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John' I should be sorry to believe such a thing of you, though 'tis generally thought so of all you dress-out girls. However, all I have heard said about you, amounts to no more than a suspicion, that
rags out of sight, and a sneer'There goes Bet Brown, who came out of the workhouse the other day, and is now dressing out for a husband.' Now this is grating to the ears of any body who has a regard for you."
you are all
Elizabeth It is a shame for them to rip up my being in the workhouse. How could I help that?"
John-" They would not if you did not cut such a dash, and seem to carry yourself so high. But you know 'tis natural enough when we see folks proud and fine, to ask—' who are they? or where did they spring from ? or the like. There's Mary Smith may walk from one end of the town to the other, in her close bonnet and plain gown, and nobody even think, much less talk about her coming out of the workhouse. Then her living all this time in one place makes her respected, and supposed to be good for something."
Elizabeth " I could have lived in one place too, if I had chosen; but I like to see the world."'
John—" But mind the old saying, 'a rolling stone gathers no moss.' When you are out of
place, if 'tis for ever so short a time, you must be on the spend, and besides, get no chance of having your wages raised, which mistresses will often do for steady servants, if they live a good while. I suppose you know that Mary's were raised last year."
Elizabeth—" Mary has a right to please herself, and I have a right to please myself."
As she spoke the sentence, her colour heightened, and she doubtless felt a jealous emotion. Her agitation occasioned her to take less heed to her steps. The road was dirty, and she too fashionable to avail herself of the convenience of a pair of pattens to carry her safely over. She stepped on a clayey spot, where leaving her shoe behind her, she exhibited to the eyes of John a half naked foot. Thus proving the truth of her neighbour's suspicions.
John assisted in the recovery of the deep sunk shoe, but though they were in sight of the stile which he was always accustomed to see Elizabeth safely over, he now chose to strike into a path close by, which led a nearer way to his own habitation. He thrust both hands into his waistcoat-pockets, instead of extending them to his companion in the friendly act of parting; and with a faultering voice exclaimed, “good bye, Betty, remember, a rolling stone gathers no moss."
John's words and actions conveyed fully the effect this accident had communicated to his mind. The following Sunday confirmed to Elizabeth her suspicions, that the modest plain-dressing Mary was likely to rival her in his affections, for she had the mortification of seeing him waiting to speak to her at the church-yard gate, and receiving only a stiff nod herself as she passed him. Pride and anger now induced her to take a step most absurd and ruinous, for resolving to appear indifferent, where she was in truth much disappointed, she threw herself away in marriage to a smart footman, who deserted her in a few weeks, and left the neighbourhood with another woman, to whom he had been legally married before. As Elizabeth's case seemed, on account of her youth and inexperience, to demand some commisseration, several benevolent ladies came forward, and amply supplied her wants on the birth of her child I saw in the poorhouse. They employed, or rather wished to employ her in needle-work, and the instruction of young children, but the unhappy woman rejected every friendly assistance, and plunged herself into remediless evils. Idleness and dissipation took full possession of her mind, and deprived her of the natural affection due to her own child, for rather than take the trouble of carrying it with her to the wakes and fairs she always attended, she intrusted it to the care of some young girl,and on one of these occasions, the infant re.
seived a fatal injury by a fall, which rendered it the sad deformed object I saw, and laid the foundation of its early dissolution.
The depraved company Elizabeth fell in with at these places, soon completed the utter ruin of her morals, and she became a miserable object of poverty and wretchedness : she could procure no better employment than working in brick-fields, where, habited in a ragged man's coat, and covered with dust, she was seldom recollected by her former acquaintances. Her lodging was in a miserable hovel with some others, near a river ; into which on her way, on a dark evening, she fell. Being soon ex-tricated by her companions, she would by the humane exertions of a neighbouring physician probably have been recovered, had not the spark of life been extinguished, occasioned by her being intoxicated at the time; a circumstance which generally renders a few minutes' immersion fatal to life.
The above little history is not presented to my readers as containing any thing extraordinary, but only worthy of their attention; as presenting a faithful picture of the natural consequences of the line of conduct pursued by the ill-judging Elizabeth. The kind providence of God seldom permits all the evils to which our imprudent and sinful conduct leads; but while this mercy excites gratitude;
let it never encourage presumption: and let the awful reflection that there is a day of retribution, awaken a holy fear of sinning against a sin. avenging God. When deserved judgments of a temporal kind are inflicted upon particular individuals, persons are apt to question with the disciples of old, 'were these greater sinners than others?' Our Lord's answer reproved harsh judgment, and taught the necessity of repentance" I tell you, nay, but except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish."
My young female readers, I urge you pärticularly to the work of self-examination, on the perusal of the sad history of Elizabeth, because I am certain the dispositions she possessed, are com monly to be found amongst you. You have seen the abuse she made of that learning, which has probably, been bestowed upon you by your kind friends, with the same intention as it was bestowed upon her, to render her more capable of knowing her duty to God and man; of contributing to form a greater share of happiness to herself, (for in proportion as the understanding is well-informed, mental pleasures are increased) and usefulness in the world. You have seen in her case, how a love of dress united to a roving disposition, which defeated the very end she had in view of procuring money to support her extravagance, lost her the affections of a sober tradesman, who wisely chose for a partner in life, the modest-dressing, retired