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[-176-]  

CHAPTER LVII.

THE LAST RESOURCE.

    POVERTY once again returned - with all its hideous escort of miseries - to the abode of Monroe and his daughter. The articles of comfort which they had lately collected around them were sent to the pawnbroker necessaries then followed to the same destination.
    Ellen no longer sought for needle-work she had for some time past led a life which incapacitated her for close application to monotonous toil; and she confidently reposed upon the hope that the old woman would procure bar more employment with an artist or a sculptor.
    But at the expiration of the ten days, the hag put her off for ten days more; and then again for another ten days. Thus a month passed away in idleness for both father and daughter, neither of whom earned a shilling.
    They could no longer retain the lodgings which they had occupied for some time in a respectable neighbourhood; and now behold them returning to the very same cold, miserable, and cheerless rooms which we saw them occupying in the first instance. in the court leading out of Golden Lane!
    What ups and downs constitute existence!
    Two years had now passed away since we first introduced the reader to that destitute lodging in Golden Lane. We have therefore brought up this portion of our narrative, as well as all the other parts of it, to the close of the year 1838.
    Misery, more grinding, more pinching, and more acute than any which they had yet known, now surrounded the father and daughter. They had parted with every thing which would produce the wherewith to purchase food. They lay upon straw at night; and for days and days they had not a spark of fire in the grate. They often went six-and-thirty hours together without tasting a morsel of food. They could not even pay the pittance of rent which was claimed for their two chambers: and if it had not been for their compassionate neighbours they must have starved altogether.
    Monroe could obtain no employment in the City. When he had failed, during the time of Richard Markham's imprisonment, he lost all his friends, because they took no account of his misfortunes, and looked only to the fact that he had been compelled to give up business. Had he passed through the Bankruptcy Court, and then opened his counting-house again to commence affairs upon credit, up would have found admirers and supporters. But as he had paid his creditors every farthing, left himself a beggar, and spurned the idea of entering upon business without capital of his own, he had not a friend to whom he could apply for a shilling
    At length the day came when the misery of the father and the daughter arrived at an extreme when it became no longer tolerable. They had fasted for forty-eight hours; and their landlady threatened to turn them out of their empty rooms into the street, unless they paid her the arrears of rent which they owed. They had not an article upon which they could raise the price of a loaf :- it was the depth of a cold and severe winter, and Ellen had already parted with all her undergarments.
    "My dear child," said the heart-broken father, embracing his daughter affectionately, on the morning when their misery thus reached its utmost limit, "I have one resource left  -a resource to which I should never fly save in an extreme like this!"
    "What mean you?" inquired the daughter, anxiously glancing in the pale and haggard countenance of her sire.
    "I mean that I will apply to Richard Markham," said the old man. " He does not suspect our appalling state of destitution, or he would seek us out - he would fly to our succour."
    "And you will apply to him who has already suffered so much by you?" said the daughter, shaking her head. "Alas! he will refuse you the succour you require!"
    "No - no - not he!" ejaculated the old man. "Be of good cheer, Ellen - I shall not be long absent; and on my return thou shalt have food, and fire, and clothes!"   
    "God grant that it may be so!" cried Ellen, clasping her hands together.
    "I have moreover a piece of news relative to that villain Montague to communicate to him," added, Monroe; "and for that reason - if for none other - should I have called at his residence to-day. While I was roving about in the City yesterday to endeavour to procure employment I accidentally learnt that [-177-] 

Montague is pursuing his old game at the West End, under the name of Greenwood."
    "Ah! why do you not rather call upon this man,"  cried Ellen, "and represent to him the misery to which his villany has reduced us? He is doubtless wealthy, and might be inclined to give a few pounds to one whom he robbed of thousands."    
    "Alas! my dear Ellen, you do not know the world as I know it! I have no means of convincing Montague, or Greenwood, that I lost money by him. He only knew Allen in the entire transaction:  he never saw me in his life - nor I him - at least to my knowledge. Allen is dead ;- how then can I present myself to this man, whom villany has no doubt rendered hard-hearted and selfish, with mere assertions of losses through his instrumentality? He would eject me ignominiously from his abode! No - I shall repair to Richard Markham ; he is my last and only hope!"
    With these words the old man embraced his daughter affectionately, and left the room.
    The moment he was gone Eliza said to herself, "My father has undertaken a hopeless task! It Is not probable that Markham, whom he has reduced to a miserable pittance, will spare from that pittance aught to relieve our necessities. What is to be done?  There are no more artists or sculptors who require my services - no more statuaries or photographers who need my aid. And yet we cannot starve! When I last saw the old woman, she spoke out plainly - her meaning could not be misunderstood. I rushed away from her presence, as if she were a venomous reptile! Fool that I was. Starvation is undermining those charms which I have learnt to value: hunger is defacing that beauty which gave me bread for nearly two years, and which may give me bread again in the same way. I am clothed in rags, and shiver with the cold! My hands, once so white, are becoming red; my form, lately so round and plump, is losing its fulness and its freshness; my cheeks grow thin and hollow. And in a few hours my pour old father will return home, wasted with fatigue, and overwhelmed with famine and disappointment. O my God!" she continued, clasping her hands together in an ebullition of intense agony ; "pardon - pardon - I can hesitate no longer!"
    And straightway she proceeded to the dwelling of the old hag.

* * * * * * 

    [-178-] It was about two o'clock in the afternoon when Mr. Monroe returned to the court in Golden Lane.
    His countenance was animated with an expression of joy, as he encountered the landlady upon the threshold of the house in which he resided.
    "Miss Monroe is not come in yet," said the woman roughly. "Here is the key of your lodgings - not that I think there is much worth the locking up. However, this key you don't have again till my rent is paid."
    "Here - pay yourself - pay yourself!" cried the old man, taking a handful of gold and silver from his pocket.
    The woman's manner instantly changed into cringing politeness. She was not now pressed for the rent. She could wait till it was convenient. She always knew that she had to deal with a gentleman. What did it matter to her when she was paid, since she felt convinced the money was safe?
    Monroe cut short her compliments by settling the arrears due, and sending the landlady out to purchase some food. The old man was determined to be extravagant that day - he was so happy! Markham had declared that he and his daughter should never know want again;- and then - he had such a surprise for Ellen. They were to proceed next day to take up their abode with Richard : the young man had insisted upon it - Whittingham had supported the proposal ;- and so it was all resolved upon. No more poverty - no more cold - no more hunger!
    It was for this that the old gentleman was resolved to be extravagant. He was anxious to provide a delicate little treat for his daughter ;-and he was glad that she was not at home when he returned. He felt convinced that she had gone out to seek for work, and hoped that she would not be long ere she returned.
    By means of the landlady he procured a cold fowl, a piece of ham, and a bottle of cheap wine; and his own thin and meagre hands spread the dainties upon the table, while the landlady lighted a fire in the grate.
    When these arrangements were complete, Monroe dispatched the now obsequious mistress of the house to redeem from pledge the various articles which had been pawned during this latter period of destitution; and when she returned, laden with the necessaries and the comforts which had thus been temporarily disposed of, Monroe felt pleasure in arranging them in such a way that they might strike Ellen's eyes the moment she should return.
    The poor old man was so joyful - so happy, as he executed his task, that he did not observe the lapse of time. Six o'clock struck, and the candle had been burning for some time upon the mantelpiece, ere Monroe began to wonder what could keep ha daughter so long away.
    Another half-hour passed; and her well-known step was heard ascending the staircase. The door opened; and Ellen rushed into the room, exclaiming, " My dear father, here is gold! here is gold!"
    "This then appears to be a day of good fortune," said the old man, glancing triumphantly around him. "I also have gold - and these are the fruits of the first use which I have made of it!"
    "What!" exclaimed Ellen, gazing wildly upon the well-spread table and the various articles redeemed from the pawnbroker; "Richard Markham —"
    "Is an angel!" cried Monroe. "He never will let us know want again!"
    " Oh! my God!" ejaculated Ellen, throwing herself upon a chair, and burying her face in her hands: "why did I not wait a few hours? why did I not have patience and hope until your return?"
    "Ellen, what mean those words?" demanded the old man: "speak - tell me —"
    "Simply, my dear father," she answered, raising her head, and at the same time exercising an almost superhuman control over her inward emotions, "that I have consented to receive work at a price which will scarcely find us in bread; and —"
    "You shall not hold to your bargain, dearest," interrupted Monroe. "The money which you may have received in advance, - for you said, I think, that you had money, - shall be returned to those who would condemn you to a slavery more atrocious than that endured by the negroes in the West Indies. Take courage my beloved Ellen - take courage: a brighter day will yet dawn upon us."
    Ellen made no reply: but her countenance wore so singular an expression, that her father was alarmed.
    "My dearest daughter," he exclaimed, you have no longer any hope! I see by your looks that you despair! God knows that we have encountered enough to teach us to place but little reliance upon the smiles of fortune : nevertheless, let us not banish hope altogether from our bosoms! To-morrow we shall leave this dismal abode, and repair to the house of our young benefactor, Markham."
    "Markham!" cried Ellen, the very name appearing to arouse agonizing emotions in her mind:  "have you promised Mr. Richard Markham that we will reside with him ?"
    " Yes, dearest Ellen; and in so doing I had hoped to give thee pleasure. You have known each other from infancy. Methinks I see thee now, a little child, climbing up that hill in company with Richard and his brother —"
    " His brother!" repeated Ellen, a cold shudder passing over her entire frame.
    " My dearest girl, you are not well, said the old man; and, pouring some wine into a glass, he added, " drink this, Ellen; it will revive thee."
    The young lady partook of the exhilarating beverage, and appeared refreshed. Her father and herself then seated themselves at the table, and partook of the meal.
    Ellen ate but little. She was pensive and melancholy; and every now and then her countenance wore an expression of supreme horror, which denoted intense agony of feeling within her bosom. She, however, contrived to veil from her father's eyes much of the anguish which she thus experienced; and the old man's features were animated with a gleam of joy, as he sate by the cheerful fire and talked to his daughter of brighter prospects and happier days.
    On the following morning they took leave of those rooms in which they had experienced so much misery, and repaired to the dwelling of Richard Markham.

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