The New Magdalen (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 4

Some letters, tied together with a ribbon, attracted Mercy's attention
first. The ink in which the addresses were written had faded with
age. The letters, directed alternately to Colonel Roseberry and to the
Honorable Mrs. Roseberry, contained a correspondence between the husband
and wife at a time when the Colonel's military duties had obliged him to
be absent from home. Mercy tied the letters up again, and passed on to
the papers that lay next in order under her hand.

These consisted of a few leaves pinned together, and headed (in a
woman's handwriting) "My Journal at Rome." A brief examination showed
that the journal had been written by Miss Roseberry, and that it was
mainly devoted to a record of the last days of her father's life.

After replacing the journal and the correspondence in the case, the one
paper left on the table was a letter. The envelope, which was unclosed,
bore this address: "Lady Janet Roy, Mablethorpe House, Kensington,
London." Mercy took the inclosure from the open envelope. The first
lines she read informed her that she had found the Colonel's letter of
introduction, presenting his daughter to her protectress on her arrival
in England.

Mercy read the letter through. It was described by the writer as the
last efforts of a dying man. Colonel Roseberry wrote affectionately
of his daughter's merits, and regretfully of her neglected
education--ascribing the latter to the pecuniary losses which had
forced him to emigrate to Canada in the character of a poor man. Fervent
expressions of gratitude followed, addressed to Lady Janet. "I owe it to
you," the letter concluded, "that I am dying with my mind at ease about
the future of my darling girl. To your generous protection I commit the
one treasure I have left to me on earth. Through your long lifetime
you have nobly used your high rank and your great fortune as a means
of doing good. I believe it will not be counted among the least of your
virtues hereafter that you comforted the last hours of an old soldier by
opening your heart and your home to his friendless child."

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