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everybody knows that Calais is as dull and unattractive as its rival Dover is the reverse.
We remained only one day, and then started for Paris. The road the whole way to that city is so barren of interest, that I need not dwell upon what made no impression on the mind, and I was glad when we reached Paris, as my little charges were getting very tired with their long journey.
A noble house had been taken for the Earl of Ruperta and his family in the Place Vendome, and here we remained six months without any event occurring worth mentioning.
I was gratified to see that the earl took more pleasure and comfort in his charming children than the dowager and myself had either hoped or expected, and they returned his attentions with so much warmth and affection, that, while it was delightful to witness it, it only made me the more !ament the loss these unconscious and warm-hearted little darlings had sustained, in being deprived of a
mother's love and care. And that motherhow could she ever have neglected, ever have left these poor dear creatures behind!
It was settled that in the spring we should make the tour of Italy, and I was looking forwards with no small degree of pleasure to visiting that enchanting country, when an incident occurred which drove all thoughts of it from my mind.
One day I was informed that the daughter of our French washerwoman wished to speak with me. Upon going to her, she told me that a poor, sick Englishwoman, who had been lodging at her mother's for some weeks, was, they feared, dying ; and as she much wished to see one of her countrywomen, had entreated the girl to ask me to come and visit her, upon being informed that her mother's employers were English.
The kind-hearted French girl added, that she feared the poor woman had not sufficient means left to procure her the commonest necessaries, and that if it had not been for her
mother, the unhappy creature must have suffered dreadful privations.
I determined to go as soon as I could obtain the dowager's permission, which was soon granted, together with money, and an order to take any thing necessary for the comfort of our sick and miserable countrywoman.
Loading myself and my young guide with what I thought might be most useful and necessary, we proceeded on our errand. After walking nearly an hour, the girl stopped before a tall, gloomy-looking house in a dirty, dismal street, and then desiring me to follow her, we mounted to the very top of the house. It was so lofty that I thought we should never reach the summit of the dirty stone staircase. On our knocking at a door it was opened by a little girl, and I found myself in a low-roofed large room, in which was the washerwoman herself, ironing, surrounded by at least six children of different ages.
Though it was cold weather I was nearly overcome by the stifling heat of the apartment.
The good woman made me sit down, while she hastened to inform her lodger of my arrival. After a few minutes she returned, desiring me to follow her.
I did so, and found myself in a room (opening from the common apartment) so small, that it could merely contain a truckle bed and a broken chair.
The only light admitted was through a small dingy window, which would not open. I could at first hardly discover, under the squalid coverlet, the figure of a human being.
“Here, my dear,” said the humane laundress, “here is one of your countrywomen, whom you have so long been wishing to see, and she has brought you some wine, and nice things, though I dare say the sound of your native tongue will do you more good than any thing else, so I will leave you together.”
Saying this, she closed the door and left me alone with the sick woman.
As I leaned over the bed, and said some few words of kindness and encouragement, I was
struck by the extreme beauty and luxuriance of the invalid's hair, as it hung in masses of natural ringlets over her forehead and shoulders. Her face I could not see, as it was turned towards the wall.
For a time I could get no answer but groans and sobs. At length, thinking that she was too weak to speak, I was about to fetch some of the wine which I had brought, in order to pour it down her throat, when she turned slowly round, and desired me in a hollow tone not to leave her.
I again approached, and taking her poor emaciated hand, begged her to let me give her some of the food of which, it was evident, she stood so much in need.
She shook her head mournfully, while she made a faint attempt to take my hand as I sat on the bed beside her.
As I gazed on her emaciated and care-wom features, and full, soft, mournful, dark eyes, I fancied that I had seen her before ; and while I was pondering where it could be that we had