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BORN TO SOR RO W.

ON THE

BOARDS.

CHAP. XIII.

of London! Ah, the bitter sense of loneliness that chills the mind when one sets foot for the first time in London streets, on a ch eerls

rainy day! Very well when, as soon as the It is time that we turn to follow the fortunes train stops, a cheery voice bids us welcome, and of Nathalie Duprez, that, strange, woman, in a friendly hand is stretched out to guide us to phom so much of the hereafter of Grantley is to the home where rest and pleasant warmth may be wrapped up. My friends will remember be found—a hand cunning to lead us through that some chapters ago I described this woman the intricate mazes of those miles of brick deliberating as to what her future life was to houses, and foot skilled to thread the labyrinth be, in the midst of her misery, and how she of the mighty station : but when one is uncame to the determination of entrusting her friended, unguided, left to the mercy of those fortunes to that frail barque on the ocean of choice spirits, the London Arabs—who have no Life which has brought so many gallant souls earthly pity for the unprotected and ignorant, to shipwreck—the stage : that life so unreal, so and think them their legitimate prey ; when one unlike the sober, staid reality of common-place turns about bewildered amidst a sea of strange existence; thatdebatable land, where many cold faces, how bitter the trial then! Nathalie, Bohemians and “dwellers on the threshold” of however, was not unused to travelling, and in the polite world do congregate; a life in which the pursuit of her revenge cared not for the there are very many kicks" and very few half- thorny and difficult path, did it but lead to the pence—where success is wearily toiled for, and end at last where Nemesis lay crouching to often comes too late : a life which is, neverthe destroy. less, far from a miserable one, for its votaries “My heart's sympathies go with the woman do very much as they like, and care not for the who labours for herself through all the diffidictates of Mrs. Grundy.

culties, the prejudices, the disadvantages, of The manager of the “Thespian” had written pushing her own course through life—who yet

short, curt letter.to Nathalie, appointing a does this bravely and in sincerity--such a day for an interview with her, when he might woman,” says Mary Howitt,“ is a heroine :" be in a position to offer her an engagement, if And such a woman is my heroine ! No she suited. Nothing much to cheer in this; interesting heroine of romance, with all the and Nathalie, who knew as much of matter-of-mystery of enchantment surrounding her, and fact business as a child is supposed to, felt her making her fascinating to the reader, just as heart sink within her ; but she had put her those veils which are called “falls” enhance band to the plough, and must not look back. the beauty of the face which they enshroud;

revenge bought yet but very unsurrounded by any of the dangers and dedearly : trouble and toil would be doubly sweet lightful temptations which make Coraline, and to her if in their train came the accomplishment Emeraude, and the others of the “indifferent

honest” tribe remarkable; with no mysterious very much calculated to cheer her was stranger of high degree to fall in love with her; the

aspect of the “ City of Extremities," as the not likely to prove heiress to a noble name and train moved up to the Paddington station. A a gigantic fortune ; not compelled to let hercheerless, cold day had given place to an even- self down from a high window, or to escape ing of determined rain, and a thick fog ob- over the leads, or to take deadly poison in order scured everything, through which the station to free herself from the attentions of some lampe gleamed red like fery eyes. Alone in wicked baron, like the interesting heroines of the world! Such was the conviction that forced the penny prints : nothing of this to recomitself

, in all its desolation, upon her as she mend her, but simply an injured woman, destepped upon the platform, without a single serted by her friends, anil compelled to earn her kindly hand to guide her to a resting-place, un- own living in a world entirely new to her, where protected, and at the mercy of the cruel world “men must work and woinen must weep,'

Nerer vas

of vengeance.

Not

through all the blazing heat of the day, and, if | complete to its most minute details, and from haply they fall wearied to death by the roadside, the opening scene in the Eastcheap Tavern to must lie there forgotten and bruised, while their the closing Battle of Shrewsbury, where stronger brothers and sisters rush on in the Grieve and Telbin had done their deftest in the headlong chase of El Dorado. And, sup- scenery, and the field of battle was covered with posing that everything went right, she would the rival armies, dressed as correctly as if Lawthen enter a world in which everything was rence Hilton had been army contractor to the different from the ordinary work-a-day exist-monarch himself, when the setting sun gilded ence. She was to herd among people who were with its rays the gorgeous panoply of war and the Bohemians of society—at least of such played upon the magnificent armour of the King society as is composed of the strictly moral and and his staff of soldiers--nothing had ever been strictly conventional classes—" the Philistines,” seen to compete with it; and when the drop fell as a modern writer calls them. And she knew on the first representation, the manager was full well that two courses of life were open to called before the curtain, and bowed mutely to her: of splendid shame—when she might be that most welcome music to managerial ears the queen of a shameful coterie, and ride to the the storm of applause that shook the mighty Derby in a natty brougham, or the only woman building. A better actor than his Falstaff had in solitary state on a sporting drag, when she never flattered the wild. Hal-a more graceful might lord it amongst ber set in magnificent and more fascinating Lady Percy had never jewellery and gorgeous raiment, when she might tamed the furious spirit of the warlike Hotspur. have a villa in St. John's-wood, a horse to ride Even Shakspeare himself, so said the critics, in the Row, and an income unlimited enough would have found no fault with the acting and to allow of picnics to Richmond and pleasant the scenery. Ere the applause had subsided, little suppers ; all this and much more, simply and people had well ceased talking of and that a silly, fatuous young lordling, with more admiring the “ Henry the Fourth,” came out money than he could spend, might ape his that well-known sensation piece, "The Mystery fellow-men in sin: or she might, after much of the Haunted Mill!" with entirely new success, make a great name on the stage, and scenery, and a ghost, which left nothing to be draw a salary large enough to supply her desired in the supernatural way; several murevery want--and be fortunate enough, as many ders, a suicide, a night attack of rioters, and of her class have done, to persuade some stage- prison scenes--where all the loathsome details struck nobleman to marry her. Which she of the system were brought out with such chose eventually we shall see anon; at present startling reality that the house shuddered—while we must trace her adventures from the be- the final triumphant success of the virtuous ginning.

characters, and the utter abasement of the vilThe Thespian Theatre was one of those lains, made this play so attractive that it ran mighty undertakings constructed and main- two hundred nights; and when the last repretained solely by the intrinsic energy of one man sentation took place, people were heard to -the manager. He had taken it at a time lament who had seen it night after night. when the theatrical season was becoming very Lawrence Hilton was, in himself, a plainslack, and when there was scarcely one actress spoken, unassuming man-a general favourite on the British stage who might be called a star, with the actors, from the first walking gentleto such a mediocrity had the twin genii of man to the scene-shifters and banner-carriers. Tragedy and Comedy fallen in England. By Rumour whispered that he had been a bannerdint of unwearying energy, backed by large carrier himself, and that he had skilfully carried capital, he had succeeded in drawing together a the pennon of the wicked Baron, so as to keep galaxy of talent, most of it foreign, and at the the front always presented to the spectators ; time of our writing the career of the Thespian but Rumour is proverbially false, and in this was in everyone's mouth, and coupled with it instance "lied most consumedly." It was the name of Lawrence Hilton; and a decided known but to few of his intimates that Hilton success was prophesied, even by the most ill- had been one of the most daring speculators boding. Nightly the house was crowded from of the time, had attempted many things pit to gallery, and the enterprising manager felt which had turned out gigantic failures, until in the ground growing firmer beneath his feet every a lucky turn of the wheel of fortune, a large moment, and spared neither money nor industry property came to him quite unexpectedly, and to please the public. Sprung himself from the he engaged the Thespian Theatre. Whether he lower order of people, he publicly acknowledged had come to London with that traditional halfhis aim was to please, not only the stalls and crown in bis pocket, without which it seems boxes, but the pit and gallery too ; and this he impossible to amass a fortune--whether he was managed by ever and anon, between the severer born to greatness, or acquired greatness, or drama of Shakspeare and Dryden, introducing had greatness thrust upon him. was dubious some sensation piece, startling enough to please enough- but everyone in London knew that the most fastidious lover of that kind of enter at present Lawrence Hilton was an example tainment, and thus he actually contrived to of a theatrical manager, with whom everydelight the public. The stalls and boxes acknow. thing he attempted seemed to succeed (not ledged that nothing could be finer than the way I always the case with those of his kind)—a man he put "Henry the Fourth” on the stage-- whose touch seemed, Midas-like, to turn every.

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