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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 whom 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; that debatable 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 a 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 surro

rrounding 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 hand to the plough, and must not look back. the beauty of the face which they enshroud ; Never was

revenge bought yet but very unsurrounded by any 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 of vengeance.

honest” tribe remarkable; with no mysterious Not 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 lamps gleamed red like fiery 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, and compelled to earn her kindly band 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 “meņ must work and women must weep."


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 IIilton had heen 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 earsthe queen of a shamesul 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 Ilal--a more graceful might lord it amongst her set in magnificent and more fascinating. Lady Percy had never jewellery and gorgeous raiment, when she might tained 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 vil. The 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.” 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, bad 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 aiin was to please, not only the stalls and crown in his 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.

It was


thing to gold. And, besides, most people know so well-of plastering the poor worn knew that in his beautiful little cottage at cheeks with paint and rouge till, in the distance, Bayswater the manager of the Thespian kept they look like blooming beauties—of exposing an old, infirm father and two sisters, who loved themselves to the manifold dangers from gas, bim beyond all earthly things. And knowing and falls, and sprained ankles, which render men would tell you that the reason why Law- them unfit for their vocation. I am right glad rence Hilton did not marry, though many to find that the public prints are taking up thre women of high position would have jumped at cause of these poor girls : in good sooth, they him, was, that he thought a wife might not have need some defenders when so many revile. agreed with the household above-mentioned, Gently, Pegasus, we must pull up after this and that he elected to remain single as long tirade, and go on smoothly again. When I as they lived. This as it may be, but all have just described Lawrence Hilton's personal the favoured people who invited appearance-a short, wiry man, with a pleasant agreed that Hilton's dinners were perfect, and decided face, and that clean cut, small mouth, that some of the best men in London were to with closely-compressed lips, so characteristic be met there; and it was confidently asserted of the man who will work his way despite oppothat the Savelli, who would sing for no other sition, with clear blue eyes, and curling auburn man under one hundred guineas per night, was hair; he was what most women would have ready to sing at Hilton's till she was hoarse, called a handsome man, with a rich musical out of pure regard for the man. By the whole voice, which stirred the heart like an organcorps dramatique he was idolized no task- when I have thus photographed the manager of master, never requiring impossibles, when the Thespian, I will resume the thread of my people had no straw he expected them not to narrative, for you must have been complaining send in the tale of bricks; but when he was already at “all this intolerable deal of sack to assured that they had the requisite materials such little bread.”. ready to their hands, no Pharaoh was stricter He was sitting in the office of the Thespianin requiring exact performance of duty than he, a little den, covered and littered with play-bills, and delinquent stage-carpenters trembled under orders, manuscripts of translators of French his stern eye, and third-rate actors, who had plays, and baskets full to overflowing with renot their “exits and their entrances” pat, hadjected contributions, in the shape of tragedies, reason to tear their hair when he visited them. and comedies, and farces, from stage-struck To the stars of his company he was never authors. One of these he was busily engaged patronising, always urbane, and many were the reading this morning, grumbling dolorously cosy little dinners that the first ladies and gen-over the wretched contents, and bursting into tlemen enjoyed at Bayswater, where they were a ringing laugh when anything particularly always treated like ladies and like gentlemen. ludicrous struck his fancy, and marking deep To the coryphées--that band of poor struggling red pencil lines against any passage which he girls, who exhibit themselves to satisfy the thought might be welded into shape for the morbid curiosity of the public-he was almost stage. fatherly in bis demeanour, and it fared hard • The trouble these fellows cause me! They with the man who spake slanderously of these almost worry me to death with the shoals of girls in his presence. His fine face would flush letters they send in, entreating me, by all the with indignation, and he would thunder out, in gods, to give their effusions a trial. Come in." that clear decisive voice of his, - You must not It was a man of steady, quiet demeanour-the be hard on my ballet-girls ; you have no idea, stage-manager, to inquire who was to replace sir, of the temptations to which these poor girls Madame Vertot, she having refused to play any are exposed, and the terrible amount of hard longer? work they have to go through to scrape together

“Well, if she won't, of course there's no a few pence. I know for certain that a good help forit; and I am not particularly sorry for it; many of these girls maintain poor families at she wasn't half a bad actress, but then her home, and are as honest and pure as the day; temper, Bateman, her temper was that of the and I will never hear them slandered in my devil." presence without defending them. I don't see “Yes, sir ; she had a battle royal with Mr. why ballet-girls should not be as virtuous as our Thomson, the tragedy-man, and swore in French own daughters and sisters. It's the fashion, that she would kill him ; but it is very annoysir, it's the fashion, to call them all bad; there ing that she leaves in the height of the season, peter was a more cruel falsehood.” Will any- and when the piece was getting such a run." body join me, I wonder, in endorsing the good I daresay we can replace her. I have advermanager's opinion? I am afraid not, knowing tised, and got an answer ; the lady is coming to the full how prejudiced our strictly virtuous this morning." and proper people are in their estimate of these Bateman quitted the room silently and quietly poor girls, putting them all down as bad as he had entered, and the manager turned to together, whereas they never reflect on all the his work again. misery and want those scanty and gauzy dresses Another tap; this time it was a servant, with cover- how deeply felt the want must be which a card—“ Madame Brabazon." impels them to this work--the horrible task of “Show the lady up, please.” simulating that ghastly, unmeaning smile we And in answer to the summons entered



Nathalie Duprez, who was desired by the mana- Long experience had taught Lawrence Hilton to ger to be seated, in the courtly way which was be cautious. his when treating with a lady. She lifted the “It will be a risk, a very great risk, my dear heavy veil which shrouded her face, and raised Madame, and I must test your powers before I her eyes to meet the manager's inquiring can give you even the least important character. glances—those wild, beseeching eyes, which The public are very exacting, and the slightest told the story of her misery so eloquently in | hitch often ruins the whole thing in our busitheir dark, silent depths. And the practised ness. There is so much fear of your being eye of Hilton took in at a glance the details of nervous, and forgetting your part, and breaking the stranger's appearance, and muttered an down, and a hundred other things, which would approving " Umph!” as he surveyed her face. spoil the play. You will pardon my asking

"She will do,” was his inward comment. you, are your nerves tolerably good? Do you A face like that would make a hit on any think you could stand the steady gaze of hun. stage.”

dreds of eyes-that is, supposing you took an “I understand that you wish to enter into an important character ?” engagement as actress? I received your appli- “ I have stood too many trials not to undercation. My name is Lawrence Hilton, and I stand what you mean, Mr. Hilton; but I think am the manager of the Thespian.”

that I can undertake the difficulty you men. “ Such is my desire,” said Nathalie, in a low, tion." sweet voice.

“Well, well, we can make the trial, at all “ Have you any references that you could events. The fact is, my dear Madame, that the oblige me with ? Such things are generally unexpected leaving of one of my best actresses necessary, to show that you have acted before; has put me about sadiy, and if I cannot replace and as the part which you will have to take is her at once the piece must be stopped, which an important one, I should like the references will materially affect me, and injure my reputo be as good as possible.”

tation with the public. The character is that Here was

unforeseen dilemma, and of a woman who has been cruelly deserted by Nathalie felt her heart get cold within her as her husband, and passes through a variety of she listened to the manager. In her utter igno. mishaps, till she comes to his door to die. She rance of business matters, she had not enter- has to tax him with all his cruelty to her betained a thought of any question arising as to fore his astonished wife, and then dies to slow her having acted before. What was she to do? music. Do you think you could manage this ? Should she tell this man, whom she felt she See, here is the book; turn to page twentycould trust, the whole story of her life? Some- five, and read the words first. Imagine, if you thing seemed to warn her against the folly' of can, that I am the husband, and that chair must acquainting an utter stranger with the miserable do duty for the wise: the audience we will supdetails. With a great effort she mustered up pose, too." enough resolution to reply.

An ill-concealed gleam of triumph lighted up I- I really was not aware that such things Nathalie's face as she hurriedly scanned the were necessary. You may possibly be surprised lines : here was almost her own wretched lifewhen I tell you that I have never acted before. story—a short time ago she had played this But before you refuse me, please hear me to the same part in sad reality. She rose slowly, end."

divested herself of bonnet and shawl, and unA stare of utter amazement spread over the wound the massy coils of black hair till it manager's features as he prepared to listen. covered her shoulders. She then began to read

“Mr. Hilton, you have sisters, possibly her part in her sweet, impassioned voice; and daughters, of your own. Fancy their being as the feigned story of her real agony fell on the turned out into the streets, to work or beg their manager's ear, he muttered, daily bread! Fancy their being deserted by “Her voice will do right enough, at any rate." all their friends, by all their protectors, and She finished the reading, and then stood exposed to the cold charity of the world—what waiting for his commands. would you do then ? Such a case is mine, “Thanks, that will do nicely. And you and Heaven knows that I am telling the truth. think you comprehend your character ? Now, The history of my life I cannot tell you. All I then, for the acting ; never mind the words can say is, that I am certain that with a little exactly; put in anything of your own, if you practice I would make a good actress. And like." if you would but take pity, and engage me, It required no assistance of his to pose her. even in the lowest parts, I should thank you." With the natural grace peculiar to her, she sank

And all this time the beautiful eyes filled at once into the most beautiful postures, and not with tears, but were fixed in earnest en with flashing eyes, and heaving bosom, and treaty on the surprised manager, and her fine hands wildly outstretched, commenced her form quivered with agitation.

speech. As she went on, the remembrance of Good actress, indeed,” thought he; "only the former scene came back so strongly to look as you do now, and the house will be her mind, and she fancied herself once more crammed."

with Grantley in that room, pleading and enBut the woman might be an adventuress: it treating. Ever and anon her voice rose with might, after all, he þuç some clever “plant.” fierce denunciation, and the manager shrank

awe-struck from that grand form and dilated and friendless condition in London. I know eye. Then she sank again into agonised en- the feeling myself. I was once a poor, friendtreaty, and her frame collapsed into shuddering less man, without a soul to turn to for advice. sobs. It was the reality of acting-if acting it What I was going to say is, that I and my sisreally was—and Lawrence Hilton, as he looked ters would be exceedingly glad to see you at on, grew ecstatic in his admiration; and as Bayswater, where we live ; and if we can do the scene reached its climax, when the dying anything to alleviate your sorrow, will be only wife gasps out the last words of love, he could too happy to do it. You have the word of contain bimself no longer, but exclaimed, Lawrence Hilton that he will stand your friend,

“Admirable! admirable! Why, 'tis the most and no one ever trusted Lawrence Hilton yet, perfect acting I have ever seen. Let the public and found him unfaithful. There's my hand.” once see that, and I prophesy five hundred Nathalie seized the hand of her benefactor, nights, at the least, for "The Wife's Trials. and grasped it warmly: she had not found such Vertot could not come anywhere near this, and kindness for some time. she was by no means to be despised. To see “There will be a rehearsal of The Wife's you, I should never have guessed that you had Trials' on Thursday morning, when you can not acted before. The favourite of all the dress in character,” said the manager. “In theatres in Europe could have done it no better. the meantime, please take the book, and learn Triting characters, indeed; you are fitted for up your part, and especially the exits and encothing if not for the prima donna's part in trances, for they are most important. Good every piece. But, pardon me, how very ill you morning, my dear Madame.” are looking! I hope there is nothing serious. He bowed Nathalie out, and returned to his Allow me to offer yon a glass of sherry: the office chair in a state of curious doubt. He excitement, perhaps, is too much for you; soon had during his iife been thrown about amongst get accustomed to it, though,” said he kindly. many strange people, but this strange woman,

“ Thanks; only a momentary weakness," with her wild eyes and immense talent for actsaid Nathalie, re-arranging her dishevelled hair, ing, he could not make out at all. and sinking into her seat. "And so you think "She seemed to play the thing as if it was that I might do."

her own life," he mused.

“No fear of my "Perfectly satisfied on that score, I assure missing Vertot at all, if she can only get over Fou. Stay, there is one thing—can you the stage nervousness. I shall get a bumper sing? There is one simple ballad, "The the very first night.”. Weary Heart, which you have to sing Again he busied himself over the manuscript, before a lot of rough labourers, if possible but in vain-he could not efface this wonderful to earn a supper. If you can, it would be a pity creature's earnest face from his memory, so he to cut it out, as it is a great favourite with the gave up further work as a bad job, and at public. I am sorry that there is nothing to dinner that evening amused his home circle by accompany, but here is the little piece.” detailing the day's adventure.

He handed her a piece of music; and with Poor thing," said bis sister Jane, a mildthat voice, which had rendered the moanings of looking, handsome woman, that night, as she Orpheus so well, she sang the ballad. A simple poured out her dear brother's coffee; “ I am sure thing it certainly was, but one which lingered we shall be only too glad to have her here as on the ears, and somehow brought the tear into often as she likes to come. We may enliven ibe eye by its pathos-something very like one her just a little.” trembled in Lawrence Hilton's, as he listened Even in his dreams Hilton could not get rid to the plaintive song and the wailing tones of of that beautiful face; and though he poohNathalie's voice, and he said,

poohed the idea scornfully, still he could not “Ah, that is enough to make you a favourite help acknowledging that she had made some with the pit and gallery. There will be some sort of impression upon him. We shall see thing like an encore when you sing it. I don't anon what that impression was. often speak out my mind so freely, but I must say that in this instance I am perfectly content h engage you without reference of any kind. Abul salary, and that sort of thing, we can

Betde another time.”
A flood of incoherent expressions of gratitude

HYMEN, Ô HYMENAE! trembled on Nathalie's lips, but Lawrence Hilton evidently disliked a scene, and had all a Hark to the wedding bells--the silver bells ! good man's unwillingness to be thanked. What a world of happiness now their melody fore

" There, there ; no thanks, my dear Madame; tells !" I daresay that in the end I shall be the man benefitted, and have the most reason to offer you Such is the text that the present chapter is my thanks. It is, of course, no business of to be preached upon; and that I may begin mine,” he went on, delicately as possible, and well, right devoutly do I invoke the aid of the with the tenderness of a woman in his tone, sly little deity who presides over this ceremony" but you will, perhaps, pardon me when I say “ Adsis o Hymence!" Come, Hymen of the that I am very much concerned for your lonely silver bow and blazing torch, and whisper truly

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