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Venus in Boston; - A Romance of City Life
by George Thompson
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VENUS IN BOSTON;

A Romance of City Life.



"Ah, Vice! how soft are thy voluptuous ways! While boyish blood is mantling, who can 'scape The fascination of thy magic gaze? A Cherub-hydra round us dost thou gape, And mould to every taste, thy dear, delusive shape." BYRON'S CHILDE HAROLD

{First published 1849}

CONTENTS

VENUS IN BOSTON;

A Romance of City Life

INTRODUCTION 3

CHAPTER I. The blind Basket-maker and his family. 3

CHAPTER II. Innocence in the Grip of Lust. 7

CHAPTER III. The Rescue. 17

CHAPTER IV. A night in Ann street. 20

CHAPTER V. The Chevalier and the Duchess. 52

CHAPTER VI. The Stolen Package. 75

CHAPTER VII. Showing the operations of Jew Mike. 90

CHAPTER VIII. The Chambers of Love. 98



INTRODUCTION

I conceive it to be a prominent fault of most of the tales of fiction that are written and published at the present day, that they are not sufficiently natural—their style is too much exaggerated—and in aiming to produce startling effects, they depart too widely from the range of probability to engage the undivided interest of the enlightened and judicious reader. Believing as I do that the romance of reality—the details of common, everyday life—the secret history of things hidden from the public gaze, but of the existence of which there can be no manner of doubt—are endowed with a more powerful and absorbing interest than any extravagant flight of imagination can be, it shall be my aim in the following pages to adhere as closely as possible to truth and reality; and to depict scenes and adventures which have actually occurred, and which have come to my knowledge in the course of an experience no means limited—an experience replete with facilities for acquiring a perfect insight into human nature, and a knowledge of the many secret springs of human action.

The most favorable reception which my former humble productions have met with, at the hands of a kind and indulgent public, will, I trust, justify the hope that the present Tale may meet with similar encouragement. It certainly shall not prove inferior to any of its predecessors in the variety of its incidents or the interest of its details; and as a romance of city life, it will amply repay the perusal of all country readers, as well as those who reside in cities.

With these remarks, preliminary and explanatory, I proceed at once to draw the curtain, and unfold the opening scene of my drama.



CHAPTER I

The blind Basket-maker and his family.

It was a winter's day, and piercing cold; very few pedestrians were to be seen in Boston, and those few were carefully enveloped in warm cloak and great coats, for the weather was of that intense kind that chills the blood and penetrates to the very bone. Even Washington street—that great avenue of wealth and promenade of fashion, usually thronged with the pleasure-seeking denizens of the metropolis—was comparatively deserted, save by a few shivering mortals, who hurried on their way with rapid footsteps, anxious to escape from the relentless and iron grasp of hoary winter. And yet on that day, and in that street, there stood upon the pavement directly opposite the "Old South Church," a young girl of about the age of fourteen years, holding in her hand a small basket of fruit, which she offered to every passer-by. Now there was nothing very extraordinary in this, neither was there anything very unusual in the meek and pleading look of the little fruit girl, as she timidly raised her large blue eyes to the face of every one who passed her—for such humble callings, and such mute but eloquent appeals, are the common inheritance of many, very many of God's poor in large cities, and do not generally attract any great degree of notice from the careless (and too often unfeeling) children of prosperity;—but there was something in the appearance of the pale, sad girl, as, in her scant attire she shivered in the biting wind, not often met with in the humble disciples of poverty—a certain subdued, gentle air, partaking of much unconscious grace, that whispered of better days gone by.

At length the clock in the steeple of the "Old South" pronounced that the dinner hour had arrived—and despite the intense cold, the street soon became alive with people hurrying to and fro; for what weather can induce a hungry man to neglect that important era in the events of the day—his dinner? This perfumed exquisite hurried by to fulfil an appointment and dine at Parker's; the more sober and economical citizen hastened on his way to "feed" at some establishment of less pretensions and more moderate prices; while the mass of the diners-out repaired to appease their hunger at the numerous cheap refectories that abound in the neighborhood. But the poor, forlorn little fruit girl stood unnoticed by the passing throng, which like the curtain of a river hurried by, leaving her upon its margin, a neglected, drooping flower.

"Ah," she murmured—"why will they not buy my fruit? I have not taken a single penny to-day, and how can I return home to poor grandfather and my little brother, without food? Good people, could you but see them, your hearts would be softened—." And the tears rolled down her cheeks.

While thus soliloquizing, she had not noticed the approach of a little old man, in a faded, threadbare suit, and with a care-worn, wrinkled countenance. He stopped short when he saw that she was weeping, and in an abrupt, yet not unkind manner, inquired—

"My child, why do you weep?"

The girl looked up through her tears at the stranger, and in a few artless words related her simple story. She was an orphan, and with her little brother, lived with her grandfather. They were very poor, and were wholly dependent upon a small pittance which the grandfather (who was blind) daily earned by basket making, together with the very small profits which she realized by the sale of fruit in the streets. Her grandfather was very ill, and unable to work, and the poor family had not tasted food that day.

"Poor thing!" exclaimed the little old man when she had concluded her affecting narrative. He straightaway began fumbling in his pockets, and it seemed with no very satisfactory result, for he muttered—"The devil! I have no money—not a copper; bah! I can give you nothing. But hold! where do you live, my child?"

The girl stated her place of residence, which was in an obscure but respectable section of the city. The little old man produced a greasy memorandum book, and a stump of a pencil, with which he noted down the direction; then, uttering a grunt of satisfaction, but without saying a single word, he resumed his walk, and was soon lost in the crowd.

Evening came, and with it a furious snow-storm. Madly the wind careered through the streets—now fiercely dashing the snow into the faces of such unfortunate travellers as chanced to be abroad in that wild weather—now shaking the roofs of crazy old houses—and now tearing away in the distance with a howl of triumph at its power. The storm fiend was abroad—the elements were at war, and yet in the midst of that furious tumult, the poor fruit girl was toiling on her way towards her humble home. She reached it at last. It was a poor and lowly place, the abode of humble but decent poverty; yet the angel of peace had spread her wings there, and contentment had sat with them at their frugal board. True, it was but a garret; yet that little family, with hearts united by holy love, felt that to them it was a home. And then its little window commanded a distant view of a shining river, and green, pleasant fields beyond; and all day long, in fine weather, the cheerful sunshine looked in upon them, casting a gleam of gladness upon their hearts. It had been a happy home to the blind basket-maker and his grandchildren; but alas! sickness had laid its heavy hand upon the aged man, and want and wretchedness had become their portion.

The girl entered with a sad heart, for she brought no relief to the hungering and sorrowing inmates of that lowly dwelling. Without saying a word she seated herself at the bed-side of her grandfather, and taking his hand in hers, bedewed it with her tears. The old man turned towards her, and said—

"Thou art weeping, Fanny—what distresses thee? Tears are for the aged and the sorrowing—not for the young. Thou hast not brought us food?—well, well; the will of Heaven be done! I shall soon be in the grave, and then thou and Charley—"

"No, no, grandfather, pray don't say so," cried the poor girl, sobbing as if her heart would break—"what should we do without you? Heaven may spare you many happy years. I can work for you, and—"

"So can I, too," rejoined her brother Charley, a lad eight or nine years of age—"and only to-day I got a promise from Mr. Scott the tailor, that I might, when a little older, run of errands for him, and my wages will be a dollar and a half a week—only think how much money I shall earn!"

"Thou art a brave little man," said the grandfather—"but, my children, let us put our trust in God, and if it is His will that my earthly pilgrimage should end, be it so! Thank Heaven, I owe nothing, and can die at peace with all the world."

It had long been Fanny's custom to occupy an hour or so every evening, in reading to her grandfather. But that evening she did not, as usual, draw up the little table, and open the pages of some well-thumbed, ancient volume, to read, for perhaps the twentieth time, of the valorous deeds of some famed knight of the olden time, or mayhap, of the triumphant death of some famed martyr for religion's sake. For alas! the frugal but wholesome meal which had always preceded the reading of those ancient chronicles, was now wanting; and the little family sat listening to the raging of the pitiless storm without and counting the weary moments as they passed.

The bell in a neighboring steeple had just told the hour of nine, when, as the echo of that last stroke died away in the distance, a heavy step was heard ascending the stairs that led to their humble apartment. As the sound approached nearer, Fanny heard a voice occasionally giving utterance to expressions of extreme irritation and impatience, accompanied by certain sounds indicating that the person, whoever it might be, often stumbled upon the dark, narrow and somewhat dilapidated stair-case. "Blood and bomb-shells!" exclaimed a voice—"I shall never reach the top, and my shins are broken. The devil! there I go again. Corporal Grimsby, thou art an ass, and these stairs are the devil's trap!" And here the luckless unknown paused a moment to breathe, rub his shins, and refresh himself with an emphatic imprecation upon all dark and broken stair-cases in general, but upon that one in particular. At this moment, Fanny made her appearance at the landing with a light, and was astonished to behold her new acquaintance of that afternoon, the little old man who had inquired her residence. A most rueful expression sat upon his visage, and he carried upon one arm a huge basket. The friendly light enabled him soon to reach the end of his journey; he entered the little room without ceremony, and depositing his burden upon the table, exclaimed—

"Hark'ee, child, I am an old soldier, am not apt to grumble at trifles, [illegible word] and blunderbusses! I never before got into such a snarl.—Mounting the ramparts of the enemy was mere child's play to it!" Here he began to take out the contents of the basket, meanwhile keeping up a running commentary, during which his countenance wore an expression of the most intense ill-humor, in strange contrast with the evident benevolence of his character and intentions. He found fault with everything which he had brought, although, in truth, the articles were all of excellent quality.

"Here," said he, with a growl of dissatisfaction—"is a pair of chickens—starved, skinny imps, for which I paid double their value to that knave of a poultry merchant—bah! And here are some French rolls, that I'll be sworn are as hard as the French cannon balls that were thrown at Austerlitz. These vegetables are well enough, and this pastry hath a savory smell, but pistols and cutlasses! this wine looks as sour as General Grouty's face on a grand parade. Let me draw the cork and taste—no, by the nose of Napoleon! it is excellent—fit for the great Frederick himself. Here, child, haste and spread a cloth, for I am hungrier than a Cossack. Powder and shot! we shall have a supper fit for a Field Marshal!"

By this time the eccentric but kind old man had placed upon the table all the materials of an excellent and substantial repast. This done, he turned to the grandfather of Fanny, who had listened to his speech with much astonishment, and exclaimed—

"Cheer thee up, old friend, cheer thee up, and pick a bone with us; here, wash the cobwebs from thy throat by a hearty draught from this flask. I am an old soldier, and love all men; I stand on no ceremony; so fall to, fall to!"

Saying this, he seated himself at the table, and having seen that all were duly supplied with a liberal portion of the edibles, commenced the attack with [illegible word] truly surprising. Nor were the others at all backward in emulating so good an example. The grandfather, whose illness had mainly been produced by a lack of those little luxuries so essential to the debilities and infirmities of advanced age, after partaking sparingly of what was set before him, felt himself much bettered and refreshed thereby; and Fanny, who had dried her tears, and satisfied the cravings of hunger, smiled her gratitude upon the kind provider. Little Charley had already become much attached to "good Corporal Grimsby," who had given him such a nice supper—while the latter gentleman, having finished his meal, drew forth an antiquated pipe, having a Turk's head for the bowl and a coiled serpent for the stem, which having lighted, he proceeded to smoke with much gravity and thoughtfulness. Not a word did he utter, but smoked away in silence, until the clock struck ten; then pocketing his pipe, and depositing the now empty flask and dishes in the basket, he announced his intention of departing. The grandfather was cut short in a grateful acknowledgment of the stranger's kindness, by the abrupt exit of that singular personage, who bolted down stairs with a precipitancy that was truly alarming, scarce waiting for Fanny to light him down.

This singular visit was of course the subject of much surprise and conjecture in the little family of the blind basket-maker; but when Fanny related how the stranger had accosted her in the street, and inquired her residence, they concluded that he was some eccentric but benevolent person, who had taken that method of contributing to the relief of their wants.

And who was this queer little old man, so shabby and threadbare—so "full of strange oaths,"—so odd in his manner, so kind in his heart—calling himself Corporal Grimsby—who had come forward at that opportune moment to supply a starving family with food? Time will show.



CHAPTER II

Innocence in the Grip of Lust.

The day which succeeded the stormy night described in the last chapter, was an unusually fine one. The sun shone clear and bright, and many people were abroad to enjoy the fine bracing air, and indemnify themselves for having been kept within doors on the preceding day. The streets were covered with an ample garment of snow, and the merry music of the sleigh-bells was heard in every direction.

At an early hour, Fanny Aubrey (for that was the name of our little heroine,) issued from her dwelling, and taking the sunny side of the streets, resumed her accustomed perambulations, with her basket on her arm. Fanny was small for her age, but exceedingly pretty; her eyes were of a dark blue—her hair a rich auburn—her features radiant with the inexpressible charm of youth and innocence. I have said that her air was superior to her condition; in truth, every motion of hers had in it a certain winning grace, and her step was light as a fawn's, although her figure was not without a certain degree of plumpness, which gave ample promise of a speedy voluptuous development. Though plumpness in the female figure is considered to be incompatible with perfect grace, I agree with those who regard it as decidedly preferable to an excessive thinness, though the latter be accompanied with the lightness of a zephyr, and the grace of a sylph.

Dress is sometimes acknowledged to be a sign of character—and the dress of Fanny Aubrey certainly indicated the native refinement of her mind—for though poor in material and faded by long use, it was well put on and scrupulously neat—indeed, there was something almost coquettish in the style of her bonnet and the arrangement of her scanty shawl—too scanty, alas! to shield her adequately from the inclemency of the weather.

As she passed along the street, her beauty and prepossessing appearance attracted the attention of many gay loiterers, who regard her with various feelings of admiration, pity and surprise that one so lovely should pursue so humble an occupation; nor were there wanting many well-dressed libertines, young and old, who gazed with eyes of lustful desire upon the fair young creature, evidently so unprotected and so poor.

Reader, pardon us if for one brief moment we pause to contemplate the black and hideous character of THE SEDUCER. Should the teeming hosts of hell's dominions meet in grand convention, amid the mysterious darkness and lurid flames of their eternal abode—should that infernal conclave of murderers, robbers, monsters of iniquity, perpetrators of damning crimes; possessors of black hearts and polluted souls on earth, whose mighty sins had sunk them in that burning pit—should all those lost spirits select from among their number, one fiend, the worst of them all, to represent them all on earth—unite within his being all the crimes of which they had collectively been guilty—to show mankind how vast and stupendous have been all the sins perpetrated since the creation of the globe—that fiend could not cast a blacker shadow upon human nature than doth the seducer of female innocence. Oh! if there be one wretch living who deserves to be cast forth from the society of his fellow men—if there be one who deserves to be trod on as a venomous insect, and crushed as the vilest reptile that crawls—it is he who calmly and deliberately sets himself about the hellish task of accomplishing the ruin of a weak, confiding woman—and then, having sipped the sweets and inhaled the fragrance of the flower, tramples it beneath his feet. Will not the thunderbolts of Omnipotent wrath shatter the perjured soul of such a villain?

But to resume. Fanny Aubrey pursued her walk, and was so fortunate as to escape the insults (except such as were conveyed in glances,) of the many libertines who are ever ready to take advantage of a female in a situation like hers. As she was passing a magnificent mansion in a quarter of the city mainly occupied by the residences of the aristocracy, a beautiful young lady alighted from a splendid sleigh, and observing the little fruit girl, beckoned her to approach. Fanny modestly complied, and the young lady, with one of the sweetest smiles imaginable selected an orange from her basket, and taking out a purse, presented her with a bright gold coin.

"I have no change, Miss," said Fanny, in some confusion.

"Keep the money, my poor girl," rejoined the young lady, with a look of deep compassion, as a tear of pity dimmed her bright eyes—"I am sure you need it; you are much too pretty for such an employment. If you will try and pass this way to-morrow at about this time, you may see me again."

Amid Fanny's heartfelt thanks, the young lady entered the mansion, and the door was closed.

Poor Fanny! she resumed her journey with a light heart. She never before had possessed so much money. Five dollars! the sum seemed inexhaustible, and she began to devise a thousand plans to expend it to advantage—and the fact that she herself was not included in any of those plans, was a beautiful illustration of the unselfishness of her character. Not for a moment did she dream of appropriating it to the purchase of a good warm shawl or dress for herself, although, poor girl! she so much needed both. She would buy a nice comfortable rocking-chair for her grandfather; or a thick great-coat for little Charley—she couldn't make up her mind which, she loved them both so much—yet when she thought of the poor, sick, blind old man, a holy pity triumphed over sisterly affection, and she resolved upon the rocking-chair. Then she determined to hasten homewards to communicate her good fortune to her friends; and on her way she could not help thinking of the beautiful young lady who had given her the money, of her sweet smile, and the kind words she had spoken; and wondered if she should really see her again the next day. These thoughts, and the hope of seeing her benefactress again, made her feel very happy; and she was hastening towards her home with a glad heart, when her footsteps were arrested by a crowd of those dissolute young females, who pervade every section of the city, and are universally known as "apple girls."

These girls are usually from ten to fifteen years of age, and are proverbial for their vicious propensities and dishonesty. Under pretence of selling their fruit, they are accustomed to penetrate into the business portions of the city particularly; and in doing this they have two objects in view. In the first place, if on entering an office or place of business, they find nobody in, an opportunity is afforded them for plunder; and it is needless to say they are ever ready to steal and carry off whatever they can lay their hands on. Secondly, these girls have been brought up in vice from their infancy; they are, for the most part, neither more nor less than common prostitutes, and will freely yield their persons to whoever will pay for the same.—Should the merchant, or lawyer, or man of business, into whose office one of these "apple girls" may chance to intrude, solicit her favors (and there are many miscreants, respectable ones, too, who do this, as we shall show,) and offer her a small pecuniary reward, he has only to lock his door and draw his curtains, to accomplish his object without the slightest difficulty. Thus, their ostensible employment of selling fruit is nothing but a cloak for their real trade of prostitution and thieving. The profanity and obscenity of their conversation alone, is a sufficient evidence of their true character.

The girls whom we have mentioned as having encountered Fanny on her return home, were a squalid and dirty set, though several of them were not destitute of good looks, as far as form and features were concerned. They surrounded her with many a fierce oath and ribald jest, and it was easy to see that they were jealous of her superior cleanliness of person and respectability of character.

"Ha, ha!" cried one, a dirty-faced wench of thirteen, clutching Fanny fiercely by the arm, while the poor girl stood afraid and trembling in the midst of that elfish crew—"ha, ha! here is my fine lady, with her smooth face and clean gown, who disdains to keep company with us, and do as we do! Let us tear off her clothes, and roll her in the mire!"

They were proceeding to act upon this suggestion, when Fanny, bewildered and speechless with terror, dropped her gold coin, which she held in her hand, upon the ground. It was instantly snatched up by one of the gang, who was immediately attacked by the others, and a fierce struggle ensued, for the possession of the coin, the young wretches tearing, scratching and biting each other like so many wild cats. During this conflict, Fanny made off as fast as she could run, but was followed and overtaken by one of the gang, a large girl of fifteen, who was known among her companions by the pleasing title of "Sow Nance." She was a thief and prostitute of the most desperate and abandoned character, hideously ugly in person, and of a disposition the most ferocious and deceitful.—Laying her brawny hand upon Fanny's shoulder, she said, in a hoarse and croaking voice—

"See here, Miss What's-yer-name, I wants to speak to you, if you please. You needn't be afraid of me, for I won't hurt you. Them thieving hussies has got your money, and you must make up your loss the best way you can. Look at my basket—you see it's empty, don't yer? I've sold all my fruit already, and if you'll go with me, I'll show you a nice gentleman who will buy all the fruit in your little basket, and pay you well, too. It's not far—will you go with me?"

The prospect of effecting a speedy sale of her stock in trade, was too tempting to be resisted by poor Fanny, especially in view of the severe loss she had just sustained, in being robbed of the money which the kind young lady had given her. She therefore gladly consented to accompany Sow Nance to the nice gentleman who would pay her so well for the contents of her basket.

Poor, innocent, unsuspecting Fanny! she little thought that the abandoned creature at her side was leading her into a snare, imminently dangerous to her peace of mind and future happiness! "I will save up money enough to buy grandfather a rocking-chair, after all," thought she, as she gaily trudged onward, while ever and anon Sow Nance would glare savagely at her from the corners of her snake-like eyes. It is one of the worst qualities peculiar to corrupt human nature, the hatred with which the wicked and abandoned regard the innocent and pure. Fanny had never in the slightest degree injured the wretch who was plotting her ruin;—and Sow Nance had no other reason for hating her, than because she herself was a guilty and polluted being, while Fanny she knew to be without stain or blemish.

In about a quarter of an hour they reached a handsome brick house in South street.

"This is the place," said Sow Nance, as she rang the door bell; the summons was immediately answered by an old negro woman, who, exchanging a significant look with Nance, admitted them, and ushered them into a large parlor. The apartment was handsomely furnished, the walls adorned with many pictures, and the floor covered with a very rich carpet.

"Sit down, young ladies, and I will call Mr. Tickels down," said the old negro woman, as she left the room; in a few moments, a gentleman entered, and regarded Fanny with a gaze so piercing, that the poor girl was covered with confusion.

The gentleman was, to all appearances, full sixty years of age; he was a large, portly man, with very gray hair and a very red face: he was attired in a dressing-gown and slippers, and wore a magnificent diamond pin in his shirt frill.

This man was one of those wealthy beasts whose lusts run riot on the innocence of young females—whose crimes outnumbered the gray hairs upon his head, and whose riches were devoted to no other purpose than the procurement of victims for his appetite, and the gratification of his abominable passions.

A vague, strange fear stole over Fanny, while this gentleman thus viewed her so closely—a fear which she could not define, yet which rendered her excessively uneasy. Apparently the survey was satisfactory to the gentleman—for he smiled, and in doing so displayed two rows of teeth not unlike the fangs of a wolf. Then he beckoned Sow Nance to follow him from the room, and held a whispered conversation with her in the passage.

"Who is she, Nance?" asked the gentleman.

"Not one of us," was the reply, "she sells fruit, and is poor, but her folks are respectable;—you must pay me well for bringing her here, for she's handsome."

"True; but are you sure she has never—"

"Sure!" replied Nance, almost fiercely—"I'll take my oath on it; hasn't she always kept away from us, and ain't all the girls hating her like h——l, 'cause she's virtuous? Don't you suppose I know?"

"Good," said the gentleman; and taking a gold coin from his pocket, he gave it to Nance, who, stooping down, secreted it in her stocking; then she noiselessly opened the front door and left the house, singing in a hoarse voice, as she sped on her way towards Ann street, (where she lived,) these barbarous words:—

"The lamb to the wolf is sold, sold, sold; No more she'll return to her fold, fold, fold— And Sow Nance will dare another to snare, And the wolf shall have her for gold, gold, gold!"

The gentleman (I use the word ironically, reader,) re-entered the parlor, advanced to where Fanny was seated, and laying his heavy hand upon the young girl's shoulder, glued his polluted lips to her pure cheek. She sprang from his profaning grasp with a cry of terror, and fled towards the door—it was locked! The gentleman laughed, and said—

"No, no, my pretty bird, you cannot escape from your cage so easily; and why should you wish to? Your cage shall have golden wires, and you shall be fed on delicacies, my little flutterer—so smooth the feathers of your bright wings, my dear, and sing your sweetest notes!"

Fanny burst into tears, and fell on her knees before the old libertine.—Young and innocent as she was, a dark suspicion of his purpose came like a shadow over her soul, and she cried in piteous accents—

"Pray, good sir, let me go home to my poor grandfather and my little brother—they will be expecting me, and will feel worried at my absence. Surely, sir, you will not have the heart to harm me—I am but a poor fruit girl, without father or mother. Pray let me go, sir."

That appeal, made touching by the youth and innocence of the speaker, and by her profound distress, might have melted a heart of iron—but it moved not the stony heart of the old villain, and he looked upon her with his cold, hard eyes, and his disgusting smile, as he said—

"Your tears make you doubly interesting, my sweet child. I am afraid that your poor grandfather and your little brother, as you call them, will be obliged to wait a long while for your return, let them worry ever so much at your absence. You say truly that I have not the heart to harm you, a poor fruit girl,—no, I will make a lady of you; and as you have, you say, neither father nor mother, I will supply their place, my pretty dear, and be your lover into the bargain. Those coarse garments shall be changed for silks and satins,—that shining hair shall be made radiant with gems,—jewels shall sparkle on that fair neck, and on those taper fingers,—you shall ride in a carriage, and have servants to wait on you,—and you shall sleep on a downy bed, and live in a grand house, like this. Say, will not all these fine things be better than selling fruit in the cold streets?"

But the sobbing girl implored him to let her go home. The gentleman ground his teeth with rage.

"Well, well," said he, after a brief pause, and speaking in an assumed tone of kindness, "you shall go home, since you wish it." He rang a bell, and the old negro woman appeared, to whom he whispered for a few moments, and then left the room.

"Come, Miss," said the old wench, addressing Fanny, with a grin that was anything but encouraging or expressive of a friendly feeling—"come with me up stairs, and wash the tears from your pretty face; then you shall go home—ha, ha, ha!"

It was a demon's laugh, full of malice and hatred; yet Fanny smiled through her tears, for she saw not the old wretch's malignity, and only thought of her escape from the danger which had menaced her, and anticipated the happiness she should feel when once more in safety beneath her own humble roof, in the society of all she held dear on earth. Joyfully did she follow the old wench up stairs and into an apartment still more handsomely furnished than the one below; but what was her astonishment and affright, when her sable conductress gave her a violent push which threw her violently to the floor, and then quickly left the room and locked the door! A presentiment that she was imprisoned, and for the worst of purposes, flashed through her mind, and she made the apartment resound with her shrieks. But, alas! no help was near—no friendly hand was there to burst open the door of her prison, and rescue her from a house, within whose walls she was threatened with the worst fate that can befall a helpless maiden—the loss of her honor. Her loud shrieks penetrated not beyond the precincts of that massive building—her calls for help were answered only by the taunting laugh of the black hag outside, who loaded her with alternate abuse, threats, and curses. At last, exhausted and despairing, poor Fanny threw herself upon the carpet, and prayed—oh, how earnestly!—that no harm might happen to her, which could call the blush of shame to her cheek, or make her poor grandfather think of her as a lost, polluted thing.

Somewhat relieved by this, (and who shall say that a holy whisper breathed not into her pure heart the assurance that she should pass unscathed through the fiery furnace?) she arose with a calmer spirit, and began to survey the apartment in which she was confined. It was a large room, very elegantly furnished, containing a piano, and a profusion of paintings. On examining one of these, Fanny turned away with a burning cheek—for it was one of those immodest productions of the French school, which show how art and talent can be perverted to the basest uses. She looked at no more of the pictures, but went to a window and looked out. The view from thence was not extensive, but merely included a garden of moderate size, surrounded by a high wall; the prospect was not a pleasant one, for instead of blooming flowers, the appropriate divinities of such a place, nothing was to be seen but a smooth surface of snow, relieved here and there by gaunt trees, whose leafless branches waved mournfully in the breeze, seeming to sing a requiem for the departed summer.

Fanny turned sadly away from this gloomy prospect, and seating herself upon a luxurious sofa, abandoned herself to the melancholy reflections engendered by her situation. Soon the fortitude which she had summoned to her aid, deserted her, and as the increasing darkness of the room betokened the approach of night, a thousand fears chilled her heart. She was alone in that strange house—no friends were near—the treatment she had received from the gentleman and his negro menial, indicated that neither of them would hesitate to do her mischief, if they were so inclined—what if they should murder her—or, dreadful thought! first outrage, and then despatch her! While employed in such terrible meditations as these, the darkness increased; grim shadows hovered around, and dim but terrific shapes seemed to glide towards the trembling girl. She groped her way towards the window, and looked out—there was no moon, and not a star glimmered in the firmament. Soon the darkness grew so intense, that had she held her hand close to her eyes, she could not have seen it.

Every moment augmented her fears; and sinking down in one corner, she pressed her hands to her aching eyes, as if to shut out some hideous spectacle.

Not long had she been thus, when a mortal terror, to which all her other fears were as nothing, seized her; she shivered with horror, and cold perspiration started from every pore of her skin—for her sense of hearing, painfully acute, detected the presence of a moving object in the room—she heard the rustle of garments—a footstep—the sound of breathing; she strained her eyes through the intense darkness, but could distinguish nothing. The moving object approaching her, nearer and nearer—it seemed to be groping in search of her—and her blood froze with horror when at last a cold hand touched her cheek, and she beheld a pair of eyes glaring at her through the gloom. A low, mocking laugh—a whispered curse—and the object glided away; then Fanny lost all consciousness.

When she recovered from the swoon into which she had fallen, daylight was shining through the windows. Hours passed away, and no one came to invade the girl's solitude. At about noon, the door was unlocked, and the old negro woman appeared, bearing a plate of provisions and a basket full of clothing. Placing the food before Fanny, the hag bade her eat, a request readily complied with, as she had fasted since the preceding day. While she was eating, the old negress regarded her with a hideous grin, and eyes expressing all the malignity of a serpent; and at the conclusion of the repast, asked her—

"Well, Miss, how did you pass the night?"

Fanny related the fearful visitation she had experienced, and implored to be released from her confinement; the black woman laughed disdainfully.

"No, no, Miss," said she, "my master will never let you go until of your own free will, you become his own little lady, and take him for a lover. Listen to me, girl: I am going to speak for your own good. My master is very fond of young ladies such as you, and goes to every expense to get them into the house; but he never likes to force them to his wishes, his delight being to have them willing to receive him as a lover—do you understand? But those silly girls who are not willing, he shuts up in this room, which is haunted by a fearful spectre, who every night visits the obstinate girl, and sometimes punishes her dreadfully, until she consents to my master's wishes."

Fanny shuddered—and the old black woman continued, in a gentler tone—

"Now won't you, to avoid this fearful spectre, consent to become my master's little lady? I am sure you will, my dear. See—I have brought you some fine clothes to wear, so that you may be fit to receive Mr. Tickels this afternoon, as he intends to visit you. Now, don't fail to be very good and kind to him, for he loves you very much, and will make a fine lady of you. Come, let us take off those old clothes, and put on this beautiful silk dress that has been bought on purpose for you."

We have so far depicted Fanny as a very timid, gentle girl; but she was not destitute of a becoming spirit.—When, therefore, she heard that old wretch so calmly and deliberately talk of her surrendering herself to dishonor and shame, the flush of indignation mantled her cheek; she arose, and boldly confronting her tormentor, said, with spirit and determination—

"I will not wear your fine clothes, nor become the slave of your master's will! He is a villain for keeping me here—and you are a wretch, a wicked wretch, for trying to tempt me to do wrong. I am not afraid of the spectre you speak of, for God will protect me, and keep me from harm. You may kill me, if you like, but I will not—will not be guilty of the wickedness you wish me to commit; and if ever I get free from this bad place, you and your master shall be made to suffer for treating me so. Remember this, you nasty old black devil—remember this!"

The negress quailed before the young girl, whose singular beauty was enhanced ten-fold by the glow of indignation on her cheek and the sparkle of anger in her eye. Then, without saying a word, she left the room, locking the door after her.

Half an hour elapsed, and the wench again made her appearance; in her hand she carried a short, stout piece of rope. With the fury of a tigress, and a countenance (black as she was) livid with rage, she flew at the young girl, tore every shred of clothing from her person, and then beat her cruelly with the rope, until her fair skin was covered in various places with black and blue marks. In vain poor Fanny implored for mercy; the black savage continued to beat her until obliged to desist by sheer exhaustion. Throwing herself breathless into a chair, she said, with a fierce oath—

"So, Miss—I'm a nasty old black devil, am I? You impudent hussy, how dare you use such language to me? But I'll learn you better. You shall be more civil, and do as my master wishes, and obey me in everything, or I'll not leave a whole bone in your skin. Now put on these new clothes instantly, or I solemnly swear I'll not leave off beating you, until you lie at my feet, a corpse!"

Poor Fanny was obliged to obey—for, apart from the black woman's threat, she had no alternative but to put on the costly garments which had been procured for her, her own clothes being torn to pieces; and of course she did not wish to remain in a state of nudity. She therefore dressed herself—and in truth, the garments were well selected, and fitted her to a charm. Even when attired in her old clothes, she had looked exceedingly pretty; but now, dressed in an elegant costume which displayed her fine shape and budding charms to the best advantage, she was positively beautiful. Even the old black woman could not help smiling with satisfaction at her improved appearance.

"She is a choice tit-bit for my master's appetite," thought she, chuckling to herself; and then she brought water, and made Fanny wash the traces of tears from her face, and arrange her rich auburn hair neatly and tastefully. This done, the negress departed, after telling the young girl to prepare to receive Mr. Tickels in the course of the afternoon.

What must have been the reflections of that poor young creature, while dreading the entrance of the hoary villain who sought her ruin? We can but imagine them: doubtless she thought with agony of her poor grandfather and little Charley, both of whom she knew would suffer all the anguish of uncertainty and fear, with reference to her fate. Then, perhaps, her mind reverted to the happiness she used to enjoy within the hallowed precincts of her humble home—which, humble as it was, and devoid of every luxury, and many comforts, was nevertheless endeared to her by a thousand tender associations, and had been to her as an ark of safety from the storms of life. Her thoughts next dwelt upon the kind young lady, who had given her the gold coin, and whose sweet smile and pitying words still lingered in her heart. And should she ever see those dear relatives or that kind friend again? Or if she did, would she be able to look them in the face as a pure and stainless girl, or would she blush in their presence with a consciousness of degradation? But she was interrupted in these painful meditations by the sound of the key turning in the lock; and a moment afterwards Mr. Tickels entered the room, and advanced towards her. On observing her improved appearance, a smile of intense satisfaction overspread his bloated face and sensual features—and his eyes rested admiringly upon her form, which, though not ripened, was beginning to assume a voluptuous fullness that betokened approaching womanhood. Taking her hand, he drew her to a sofa and seated her by his side. How tumultuously her heart beat with apprehension and fear!—and the old gentleman's first words were by no means calculated to allay her alarm.

"My charming little girl," said he, raising her hand to his lips—"how beautiful you look! A fruit girl!—by heavens, you are fit to be a duchess! Such sweet blue eyes—such luxuriant hair—such pure Grecian features—such a complexion, the rose blending with the lily—such a snowy breast, expanding into the two "apples of love!" And that little foot, peeping so coquettishly from beneath the skirts of your dress, should ever be encased in a satin slipper, and press naught but rich and downy carpets in the magnificent saloons of aristocratic wealth! Nay, nay, my little trembler, be not afraid, but listen to me: I love you more than words can express—you are the star of my life, and your lustre shall light me on my way to more than celestial felicity. Hear me still further: the world bows the knee to me because I am rich—thus do I kneel to you, my angel, for you are beautiful. You shall dwell with me in a mansion, to which, in point of splendor, this is nothing. I will have a boudoir prepared expressly for your use; it shall be lined with pink satin, and in summer the windows will overlook a beautiful garden, full of choice fruits and rare flowers; a sparkling fountain shall play in its centre, and your ears will be ravished with the melody of birds. You shall wander in that garden as much as you choose, and when you are tired, you shall repose in a shady arbor, and dream of love and its thousand blisses. In the winter season, like this, the opera, the ballroom, the theatre, shall minister to your pleasure; and in those places, none shall surpass you in splendor of dress or magnificence of jewels. Say, belissima, will you give me your love in exchange for all these things?"

While uttering the above wild rhapsody, (which is given at length in order to show the temptations with which the old libertine sought to allure his intended victim,) he had kneeled at her feet, and, despite her resistance, encircled her waist with his arm.

And did that poor girl—the daughter of poverty—the child of want—whose home was a garret, and who was familiar with the chills of winter and the cravings of hunger,—did she, while listening to the splendid promises of the rich man who knelt at her feet, for a moment waver in her pride of virtue, or even dream of accepting his brilliant offers? No! for even had she no other scruples, a host of holy memories encircled her heart, as a shield of power against the tempter's wiles,—the memory of home, of the two loved beings she had left there, of former happiness in a more elevated sphere; and of a gentle mother, whose beauty and virtues she had inherited, whose counsels she remembered, and who was sleeping in the churchyard.

Disengaging herself from the libertine's embrace, and thoroughly aroused to a sense of her danger, and the necessity of making all the resistance she was capable of, to preserve her chastity and honor, the young girl, losing all sense of fear, poured forth a torrent of indignant eloquence that for the time completely abashed and overcame the hoary and lecherous villain.

"No, sir—I will not, cannot love you; I hate and despise you, old wretch that you are, seeking to tempt a poor child like me to her ruin. Oh! you are rich, and have the manners of a gentleman before the world,—and yet you are more base, mean and cowardly than the commonest ruffian that ever stole a purse or cut a throat! Let me go hence, I command you; you dare not refuse me, for I know there is a law to protect me, as well as the richest and the highest, and I will go to those who execute the law, and have you dragged to the bar of justice to answer for this outrage. Do you hear, sir?—let me go from this accursed place, or dread the power of the law and the vengeance of Almighty God!"

The libertine quailed before the flashing eyes and proud scorn of his intended victim; his discomfiture, however, lasted but for a moment. His red face grew black with the passions of rage and lust combined; he muttered a fierce curse, and springing forward, seized her in his vice-like grasp, and forced her towards the sofa, exclaiming—

"Curses on you, little hell-bird, since neither persuasions nor promises will make you mine, it shall be done by force. Nay, if you scream so, by the powers of darkness I'll strangle you!"

In all human probability he would have been as good as his word, for Fanny continued to scream louder and louder; when suddenly Mr. Tickels received a blow on the head that brought him to the ground, and a voice cried out—

"Broad-swords and bomb-shells! I am just in time!"

While the libertine lay sprawling upon the carpet, Fanny turned to thank her deliverer; and what was her astonishment and joy when she beheld the wrinkled, care-worn face, and odd, shabby garments of—Corporal Grimsby.



CHAPTER III

The Rescue.

"By the nose of Napoleon!" cried the worthy Corporal, clasping Fanny in his arms,—"this is fortunate. Attacked the enemy in the rear—drove him from his position,—completely routed him, and left him wounded on the field; and you, my dear child, are the spoils of war!"

Mr. Tickels arose with difficulty from his prostrate position, rubbing his forehead, which was decorated with a token of the Corporal's vigor, in the shape of a huge bump not included in the science of phrenology. Turning fiercely to the latter gentleman, and quivering with rage, he demanded—

"Death and fury, sir! how dare you intrude into this room,—into this house? Who are you, and what in the devil's name brings you here? Speak, you villain, or—"

"Hold!" cried the Corporal, his face crimsoning with anger, for he was a choleric little old gentleman, was the Corporal, and as quick to become enraged as to do a good action; "hold! No man shall call me villain with impunity; I shot two rascally Dons at Madrid for the same word, and by God, sir, if you repeat it, I'll cane you within an inch of your life!"

Mr. Tickels was as great a coward as a scoundrel; and though he was a much more powerful man than the Corporal, he deemed it prudent not to enrage the fierce little old gentleman more than necessary. He therefore adopted a milder tone, and asked,—

"Well, sir, what is your business here?"

"To convey this poor child to her home and friends," replied the Corporal, sternly. "It matters not how I ascertained her whereabouts; 'tis enough to know that I arrived here in time to rescue her from your brutality. You shall pay dearly for this outrage, damn you!" added the Corporal, again getting into a passion, and turning very red in the face. "But come, my child, let us leave the den of this old hyena, and go to your poor grandfather and little Charley."

Mr. Tickels closed the door, and placed his back against it with a determined air.

"You are mistaken, sir," said he, calmly,—"if you suppose that you can thus force yourself into my house, and into my private apartments, and without explanation kidnap or carry off a young person whose presence here is no affair of yours. Do you know me, sir? I am the Honorable Timothy Tickels, ex-member of Congress, men are not in the habit of questioning my motives or interfering with my actions. I am rich, and my influence is unbounded, and, were I so disposed, I could have you severely punished for the assault which you have committed on me. Your dress and appearance indicate poverty, although your language evinces that you have enjoyed more elevated fortunes; I am disposed to be not only merciful, but generous. Come, sir—leave this young person with me, unmolested; depart from this house quietly, and say nothing about what you have seen, and here is a fifty dollar bill for you. When you need more, come to me, and you shall have it."

The Honorable Mr. Tickels drew from his well-filled wallet a bank-note for the amount named, and handed it to the Corporal, who regarded it with a curious smile, and twirled it in his fingers. His smile may have been one of gratification at receiving the money—but it looked very much like a sneer of contempt for the donor and his bribe.

"Now is it not strange," quoth the Corporal, soliloquizing,—"that this dirty little bit of paper—its intrinsic value not one cent, its representative value fifty dollars,—is it not strange, I say, that this flimsy trifle, that an instant's application to the sickly flame of a penny candle would destroy, can procure food for the starving, clothing for the naked, shelter for the homeless? Great is thy power, money!—thou art the key to many of earth's pleasures,—the magic wand, which can summon a host of delights to gild the existence of thy votaries; thou cans't buy roses to strew life's rugged pathway—but thou cans't not, O great deity at whose shrine all men kneel, thou cans't not cleanse the polluted soul, still the troubled conscience, or dim the pure surface of unsullied honor. Nor cans't thou purchase me, thou sordid dross. Guns and grappling-irons!" abruptly added the Corporal, abandoning his philosophical strain, and getting into a towering passion,—"would you bribe me to desert my post as a guardian of innocence, and turn traitor to every principle of honor in my heart?—Bah!" and crumpling the bill in his hand, he threw it into the face of the Honorable Mr. Tickels, much to that individual's amazement.

"What do you mean, sir?" he demanded, "do you scorn my gift?"

"Yes!" thundered the little Corporal, "you and your gift may go to the devil together; and hark'ee, sir, perhaps 'tis well that you should know who I am, as you have so formally introduced yourself to me; I am—"

The remainder of the sentence was whispered in the ear of his listener, but the effect was magical. The Honorable Mr. Tickels started, and rapidly surveyed the person and countenance of the Corporal; then he reddened with confusion, and began to murmur a broken apology for his conduct, in which he was interrupted rather abruptly.

"Not a word, sir, not a word," said the little old gentleman, "all your apologies cannot remove from my mind the impression created by your treatment of this poor child; and, sir," (here the Corporal again lost his temper) "you cannot destroy my conviction that you are the d——dest scoundrel that ever went unhung! Consider yourself fortunate if you are not held legally responsible for your forcible detention of the young girl in your house, and for your attempted outrage on her person,—damn you! Come, my child, this gentleman will no longer oppose our exit from his mansion."

The Corporal was right; the Honorable Mr. Tickels offered not the slightest objection to their departure, but on the contrary ushered them down stairs with great politeness, and held open the street door for them to pass out.

When Fanny found herself once more in the open street, out of the power of her persecutor, and on the way to her home and friends, her gratitude to her deliverer knew no bounds; she thanked the good Corporal a thousand times, and spoke of the approaching meeting with her grandfather and brother with rapture. Soon they reached their place of destination; once more the young girl stood in the humble apartment wherein all her affections were centered;—once more her aged grandfather clasped her in his arms, and again did she receive the fond kiss of fraternal love from the lips of her brother.

As soon as they had left the residence of the Honorable Mr. Tickels, in South street, the gentleman locked himself up in his study, threw himself into a chair, and actually began tearing his hair with rage and vexation.

"Hell and furies!" cried he—"to be thus fooled and baffled at the very moment when my object was about to be accomplished—to have that luscious morsel snatched from my grasp, when I was just about to taste its sweets. The thought is madness! And, in the name of wonder, how came HE to know that she was here, and why does he interest himself in her at all? I dare not trifle with him! Were some poor, poverty-stricken devil to constitute himself her champion, I might crush him at once; but he is above my reach. No matter; she shall yet be mine—I swear it, by all the powers of hell! I care not whether by open violence, or secret abduction, or subtle stratagem; I shall gain possession of her person, and once in my power, not all the angels in heaven, or men on earth, or fiends in hell, shall tear her from my grasp.—Ah, by Beelzebub, well tho't of!—I know the mistress of a house of prostitution (of which house I am the owner,) beneath whose den, as she has often told me, there is a secret cellar, which she has had privately constructed, and to which there is no access except through a panel in her chamber—which panel and the method of opening it, are known only to her, and a few persons in whom she can place implicit confidence.—This brothel-keeper told me, too, that she had the cellar made as a safe depository for young females who had been abducted from their homes,—a place of security from the search of friends, and the police. In that subterranean retreat, (which she informed me, is luxuriantly furnished, although the light of day never penetrates there,) these stolen girls are compelled to receive the visits of their lovers; and there, amid the gloom and silence of that underground prison they are initiated in all the mysteries of prostitution. By heaven 'tis the very place for my little fruit girl; she shall be abducted and conveyed there—and once safely lodged in these secret "Chambers of Love," HE who spoiled by sport to-day, shall in vain search for her. Let him come, bringing with him the myrmidons of the law; and let them search my house—then let them, if they choose, go to the brothel, beneath the foundation of which the girl is hidden, and search that house, too,—ha, ha, ha! They will search for her in vain. But how to abduct her—there's the rub! Tush! when did my ingenuity ever fail me, when appetite was to be fed or revenge gratified? Courage, Timothy Tickels, courage! Thy star, though dim at present, shall soon be in the ascendant!"

Such were the reflections of the old libertine, as he sat in his study after the departure of the Corporal and Fanny; and he was so delighted at the thought of a safe asylum for the latter, that, with restored good humor he applied himself to the discussion of a bottle of wine, and then, stretching himself comfortably on a sofa, fell asleep and dreamed of the subterranean "Chamber of Love," and the little fruit girl.



CHAPTER IV

A night in Ann street.

We proceed now to show how the Corporal discovered the fact that Fanny Aubrey was confined in the mansion of the Honorable Mr. Tickels, in South street.

Great was the consternation and alarm of the blind basket-maker and little Charley, as the day passed away and evening came on, without the return of Fanny. They were agitated with a thousand fears for her safety, for both their lives were bound up in hers, and they doted on her with an affection rendered doubly ardent by their poverty and almost complete isolation from the world. In the midst of their distress, Corporal Grimsby entered, bringing, as on the evening before, a basket of provisions. To him they communicated the intelligence that Fanny had not returned; and the eccentric old man, without waiting to hear the recital of their fears, threw the basket on the table, bolted precipitately down stairs, and walked away towards Ann street with a rapidity that betokened the existence of some fixed purpose in his mind. Meanwhile, his reflections ran somewhat in the following strain, and were half muttered aloud, as he trudged quickly onward, now nearly upsetting a foot passenger and receiving a malediction on his awkwardness, and then bruising his unlucky shins against lampposts and other street fixtures.

"By the nose of Napoleon! what can have become of the little minx? lost or stolen?—most probably the latter, for in this infernal city a pretty girl like her, so unprotected and so poor, can no more traverse the streets with safety, than can a fine fat goose waddle into the den of a wolf unharmed. Curses on these lampposts, I am always breaking my neck against them—bah! Well, to consider: but why the devil do I interest myself in this little girl at all? Is it because I am a lonely, solitary old codger, with neither chick nor child to bless me with their love, and whom I may love in return? Bah! no—that can't be; and yet, somehow, there is a vacant corner in my old heart, and the image of that little girl seems to fill it exactly. I am an old fool, and yet—damn you, sir, what d'ye mean by running against me, eh!—and yet, it did me more good to see that hungry family last night, eat the food that I had provided for them, than it did when I, Gregory Grimsby, was promoted to the elevated rank of Corporal. Now about this little girl—I'll bet my three-cornered cock'd hat against a pinch of Scotch snuff that she has been abducted—entrapped into the power of some scoundrel for the worst of purposes. That's the most natural supposition that I can get at. Now display thy logic, Corporal: thy supposed scoundrel must be rich, for poor men can seldom afford such expensive luxuries as mistresses; being rich implies that he is respectable—so the world says and thinks—bah! Being respectable, he would not compromise his character by engaging personally in such a low business as entrapping a girl; no—he would employ an agent; and such an agent must necessarily be a very low person, whether male or female—if a male, he is a ruffian—if a female, she is a strumpet—and where do ruffians and strumpets, of the lower orders (for even in crime there is an aristocracy)[A] where do they usually reside? why, in a congenial atmosphere—in the lowest section of the city; and what is the lowest section of this city? why, Ann street, to be sure. Truly, Corporal Grimsby, thou art an admirable logician! So now I am on my way to Ann street, to explore its dens, in the hope (a vain one, I fear) of finding the supposed agent who was employed by the supposed rich scoundrel to abduct, kidnap, or entrap my little Fanny. Should I be so fortunate as to find that agent, money will readily induce him or her to divulge the place where the girl is hid; for the principle of "honor among thieves" has, I believe, but an imaginary existence."

[A] The honest Corporal was right; the well-dressed, gentlemanly, speculating, wholesale swindler would scorn to associate with the needy wretch who protracts a miserable existence by small pilferings—and the fashionable courtezan who promenades Washington street and "sees company" at a splendidly furnished brothel, can perceive not the slightest resemblance between her position in society and that of the wretched troll who practises indiscriminate prostitution in some low "crib" in Ann street. And yet philosophy and common sense both level all moral distinction between the two conditions.—A noble murderer once protested against being hung on the same gallows with a chimney-sweep—there was aristocracy with a vengeance! We opine that the lofty and arrogant pretensions of some of our "nabobs," who are often of obscure and sometimes of ignominious birth, are scarcely less ridiculous than the aristocratic notions of a gentlemanly rascal who robs a la mode and picks a pocket with gentility and grace!

Leaving the Corporal to explore the intricate labyrinths of Ann street, (in the hope of obtaining some clew to the fate of Fanny Aubry,) thou wilt have the kindness, gentle reader, to accompany us into one of the squalid dens of that great sewer of vice and crime. But first we pause to read and admire the sign which decorates the exterior of a "crib" opposite Keith's Alley, and which, with a peculiarity of orthography truly amusing, notifies you that it is a "Vittlin Sollor." (This sign remains there to this day.) Passing on, we cannot fail to be impressed with the "mixed" nature of the society of the place; colored ladies and gentlemen (by far the most decent portion of the population) are every where to be seen, thronging the side-walks, indulging in boisterous laughter; loafers of every description are lounging about, whose tattered garments indicate the languishing condition of their wardrobes; great, ruffianly fellows stare at you with eyes expressive of the villainy that prompts to robbery and murder;—miserable men, ghastly women, and dirty children obstruct the pathway, and annoy you with their oaths and ribald jests. Let us descend this steep flight of steps, and enter this cellar. Be not too fastidious in regard to the odor of the place, for eau de cologne and otto of rose are not exactly the commodities disposed of here, the place being devoted to the sale of that beverage classically termed "rot-gut," and eatables which, unlike wine, are by no means improved in flavor by age. There is the "bar," and the red-nosed gentleman behind it seems to be one of its best patrons. A wooden bench extends around the apartment, and upon it are seated about twenty persons of both sexes. A brief sketch of a few of the "ladies" of this goodly company may prove interesting, from the fact that the names are real, and belong to prostitutes who even now inhabit the regions of Ann street.

That handsome, finely-formed female, with dark eyes and hair in ringlets, and who is also very neatly dressed, is "Kitty Cling-cling," who has been termed the "belle of Ann street." That lady in a red dress, with hair uncommonly short, (she having only recently dispensed with a wig,) is Joannah Westman, of Fleet street, and Liverpool Jane from the same respectable neighborhood. This renowned "Lady" of the town was (and is) distinguished by a huge scar on her left cheek, which seems to be the exact impression of a gin bottle, probably thrown in some brawl in Liverpool, her native place. Then there is Lize Whittaker, from Lowell, who "ties up" at the corner of Fleet and Ann streets. Then we notice two ladies who rejoice in the mellifluous names of "Bald-head" and "Cockroach," and who are both worthy representatives from Keith's Alley. These, with a small sprinkling of ebony lasses and their attendant cavaliers, make up the very respectable assemblage.

And now everybody brightens up, as a couple of colored gentlemen enter the cellar, and seating themselves upon a raised platform termed by courtesy "the orchestra," commence tuning a fiddle and base viol, preparatory to a dance by "all the characters."—Away the musicians glide into the harmonious measures of a gay quadrille—and to say the truth, the music is excellent, for Picayune and Joe are very skillful performers on their respective instruments; and are well qualified to play for a much more select and fashionable auditory. And now the voluptuous Kitty Cling-cling is led to the centre of the festive hall by a sable mariner, and begins to foot it merrily to the dulcet strains; while Bald-head and Cockroach find partners in two African geniuses, whose dress and general appearance would most decidedly exclude them from admission into a fancy ball at Brigham's. Away they go, through all the intricate mazes of the giddy dance. But see—a crowd of well-dressed but dissipated young men enter the cellar, their wild looks and disordered attire plainly indicating that they are on a regular "time." Those young men have been imbibing freely at some fashionable saloon in Court or Hanover street, and have come to consummate the evening's "fun" by having a dance with the fallen goddesses of Ann street. With a facetious perversity, they select as partners the most hideous of the negro women, and "mix in" the dance with a relish that could not be surpassed if their partners were each a Venus, and the cellar a magnificent hall of Terpsichore. The dance concluded, they throw down a handful of silver upon the counter, and invite "all hands to take a drink," but very rarely drink themselves in such a place, well knowing the liquor to be unworthy the palate of men accustomed to the superior beverages of the aristocratic establishments. At the completion of this ceremony, they take their departure, to visit some other "crib," and repeat the same performances.

But let us (supposing ourselves to be invisible) pass from the dance hall and enter the adjoining apartment, which is smaller. Seated around a rough deal table are about thirty men and women, engaged in smoking and drinking. The room is dimly lighted by a couple of tallow candles, stuck in bottles; the walls are black with dust and smoke, and the aforesaid table and a few benches constitute the entire furniture of the room. The general frequenters of the cellar are not admitted to this place, it being especially reserved for the use of those ladies and gentlemen who gain their living on the principle of an equal division of property—or in other words, thieves. In this room, secure from being overheard by the uninitiated and vulgar crowd, they could "ply the lush," and "blow a cloud," while they talked over their exploits and planned new depredations. The room was called the "Pig Pen," and the society who resorted there classed themselves under the expressive tide of "Grabbers." Although not a regularly organized association, it had a sort of leader or captain whose authority was generally recognized. This gentleman was called "Jew Mike," from the fact of his belonging to the Hebrew persuasion; he was a gigantic, swarthy ruffian, with a long, black and most repulsive features, and was dressed in a style decidedly "flash," his coat garnished with huge brass buttons, and his fingers profusely adorned with jewelry of the same material. He had recently graduated from the State Prison, where he had served a term of ten years for manslaughter, as the jury termed it; although it was universally regarded as one of the most cold-blooded and atrocious murders ever committed. To sum up the character of this man in a few words, he was a most desperate and blood-thirsty villain, capable of perpetrating the most enormous crimes; and dark hints were sometimes thrown out by his associates in reference to his former career; some said that he was an escaped murderer from the South; others that he had been a pirate; while all united in bearing unqualified testimony as to the villainy of his character and the number and blackness of his crimes. He could not plead ignorance in extenuation of his manifold enormities, for he possessed an education that would have qualified him to move in a respectable sphere of society, had he been so disposed. Upon his right was seated no less a personage that "Sow Nance," the hideous girl who had that day entrapped poor Fanny Aubry into the power of Mr. Tickels; she was much intoxicated, and by the maudlin fondness which she displayed for Jew Mike, it was easy to surmise the nature of the relation existing between her and him. Included in the company were several other "apple girls," whose proficiency as thieves entitled them to the distinction of being considered as competent "Grabbers;" each one of these wretched young creatures had her lover, of "fancy man," who was generally some low, petty thief—although, among the male portion of the assembly, there were several expert and daring robbers, the most distinguished of whom was Jew Mike himself, whose skill as a burglar had elevated him to the highly honorable position of captain of the "Grabbers."

The "lush" was freely handed round, and the company soon grew "half seas over;" then came wildly exaggerated narratives of exploits in robbery, thieving, and almost every species of crime, interspersed with smutty anecdotes and obscene songs, in which the females of the company were not a whit behind the males. At length Jew Mike himself was vociferously called on for either a song or a story; and not being a vocalist, the gentleman preferred entertaining his friends with the latter; so, clearing his throat by an enormous draught of brandy, he began as follows:

JEW MIKE'S STORY

"You see, lads and lasses, a year or two before I came to this accursed country to be jugged for a ten spot, for manslaughter, (it was a clear murder, though, and a good piece of work, too,) I was a nobleman's butler in the great city of London. Ah, that was the place for a man to get a living in! No decent "Grabber," would stoop to petty stealing there; beautiful burglaries, yielding hundreds of pounds in silver plate; elegant highway robberies, producing piles of guineas and heaps of diamond watches,—that was the business followed by lads of the cross at that time in England. Well, there's no use in crying over spilt milk, any how; I was obliged to step out of England when the country got too hot to hold me, and if I returned there, by G——! my life wouldn't be worth a moment's purchase. And now to go on with my story. I was a nobleman's butler, and glorious times I had of it—little to do, plenty of pickings and stealings, free access to the pantry and wine-cellar, and enjoying terms of easy intimacy with the prettiest chambermaid in London. The only drawback upon my happiness was Lord Hawley's valet, a Frenchman, named Lagrange, who had been in his lordship's service many years, and was regarded as a remarkably honest and faithful man,—and so he was; but those qualities which rendered him valuable to his lordship, of course rendered him devilish obnoxious to me,—for he suspected my real character, and was continually playing the spy upon me, and informing my master of all my little peccadilloes. For instance, his lordship would send for me in his library, and say, sternly,—'Simpson, my valet Lagrange informs me that you are improperly intimate with one of the female domestics; you must stop it, or quit my service.' And perhaps the next day he would again summon me before him, and, with that cursed valet grinning maliciously at me from behind his chair, say to me,—'Simpson, I hear that you make too free with my wine, and are frequently intoxicated; stop it, or I shall dismiss you.' In short, Lagrange was the bane of my existence, and I secretly swore to be terribly revenged upon him for his tattling propensities. You'll soon see how well I kept my oath.

"My Lady Hawley was a very gay, dissipated and beautiful woman, and I had long been aware that during my master's absence she was in the habit of receiving the clandestine visits of a handsome young officer of dragoons. To tell the truth, I used to admit him to the house, and see that no one was in the way to observe him enter her ladyship's chamber, for which services I received very liberal rewards from both her ladyship, and Captain St. Clair. Lord Hawley doted upon his wife, who was many years younger than himself; and often have I laughed in my sleeve when I thought what a cuckold she made of him. But he suspected nothing of the kind; I was the only person, besides the parties, who knew of the intrigue; even Lagrange, artful spy as he was, did not discover it. My master, who was addicted to gambling, was absent until a late hour every night, at Crockford's; and thus her ladyship had every opportunity to enjoy frequent interviews with her lover. As I knew of her frailty, I had her completely in my power; and often I was tempted to threaten her with exposure, unless she would "come down" handsomely with a thousand pounds or so, and grant me any other favor that I might choose to demand, as the price of my silence,—for, as I said before, she was a beautiful woman, and a butler has feelings as ardent as those of a captain of dragoons.

"Well, matters continued very quiet and agreeable, until late one night, after I had gone to bed, I heard a low but hurried knock at the door of my room. I arose, hastily threw on a few garments, and opened the door, when to my astonishment in rushed Lady Hawley, in her night-dress, and threw herself into a chair, breathless with agitation. Almost instantly the thought flashed through my mind that her intrigue had been discovered; cautiously closing the door, I advanced towards her ladyship, and in a respectful manner inquired why she had honored me with a visit so unexpected, and what might be the cause of her evident agitation, at the same time assuring her of my assistance, should she require it. She fixed her proud, beautiful eyes upon my face, and said, in a voice trembling with emotion,—

"'Good heavens, Simpson, only think of it, my foolish affair with Captain St. Clair is discovered!'

"'Is it possible, your ladyship?' I cried, 'and may I ask who—'

"'His lordship's valet, Lagrange, saw me, half an hour ago, conducting the Captain to the private stair-case which leads to the garden,' replied her ladyship, shuddering, and shading her face with her hands.

"'And might not your ladyship purchase his silence?' I asked. She replied,—

"'I have just come from his room; you know how obstinate he is,—how entirely devoted to his lordship,—how blindly honest and faithful he has ever been,—how singularly averse to receiving presents from any source whatever, fearing it might have the appearance of bribery. I went to his room, and offered him a hundred guineas if he would solemnly swear never to reveal what he had seen. In a tone of cold indifference he said, 'I must do my duty to his lordship, to whom I am bound by the strongest ties of gratitude, even at the sacrifice of your ladyship's honor.' I entreated him, almost on my knees, to give the required promise; I offered to double, nay, treble the sum that I had named, but no; he turned from me, almost with disdain, (the low-born menial!) and requested me to retire, as I must be aware of the impropriety of such a visit, at such an hour. Perceiving the uselessness of attempting to bribe him to secrecy, I left him, cursing him for his obstinacy, and came direct to you. Heavens!' added her ladyship, drawing her robe over her partially denuded bosom, 'how desperate the fear of exposure has made me, that in this indecent attire I go at midnight to the chambers of male servants!—Simpson, can you help me in this dreadful emergency? You have heretofore proved faithful to me,—do not desert me now. Lagrange must be silenced!—do you understand me? At any cost,—at any risk,—his babbling tongue must be hushed, by you, for you are the only person whom I can trust in the affair. Yes, he must never speak the word that will proclaim my dishonor to the world!'

"'At any cost, your ladyship?' rejoined I, fixing my eyes steadily upon hers, for her despair rendered me bold, and I was not one to suffer an opportunity to slip by unimproved.

"'I understand you, fellow!' she replied, with a hysterical laugh and a glance of scorn,—'and much as I despise you, I answer yes! at any cost. But, gracious Heavens, what do I say? you, a menial, a base-born servitor! But no matter; even that is far preferable to exposure. Good God! to think of being cast off by his lordship with loathing and contempt, despised and hated by my relatives,—an eternal blot upon my name,—forever excluded from the sphere of society of which I am the star and centre,—no, that shall never, never be. Silence Lagrange—silence him forever,—then ask of me any favor, and it shall not be denied.'

"I approached her ladyship; she was pale as marble, but how superbly beautiful! Her glossy hair, all disordered, hung in rich masses upon her uncovered shoulders; her seductive night-dress but imperfectly concealed the glories of her divine form,—her heaving bosom, so voluptuous and fair, was more than half disclosed to my gaze. With a palpitating heart I laid my trembling hand upon one of her plump, white shoulders. Never shall I forget the majestic rage and scorn of her look, as she started to her feet, and stood before me in all the pride of her imperial beauty.

"'Fellow,' she said, with desperate calmness, 'you are bold; but perhaps I ought to have expected this. I perceive that you are disposed to take every advantage of my situation. Be it so, then; but not until you have earned the reward, can you claim it. Remember this. Fortunately, his lordship is out of town, and will not return until the day after to-morrow; but oh! how unfortunate that his accursed valet did not accompany him! Lagrange pretended to be ill, and was left behind, and my lord was attended by another servant. No matter,—you will have an opportunity to dispose of this French spy ere the return of his master. I care not what method you take to silence his tongue,—but be secret and sure; and when the work is done, you shall have your reward—not before.'

"Having thus spoken, her ladyship swept out of the room with the air of a queen, leaving me to devise the best method of silencing Lagrange forever. I could not mistake her ladyship's meaning; she wished me to murder the man. Now, the fact is, ladies and gentlemen, murder's a devilish ticklish business, any how; not that I ever had any false delicacy in relation to the wickedness of the thing—pshaw! nothing of the kind,—you'll all believe me when I assure you that I'd as soon cut a human throat, as wring the neck of a chicken, for that matter; but then the consequences of a discovery are so ducedly unpleasant, and although I am confident in my own mind that I am destined to terminate my existence ornamented with a hempen cravat, I have never had any desire to hasten that consummation. So I didn't altogether relish the job which her ladyship had given me; but when I thought of her surpassing beauty, my hesitation vanished like mists before the rising sun, and I resolved to do it.

"Several times the next day I tried to provoke Lagrange into a quarrel, but the wily rascal, as if divining my intentions, only shrugged his shoulders and smiled in the cold and sarcastic manner peculiar to him. This enraged me greatly, and after applying the most abusive epithets to him, I finally struck him. But all availed nothing; unlike the majority of his countrymen, the fellow was cold and passionless, even under insults and blows. I had provided myself with a sharp butcher's knife, which I carried in my sleeve, ready to plunge into his heart, had he offered to attack me in return; and thus I hoped to make it appear that I had slain him in self-defence. But his admirable coolness and self-possession defeated that scheme,—and I saw that I would be obliged to slay him deliberately at the first opportunity.

"That opportunity was not long wanting.

"During the afternoon he had occasion to visit the wine vault, of which I alone had the key; I accompanied him thither, and while he was engaged in selecting some malt liquor for the servants' table, I said to him,—

"'Monsieur Lagrange, you are acquainted with a secret that intimately concerns her ladyship; what use do you intend to make of this knowledge?'

"The Frenchman very coolly intimated that it was none of my business, and continued his employment. His back was towards me; I approached nearer to him, and said, in a low tone—

"'You infernal, backbiting, sneaking scoundrel, you have often betrayed me to my master, and would now betray her ladyship. You shall not live to do it—die like a dog, as you are!'

"While thus addressing him, I had drawn forth my knife; and as I uttered the last words, I plunged it with all my force into his left side, up to the very handle. The blade passed directly through his heart, and without a groan he fell dead at my feet.

"No remorse—no sorrow for the bloody deed I had committed, found entrance to my soul; on the contrary, I gazed at the corpse with savage exultation. 'That babbling tongue is now forever hushed,' thought I; and then, as a sudden strange thought struck me, I added—'and that tongue shall be my passport to a bliss more exquisite than the joys of Paradise.' With an untrembling hand I cut off the dead man's tongue, secured it about me, and having hid the body behind a row of wine casks, left the cellar, securely locked the door, and then went about my usual avocations, resolving to dispose of the corpse that night in some manner that should avert suspicion from me, for I had every confidence in my own ingenuity.

"Towards evening, I sought and obtained an interview with her ladyship, in private. She advanced to meet me with a hurried step and sparkling eyes.

"'Simpson, is it done?' she asked, in a tone of extreme agitation, and laying her delicate hand on my arm.

"'It is, your ladyship,' was my reply, producing and holding before her the bloody evidence of the deed—'and here is the tongue of Lagrange,—the tongue that would have proclaimed your shame and effected your ruin, had its owner lived; but he now lies a cold corpse, and this once mischievous member is now as powerless as a piece of carrion beneath a butcher's shamble.'

"'And the body—how will you dispose of that?' she asked, shuddering, and turning from the sickening spectacle with disgust.

"'To-night it shall be sunk deep in the waters of the Thames,' I replied; and then, in a more familiar manner than I had as yet ventured to assume, I reminded her ladyship of the reward she had promised me, as soon as the job should be completed. Again she shuddered;—and turned deadly pale; and with a bitter smile, which seemed to me to be expressive of hatred and contempt combined, she answered—

"'You are right, Simpson; you have obeyed my wishes, and merit your reward,—but not now, not now! Come to my chamber at midnight; I shall expect you,—you understand. Go now—leave me; remove all traces of your crime. I shall take care to have a quantity of plate removed from the house to-night, and destroyed, and when his lordship returns to-morrow, he will imagine that Lagrange, despite his supposed faithfulness and integrity, has absconded and stolen the plate,—that will account to him for the valet's sudden disappearance. Leave me.'

"'Remember, at midnight, your ladyship,' said I, and left her; but when I had closed the door of the apartment, I imagined that I heard her give utterance to a scornful laugh. However, I attributed it to her gratification at the death of Lagrange, and descending to the wine cellar, I busied myself in washing away the stains of blood from the floor. How impatiently I longed for the arrival of midnight! the hour that was to bring with it the reward of my crime!

"During the evening, I paid a visit to a noted "boozing ken" in St. Giles', which bore the very suitable appellation of the "Jolly Thieves." Here I engaged two desperate fellows of my acquaintance—(for I went on a crack, now and then, myself, just to keep my hand in,)—to make away with the body of Lagrange; they were to come to the rear of my master's house, an hour after midnight, provided with a sack and some means of conveyance; and, for a liberal reward, they promised to carry off the corpse, and, having attached a heavy weight to it, sink it in the Thames,—although I felt assured in my own mind, that, instead of giving it to the fishes, they would make a more profitable disposition of it, by selling it to some surgeon for dissection;—body-snatching being a part of their profession, as well as burglary and murder. Having made this important arrangement, and paid them a good round sum in advance, (for I was well provided with money,) I returned to my master's house, which I reached about eleven o'clock.

"At length the welcome midnight hour arrived, and with a beating heart I repaired to the chamber of her ladyship. It was a large apartment, furnished with exquisite taste and elegance,—in fact, a perfect bower of the graces; and, to my somewhat voluptuous mind, not the least attractive feature of it, was a magnificent and luxurious bed, mysteriously hidden beneath a profuse cloud of snowy drapery, heavily laden with costly lace. I had already pictured to myself the delights of an amorous dalliance within that bower of Venus, with one whose glorious beauty could not have been surpassed by that of the ardent goddess herself—but how grievously was I doomed to be disappointed, at the very moment when I fancied my triumph certain! But I must not anticipate my story.

"In answer to my respectful, and I must own, somewhat timid, knock at the chamber door, I heard the musical but subdued voice of her ladyship bidding me to 'come in.' I entered, and having softly closed the door, noiselessly turned the key in the lock, and advanced to where she was seated by a table, upon which there stood wine, and materials of a recherche supper. Drawing a chair close to her ladyship, I seated myself, and gazed at her long and ardently, while she, apparently unconscious of my presence, seemed to be deeply engaged in perusing a splendid volume of Byron's poems.

"Surprised and not perfectly at ease, in consequence of her silence and abstraction (for she had not even glanced at me,) I at length ventured to observe—

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