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barely defray the funeral expenses, and clear off the few trifling debts incurred during her illness."
“ But,” enquired Mr. Yorke, “ have they no friends ? Did she not mention to any one what to do with the children ? Pray, who and what was she ?"
“ Bless me, Yorke, what a mass of interrogations ! I scarcely know which to answer first. As to who the unfortunate creature was, I can only tell you, her name is written Mary Blessington in two or three books that I found in
But as I was not called to her bedside until all earthly hope of saving her had vanished, and she was in a state of dreadful delirium, I was only the auditor of her painful and frightful ravings. I remained with her to the last, hoping for the recurrence of a lucid interval, to offer the comforts of religion, but in vain; she remained in a state of stupor for some hours previous to her death. The names of Eugene, and Father, were the only ones she pronounced ; and from what I heard her say, no clue can be discovered of her parentage. Therefore I wish you to assist me in deciding what is best to be done with the orphans.”
“ It is, indeed, a sad story,” replied Mr. Yorke, “ and seems, at present, wrapped in mystery; but I should think, my good friend, by examining the poor lady's papers, and questioning the servant, some light may be thrown on the subject.”
56 I trust such may be the case; though, I fear, much dependence cannot be placed on her knowledge, as it is only three weeks since the woman was hired; but we must hope for the best."
So saying, Mr. Camden opened a little wicket, and entered the cottage.
Well, Mrs. Dickson,” said the worthy man, 66 where are the little boy and girl?” 66 With their nurse, in the room above, my
Shall I call them down ?" “ Not at present, dame. I wish to know first, if you ever heard your late lodger say any thing about her relations; or where you think she came from ; for both Mr. Yorke and myself are anxious to place the children under the protection of their friends: their situation is most deplorable at present.”
Very true, sir. I am sure I would tell any thing I knew, for the advantage of the sweet
innocents; but the poor lady hardly spoke, the few days she was here before her illness. Each time that I saw her she looked worse and worse, and her eyes were red with weeping. Indeed, sir, I think it was grief which killed her; for the nurse says that she did nothing but cry all day, and night too — poor soul ! -- and press her children to her bosom, till she became lightheaded. Perhaps, gentlemen, you will go up and see the young woman yourselves; though I doubt if she can give you much information as to the lady's relations, for she never spoke about them.”
“ I think,” said Mr. Camden, turning to his two friends, “ we had better see the orphans.”
“ Certainly,” replied Mr. Yorke: “ we must also look at whatever papers may be found.”
They immediately ascended the cottage stairs, and entered a small but neatly furnished apartment, where, on the floor, sat the little girl and boy, who were playing together, happily unconscious of their destitute condition; while the servant was busily engaged in the next chamber, where lay the body of their deceased parent. The woman was, as Mrs. Dickson said, unable to furnish any materials for the furtherance of their benevolent object; and they turned to some papers, which they found enclosed in a case, as a last resource for its attainment. Every letter was carefully examined, which they thought likely to afford any information. All amounted but to five; of which, three were signed “ Eugene Blessington,” and breathed a spirit of ardent affection; that of the latest date appointed a place of meeting, where every thing should be ready for flight. Of the others, one was from a person announcing the death of the lady's father, and begging to forward his last farewell to her. The perusal of the brokenhearted parent's epistle was truly painful. A strong feeling of indignation and cruel injury was mingled with the affection and anxious grief of a father: at one moment, while writing, displeasure seemed to have predominated; while, at another, love for his mistaken daughter appeared to have overcome every sentiment. The letter concluded, by taking a last leave of his child, and assuring her of his full pardon for her offence.
“ This sad proof of a daughter's disobedience, and an old man's misery,” said Mr. Camden, when he had read it, “ was no doubt the cause of Mrs. Blessington's death; but the information we have gleaned being so very slight, I am perfectly at a loss to determine what is best to be done with the children."
“ The young man mentions his father in one place,” answered Mr. Yorke; “perhaps he might be found, and induced to take them under his protection.”
“I hope you may find it so, my dear,” said his lady; " but I fear there may be a doubt of it, as it appears the consent of the parents of neither party was gained to the connection. He particularly enforces the necessity of secresy, from fear of his father's displeasure.”
“ You are right, dear Fanny; but still we must use our greatest exertions to find where the elder Mr. Blessington resides; and if they fail, must strike out some new plan. The orphans had better remain here until after the funeral. What do you think to do, Camden ?”
“ Our proceeding,” returned he, “must depend, I think, on circumstances. I will take care that all due respect is paid here, if you will send to the village, where Mr. Ward (which, I think, is the name of the father of the deceased,) re