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Chapter 3
WHEN PERUSING the first parcel of books, Maria had, with her pencil, written in
one of them a few exclamations, expressive of compassion and sympathy, which
she scarcely remembered, till turning over the leaves of one of the volumes,
lately brought to her, a slip of paper dropped out, which Jemima hastily snatched
"Let me see it," demanded Maria impatiently, "You surely are not afraid of
trusting me with the effusions of a madman?" "I must consider," replied Jemima;
and withdrew, with the paper in her hand.
In a life of such seclusion, the passions gain undue force; Maria therefore felt
a great degree of resentment and vexation, which she had not time to subdue,
before Jemima, returning, delivered the paper.
"Whoever you are, who partake of my fate, accept my sincere commiseration-
-I would have said protection; but the privilege of man is denied me. "My own
situation forces a dreadful suspicion on my mind--I may not always languish in
vain for freedom-- say are you--I cannot ask the question; yet I will remember you
when my remembrance can be of any use. I will enquire, why you are so
mysteriously detained-- and I will have an answer. "HENRY DARNFORD."
By the most pressing intreaties, Maria prevailed on Jemima to permit her to
write a reply to this note. Another and another succeeded, in which explanations
were not allowed relative to their present situation; but Maria, with sufficient
explicitness, alluded to a former obligation; and they insensibly entered on an
interchange of sentiments on the most important subjects. To write these letters
was the business of the day, and to receive them the moment of sunshine. By
some means, Darnford having discovered Maria's window, when she next
appeared at it, he made her, behind his keepers, a profound bow of respect and
Two or three weeks glided away in this kind of intercourse, during which
period Jemima, to whom Maria had given the necessary information respecting
her family, had evidently gained some intelligence, which increased her desire of
pleasing her charge, though she could not yet determine to liberate her. Maria
took advantage of this favourable charge, without too minutely enquiring into the
cause; and such was her eagerness to hold human converse, and to see her
former protector, still a stranger to her, that she incessantly requested her guard
to gratify her more than curiosity.
Writing to Darnford, she was led from the sad objects before her, and
frequently rendered insensible to the horrid noises around her, which previously
had continually employed her feverish fancy. Thinking it selfish to dwell on her
own sufferings, when in the midst of wretches, who had not only lost all that
endears life, but their very selves, her imagination was occupied with melancholy
earnestness to trace the mazes of misery, through which so many wretches must
have passed to this gloomy receptacle of disjointed souls, to the grand source of
human corruption. Often at midnight was she waked by the dismal shrieks of
demoniac rage, or of excruciating despair, uttered in such wild tones of