancies she is; it's
probably only a hankering for the city; and the city will, in
all probability, be her ruin. Satan lies in wait there for
pretty, thoughtless girls!”

This last trite remark met no response from Mr. Horace,
though it fell distinctly on his ear, as he was leaving the
room, humming an air from the last opera. He had attained
the object of his visit to his mother's apartment, ascertained
satisfactorily that there was nothing of a confidential nature
in her interview with Jessie. And the next morning this
little stray lamb went forth without one provision for her
future, or one pitying thought from the pharisaical woman
who kept on in her smooth path of self-complacencies to the
end. But that end must come, when those who touch not
the load of human sorrows with one of their fingers, are to
be judged by Him who says, `blessed are the merciful.'

At an appointed place, Jessie was met by Mr. Copley's
own man. She was startled and distressed by the alternations
of insolence and pity in his manner. He conducted her
in a carriage to a house in Mercer-street, where he introduced
her to the mistress of the house, a middle-aged


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woman, and there left her. She was then put into possession
of an apartment, and told that Mr. Copley had “provided
the needful for the future, and done every thing handsome
by her.”

Left alone, she gave way to tears and sobs; and having
cried till she felt relieved, she wiped away her tears and
made an effort to consider her present and her future with
all the little wisdom she had. Wisdom! she had none of it
beyond the instincts of a pure nature—never, perhaps, except
it were the lad Caspar Hauser, had a human being lived
in this world, with less acquaintance with it than Jessie
Manning. She had been betrayed by that very simplicity,

“Goodness that thinks no ill,
Where no ill seems.”

She knew she had loved—she believed she had been loved
—she knew she had been wronged—she feared she was deserted,
and mingling with, and embittering all, was a confused
sense of shame and degradation. A mere instinct of
self-reproach it was. Who, of all the world could have cast
the first stone at her?

“He promised to come soon to see me,” she thought;
“will he? God forgive me for wishing he should. I can't
help it, I can't help it! But what kind of a place is this he
has sent me to?”

She cast her eyes around the room upon the tarnished
gilding, the soiled embroidered curtains, fantastic French
vases, and faded artificial flowers. “I don't like it,” she
thought; “oh, if I could be in some little place, with but a
pillow to lay my aching head upon, far away from every
body, above all, from this bad-looking woman! But, perhaps
he will come, and when I hear his soft voice I shall feel
better. I ought not, God forgive me!”


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Jessie had a quick and nice perception of wrong—a delicate
sense, implanted by her Creator; perhaps developed
by the early teaching of her mother. We know not whence
it came—it was there.

One morning, after a frightful night of riotous noises in
the disorderly house, she meditated on a possible plan of
escape from it. Her abhorrence of her surroundings became
intolerable, her heart was wrung with anguish. “I can
not stay here,” she said, “I am afraid of every thing. I
can no longer bear the looks of that woman; her eye blisters
me. Oh, if I were only back to old times with Miss
Martha.” Her heart, for a moment, seemed to stop its beating.
“She would pity me, I know she would!” she exclaimed
aloud unconsciously, and unconscious even that
Beau, at the sound of her voice, sprang into her lap.

“She would pity me, and forgive me, and love me for all.
I will go to her; yes, Beau”—the little dog was looking wistfully
in her face—“we will go to her; we will leave this horrid
place, and this horrid woman. I have read that God
hears the ravens when they cry to him for food—oh, I am
starving for something more than food—surely he will hear

She sank on her knees and uttered a single cry for help.
That cry, we can not doubt, was heard and accepted, though
to human sense mysteriously answered.

She rose to her feet calmer, and more calmly surveyed
her present and her future. She took out her purse and
counted her lawful wages: the sum was small. “It will
help us, Miss Martha and me,” she thought. Then she took
a roll of bank notes, which Copley had slidden into her
hand at parting, and without looking at them, she threw
them into the grate, and as they vanished in the burning
coals—“Oh,” thought she, “that memory would but go
so!” A harder task remained. She unbuttoned her sleeve,


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turned it up, and unclasped from her arm a beautiful bracelet—“With
what smiles and kisses he fastened it there!”
she said, “oh, dear! oh, dear!” She then proceeded to
take a breast-pin from her collar—a serpent of gold and
enamel, with small brilliants for its eyes; she shuddered:
did it strike her as a symbol? and last, a delicate gold necklace
from beneath her neckerchief. She looked at the
charms attached to it, one by one, slowly, and for the last
time, and sighed as she thought she had looked at them
with him, when he explained them to her. She then put
them all into a mother-of-pearl box, which Copley had given
to her, and enveloping it in paper, sealed and directed it to
him, and left the parcel in a drawer of the bureau assigned
her. She then locked her trunk, and putting on it a
card inscribed “to remain till sent for,” she slid it into a
closet, out of sight, and ringing a bell, desired to “speak
with the lady of the house.” The person, so called by
courtesy, appeared, and when asked to send for a carriage,
as her lodger wanted to go out on some business, she replied,
in a manner that made poor Jessie more than ever eager to
go, “And could not you tell that to the waiter, without
sending for me? I am willing to treat you as a lady how-come-you-so?
but no airs of a real lady here!” It was
evident from the woman's inflamed cheeks that she, at the
moment, forgot the rich patron she was serving.

The carriage came, and Jessie directed the coachman to
Martha's number in Mott-street. She tottered up the steps
and entered the old dark familiar entry, followed by Beau,
who sprang up the stairs, and before Jessie could reach it,
was pawing and whining at Martha Young's door. It was
locked; Jessie knocked, and repeated the knock, and a
woman opened the next door, and said, “You want to look
at the room? I'll bring the key.” And so she did, before
Jessie could answer her, and unlocked and threw open the


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door. There was no living creature within. The old man's
bed was nicely made up; Martha's little cot beside it; that
hospitable table, to which the hungry had always had a welcome,
was placed in the middle of the room, with Martha's
little store of household linen, well preserved with darning
and patching, piled on one end of it; the rest was covered
with her old crockery, and small store of domestic utensils.
The drawers of her bureau were open, exposing her wearing
apparel and her father's, all neatly arranged. “You see,”
said the officious woman, who had unlocked the door, “it's
fixed for the auction, that comes off to-morrow morning.
After that, you can have possession, if you like the place.”

“But where,” asked Jessie, apprehensive and trembling,
“where is Miss Martha?”

“Miss Martha! landsakes! in heaven, child, she is. If
ever any body made a clear spring there, 'twas she!”

Jessie turned deadly pale, and gazed at the woman with
a sort of stupefaction. She went on: “Are you kin to her,
or friend to her, and did not know she and the old gentleman
died the same day?”

The shock and the disappointment were too much for
poor Jessie. She staggered into the room. It turned dark.
She endeavored to grope her way to the bed, and just
reaching it, sank fainting to the floor. The woman at the
door, according to the usage established among her compeers
of all ages, screamed a reveillé instead of quietly going
to Jessie's help; and the tenants of the rooms, up-stairs and
down, rushed out and crowded about the poor girl. Among
them was one who was a tenant of the house in Manning's
time, and who, at the first glance, recognized Jessie. “Lord
Almighty help us!” she exclaimed, “it's the old crazy man's
daughter—it's Jessie, it is! Stand back, women, all of ye
—open the window—she's dead faint! Och, Mrs. Flannagan,
ye mind how the poor old cratur, Martha, moaned after her,


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that last day—Oh, Mary, mother! help her, that she should
come back so. And 'twas her name that was last on ould
Martha's blue cold lips; and this is her own little doggy!”
and she patted Beau, who had recognized an old acquaintance,
and was frisking about her with noisy demonstration.
“D'ye know Maggy O'Brien, you loving brute you? Hist
—she's coming to herself—stand back, women! all of ye—
lave her alone with me a bit—go away—go away—all of

The women went slowly—one pitying or curious soul
lingered at the door. “Did ye ever, Maggy,” she said,
“look upon a living cratur, so like that picture of Mary
Magdalene, with her hair sweeping all about her, in the
cathedral at home?”

“Not a bit of it, O'Flanagan. She's young enough to be
the childer of it, and there's no look of by-gone sin in this
poor crater's innocent face.”

Jessie drew a long sigh, and O'Flannagan, at an earnest
motion from Maggy, disappeared, and considerately shut the
door after her. Jessie was bewildered. She looked up at
Mistress O'Brien, then around the room. A shiver passed
over her frame, and she said faintly, “What has happened?
Am I dreaming? Is this Miss Martha's room? Did they
tell me she was—was dead?

“Oh, no—it's no such tales they should be telling you
now. Don't you mind me—Maggy O'Brien, that lived in
the room next the ould people?”

Jessie did, at a second glance, recognize her, “Oh, yes—
thank God. It was you gave me the canary bird.”

“And faith do you mind that? So it was. And do you
mind how you nursed it? and so will I nurse you, if you
let me lay you in the clean little bed I keep for my own

Without waiting for assent or denial, she clasped her


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strong arms around Jessie, and laid her, in spite of all the
chances to the contrary, in a very clean bed, in a small, neat
room adjoining hers.

It was not long before the whole short story of Martha's
departure was told.

“From the day you left her, dare,” said Maggy, “it
seemed the poor ould soul's candle was going out. She
just edged on through the summer, wearing waker and
waker, and still stitching and stitching, when she had to
worry maybe a half hour to find the eye of her needle—
and always making every thing comfortable for the ould
gentleman, till this day week he dropped off, and she sunk
down like a stalk when you cut away the root of it. He
went in the morning, and she was after him before the sun
set. She had her reason to the last, and she sent for her
minister, and she called all the sinsible women in the house
—that's myself and Biddy O'Flannagan—to her bed-side;
and after he prayed with her, she told him she was ready
and happy to go; and she bid him to see she and her father
were dacently laid beside her ould mother. And then she
asked us would we make every thing ready for an auction,
so that her things might be sold, and all funeral expenses
paid; and then she would die as she lived, an honest woman,
quit of the world? And so she was, even to seeing that me
and Biddy was paid for our trouble, that she was as welcome
to as water. When all was settled and done, her brain got
cloudy, and one minute she'd pray to God, and it was a
word for herself and two for you, `Jessie!' `Jessie!' `little
dear!' till the breath was out of her.”

“Oh why were her dying prayers lost!” murmured poor

“Darlint, hush—maybe they'll turn up yet. That's just
what we can't tell—the why to any thing. But och,” continued
the good woman, after she had wiped the tears from


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Jessie's face, “it would have been a drop of comfort to you
to see her funeral. She, a poor lone old maid crater, as she
was, to be followed by brothers and sisters, and lots of
childer too, ye may call 'em—the prettiest funeral it was.
Loving souls all that followed her. No kin of hers—no
drop of her blood in the veins of them; but more than
kin, by her loving deeds to them. There was ould Sam
Farris, hobbling along on the crutches she bought for him
seven years ago, he said; and there was lots of young ones
that live hereabouts, that called her `Aunty,' that she used
to give peanuts to, and ginger-snaps, and so forth—and oh,
but she loved to please and humor 'em; and there was
Jenny McLane, grown up to a slip of a girl—widow
McLane's only one—that same Martha Young watched
with, years by-gone, night after night; and all the Lowry
family, that she staid with when they had the typhus—it
was there she got her first wakeness in her eyes; and poor
Sally Bird, the simple girl she took in, when her own people
cast her out, for Martha was tinder-like even to sinners.”

“Oh her heart was full of love and pity,” exclaimed

“Truth it was, child, and true mourners, with their
mouths full of blessings, followed her; and let the priests
say what they may, it's not Maggy O'Brien that thinks St.
Peter would turn his back on the like of Martha Young.”

Mistress O'Brien's sympathy naturally opened Jessie Manning's
heart to her; and in the course of the day she had
made known her sorrows and her wants. And the idea of
returning to her lodgings provided by Copley being perfectly
abhorrent to her, it was concerted between them, or
rather suggested by Mistress O'Brien, and acceded to by
Jessie, that the former, authorized by an order from Jessie,
should obtain the trunk containing her little all. Her present
asylum was to be kept a secret. Mrs. O'Brien proposed


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to obtain sewing for her, so long as she was able to do it,
from Martha's customers, whose names and residences she
knew. It would not have been so easy to have wrested the
trunk from the harpy in whose possession it was, but that
by opening it with one of her own keys, she ascertained
there was only very simple apparel in it, not the properties
fitting her establishment; and further, having espied the
parcel directed to Copley, she thought she might sequester
it, and leave him to believe his baubles were still in his victim's

And now, and for the present, we leave Jessie Manning
at not the most wretched epoch of her life.