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(By the Author of " The Traduced," “ The Eventful Epoch," &c.
Of all descriptions of shops in this our shop- ominous region. We scarcely know how it is, ridden capital, there is not one which supplies but we can never see a pawnbroker's shop withso much material for thought, or which is asso- out being somewhat excited, or falling into a fit ciated with so many of the humanities of life, as of sombre meditation. the shop of the pawnbroker.
In the dingy window of an emporium of the The common passenger hurries heedlessly by description above-named, situated in a street the three gilt balls—the immemorial sign of the north of Brunswick-square, might have been mart which extracts the honey of wealth from seen some time ago a gold locket. It was handthe poison-flowers and stagnant pools of want somely chased, and set with stones of some and misery. But ah! did he reflect how many beauty, so that the price ticketed on it (thirty have entered within those half-open enticing shillings) might not have much exceeded its real doors, driven to their last shift, or filled with value. It happened one morning, as we were divers unutterable passions, his step would be walking by, to attract our attention.
“Ah!" less light, his heart would quake within him : we thought, as a shred of dark hair made itself he would see the once wealthy spendthrift visible beneath the glass, "ten to one but some hurrying there to “ raise the wind” on his last tale of suffering, privation, or perhaps base inarticle of plate--the card-playing, gambling lady gratitude, might be told by that locket, did it in disguise, creeping there to deposit her jewels, possess the power of speech.” What did the on which mine uncle supplies her with the trinket there? why had it passed out of the means of venturing one good rubber more: he hands of the original owner? It was evidently would see the drunkard, with unabashed front, designed as a memento of affection ; but the lounge in, and receive on his silver pencil-case, trust had been betrayed—love had been proor silk handkerchief, just enough to enable him faned; and for sordid money, a few shillings, in the nearest tavern to lose his reason over his the gift of a distant friend, or even of the dead, worshipped bottle. But honesty, too, and had been surrendered up--parted with for ever! virtue, pressed down by misfortune, enter as Alas! alas ! there must be callousness of feelfrequently the pawnbroker's shop. "To these ing, baseness here; or destitution and want of mine uncle sometimes proves a real friend, no common description had laid their lean hands though not often designedly so; for, true to the on their victim, forcing him or her to a deed great principle of human nature, he first serves which the secret heart might condemn and his own interest, and then, if circumstances per- mourn in vain. mit, he will clear out a little corner of his heart Again and again passing the shop, we obfor the transitory sojourn of pity, or it may be served the locket, the sacred bequest of the dereal sorrow, for the miseries of so large a portion parted—for so our fancy declared it-ticketed of his fellow-kind. Broken hearts pass that for thirty shillings; but no one seemed inclined threshold--pride bowed to the dust-absolute to become a purchaser. Our curiosity, far from starvation, ruin, despair! Oh yes, there is a being diminished by the frequent sight of the world of feelings and passions haunting the trinket, grew more strong, and our imagination purlieus of pawnbroker's shops in London. tantalized us by calling up a variety of scenes, Thoughts of suffering hearts that now may have now dark and now pathetic, in connexion with ceased to beat, and living images of pale beings, the bauble. We would learn its history; how hover like ghosts about us, as we pass the to do it was the question, for pawnbrokers keep
their secrets. By a little perseverance, and by Near the bottom of Gray's-inn-road, and on means we need not trouble the reader by ex- the right hand as the wayfarer proceeds with his plaining, we accomplished our end. The brief face towards Battle Bridge, there stands a row history, then, is as follows:
of old houses, which look peculiarly dark and Margaret Glindon was the daughter of a forbidding, contrasted with the statelier new country squire : she married young and im- stuccoed domiciles rising in the immediate prudently, and utterly against the wishes of her neighbourhood. Here, in a single room, on the parents, inasmuch as the match was considered top story, did Margaret pass the first months of greatly beneath her. The father, though chiefly her widowhood. From the small lattice behind, at the instigation of his second wife (Margaret's she could see the few trees which, a very short step-mother) cast her off, renounced her, erased time since, flourished around the once famous her name from his will, and in spite of every well of St. Chad. Barbarous hands have now, prayer, and much humiliation on the part of we believe, utterly destroyed that fount of sweet the young married people, he remained inex- water, whose virtues were so highly prized by orable.
the citizen of London in olden days. Yet the Margaret and her husband had fled to Lon- benevolent saint is not it would seem, entirely don, and the latter, with some difficulty, ob- forgotten, for his holy name appears on a row of tained a situation as junior clerk in a banking- houses, and a cow-keeper has painted it above house. The tale of struggles with the withering his door, inviting custom to “St. Chad's fiend poverty, of the love of two faithful hearts Dairy.” bound up in each other, and the more so be- At the moment we view Margaret, she is not cause isolated, and all unregarded by the rest of looking from the lattice just-named-very difthe world, is an every-day story in our great ferent indeed is her occupation. She sits at her metropolis. The Malthusian may denounce small table, busily engaged with her needle, for early and imprudent marriages, and the philan- the young widow gains a precarious and scanty thropist sigh for the woes they too frequently livelihood by taking in plain-work. As she apentail ; but such have been, are, and still will pears in sombre weeds, the white cap drawn be, so long as beauty and mind's worth have any closely around her beautiful face, pale, still, and power over man's poor yielding nature-so long reflective, we might well imagine ourselves gazing as love, with its magnetic chain, draws heart to on a nun—a St. Cecilia. The child, a rosy heart, and hope and fancy, looking beyond stern urchin about three years of age, is amusing himrealities, paint to the eyes of the enamoured a self by attempting sundry impossible evolutions paradise within the sweet world of their united on the carpet--yes, there is a carpet now; and destinies.
though its circumference is nearly bounded by Margaret had one child when her husband's the outer edge of the round claw-table, it gives health, injured by the arduous duties connected a decent and comfortable aspect to the room. with his situation, began to decline. Like many "One year-one year to-inorrow,” sighed the other young men similarly circumstanced, he poor labourer; and the work, as she pursued the never thought of the expediency of insuring his train of thought which occupied her mind, lise until it was too late. Consumption had laid dropped from her hands. Tear after tear stole hold of its victim before he made application, down her cheek, and she made no effort to wipe and then no othce would accept him. So Walter them away. “One little year-one terrible
, Summers died, and she who had loved him one agonizing year since he closed his eyes, and to idolatry found herself a widow at the early said farewell -- but not for ever. Oh! that fareage of twenty-four, friendless, penniless, and well was not for ever-no, no, no!" cast upon the great world of London.
She suddenly sank on her knees, and raised The father and step-mother had indignantly her clasped hands on a level with her head; her repelled Margaret during the life-time of her bosom heaved beneath her black dress, and husband: would they relent now? She ac- with difficulty she restrained herself from burstquainted them with her deplorable situation. ing into loud sobs. The child ceased bis play, The step-mother entirely governed the in- and creeping up to his mother, clung to her, fatuated old squire, and, at her dictation he re- apparently in less sorrow than affright. Alas ! turned a harsh and bitter answer. Margaret alas ! what could he know at that unconscious had dared them, and set their wishes at nought, age of a bereaved mother's affliction, or his own in the day of her happiness; now misery had loss ? come upon her, and she must suffer the just “Let me get it; it will soothe me. Yes, yes, I penalty due to her disobedience.
always feel better after gazing at it.” Margaret did not rend into fragments the She moved to a box in a corner of the room, cruel and unnatural letter, but she covered it and drew forth something that had been carewith her tears, and, falling on her knees, con- fully deposited in its recesses. It was a gold fessed her sorrows merited. Yet she invoked locket set with stones, and contained some of the shade of her departed husband, and felt that, the hair of her late husband; it had been given were the past all to be gone through again, she to her by him during the days of their courtship, should act as she had done: for what was the and she treasured that memento of a love which hope of worldly honour and aggrandizement, could not die, as a precious, a blessed, a holy when weighed in the balance with love such as thing: rather, she thought, would she part with hers ?
her own heart's blood, than that bauble and tiny
The Young Widow, and the Gold Locket.
shred of hair! Ah! and is it not passing beau- the paper is coarse, for the letters seem traced tiful and consolatory to be able to keep some by a wooden skewer rather than a pen. The thing of the departed loved ones, that shall be words are as follows :palpable to the sense-something that will not
“ Mrs. Tomkins rites this here to prevent mischange--that, while all beside fast moulders to its original earth, is saved from the clutches of takes ; so that Mrs. Summers shan't say, by no death, the corroding damp of the all-destroying owed now a matter of eight shillin' and six pince for
means, she an't had reglar notice. Mrs. Tomkins is tomb? Yes, we sometimes think the hair was rint; so unless Mrs. S. pays the cash in full, and no created on purpose to survive Nature's decay, more ixcuses, she must quit the apartment she's now and preserve to the living a particle of those in this day week.” gone before-a sweet, unalterable souvenirma visible link between us and the grave. How The day intimated in the above notice arrives much the heart might pour forth, contemplating to-morrow, and Margaret is not provided with a lock of hair!
the money. Whither shall she go with her sick Margaret leaned back in her seat; she held child? This is the thought, the perplexing the treasured locket at some distance from her, strait which fills her heart with agony. Her furlooking and looking, as if her heart were de- niture (for she had furnished her own room), vouring it, her very soul transfusing itself into except the miserable relics we have mentioned, its small compass. Gradually she drew it nearer, had been sold or pawned; every superfluous and pressed it passionately to her lips: she article of dress, also, had disappeared. Sickness, whispered to it, as though it were some living while it increased her expenses, had prevented and sensible object, and quiet melancholy smiles her from applying so closely as usual to her played over her pale and now tranquilized fea- work, and at all times the remuneration she retures. She strained her child to her breast, but ceived for her labour was lamentably small. still her eyes were riveted on that token of love : Margaret suddenly started out of the bitter it had become her companion, and it seemed train of thought in which she had been inever to utter to her fancy a still small voice from dulging. She took the gold locket from her the grave—“Margaret, though my mortal part bosom; yes, that still remained in her possesdecay, I have not forgotten you: my spirit is sion: she could not, dared not part with that. with you still."
Sacred pledge! which had been given by hands
now dust! how had the sight of this bauble Another
year has passed. The young widow supported her-how had it soothed her through still occupies the room in that little house near the long, long hours of labour and sorrow! Yet the forgotten well of St. Chad. It is evening, it was the last thing left capable of being conand she is alone with her child; but a change verted into money. Oh! that look of distress has come over the appearance of the room, as and perplexity !-why scruple we to say it ?well as herself. The neat mahogany table has for the first time a certain idea crossed her disappeared, its place being supplied by one of mind. She arose, looked around the wretched coarse deal. Chimney ornaments no longer room, then on her sick child; “ He wants the adorn the mantelpiece. Instead of the cotton- nourishment the doctor speaks of," she whiswick candle, a miserable farthing rushlight drips pered; “ and I cannot get it. To-morrowand flickers before her. Where is the small, to-morrow,” she continued, shuddering,“ turned but decent piece of carpet? There is no longer out of the house to wander homeless in the any in the room : the boards are bare and cold; streets! Oh, God! father of the widow and the pallet in the corner has not a fragment of the orphan, support me!" furniture, and an old gown and shawl are She sank upon her half-broken stool, and thrown over the single coarse blanket, beneath stooped her face upon her hands: she did not which is the straw mattress. Everything, in sob or groan, but the tears might have been short, or rather the absence of everything which seen trickling, one by one, through her thin ought to be there, betokens privation, and the fingers. last strait of poverty.
Now Mrs. S.," exclaimed a voice, as the Margaret's face, though still pretty, is care- door of the room was unceremoniously opened, worn and thin, and dark haloes surround the “ I'm come in a quiet way like, just to ask if painfully prominent eyes. Her figure, while it you're likely to pay me the cash to-morrow; for is not bent or ungraceful, is reduced almost to a if you an't, I must tell you as a friend that I skeleton; and her slight fingers, as they are half can't afford to lose my money. Oh, I'm very buried in her hair, may almost be said to have calm, I am; you needn't be frightened. I only been worked by the needle literally to the bone. gives you peaceable warning! If I an’t got my On the mattress the child is asleep, not rosy eight-and-sixpince by twelve o'clock to-morrow, now, but with a face of a cadaverous and sickly the broker will take your sticks!” hue; a half-emptied phial of medicine near con- “What, ma'am, the bed where the poor sick firms the natural surmise-it is ill. And there child is lying?” sits the mother, anxiously watching her little “Of course! I am very sorry, my good one's slumber ; but her eye at times glances woman, and all that, but I can't keep you and towards a slip of paper which lies on the table, sick children for nothin'. Go to the work-us and the anguish it expresses seems, if possible, with it!" increased by that survey. The hand-writing on “The workhouse !" exclaimed the forsaken
squire's daughter, who entertained, perhaps, an the stones, as though counting them; then fearundue horror of these houses of charity.” ing to attract attention, she approached a shop,
“Of course—the work-us! I think I speak and began to peer through the window, as peoplain. However, I'm not hard; and don't wish to ple may look who intend making a purchase. put you to no distress; only pay me my money, Poor dissembler! it would not do : she again and you're welcome to stay here. But mind, if hurried away, and once more drew near a certain that eight-and-sixpince an’t a-forth-coming to shop which seemed to be the point to which her morrow, the broker will have the sticks, and you | perambulations always tended. As if invested must turn out!”
with some terrible spell or charm, that house atOverwhelming were the emotions of Margaret tracted her. There was a large purple transas the landlady retired. She looked upon the parency over the door; yet, whenever she got locket with a longing, ardent, and straining pretty close to it, and appeared about to enter, gaze. There were the means of surmounting she stopped and shuddered, shrank back again, her difficulty, and of saving, perhaps, the life of and hurried into the darkness beyond. her child. But part with it? pawn that which “Not yet," sighed Margaret to herself; "my was dearer 10 her than her own existence?- heart will not suffer me to do it;" and she “ Never! never !" she cried, as she wildly pressed both her hands over her bosom : “I pressed it to her breast, and then covered it repent of what I designed; I cannot part with with kisses. “Spirit of my own dead husband! it: it is my dear companion, my treasure, my would'st thou not upbraid ine, were I to commit life !" the act? And yet, didst thou know the ex- Some one looked at her in curiosity, for she tremity to which I am driven-”
stood still again. Margaret could not bear that She walked to and fro in indecision; her scrutiny; so, turning hastily, she passed around cheek colourless as ashes, but her eyes beaming the corner and entered another strect. Away, lustrously through her tears. Her' emotion, if away she walked, far out of sight of the bright possible, increased every moment, yet her reso- transparency and the three gilt balls of the lution was gradually giving way. She looked pawnbroker's shop: Is her resolution, then, anxiously at her sick child, and thonght of the made up? and will she, after all, return to starve probable consequences of a removal. Love for and die with her child, rather than pawn the the departed fought, as it were, inch by inch, gold locket? The wind blows in wild gusts against the temptation which assailed her, but through the street, and the mart which contains dire necessity at length triumphed.
so many relics of poverty and misery will soon Margaret called to a little girl on the floor be closed, for it is nearly eight o'clock. below, who was in the habit occasionally of at- Look! the young widowed mot her makes her tending to her child; and the next minute her appearance again. The wind rudely buffets her, faded black bonnet was placed on her head, and and she draws around her her poor scanty her tattered shawl thrown over her shoulders. shawl. But her manner is more determined
It was a dark night, and the wind blew briskly now, and there is a kind of desperation in her around the corner of the street. The woman at walk. She again approaches the house which her apple-stall in the vicinity of the spirit-shop, exercised upon her such a spell before : she which she is accustomed to look upon as a kind looks around, clasps her hands once, her of castle of defence, had some difficulty in keep eyes overflow with tears, but she hastily dashes · ing her paper-encased candle from being blown them away, and, without another whispered out. The naked gas-burner at the greengrocer's word, hurries in through the half-opened door. one moment ejected long ribbons of blue and And so Margaret, in her extremity, parted white flame, illumining the whole neighbour- with the keepsake of her husband. The small hood; and the next, like some fire-eater, seemed sum which the pawnbroker advanced enabled to have swallowed the said flame, darkness suc- her to satisfy her landlady, and relieved her ceeding doubly thick by contrast. The fall of a present necessities. She would redeem the gold house-tile at times was heard; and even the cry locket after a while, and on this account had abof the itinerant merchant, whose shop was car- stained from injuring it by extracting the hair; ried upon his head; and the organ of the rag- yes, she would labour, beg, starve-do anything ged, dirty native of the “land of flowers and to gain it back; but weeks passed, and months, song," had something wild and strange in their and strive as she might, the ill-paid labourer sound. In short, it was a windy, checrless, un- was unable to save the requisite sum. Meantime, inviting night, every person keeping within, interest was accumulating, and delay only renwhom business and absolute necessity did not dered more arduous the task of redemption. force without.
Her child continued in a sickly state, and this Alone, up and down a street not far from circumstance greatly increased the difficulties Brunswick-square, a figure might have been that surrounded her. seen, walking. Now she proceeded with a quick Margaret was in the habit, from time to time, step, now lingered, and presently stopped al- of walking in the street where the pawnbrokers together
. Her air was that of a person per- shop was situated, and of hovering around his plexed, or of one contemplating some deed, but premises. The poor dreamer took a melancholy unable to perform it. Reaching the end of the pleasure in this: the trinket, it was true, she street, she passed back again : at one time she could not touch, she could not see; but there, walked on the kerb-stone, looking intently on as she stood at the window, the thought that