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THE COMMONER'S DAUGHTER.

By the Author of " A Few out of Thousands."

СНАР. І.

My mother was a De Trevor. I think, if her pure and gentle soul could have entertained such a passion as pride, it would have centred solely in the fact of having in her veins blood represented by the genealogical tree as having flowed uncontaminated in a direct stream from the Conqueror, in a family, which, though no longer either wealthy or ennobled, yet cherished with a keen regard this inheritance of ancient descent.

Perhaps of all species of pride, that which glories in pedigree, has the most direct claim on the sympathies of mankind. The poor loathe pride of purse: the rich should despise it: but both equally defer to birth unblemished through the course of rolling centuries, even if its generations have been undistinguished by fame or

noble deeds.

In works of fiction belonging to that old time before everybody wrote, I remember to have observed that, although the reader might be permitted to commence with the personal history of the heroine, yet he had frequently to leave that off, in order to wade through very long and tedious memoirs of several of her relations and particular friends, likewise those of many of her enemies; and by the time he had extricated himself from the difficulties of plot in which he was sure to become involved, he was apt to find, somewhere about the fourth volume, that his brain had become so bewildered by these ramifications of biographical matter, that he no longer knew" who was who;" and so to enable himself thoroughly to comprehend every circumstance, (people in those days read books to understand them, and knew nothing of the Johnsonian method of " skimming,") was com. pelled to read the whole work over again from its first chapter.

I trust I may not puzzle my readers in the like manner. If my mother's antecedents were not absolutely necessary to the explanation of my own life, he should not be troubled with them. As it is, for the sake of the integrity and clearness of my own history, I must briefly glance at them.

My maternal grandfather, Francis De Trevor, was a gentleman of good estate and large

fortune, residing not far from Teignmouth Devonshire. For the first four years of Mr. and Mrs. De Trevor's married life, my mother remained their only child. Exceedingly disappointed at having no son to perpetuate the family name, my grandfather and grandmother endeavoured to console themselves, oddly enough, by spoiling their infant daughter's temper. Her imperious babyhood swayed indeed the entire household, and she was in the fairest way of growing up proud, selfish, and thoroughly disagreeable.

In her fifth year, the arrival of the son so long wished for, changed her position. The servants, over whom she had in her infant arrogance ruled so despotically, did not fail to inform the child of this untoward circumstance. With precocious sagacity, she quickly found out that the new stranger was of the highest importance, that his wants and wishes had become paramount over her own, and that, greatly to her surprise, neither pouts, cries, nor sulks, appeared now to have any weight with her former obsequious attendants.

After all, it was a hard lesson for a spoiled child to learn, especially at so tender an age. To her mother's room, admission had been forbidden since the advent of the baby. The maids in the nursery were by no means overdelicate in the remarks they uttered in the child's presence. They indulged in vulgar jeers, telling her that "her nose had been put out of joint," with other similes more comprehensive than elegant.

On the little girl's ill restrained and passionate mind, this treatment had its full effect. She understood well enough that her authority and importance had departed. Ellen, her principal attendant, especially irritated the wayward child.

This girl, who had been the chief recipient of the kicks and scratches which the presumed heiress had occasionally in her paroxysms of rage, liberally dispensed among her personal suite, gladly availed herself of an opportunity for retaliation.

One morning-such a morning as, in England at least, you rarely behold, save in Devonshire, a soft sunshiny balmy morning, perfumed with the scent of the summer's latest lingering flowers,

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and filled with that entire serenity which gives the soul almost too much happiness-my mother entered the nursery. She was, even for her, unusually fractious. Too infantine for the outward balminess of nature to have any effect on her temper, the child's nerves had been irritated to a frightful degree by the constant refusal of her request to see her mamma. She was, as the nurse-maid remarked, "boiling over with fretfulness."

Ellen was ironing some of the delicate laces, too fragile to be trusted to the ordinary laundress, which were destined for the baby, who was peacefully slumbering in his cradle, happily unmindful of his three weeks' existence, or the adulation that awaited his waking hours.

The newly-born child was, I say, smiling in his cradle while sleeping. When my mother came into the nursery, Ellen was declaiming loudly to the other women in the room about the grand christening there was sure to be.

"Much grander, miss, than yours was," she said, turning to the child, who angrily demanded to see her mamma.

"Your mamma indeed! She don't love you now; I can tell you that. See the child!-a passionate little monkey, stamping and grinning. You're a plague, miss; we all know that. Look there at your good little brother. He never falls into such wicked tempers: he's a beauty, he is; not like his wicked, wicked sister, who"-Her tone changed rapidly-"My God! my God! see, quick-some of you"-Too late too late

Enraged at the nursemaid's tauntings, the child had snatched up the iron, which standing on the table was still warm. Before the other servants could understand Ellen's shriek of horror-before Ellen herself, paralyzed with fear, could interpose, Frances had hurled the sharp-pointed yet heavy missile at the infant in the cradle-hurled it with all her might, a might strengthened fatally by childish passion. Too terrible the vigour of that tiny arm! The frightened women, who expected to hear screams from the babe, were appalled at its silence. They rushed to the side of the cradle: a little blood, a wound on the tender browthese were the only signs. In that fearful moment, the infant's spirit had fled back to the heaven which had lent him to earth for so brief a time.

My power is limited in giving any adequate description of the scene that followed this catastrophe-most persons can picture it vividly to themselves. There was the infant murderess, wonder-stricken; who, having no idea of death, could not be made to understand her crime. There were the horror-fraught domestics, scarce daring to reveal the deed; the agonized father; the surgeon called in to render his useless assistance: all these regarded the poor passionate cause of this tragedy with the deepest loathing.

It was the doctor who at last succeeded in conveying to my mother's mind some idea of the nature of her frantic crime. He told her that the baby would never cry again, that he

would be buried deep down in the cold earth and that all this distress and grief had been caused by her, Frances De Trevor.

He might have been a good man, this doctor; but stern, cold, and rigidly moral, he found no excuse for the over-indulged child; neither did he sift out the real culprit, the tantalizing nursemaid. He regarded the wretched little child just as we should contemplate a Courvoisier or a Greenacre. And painting her crime thus, in the black colours in which it appeared to himself, when the poor little girl at last understood what she had really done, and was told that men and women were hanged by the neck on a gibbet till they were dead, for lesser crimes than the one she had just committed, she fell into a fit, and neither spoke nor moved for fortyeight hours.

During that time there was strong reason to hope she too, was dead. Death for her would have been a boon. But there is a law of retribution in this world, however we may obtain salvation in the next-a law as attendant on guilt, even on error, as death is on life, or sorrow on humanity! My mother's doom was to live and suffer.

My grandmother, from whom it was impossible to keep the knowledge of her bereavement, from the indiscretion of a domestic became acquainted likewise with its unhappy cause; a terrible agitation ensued, which, in her delicate condition, proved fatal to Mrs. De Trevor in the short space of a few days. Thus did her husband, who affectionately loved her, find himself bereft of wife and son, through one who had hitherto been his darling, his spoiled and petted child.

When Frances De Trevor unhappily revived to life and consciousness, she was an outcast from love, from tenderness or affection. The child never was seen to smile again; rarely indeed, when she grew up, did the girl or the woman. Unable to bear the sight of his daughter, Mr. De Trevor sent her to a retired village, many miles from her desolated home.

The curate of this village of Penrocket, and his wife, were glad to increase a very small income by educating (Mr. De Trevor said reforming) the poor little girl. Her involuntary crime had, indeed, as far as temper was concerned — the child's one great fault-worked a reformation. From the fatal moment that made her an unwitting fratricide, she became meek, mild, merciful, and gentle. She learned with avidity, for study only, could soften the agonies of her regret, or distance that shadow which henceforth darkened the whole of her life. This clergyman of Penrocket, and his partner, were kind, judicious persons; and, as she grew up, my mother's deep remorse, softened into a tender melancholy which never wholly forsook her. Education, and the intelligence that comes with years, gave her at least the consolation of knowing that her maturity was not answerable for the unpremeditated sin of her infancy.

When Miss De Trevor was twenty-one years old, she received a visit from her father's man

The Commoner's Daughter.

of business. Mr. De Trevor had neither seen nor communicated with his daughter during that long period, in which she had known none of the happiness belonging to childhood, none of the joyous buoyancy and fresh vigorous hopes of youth. Perhaps he could scarcely be blamed. He held strictly to his first resolution. The destroyer of his peace, he said, must ever be a stranger to him.

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to have alienated the estate (unentailed) from my mother; as it was, my father consented to take the name of De Trevor before his own of Castlebrook.

mother was married. She left kind and wellwishing friends, associations of youth and The sacrifice, in due time, was achieved. My girlhood, to enter the cheerless home of one who promise which had forced him to take her for a wife. loved her not, and abhorred the necessity of the marriage, not unsimilar, was contracted in a Royal House, the result being to both wives Somewhere about the same time, a alike-oppression, insult, and injury!

Now, his man of business came to communicate
to the outcast daughter, in a severe, dry, formal
manner (for he too looked on her as a criminal
who had somehow undeservedly escaped punish-
ment) the fact that her hand would be bestowed
in marriage on Mr. Castlebrook, the only son of
a neighbour of Mr. De Trevor, who had lately
lost his father and succeeded to a small estate.
This young gentleman's land joined the De
Trevor estate, and I believe the match was
especially desirable for the purpose of uniting
the territories which would thus be rendered
doubly profitable. For this reason it seemed
that young Mr. Castlebrook, in compliance with
a wish expressed by his deceased father, had
voluntarily proposed for Miss De Trevor, fully
comprehending her family position, and, on that
account, terms were made so restrictive and one-
sided that any other family would have certainly
resented such proffered alliance only as insult.
But it did not appear that my grandfather
viewed the proposal in any other light than as a
profitable offer for an unsaleable piece of goods.
His daughter was expected to consent without
expostulation. She did so.
have implicitly agreed to any wish or command
She would, indeed,
of her father. Obedience, she said, was her
only expiation. Bitter, indeed, proved to be
that obedience which she had to render to one
who treated her, all her life-time, only as an
unwelcome incumbrance to the property he was
to gain by this marriage. Years after her death
I learned that even in her grief and remorse she
had faintly begun to indulge a dream of being
beloved; but she crushed at once, with an iron
hand of self-immolation, all such dear hopes,
and accepted her cross, as part of that atone-
ment which she believed to be her sole business
on earth. Her heart, and one other, alone knew
the magnitude of her trial in wedding with an
unknown and uncared-for individual.

On his own part, Mr. Castlebrook had dis-
appointed such affections as he possessed, by
giving up a young girl, the daughter of a
tradesman who resided in the University town
where this young gentleman had matriculated,
and where he had also greatly distinguished
himself, I fear, as a graceless spendthrift, who
had already impoverished his small inheritance,
and gained the reputation of being an idle

and dissolute student.

1 shall often in this narrative require the reader's consideration, for sometimes I may appear to forget I am writing of a father. He, alas! set me the example by often forgetting

that he was one.

Had not this marriage been arranged, I believe it had been Mr. De Trevor's intention

CHAP. II.

child, her solace, and her companion, my dear mother related to me this her sad history. I, When I was ten years old, being her only too, had given proofs that I possessed a quick and irritable temper, which required the most judicious restraint to prevent it from marring for life my happiness. With no words, save those of love, did she ever correct me. From those dear lips I never heard a harsh sentence. This gentleness was a great mercy to me; for, from my father, whenever he was compelled to address me, I received nothing but roughness and severity.

adoring child simply as a penance. She might
the agony of this confession to an only and
I am well assured that my mother endured
have even anticipated that the daughter, who was
the sole tie binding her to earth, would testify
towards her a hatred excited by this account of
her infant fratricide; but I loved her too dearly,
and besides, I could in no manner connect my
dear grown-up, gentle parent, with the picture
of the passionate little creature whom she pour-
trayed. Young as I was, the strongest impres-
sion which remained on my mind was that Ellen,
the nursemaid, should herself have been hanged
for teazing my mamma into a passion. I re-
member asking my mother what became of this
girl; but she answered that she only knew that
she had been discharged from my grandfather's
been brought about by her own mischievous and
aggravating disposition.
service after the sad event, which had chiefly

trifles perhaps, but which serve as landmarks
Many things come crowding on my memory
to recall those days when, if I had a stern, dis-
as I write; pictures of my own childish life-
dainful father, I had that precious treasure, a
tender, loving mother to weep with me, to
soothe and console me in every little trial and
feeble compared with the affection of a parent
towards a child. I can think of myself, at one
sorrow. I know, too, now, that all love is
time, as a little creature in a black frock-worn,
I believe, for my grandfather; and the notion I
by the recollection of a little picture in water
colours, done by my mother herself, wherein I
retain of myself in this costume is strengthened

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