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Title: The Convict Laundress
Author: Mary Theresa Vidal
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606851.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

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The Convict Laundress
Mary Theresa Vidal

It was a bright, clear day--how bright, how blue, and how clear, none
but those who have been out of the British isles can understand. It
was Christmas day; but instead of frost and snow, and cold, and
leafless trees, and blazing fires, there was intense heat, and the
trees looked, as they always do in Australia, a dingy blueish tint,
but still full of leaf and blossom: and here and there, where marks of
cultivation peeped through the interminable forest or bush, there were
strips of the brightest green maize, refreshing indeed to the eye, and
contrasting pleasantly with the brown grass, and the tall white trunks
of the gums. The house, or rather weather-boarded cottage, was four or
five miles from the settlement, where there was a wooden church.
Thither the family had repaired on this morning. There was but one
service, for the clergyman proceeded to another congregatation eight
miles beyond. There had been beef and plum pudding for dinner, the
government men, or convicts, partaking in the Christmas fare; and
there were thoughts of those far away, and many a lingering regret for
the old associations of the season. Yet as the evening breeze sprung
up, and stirred the gums and acacias, and breathing through the
cottage refreshingly cool, the spirits of all rose, and with one
accord they went out into the forest at the back of the house. The
merry voices were echoed round and round, and I could see the farm-
servants and working men as they strolled under the trees. Every one
being out, I went to the back, to see that all was safe. There was a
large waste piece of ground with the men's huts, the stables and barn,
and nearer the house stood the kitchens and store. Two or three dogs
lay about, the poultry were busy picking up their food, and a pet
cockatoo came jumping up to my side, begging for a bone in its
peculiarly unharmonious voice. As I stood, feeling rather lonely, I
heard a dull, melancholy noise; it came from the kitchen. I thought
every one had been out: I listened again. Yes, it was from the
kitchen, and it was certainly some one in grief: heavy sobs and a low
moaning formed a strange contrast to the distant sounds of mirth and

On approaching the kitchen I found one of the servants, a convict,
leaning on the table--a solitary, heart-broken creature! Hour after
hour, day after day, did that woman work, and often till late at
night, and never was there more faithful or more devoted service than
hers. Was there a trouble, or an ailment, or an extra job, it was, 'Go
to Grace Allen.' Did the children want a string, or a stick, or a
cake, or a kind word--Grace was there. Early and late she was at her
washing-tub, or bestowing dainty care on all the old clothes that came
from England, because she said she knew 'the Missis set more value on
them than on any thing new.' There was the poultry which throve doubly
after they were given into her charge. Early in the morning, with
light and gentle step, did she stand with a cup of coffee, made with
the utmost care, because she knew 'the Missis was used to it at home.'
Late at night she was there to see if all was right; and after an
absence from home, Grace was sure to be the first to spy the horses,
and to fly to the slip-rail with 'You're kindly welcome back, your
reverence; you're kindly welcome home, ma'am, and the children are
well, the jewels!'

Slight of figure and of graceful form was Grace, and there was every
mark to show how pretty she once had been. There was a refined and
graceful turn in every feature and limb; but she was no longer young,
her hair was growing grey, her eyes were hollow, and her cheeks
sunken; and now, as she raised her pale face on hearing steps, what a
withered, crushed expression was there! She had been glad to let them
all go out, and leave her to weep alone. Nor was it only the thoughts
of her kindred, her children, her old home, which oppressed her heart;
Grace was under a deadly bondage, worse than that of being a convict;
there was sin as well as sorrow, and the bright blossoms of her love,
her faithful clinging heart, were weighed down, crushed, soiled! From
time to time I heard all her history, and for three years tried to
save her, but in vain. The following sketch will not, I think, be
without interest to others; and it is a pleasure, mingled as it is
with deep pain, to recall her words and vivid descriptions, though
they must lose their freshness from inability to give them in her own
Irish phraseology: and while I do not hide her faults, I cannot help
lingering awhile on that devoted, unselfish love which battled to the
last with her infirmities, which survived the wreck of her happiness,
and was permitted to comfort and interest those to whom she was
assigned in that far-off land, Australia.

One evening, just before sunset, a young woman was seen leaning on a
stile; she was dressed after the manner of an Irish household servant,
and there was a certain air of coquettish pleasure as she glanced at
her well-turned fair arm, and neat foot and ancle, then looked
anxiously over the fields, or timidly back towards the house--a
handsome building, standing on beautiful ground, surrounded with every
thing that denotes the residence of a wealthy squire. The substantial
chimneys sent up their columns of smoke, while lights might be seen
glancing in the long row of windows in front. General Montgomery had
company that day; and full of fear lest she should be wanted, had
Grace M'Lean stolen out, after giving a final polish to the spare beds
and tables, in the hope of meeting her English lover. A long sigh
escaped her as the moments flew by and he did not appear. At last
there was a whistle, which made her blush and smile, and in another
moment he was at her side; and passing his arm round her waist, he led
her on by the hedgerow, for a stroll, as he said, in the lovely

"Well then, Grace, when I return you'll consent to the marriage, I
suppose? I've spoken for the cottage, and I have some planks
seasoning, to knock up as neat a table as I'll answer for it will
please even your particular fancy."

Grace smiled, then said, "No, William I am only come to say good bye
and it can't be. You must just forget me, for it can't be."

"Did you speak to your lady?"

"And that I did, ashamed as I was about it; and you know I told you
what she would say, good lady as she is. She says I have no right to
marry a heretic; and I should work on, as my mother did before me, and
not give up to fancies, young as I am. That's what she said, William;
and you know my brother Michael is all against it; so indeed, William,
I just came to tell you so, and I'm waiting at the house, so I can
only have a word or so with you."

"That's what she said, is it? Then you may tell her, Grace, my
darling, that you have no occasion to work on till you're old, for
that I have enough to marry decently upon, and can work as well as any
one; and as for your religion, can't you be a Catholic, and go to mass
and confession all the same? Never a word will I say against it,
though I see no sense in it at all. For that matter, I hope I'm
honest, and never did any thing to be ashamed of, and I go to church
sometimes, because my parents, good souls, did so before me. But I'll
never hinder you from doing what you like. And the priest, Grace,
Father Donaghan, sure he didn't forbid it?"

"Ah, no, William! because he had the hope I should be the means of
bringing you round; and that's why he let Katie marry a Protestant:
but you know, William, there's small chance of that with you and me.
I'm not the one to lead you, and you're not the one to be led."

"Led, Grace! I'll promise to go to your chapel two or three times a
year. As to being a Catholic, that I shouldn't like; because, as I
said before, my father was Protestant, and his father and his father's
father; but I can't see the great difference not I! and if you were to
pray to all the saints in the calendar, I wouldn't complain. So give
up your arguments, Grace, which you will never get me to agree to. Ah,
Grace! think of the nice little cottage and the regular work I've got,
and the old mother nigh at hand."

Grace did think of it; and she thought too of him, the handsome
English carpenter, about whom every girl in the village was talking;
and as she thought, as she listened, her mistress's warning and advice
fell away, like snow in sunshine. Grace had left the house, undecided
what answer to give him; wishing to do right, but willing to be
reasoned out of it; so after a few turns up and down, with drooping
head and blushing face, she gave her promise to be William's wife, and
it was settled that when "the family" went over to Bath for the lady's
health, then should be the wedding. William was going to Dublin on
business, and was to be absent some weeks, so this was a farewell
meeting. They lingered on, till the large clock at the Hall made Grace
start, and then they parted. She ran swiftly to the shrubbery, hoping
she had not been called for--and from that hour the balance was

Heavily it weighed downwards, and its weight was the world. From that
time Grace thought more of pleasing William Allen than her mistress
whom she had served from a child, more than God!

She loved him with a fond, proud, devoted love, and she sacrificed all
for him. Her mistress's displeasure--her mother's sorrow--her
brother's anger--it failed to touch her; her heart was shielded from
all and every thing; there was but one thing in the world for her. Her
eye was bright, her steps firm, her voice clear and merry.

* * * * *

Grace made an excellent managing wife. No cottage was cleaner or more
tasty, no meals so well cooked. No man turned out so neat and well
dressed as William. The rent was always paid, and all things
prospered. Grace worked hard; but as evening came, she never failed to
be at the garden paling to catch the first look, and if it was fine,
they had their evening stroll.

No woman, as she afterwards said, was ever half so happy; alas for the
blossom which had no root, and which the first wintry storm crushed to
the ground for ever!

The M'Leans were a proud family. The mother had been in General
Montgomery's service from childhood, and to the last day of her life
considered their word as law to her and hers. Her family turned out
well, and all were prosperously settled--the eldest, Michael, was
established as a pork butcher, and had a large business, chiefly in
salting pork down for shipping. M'Lean's mark on a cask was considered
sure warrant that the meat was good. Many a sailor drank his health on
the broad seas, while enjoying the well-cured pork which was branded
in Michael's name. Michael was "well to do" in the world, and looked
up to as the head of the family. He was wont to boast, with a
satisfied smile, that none of their stock had ever been known to
darken a jail door for generations back, and they were one and all a
thriving, "rent-paying family." When his youngest sister, Grace,
bestowed her heart and hand on "handsome Willie," as he was often
called, Michael frowned. He did not like her marrying an Englishman or
a Protestant; he knew nothing of William, except that once, on some
rejoicing, he had been the worse for liquor and got into an Orange
row; and this was a bad prospect, as Michael sagely observed, for
whiskey was the curse of Ireland, and as his family had always held up
their heads and kept out of this bad habit, he did not like the match.

It was with no little pride that Grace, as years passed on, could tell
her brother that they were still above the world; that the pig and the
garden paid the rent, and that William's earnings were counted into
her own hand every week; and even Michael could not forbear smiling at
the curly-headed, pretty boy, whom Grace always brought with her. Her
eldest child, "her jewel," who, as she in after years said, with
quivering lips and tearful eyes, "had something above common in his
airs, and any one would have taken him for a real gentleman." The old
mother's cottage was very near Grace; she was skilful in growing and
drying herbs for the use of chemists and doctors, she lived to a great
age, and on her death-bed she solemnly warned her daughter not to give
up her religion, or be slack in her prayers: she said God had
prospered her, and she hoped this would bind her the more to Him in
gratitude. Grace trembled, for something whispered at her heart that
she had forgotten the Giver in the gifts bestowed. She shed a few
tears of sorrow by her mother's side, but they were hastily wiped
away, and all her best attention was devoted to smoothing her mother's
last hours; and never was there a gentler nurse than Grace! But alas!
her mother's instructions in the best way of plaiting frills, and in
the use of herbs for medicinal purposes, were more remembered and
practised than all her other advice. Perhaps old Mrs. M'Lean's own
example had tended to this. Of what avail are good words, unless we
practise what we advise? However it was, Grace went on her way, making
a devoted wife and mother. She set up her household gods and
worshipped them, and they fell at last, and then there was none to
help, none to answer!

Several years of bright prosperity had Grace; her wedded life was as
little marred by clouds as is possible in a world of trial. One of her
girls was taken into a respectable family, to be brought up as a
servant; the other was apprenticed to a dressmaker; her son was still
at home, and it was her pride and delight to give him "learning;" he
was quick and clever, and wrote as "fair a hand as any one in all

There was the comfortable, pretty little cottage, furnished by
William's own handy work, its clean sanded floor, white window
curtain, its bright kitchen utensils, and its cheerful old clock;
there was the cow, and the pigs, and the poultry all thriving. Roses,
and honeysuckles, and jasmine covered the walls, the garden beds had
no weeds, and furnished many a dish of vegetables for their own
eating, besides bringing in many a penny from market. "Vanity of
vanities! all is vanity!"

Grace had gone to market, and had brought home a good round sum, which
she smiled over as she thought of showing it off to William when he
came home. She looked at the clock, and almost wondered he had not
returned, then she prepared supper, and strolled about the garden, and
found her seeds had made a great spring: there was something else to
show William! Why does he tarry?

Grace is laughing and joking with her boy in the garden, little
dreaming of what goes on a mile away.

* * * * *

William was engaged in building a house; he had climbed to the top to
place something, when one of his fellow-workmen called out, "have a
care there, Allen, steady!" But before the last word of caution was
uttered, there was a tottering of the beam on which William stood,
then a crash, a heavy fall, a suppressed groan from the bystanders--
Grace was a widow!

The body was raised and carried into a neighbouring house, but no
medical aid, no care could bring back life. Every one knew Grace, and
every one knew what she would feel. No one was willing to be the
bearer of such news. At length one of the men, one of William's
comrades, said he would step down and prepare her. He had been a
constant visitor at the cottage; none knew better than he did what
this blow would be, and as he walked along, he considered what he
could do to help and comfort the widow, and long did he meditate as to
how he should break the truth to her.

When he had reached half-way, and was crossing the road towards a
stile which led to a short cut, he saw Grace herself coming towards

She called out, "Where's William?" but he stood still and made no
answer. Presently she was close to him, repeating her questions.

"God help you, Grace!" was all he could utter, and she staggered
against the stile, and held it, for she saw something dreadful in his

"Speak man, if you wouldn't kill me!"--and he did speak!--What
happened after that Grace never knew. It was all a blank--a frightful
dark blank. When she became conscious she found herself in her own
bed, with an old woman, a kind neighbour, sitting by her. This woman,
Patty as she was called, now rose and brought something in a glass to
Grace, begging her "to take a sup, 'twould comfort her," and Grace did
so, and then she asked questions, and Patty answered. Grace heard that
the funeral was then taking place; that her brother Michael, and her
son, and a great many others were there, and Patty assured her that no
one could have a more decent funeral or any thing nicer, and then
added such scraps of comfort and condolence as she could think of, and
begged Grace to "take heart and rouse herself." This Grace could not
do for a long time, and, at last, when she left her bed a wasted,
stricken woman, she wandered about her home and little garden more
like a ghost than a human being, or she sat in a corner, with eyes
fixed on vacancy, and moaned, and said she was "a desolate, forlorn,
creature; she had nothing to live for." She tried to pray, but could
not, it was all confusion and misery, and not one thought of comfort
was there, turn which way she would. It was then that her son stood
before her, and spoke gentle words, which, as she afterwards said,
"was the first relief she had, and she cried, which seemed to cure the
deadly pain at her heart." Her son, and he was like his father in form
and face, bade her be comforted, for that he was now old enough to do
something for himself, and that he dearly loved her, and she must keep
up for his sake.

Grace stroked his curly hair, and, still weeping, looked at him, and
at last said, "Sure, and you're your own father's son, and your very
words are his." And from that hour all her energy and love was given
to him. To work and toil to get him into a creditable situation was
her one object.

She strove to banish thoughts of the past, she put away any vague and
dreamy ideas which had arisen in the dark hour for "a more convenient
season." She must work now!

It seemed indeed as if the poor mother's trouble was repaid; her son
was steady, good, and clever, and through Michael's interest he got a
situation with some shipping agents at Belfast.

It was with pride, yet with heart-sorrow that Grace saw him dressed in
his best, a good suit of clothes which she had got for him; his little
box packed, and with a stick in his hand, ready to commence his
journey. Long did the last bright smile live in her heart, and the
last wave of his hat as he left the garden, and his "God bless you,
mother." How often did it return in the lonely nights, and the weary
days; and in after years, in a foreign land, she would wake out of
sleep and listen, for that voice seemed to speak to her by night and

Cheerful letters reached Grace very often from her son, saying that he
was a favourite with his employer, and should soon be promoted, and
receive wages enough to support her as well as himself; and he always
ended with entreating her not to "slave and toil," for his only wish
was to do every thing for her. But it was not Grace's nature to be any
thing but busy. Hers was an active, energetic mind, and she was very
clever at many things. No one could excel Grace at mending china, or
glass, or even saucepans; no one understood how to manage fowls and
turkeys like her; no one contrived to make so much butter from one
cow, or get so much from their garden. Her daughters were doing very
well, but she always owned that her chief love was bestowed upon the
son. One day Michael brought word that William had been trusted with
some important business, and had been sent to England by the agents.

"What, across the water!" said Grace.

Michael laughed, and told her not to look so frightened,. that he was
all right, and she ought to take it as an honour, and a great
compliment, his being chosen, young as he was.

"Very true," Grace said; yet she sighed, and all that night, as the
wind rolled in the chimney, she thought of the stormy sea, and all she
had ever heard of shipwrecks, and she tried to pray for a safe return.
Very uneasily Grace passed the next few days; she could not go on with
her usual employments steadily, but was restless and anxious. She
always declared that she had a foreboding that misfortune was at
hand,--and yet it came like a shock! Michael brought a letter from the
merchant's head clerk--he was drowned--fell overboard when engaged in
some frolic, and was drowned! This time Grace did not lose her senses.
She sat upright in her chair, she did not shed a tear; but she
shrieked aloud in her agony, and her own wild voice startled her.
Michael was alarmed, and called in Patty, and they strove to reason
with her, they entreated her to calm herself, but she said that it was
as if she had a raging spirit within her, and for many days "the
breeze among the trees sounded in her ears like a hideous howl, and
the blessed sunshine was worse than the darkness." There was not a
shadow of comfort any where; they spoke of God and resignation, but
she shook her head; the pain was more than she could bear, and when
she lay down in bed, she fancied that she saw her son's body floating
on the waves, calling her to come; then she would rush out into the
air with throbbing head, and nothing relieved her; she could not cry,
she could not sleep. Patty at last persuaded her to swallow a cordial
and lie down, and then a heaviness came of her, though it was not
sleep, but it seemed to quiet her, and she called for more;--it
drowned the grief.

And this was the first coil of the rope which afterwards so tightly
bound Grace.

Days passed in alternate agony and stupefaction; and then one morning,
when she was all alone, and Patty was gone back to her own home, Grace
determined to go to Belfast herself, for she craved for further
tidings, and she wished to get everything that belonged to her son.
She was glad. Patty was away--she wished to go secretly, why she did
not know, but she made up a small bundle of linen, locked up the
cottage, hanging the key in a particular spot over the door; and,
looking on all sides to see if any one were in sight, she set forth
for her long journey. Weak and worn as she was, excitement kept her
up. She staid at night at a small pot-house on the road, and by the
afternoon of the second day she reached Belfast.

When she was fairly in the streets, a stranger not knowing where to
go, faint and tired, her heart failed her, and she wished she had
never come. She stopped to look about her, and seeing a woman standing
outside a small shop-door, she asked her what was the name of the
street, and then where Messrs. Panton and Co. lived. The woman said,
'Oh! a great way off,' and proceeded to describe the way; but poor
Grace felt she could not take many steps more. 'Could you tell me of a
decent and quiet lodging to be had any where near?' said she. The
woman said there were several. She herself had a tidy little bed which
she often let, and charged low for it: she was a widow, she added, and
glad to do anything to turn a penny, for she had four small children
to maintain.

Grace sighed. 'You're tired: come, step in, and take a cup of tea;
sure you've come a long way seemingly.' Grace followed, and agreed to
take the small room which was to let, while her business kept her in

Mrs. Cady was active and civil, and very talkative. She told Grace
that she sold cotton and lace, and tapes, and pins, and such like
things; and sometimes she got a little washing, but it was hard work
to make both ends meet, and she had found it a world of trouble,
whatever others did. Grace's miserable looks struck Mrs. Cady, and
when she heard she could not sleep, she advised her to take the least
'drop of whiskey' just as she stepped into bed: she had found from
experience how good it was for sorrow. Grace did not refuse, and she
too found that it 'drove off the pain and brought sleep.'

Mrs. Cady's girl shewed Grace the next day to Messrs. Panton and Co.,
where she heard many particulars about her son. As she said, they were
very kind, and gave her all that was due to him and his clothes, and
spoke very handsomely of the lad.

How her fingers trembled and her heart beat as she folded and unfolded
the shirts, the waist-coats and neck-cloths; but very few new things
were added to this old stock. 'No,' as she said afterwards with
glistening eyes but quivering lips, 'he was saving money for his
mother; he never thought of himself, it was for me,--for me!'

Could her brother or any of her old friends have seen Grace at this
time, they would scarcely have recognized her to be the same person.
All her activity, her spirit was gone. She sat staring vacantly out of
window, or moved about the room in feverish restlessness: her person
was uncared for and neglected, she did not mend her clothes, she sat
in dirt rather than sweep a room or dust a table.

Mere animal energy, even long practised habits, will fail us under a
stunning blow. The most buoyant spirit will sink at last, and woe to
us, if, like poor Grace, we have no other support at hand. The
tempter, it is said, lurks in glittering scenes, in prosperity, in
wealth, in fulfilled happiness. He also hovers over the dim room of
agony. He has his weights with which he seeks to crush the bleeding

Mrs. Cady persuaded Grace to remain on where she was for a while: she
coaxed and flattered her, and tried to tempt her to eat and to drink;
her cordials and her drops were often offered and accepted to still
the beating and aching of the heart. She was not pressed to pay for
her lodging, but by degrees she was persuaded into investing a small
sum in the shop, and at last to take a passive share in the concern.
Mrs. Cady was sharp and talkative; Grace doubted her, as she
afterwards said, yet she was glad to be led. She shrank from returning
home, or from any exertion, and she looked for the evening, the
unlocking the corner cupboard, the long-necked bottle, and the dead,
heavy sleep which followed, as she had once looked for an approving
smile from her husband.

One morning, heart-sick, miserable, feverish and heavy-eyed, Grace
stood at the door leaning over that part of it which was shut. Many
persons passed;--carriages and beggars, nurses and children, and men
going to their work. Shrill cries, laughter, buzzing and rattling, all
mingled in confusion, and she looked out on the bright sunshine, and
thought of her forsaken home--the little garden. No one had sought
her, no one cared a pin for her, she thought. Did they think she had
drowned herself in the river! what, if she were to return and find the
cottage occupied? The thought roused her. 'I wouldn't like to give it
up to ruin--but I hav'n't the strength; if I had, I could pay the bit
of rent by washing, and I'd like to die in the old place!' And she
shuddered as she thought of a last illness and Mrs. Cady's sharp face
over her pillow. She remembered one night feeling a hand under her
head, and seeing in the dim light Mrs. Cady's confused face; from that
hour Grace placed her money elsewhere. 'She has been kind to me to be
sure, but I can pay her now: I've a great mind to go, but I am weak!'
and she looked down at her worn shoes. For the first time she felt
ashamed at her untidy state. 'Oh ma'am,' she said in after years, 'it
was fate, I was doomed for destruction. Just as I was thinking this
way, Mrs. Cady called out from in the back room: "Mrs. Allen, here's
some cheap, illegant shoes, jist your very pattern, a rare bargain." I
went in and fitted them on, and paid the money, just half-price. I
felt glad, for I thought, "now I can walk home when I like." Not three
hours afterwards in came some constables. Mrs. Cady and I were seized
for buying stolen goods; we were put into jail.'

Mrs. Cady was known as a very doubtful character, which told against
Grace. Grace was tried and found guilty. It was clear and just, as she
said, she knew she could'nt deny it: she heard her sentence, seven
years' transportation, with scarcely a sigh, and with no effort to
save herself. She did not write to her friends; she scorned the notion
of being the one to bring disgrace to the M'Leans. 'Her daughters,'she
said, 'should never know what their mother was, till the broad ocean
rolled betwixt them.'

Grace was sent from Belfast to Dublin; and while waiting for the ship,
she gained the good will of the matron of the jail. While she was out
of the reach of temptation her old habits of industry and her obliging
temper showed itself. She made herself useful in the jail and on board
the ship: in the latter she was appointed nurse to the sick, and she
often showed a Bible, given by the surgeon, with her name written in
it; a testimonial of which she was very proud.

From the ship in Sydney harbour she was sent to the female convict
barracks at Paramatta, where she says it made her heart sick to hear
the horrible language;--old abandoned sinners and quite young girls
crowded together. Grace loathed the place, resolved to try and get
assigned out, and there to work and to toil, and try to resist
temptation,--any thing to be free from such a place. She begged the
matron to try and get her a place. Accordingly, one day the matron
called her from the work-room, and told her she had received an
application for a laundress in a clergyman's family; she was desired
to recommend one, and had chosen her. Grace was thankful at the

The next day a man came with a cart, received Grace's small bundle,
while she herself, in her convict's dress, seated on the straw, soon
left the barracks at Paramatta for a new, strange scene. The roads
were edged with wattles in full bloom, their golden blossoms shedding
fragrance around. The country was flat and monotonous; the sun hot and
burning. The man,--he had been a convict himself,--joked her on her
dress, and being sent out at the Queen's expense; and bade her hold up
her head, for that 'Government folks were not so bad.' But Grace said
her heart sank within her, so forcibly did her shame and situation
press upon her. They suddenly stopped at the bottom of a lane, and
then the horse slowly mounted the hilt and children's voices rang out
clear from the bank,--and as one, a fair-haired boy, reminding her at
once of her own child, sprang out to take the whip and reins, she
sobbed outright.

The bright stars cast a clear light over the farm that night, and all
was still, save the buzzing of insects, and the croaking of frogs.
Grace sat up on her little bed, and looked at the rough wooden planks
which formed the walls of her room, at her marked dress. She was once
more among respectable people she thought, but she was a convict!
Rough were the accommodations of the place, but Grace's spirit revived
as the morning breeze rose; she resolved to show that she could work.
She went to collect sticks from the wood-heap, as her fellow-servant
told her she must light a fire, and prepare for a 'heavy wash.' While
so doing, the lady of the house came out and spoke to her; Grace never
lifted her eyes from the ground as she answered the questions; the
thin, blue lips quivered, the hand was often drawn hastily over the
downcast eyes. 'I never forget I'm a convict, ma'am,' she often said.
Grace lived long with that family, to whom she attached herself with
that deep devotion which formed so strong a feature in her character;
she followed them in their wanderings, was hard-working, and faithful,
and gentle, and skilful in sickness and in hours of pain. It was hoped
that she would end her days with them, either in that country, or 'at
home.' But old recollections came thronging back. Sorrow and
bereavement will be received,--it rests with us how. If we shut the
door for a time, there will be a moment in which they find too sure
entrance; we may stifle, stun, and poison them,--they do not die. They
came back to Grace, and there were times when the old remedy could be
procured. Then followed weeks of remorse--bitter remorse; sorrowful
reproaches from her friends; taunts and sneers from those who were
inclined to envy the favour shown her by her employers. Grace's bodily
strength began to fail, yet she would never give up; she said working
was the only way to keep down her sorrows, and work she did for every
one. Then came a change from the secluded bush to the suburbs of a
town, and it was no longer possible to guard her, as had been done.
There were dreadful pangs as she again saw the sea, and its crested
waves. She sat like one broken-hearted, gazing at it, or, flinging her
arms wildly, saying her son was there, and she must go to him. None
but the boy whom she idolised had power to move her; nothing but
spirits or opium, which she found means to procure and hide, ever gave
her sleep. A veil must be drawn over this latter part of her history.

It would be too painful to write or to read of the struggles and agony
which ended in loss of reason--Grace died in a lunatic asylum! She was
truly a prey to strong passionate affections, and keen sensibilities,
which were unsanctified. She had turned from God to worship idols, and
when they were crushed, the pain was lulled by stupifying and
intoxicating draughts. May her end be a warning to any of my readers
who is tempted 'to drown sorrow,'--often God's last and best gift!


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