Chapter 6

 The ensuing day, the Captain arrived in a certain city, and put up at the sign of the Indian Queen. Taking a day or two to refresh himself, and get a new pair of breeches made, and his coat mended, which was a little worn at the elbows, he went to look about the city. The fourth day, when he had proposed to set out to perambulate this modern Babylon, and called for Teague to bring him his boots, there was no Teague there. The hostler being called, with whom he used to sleep, informed, that he had disappeared the day before. The Captain was alarmed: and from the recollection of former incidents, began to enquire if there were any elections going on at that time. As it so happened, there was one that very day. Thinking it probable the bog-trotter, having still a hankering after an appointment, might offer himself on that occasion, he set out to the place where the people were convened, to see if he could discover Teague amongst the candidates. He could see nothing of him; and though he made enquiry, he could hear no account. But the circumstance of the election drawing his attention for some time he forgot Teague.

The candidates were all remarkably pot-bellied; and waddled in their gait. The Captain enquiring what were the pretensions of these men to be elected; he was told, that they had all stock in the funds, and lived in brick buildings; and some of them entertained fifty people at a time, and eat and drank abundantly; and, living an easy life, and pampering their appetites, they had swollen to this size.

It is a strange thing said the Captain, that in the country, in my route, they would elect no one but a weaver, or a whiskey distiller; and here none but fat swabs, that guzzle wine, and smoke segars. It was not so in Greece, where Phocian came with his plain coat, from his humble dwelling, and directed the counsels of the people; or in Rome, where Cincinnatus was made dictator from the plough. Something must be wrong, where the inflate, and the pompous are the objects of choice; though there is one good arising from it, that there is no danger of my Teague here. He could not afford to give a dinner; and as to funds, he has not a single shilling in them. They will make him neither mayor nor legislator in this city.

Na faith, said Mr. M’Donald, the Scotch gentleman, who had been present at the embarrassment of the Captain, on the occasion of the former election, and having, a few days before, come to the city, and observing the Captain in the crowd, had come up to him, just as he was uttering these last words to himself: Na faith, said he, there is na danger of Teague here, unless he had his scores o’ shares in the bank; and was in league with the brokers, and had a brick house at his hurdies, or a ship or twa on the stocks. A great deal used to be done, by employing advocates with the tradesmen, to listen to the news, and tell them fair stories; but all is now lost in substantial interest, and the funds command every thing. Besides, this city is swarming with Teagues, and O’Regans, and O’Brians, and O’Murphys, and O’Farrels; I see, that they cannot be at a loss without your bog-trotter.

The Captain having his fears eased, in this particular, returned home, greatly troubled, nevertheless, that he could not come up with the Irishman.

Reflecting with himself, that Teague was addicted to women, and that he might have gone to some of those houses, which are not in the best repute with the religious part of the community, the Captain thought it might not be amiss to make enquiry. Being informed by the waiter, that he had overheard gentlemen at the house, in their cups, speak of a certain Mrs. Robeson, who kept a house of that kind; and as far as he could understand, it was in such a part of the city, a few doors from such a street; the Captain having set out, and coming into the neighbourhood and making enquiry, was directed to the house. Knocking, and on a servant coming to the door, enquiring for Mrs. Robeson, he was shown into a parlour, and in a little time the old lady entered. Being seated he took the liberty of addressing her: Madam, said he, I am not unacquainted with the stile and designation of your house. --Why as to that, said she, we do the best we can; but the times are hard, and it is a very difficult thing to pick up a good looking healthy girl, now-a-days. So many young women, since the war is over, having taken to virtuous ways, and got married, has almost broke us up. But I have been fortunate enough to light upon one, yesterday, that is a rare piece, just from the country; and I am sure---

It is not in the way that you mean, madam, said the Captain, that I take the liberty to call upon you. I have a servant man, of the name of Teague O’Regan, that is fond of women, and has been absent some days; and it has occurred to me, that he may have come to your house, or some other of the like kind; and may be skulking, to avoid my service. As he has little or no money, it is impossible he can be much in your way, and I could make it better worth your while to inform on him, and surrender him up.

Teague O’Regan! said the old lady, snuffing; Teague O’Regan! I would have you know, sir, that no Teague O’Regans come here; we keep a house for the first gentlemen, not for waiters or under strappers, or any of the common sorts. There is no half crown, or five shilling pieces here. Teague O’Regan indeed! there is no Teague O’Regan at this house. We have meat for his master. I was saying there was a young woman just now from the country, that looks more like a woman of family, than a country girl; but is so melancholy and mopish, that she scarcely speaks, and stands in need of some one to talk to her, and keep her in spirits. She is fit for any gentleman. Teague O’Regan! Humph! There is no Teague O’Regan puts his foot into my door.

The Captain assured her, that he by no means meant to give offence. That though the bog-trotter could not have access to her first rooms; yet he did not know but he might have got in with some of her under maids, and be about the kitchen.

The lady, being now appeased on the score of Teague, was in a good humour, and renewed her hints to the Captain, with respect to the young woman. She is, said she, as good a looking girl as ever came to my house; and has not seen a single person but yourself, whom she has not yet seen: but may see, if you chuse; and a very pretty girl she is; but keeps mopish and melancholy, as if she had been crossed in love, and had come to town for fear of her relations, and wishes to keep out of sight of every body.

The Captain being no stranger to the art these matrons use in their addresses, to enhance the value of their wares was but little moved with the recommendation she had given. But as there were some circumstances in the account of the young woman, that were a little striking, his curiosity was excited to let her be called in, and present herself. Accordingly, the old lady stepping out, a young woman made her appearance, of considerable beauty; but in her countenance, expressions of woe. Her blue eye seemed involved in mist; for she shed no tears; her sorrow was beyond that.

Young woman, said the Captain, it is easy to perceive that you have not been in this way of life long; and that you have been brought to it, perhaps, by some uncommon circumstances. My humanity is interested; and it occurs to me to ask, by what means it has come to pass.

The part which he seemed to take in her distress, inspiring her with confidence; and being requested by him to relate her story frankly, she began as follows:

My father, lives at the distance of about twenty miles from this city, and is a man of good estate. I have two brothers, but no sisters. My mother dying when I was at the age of fourteen, I became house-keeper for the family.

There was a young man that used to come to the same church to which we went. He was of the very lowest class, mean in his appearance, of homely features, and a diminutive person. Yet he had the assurance to put himself in my way, on every occasion, endeavouring to catch my eye, for he did not dare to speak to me. But I hated him, and was almost resolved to stay at home on Sundays to avoid him; for he began to be very troublesome. His attentions to me were taken notice of by my brothers. They were confident that I must give him some encouragement, or he would not make such advances. My father was of the same opinion. I assured them I had never given him any encouragement, and I never would; that I was as much averse to him as possible.

I shunned him and hated him. He persisted a long time, almost two years, and seemed to become melancholy, and at last went away from the neighbourhood; and, as I heard afterwards, to sea. I began now to reflect upon his assiduity and endeavours to engage my affections. I recollected every circumstance of his conduct towards me, since the first time I was obliged to take notice of him. I reasoned with myself, that it was no fault of his, if his family was low; and if he himself had not all that comeliness of person which I wished in a husband; yet he was sufficiently punished in his presumption in thinking of me, by what he must have suffered, and by his going to sea, which he did to get out of my sight, finding his attempts to gain my affections hopeless. I dreamed of him; and scarcely a moment of the day passed, but my thoughts were running on the dangers to which he was exposed. It seemed to me that if he came back, I should be more kind to him. I might at least show him that I was not insensible of his attachment.

In about a year he returned and the moment I saw him I loved him. He did not dare to come to my father’s house. But I could not help giving him encouragement by my countenance, when I met him in public. Emboldened by this, he at last ventured to speak to me, and I agreed that he might come to a peach orchard at some distance from my father’s house and that I would give him an interview. There he came often, and with a most lowly and humble behaviour, fixed my regard for him. Not doubting the violence of his love for me, and my ascendency over him, I at last put myself in his power. Becoming pregnant, I hinted marriage, but what was my astonishment to find that, on various pretences, he evaded it, and as I became more fond, he became more cold, which had no other effect, than to make me more ardent than before. It had been usual for many months to meet me every evening at this place, but now I had gone often, and did not find him there. At last he withdrew altogether, and I heard he had left the settlement. Worthless and base as I now know him to be and though my reason told me, that in person he was still as homely as I first thought him, yet I continued to love him to distraction.

What was my distress, when my father, and my brothers, found that I was with child! They charged me, though unjustly, of having deceived them with respect to my attachment to this low creature; from the first: In fine, my father dismissed me from the house. My brothers, no less relenting than him in their resentment against me, upbraided me with the offers I had refused, and the treatment I had given several gentlemen, in their advances to me. For, indeed, during the absence of this worthless man, I had been addressed by several; but my pity and compassion for the wretch, had so wrought upon me, that I could not think of any, or scarcely bear them to speak to me.

Dismissed from my father’s house, even my younger brother, who was most soft and yielding in his nature, seeming to approve of it, I went to the habitation of a tenant of my father; there remained some time, and endeavoured to make compensation by the labour of my hands, for the trouble I was giving them. --But these poor people, thinking my father would relent, had informed him where I was, and of the care they had taken of me. The consequence was, that, at the end of three months, he sent for the child, of which I had been brought to bed some weeks before; but ordered them instantly to dismiss me, that I might never more offend his hearing with my name.

I wandered to this city, and the first night lay in the market-house upon a bench. The next morning mixed with the women that came to market, and enquired for work of any kind: I could find none; but at last meeting with a young woman who felt for my distress, she told me that she had a small room in this city, where she had lived some time with an aunt that was lately dead, and that now she supported herself by doing a little in the millinary way; that if I would come and take breakfast with her, and see where she lived, I was welcome. Going with the poor girl, I found her lonely and distressed enough. --Nevertheless I continued with her several months: but the work was small that we got to do, and times becoming still worse, I was obliged to sell the clothes that I brought with me, to the last petticoat and short gown, to support ourselves and pay rent. To bring me to the last stage of misery, the poor girl, who was more expert than I was, in making any little provision that could be made, fell sick, and in a short time died. I could bear to stay no longer in the room, and coming out to wander in the streets, like a forlorn wretch indeed, and sobbing sorely by myself, when I thought no one heard me, I was observed by this woman, at whose house you now are, and pressed by her to go home. I soon found what sort of a house it was, and had I not been watched, when I talked of going away, and threatened to be sent to jail, for what it is pretended I owe since I came to the house, I should not have been here longer than the first day.

The Captain feeling with great sensibility the circumstances of her story, made reply: Said he, young woman, I greatly commiserate your history and situation, and feel myself impelled to revenge your wrong. But the villain who has thus injured you, is out of my reach, in two respects: first, by distance; and second, being too contemptible and base to be pursued by my resentment even on your account. But revenge is not your object, but support and restoration to your friends, and the good opinion of the world. As to money, it is not in my power to advance you any great sum; but as far as words can go, I could wish to serve you: not words to yourself only, but to others in your behalf. It is evident to me, that you have suffered by your own too great sensibility. It was humanity and generosity, that engaged you in his favour. It was your imagination that gave those attractions to his vile and uncomely person, by which you was seduced. You have been a victim to your own goodness, and not to his merit. The warmth of your heart has overcome the strength of your judgment; and your prudence has been subdued by your passion; or, rather, indeed, confiding in a man whom you had saved from all the pains and heart-felt miseries of unsuccessful hope, you have become a sacrifice to your compassion and tenderness. The best advice I can give you is, to compose yourself for this night. --Preserve your virtue; for I do not consider you as having lost it: your mind has not been in fault, or contaminated. I will endeavour to find out some person who may be disposed to assist you; and though it may be difficult for you yet to establish lost fame, it is not impossible. So saying, he left the room; but the young woman, impressed with these last words especially, viz. the difficulty, if not impossibility of regaining reputation, sunk down upon her chair, and could not pay him the compliment of thanks at his departure.

During the night, through the whole of which he lay awake, at the public house, he ruminated on the extraordinary nature of this incident, and the means which he would adopt to recover this woman from her unfortunate situation.

Thought he, I am in a city where there are a great body of the people called Quakers. This society, above all others, is remarkable for humanity and charitable actions. There is a female preacher of whom I have heard, a Lydia Wilson: I will inform this good woman of the circumstance; and, if she gives me leave, I will bring this stray sheep to her; she may have it in her power to introduce her to some place, where, by needle-work, and industry, she may live, until it may be in my power, taking a journey to her father, and stating the case, and giving my sentiments, to restore her to her family.

Early next morning, as soon as it could be presumed the Quaker lady had set her house in order; that is, after the family might be supposed to have breakfasted, which was about nine o’clock, the Captain set out, and being admitted, stated to Mrs. Wilson the exact circumstances as before related. --The pious woman readily undertook every office in her power. Accordingly, taking leave, the Captain set out for the house of Mrs. Robeson.

At the door, he met a number of men coming out, and, on enquiry, he found a coroner’s inquest had just sat on the body of a young woman of the house who had the preceding evening, suspended herself from the bed-post with her garter. He was struck, suspecting it must be the young woman whom he had so much in his thoughts. Going in and inquiring, he found it to be the case; and that they proposed to bury as soon as the few boards of a coffin could be got ready. As a man of humanity, he could not but shed tears, and blame himself that he had not given her stronger assurance of his interposition before he left her, that she might not have fallen into despair, and taken away her life.

The coffin being now ready, the funeral set out, not for the burying-ground of a church yard, but for a place without the city, called the Potter’s field: For suicides forfeit Christian burial-- Her obsequies attended not by a clergyman in front, nor by scarfed mourners, holding up the pall; nor was she borne on a bier, but drawn on a cart, and the company that followed her uncovered herse, were not decent matrons, nor venerable men, but old bawds, and strumpets, and cullies, half drunk, making merry as they went along.

Being interred, they returned home; but the Captain remaining some time, contemplating the grave, thus spoke:

Earth, thou coverest the body of a lovely woman, and with a mind not less lovely; yet doomed in her burial, to the same ground with unknown persons and malefactors; not that I think the circumstance makes any difference; but it shows the opinion of the world with respect to thy personal demerit.-- Nor do I call in question the justness of this opinion, having such circumstances whereon to found. But I reflect with myself how much opinion, operating like a general law, may do injustice. It remains only with heaven’s chancery to reach the equity of the case, and, in its decision, absolve her from a crime, or at least qualify that which was the excess of virtue. If the fair elements that compose her frame, shall ever again unite, and rise to life, and, as the divines suppose, her form receive its shape and complexion from her mental qualities and conduct on earth, she will lose nothing of her beauty; for her daring disdain of herself and fate, was a mark of repentance,--stronger than all tears. Yet, had she acted the nobler part of holding herself in life, preserving her mind and body chaste until famine had taken her away, or the hand of heaven moved for her relief, she had shone, at the last rising, with superior brightness; been ranked amongst the first beauties of heaven, and walked distinguished in the paradise of God. Doubtless the Almighty must blame, and chide her for this premature and rash step. Fallen to the last point of depression, he was about to relieve her, and the sequel of her days might have been happy and serene. It was a distrust of his providence. She heard my words, though she did not know my heart. --And surely it was my intention to relieve her. But she erred against my thoughts; she eluded the grasp of my humanity. For this she will be reprimanded by the Most High, and fail of that supereminent glory which awaits heroic minds. Yet, O world thou dost her wrong in sentencing her to so low a bed. Shall the wealthy, but dishonest men, matrons chaste, but cold and cruel in their feelings; shall these have a stone built over them, and occupy a consecrated spot, whilst thou, unworthy, art thrown amongst the rubbish of carcases, swept from jails; or emigrants, unknown as to their origin and place?

Farewell, lovely form, whom late I knew; and let the grass grow green upon thy grave. Thy sorrows are expunged: but mine are awake; and will be so, until I also come to the shades invisible, and have the same apathy of heart with thee.