“I AM hopeless!” said the young man, in a voice that was painfully desponding. “Utterly hopeless! Heaven knows I have tried hard to get employment! But no one has need of my service. The pittance doled out by your father, and which comes with a sense of humiliation that is absolutely heart-crushing, is scarcely sufficient to provide this miserable abode, and keep hunger from our door. But for your sake, I would not touch a shilling of his money if I starved.”
“Hush, dear Edward!” returned the gentle girl, who had left father, mother, and a pleasant home, to share the lot of him she loved; and she laid a finger on his lips, while she drew her arm around him.
“Agnes,” said the young man, “I cannot endure this life much longer. The native independence of my character revolts at our present condition. Months have elapsed, and yet the ability I possess finds no employment. In this country every avenue is crowded.”
The room in which they were overlooked the sea.
“But there is another land, where, if what we hear be true, ability finds employment and talent a sure reward.” And, as Agnes said this, in a voice of encouragement, she pointed from the window towards the expansive waters that stretched far away towards the south and west.
“America!” The word was uttered in a quick, earnest voice.
“Agnes, I thank you for this suggestion! Return to the pleasant home you left for one who cannot procure for you even the plainest comforts of life, and I will cross the ocean to seek a better fortune in that land of promise. The separation, painful to both, will not, I trust, be long.”
“Edward,” replied the young wife with enthusiasm, as she drew her arm more tightly about his neck, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee! Where thou goest I will go, and where thou liest I will lie. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
“Would you forsake all,” said Edward, in surprise, “and go far away with me into a strange land?”
“It will be no stranger to me than it will be to you, Edward.”
“No, no, Agnes! I will not think of that,” said Edward Marvel, in a positive, voice. “If I go to that land of promise, it must first be alone.”
“Alone!” A shadow fell over the face of Agnes. “Alone! It cannot–it must not be!”
“But think, Agnes. If I go alone, it will cost me but a small sum to live until I find some business, which may not be for weeks, or even months after I arrive in the New World.”
“What if you were to be sick?” The frame of Agnes slightly quivered as she made this suggestion.
“We will not think of that.”
“I cannot help thinking of it, Edward. Therefore entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee. Where thou goest, I will go.”
Marvel’s countenance became more serious.
“Agnes,” said the young man, after he had reflected for some time, “let us think no more about this. I cannot take you far away to this strange country. We will go back to London. Perhaps another trial there may be more successful.”
After a feeble opposition on the part of Agnes, it was finally agreed that Edward should go once more to London, while she made a brief visit to her parents. If he found employment, she was to join him immediately; if not successful, they were then to talk further of the journey to America.
With painful reluctance, Agnes went back to her father’s house, the door of which ever stood open to receive her; and she went back alone. The pride of her husband would not permit him to cross the threshold of a dwelling where his presence was not a welcome one. In eager suspense, she waited for a whole week ere a letter came from Edward. The tone of this letter was as cheerful and as hopeful as it was possible for the young man to write. But, as yet, he had found no employment. A week elapsed before another came. It opened in these words:–