Book Son of Hagar (9781490483061) (Book 17090996),
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Son of Hagar (9781490483061)

  • IN THE YEAR 1845.It was a chill December morning. The atmosphere was dense with fog in the dusky chamber of a London police court; the lights were bleared and the voices drowsed. A woman carrying a child in her arms had been half dragged, half pushed into the dock. She was young; beneath her disheveled hair her face showed almost girlish. Her features were pinched with pain; her eyes had at one moment a serene look, and at the next moment a look of defiance. Her dress had been rich; it was now torn and damp, and clung in dank folds to her limbs. The child she carried appeared to be four months old. She held it convulsively at her breast, and when it gave forth a feeble cry she rocked it mechanically."Your worship, I picked this person out of the river at ha'past one o'clock this morning," said a constable. "She had throwed herself off the steps of Blackfriars Bridge.""Had she the child with her?" asked the bench."Yes, your worship; and when I brought her to land I couldn't get the little one out of her arms nohow?she clung that tight to it. The mother, she was insensible; but the child opened its eyes and cried.""Have you not learned her name?""No, sir; she won't give us no answer when we ask her that.""I am informed," said the clerk, "that against all inquiries touching her name and circumstances she keeps a rigid silence. The doctor is of opinion, your worship, that the woman is not entirely responsible.""Her appearance in court might certainly justify that conclusion," said the magistrate.The young woman had gazed vacantly about her with an air of indifference. She seemed scarcely to realize that through the yellow vagueness the eyes of a hundred persons were centered on her haggard face."Anybody here who knows her?" asked the bench."Yes, your worship; I found out the old woman alonger she lodged.""Let us hear the old person."A woman in middle life?a little, confused, aimless, uncomfortable body?stepped into the box. She answered to the name of Drayton. Her husband was a hotel porter. She had a house in Pimlico. A month ago one of her rooms on the first floor back had been to let. She put a card in her window, and the prisoner applied. Accepted the young lady as tenant, and had been duly paid her rent. Knew nothing of who she was or where she came from. Couldn't even get her name. Had heard her call the baby Paul. That was all she knew."Her occupation, my good woman, what was it?"Nothing; she hadn't no occupation, your worship."
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