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me which went overboard first, and that saved her from hanging. She was confined six months in prison, and then let out again ; but you see, if it hadn't been for my unfortunately feeling the child, and feeling it was warm, what proved its being alive, the poor young woman would have got off altogether, perhaps. So much for the sense of feeling, which I says is of no use to nobody, but only a vexation.” [Puff-the pipe out, relighted-puff, puff.]
“But, father,” said Mary, “ did you ever hear the history of the poor girl ?”
“Yes, I heard as how it was a hard how she had been seduced by some fellow who had left her and her baby, upon which she determined to drown herself, poor thing! and her baby too. Had she only tried to drown her baby, I should have said it was quite unnatural; but as she wished to drown herself at the same time, I considers that drowning the
baby, to take it to heaven with her, was quite natural, and all agreeable to human natur. Love's a sense which young women should keep down as much as possible, Mary; no good
comes of that sense.”
“And yet, father, it appears to me to be human nature,” replied Mary.
“ So it is, but there's mischief in it, girl, so do you never have any thing to do with it.”
“ Was there mischief when you fell in love with my mother and married her ?"
“ You shall hear, Mary,” replied old Stapleton, who recommenced.
“ It was 'bout two months after the poor girl threw herself into the river, that I first seed
your mother. She was then mayhap two years older than you may be, and much such a same sort of person
in her looks. There was a young man who plied from our stairs, named Ben Jones; he and I were great friends, and used
for to help each other, and when a fare called for oars, used to ply together. One night he says to me, “Will, come up and I'll show you a devilish fine piece of stuff.' So I walks with him, and he takes me to a shop where they dealed in marine stores, and we goes and finds your mother in the back parlour. Ben sends out for pipes and beer, and we sat down and made ourselves comfortable. Now, Mary, your mother was a very jilting kind of girl, who would put one fellow off to take another, just as her whim and fancy took her. [I looked at Mary, who cast down her eyes.] Now these women do a mint of mischief among men, and it seldom ends well; and I'd sooner
your coffin to-morrow, Mary, than think you should be one of this flaunting sort. Ben Jones was quite in for it, and wanted for to marry her, and she had turned off a fine young chap for him, and he used to come there every night, and it
was supposed that they would be spliced in the course of a month; but when I goes there, shecuts hin almost altogether, and takes to me, making such eyes at me, and drinking beer out of my pot and refusing his’n, till poor Jones was quite mad and beside himself. Well, it wasn't in human natur to stand those large blue eyes, (just like yours, Mary,) darting fire at a poor fellow; and when Jones got up in a surly humour, and said it was time to go away, instead of walking hone arm in arm, we went side by side, like two big dogs with their tails as stiff up as a crow bar, and all ready for a fight; neither he nor I saying a word, and we parted without saying, good night. Well, I dreamed of your mother all that night, and the next day went to see her, and felt worser and worser each
time, and she snubbed Jones, and at last told him to go about his business. This was 'bout
a month after I had first seen her; and then one
day Jones, who was a prime fighter, says to me, ‘Be you a man ?' and slaps me on the ear. So I knowing what he'd be a'ter, pulls off my duds, and we sets to. We fights for ten minutes or so, and then I hits him a round blow on the ear, and he falls down on the hard, and couldn't come to time. No wonder, poor fellow ! for he had gone to eternity. [Here old Stapleton paused for half a minute, and passed his hand across his eyes.] I was tried for manslaughter; but it being proved that he came up and struck me first, I was acquitted, after lying two months in gaol, for I couldn't get no bail; but it was because I had been two months in gaol that I was let off. At first, when I came out, I determined never to see your mother again ; but she came to me, and wound round me, and I
loved her so much, that I couldn't shake her off.
As soon as she found that I was fairly hooked, she began to play with others; but I wouldn't