Maria or the Wrongs of Woman HTML version

Chapter 6
ACTIVE as love was in the heart of Maria, the story she had just heard made her
thoughts take a wider range. The opening buds of hope closed, as if they had put
forth too early, and the the happiest day of her life was overcast by the most
melancholy reflections. Thinking of Jemima's peculiar fate and her own, she was
led to consider the oppressed state of women, and to lament that she had given
birth to a daughter. Sleep fled from her eyelids, while she dwelt on the
wretchedness of unprotected infancy, till sympathy with Jemima changed to
agony, when it seemed probable that her own babe might even now be in the
very state she so forcibly described.
Maria thought, and thought again. Jemima's humanity had rather been
benumbed than killed, by the keen frost she had to brave at her entrance into life;
an appeal then to her feelings, on this tender point, surely would not be fruitless;
and Maria began to anticipate the delight it would afford her to gain intelligence of
her child. This project was now the only subject of reflection; and she watched
impatiently for the dawn of day, with that determinate purpose which generally
insures success.
At the usual hour, Jemima brought her breakfast, and a tender note from
Darnford. She ran her eye hastily over it, and her heart calmly hoarded up the
rapture a fresh assurance of affection, affection such as she wished to inspire,
gave her, without diverting her mind a moment from its design. While Jemima
waited to take away the breakfast, Maria alluded to the reflections, that had
haunted her during the night to the exclusion of sleep. She spoke with energy of
Jemima's unmerited sufferings, and of the fate of a number of deserted females,
placed within the sweep of a whirlwind, from which it was next to impossible to
escape. Perceiving the effect her conversation produced on the countenance of
her guard, she grasped the arm of Jemima with that irresistible warmth which
defies repulse, exclaiming--"With your heart, and such dreadful experience, can
you lend your aid to deprive my babe of a mother's tenderness, a mother's care?
In the name of God, assist me to snatch her from destruction! Let me but give her
an education--let me but prepare her body and mind to encounter the ills which
await her sex, and I will teach her to consider you as her second mother, and
herself as the prop of your age. Yes, Jemima, look at me-- observe me closely,
and read my very soul; you merit a better fate;" she held out her hand with a firm
gesture of assurance; "and I will procure it for you, as a testimony of my esteem,
as well as of my gratitude."
Jemima had not power to resist this persuasive torrent; and, owning that the
house in which she was confined, was situated on the banks of the Thames, only
a few miles from London, and not on the sea-coast, as Darnford had supposed,
she promised to invent some excuse for her absence, and go herself to trace the
situation, and enquire concerning the health, of this abandoned daughter. Her
manner implied an intention to do something more, but she seemed unwilling to
impart her design; and Maria, glad to have obtained the main point, thought it
best to leave her to the workings of her own mind; convinced that she had the