Friday, June 18, 2010

Ela the Outcast

Ela the Outcast; or, the Gipsy of Rosemary Dell. A Romance of Thrilling Interest by Thomas Peckett Prest, Illustrated by G. T. R. Bourne and engraved by Pickering. I believe the frontispiece below was drawn by a man named Horneygold, while the interior illustrations were by Bourne. London : E. Lloyd, 231, Shoreditch. Advertisement at top is from Cleave's Gazette of Variety for 26 Oct 1839.

Ela , The Outcast; or, The Gipsy Of Rosemary Dell. A Romance of Thrilling Interest. By The Author of “Angelina; or, The Mystery Of St. Mark’s Abbey;” “Gallant Tom; or, The Perils of a Sailor Ashore and Afloat;” “Ernestine De Lacy; or, The Robbers’ Foundling;” etc., etc. 104 Nos. London : Printed and Published by E. Lloyd, 231, Shoreditch. Although this book is in numbers the format is like a novel without the double columns usually associated with bloods.


I cannot close the Romance of “Ela, The Outcast,” without expressing my most unqualified gratitude to the Public, for the extraordinary success with which they have been pleased to crown it,- a success, I will not presume to say it has not merited, for that would be an insult to the judgment of its numerous readers. Although it has been in the course of publication for two years, its sale has never, in the least, flagged; and, in proof of the deep interest, as a work of fiction, it has excited, I need only state, that its weekly sale has been thirty thousand copies, and the present is the eighteenth edition !Independent of this, the tale has been very cleverly dramatized by Mrs. Denvil, and performed at the Royal Pavilion Theatre, for nearly one hundred successive nights ! - And here I must take the liberty of complimenting that excellent actress, Miss Adelaide Cooke, for her very able delineation of Ela, in which she drew so largely upon the sympathies and applause of the audience. - To Mr. H. Denvil, the talented Lessee, infinite credit is also due, for the care, judgment, and spirit, with which he produced the Drama, and was enabled to achieve so great a triumph. Encouraged by the patronage bestowed upon “Ela, The Outcast,” “Angelina,” “Gallant Tom,” “Ernestine De Lacy,” and many others of my humble productions, I take the opportunity of informing my kind friends, that I have another tale in the press, to be completed in fifty-two numbers, and which, I trust, will be found equally worthy of favour, as my other efforts. The title of the new Romance will be duly announced, and, in the meantime, I beg to subscribe myself,



March 15th, 1841.




A Tale of Thrilling Interest.


“If pity reigns within thy breast,

Oh ! let the houseless wand’rer in.” ANON.

A violent storm had succeeded a beautiful day, in the spring of the year 1791, and the Honourable Mrs. Wallingford was seated in the parlour of Wallingfoprd Hall (a noble edifice, situated in the north of England), endeavoring to abstract her attention from the horrors of the tempest in the innocent sports of her two lovely children, who were gambolling together at her feet. A cheerful fire blazed briskly in the grate, and the comfort and elegance of all within, presented a striking contrast to misery which reigned without. but nothing could tend to alleviate the heavy depression of spirits under which that amiable and lovely lady suffered, occasioned not only by the sympathy she felt in the fate of those poor, houseless wretches who were exposed to “the pitiless pelting of the storm,” but she was deprived of the society of her husband, the Honourable Edward Wallingford, whom business of importance had called from home for several days past.

The rain descended in overwhelming torrents, the thunder rolled in heavy peals, that seemed to shake the mansion to its foundation, and was succeeded by vivid flashes of forked lightning, which shot fantastically across the fine lawn fronting the house, and glared awfully in at the parlour windows that descended to the ground.

“What a dreadful night,” soliloquized the amiable lady, casting her eyes fearfully upon the dreary prospect; “alas ! what must be the lot of those poor creatures who are exposed to its horrors; hungry, hopeless, shelterless ! Heaven protect them !”

Overcome with her terrors, she was proceeding to summon her waiting maid, the simple but faithful Dorothy, when between the pauses of the thunder, a shriek long and piercing vibrated in her ears, which seemed to proceed from the direction of the lawn. She started, and hastened to the casement; for it was not yet so dark but that she could plainly distinguish objects at a considerable distance; but she had no sooner reached it, than a flash of lightning blazed across her eyes, and alarmed, she sank in a chair completely unable to move. A second shriek more loud and piercing than the first, again aroused her, and she started with the intention of ringing the bell for the attendance of her servant. Before she could do so, a loud kicking or knocking against the outer door arrested her purpose, and, immediately afterwards, the crying of a child was clearly audible.

Ever sensibly alive to the distresses of her fellow-creatures, Mrs. Wallingford immediately repressed her own terrors, and rang the bell violently. In a few minutes Dorothy appeared with astonishment and excitement depicted in her countenance.

“Oh ! madam,” exclaimed the maid, raising her hands and eyes, “do pray hasten to the Hall; there is such an occurrence.”

“What has happened to excite curiosity, Dorothy?” inquired her mistress; “explain to me the meaning of the violent knocking, and those cries of distress that I so lately heard.”

“Pray, pardon me, madam,” replied the simple attendant, “but I really am in such a flusteration that I cannot explain myself. Ah! I knew there was something going to happen by the dream I had last night. Do you know, madam, I dreamt -”

At this juncture the loquacious Dorothy was cut short in her speech, by the cries of a child again being heard.

“Oh ! do come, my lady,” importuned Dorothy, “ I’m sure you will pity it; poor little thing, it is so pretty, too, and has such lovely black eyes; but it is so ragged, and so wet, and its tale so pitiful. Now, do come, my dear lady.”

The humane Mrs. Wallingford needed no solicitation on the part of her domestic to urge her to the performance of an act of charity; it was enough for her to know that a fellow-being was in distress, to arouse all the energies of her benevolent heart, to render them assistance; she therefore put no more questions to Dorothy, but accompanied her to the Hall.

The object that struck her attention was a little girl, apparently about six years old, ragged, wet, and miserable. Its tattered frock of many colours, only just descended below its knees, and its legs and feet were entirely naked. An old straw hat barely covered the back of its head, from beneath which, and over her sunburnt shoulders, descended in wild but picturesque disorder, a rich profusion of natural black silken ringlets. its complexion was dark, but its features were peculiarly noble and expressive, and its fine black eyes, although suffused with tears, darted forth a luster which could not be looked upon without admiration.

Upon hearing Mrs. Wallingford approach, the little stranger raised her eyes, and gazed with the utmost impressive looks of supplication towards her.

“Poor child !” said the lady, “why did you not take her to the fire, Dorothy? How wet - how cold she is ! - Tell me, who are you, my dear?”

“I’m called little Fanny, ma’am.” sobbed forth the child - “but mamma will die, my poor mamma will die, and then what will become of me?”

“Where is your mother, child?” eagerly enquired the lady.

“Oh, ma’am,” answered the child, weeping violently, and wringing her hands, “mamma’s so ill; we have both walked such a long way, and we have had very little to eat; but at last poor mamma could not walk any farther, so she laid down all in the rain, just above here in the Dell; and I know she will die, ma’am, if you will not help her : oh, pray do, and I will bless your name whenever I say my prayers; do not let my poor mamma die.”

With these words the child threw herself on her knees, and looked up in the face of Mrs. Wallingford most piteously. That lady was deeply affected.

“Do not weep, my poor child,” she ejaculated, raising her gently from her knees, and gazing upon her compassionately, “I will render your unfortunate mother all the assistance in my power. Dorothy, desire Ralph, and two or three of the male servants to attend me directly.”

Dorothy curtseyed, and hastened to obey her lady with much alacrity, and Mrs. Wallingford taking the little stranger kindly by the hand, (whose intelligent eyes sparkled with gratitude), led her into the parlour and placed her before the fire.

Ralph having made his appearance was ordered with his fellows to provide themselves with torches immediately, and other things necessary, and hasten in the direction which the child had pointed out in quest of the distressed stranger, while a messenger was despatched to request the speedy attendance of a medical gentleman who was employed by the family.

Ralph and his companions evidently did not admire the task allotted to them, for the storm still raged with unabated violence, and it was some distance to Rosemary Dell; but ever ready to obey the order of their mistress, to whom they were all much attached, they stifled their objections, and having procured lighted torches, and what was requisite, they proceeded on their mission.

No sooner did the child behold the preparations for rescuing her unfortunate parent from the perilous situation she had described her to be in, than she wiped the tears from her cheeks, and hastening from the fire, prepared to follow them.

“What would you do, child?” asked Mrs. Wallingford, gently seizing her arm and arresting her design.

“Oh ! ma’am,” cried the poor girl struggling to escape, “I must go to my poor mamma; if she should be better, she would die with fright when she missed me from her side. Oh, pray, do let me get to her, that’s a dear, good lady. Besides, the men may not be able to find the way, and I can conduct them to the very spot without any trouble.”

At this Ralph looked ominously at his companions, shook his head, and whispered to them that it was his opinion that this child was the offspring of one of the numerous Gipsies who sometimes infested that neighborhood; and that this was nothing but a scheme to entrap them, and to be revenged for certain tricks they had played the last time they encamped in Rosemary Dell; besides, this was about the time that the tribe usually visited that spot, and he had seen several suspicious looking characters lurking about for several days past. In this sage opinion his companions, who boasted of rather less courage than himself, perfectly coincided, and their teeth began to chatter, and they evinced other symptoms of fear, which did not escape the eye of her mistress; but before she could remonstrate with them on their cowardice, her attention was withdrawn to the child, who, seeing the parlour window open, bounded suddenly from the hold of Mrs. Wallingford on to the lawn, and beckoning Ralph and the others to follow, flew along, totally regardless of the storm, with a speed that made the clowns puff and blow most immoderately to keep up with.

The tempest seemed rather to have increased than abated; and the frightful glare of the torches, carried in the trembling hands of the servants, only served to add to the horrors of the scene. The heavy torrents of rain that had fallen completely flooded the place, so that they were frequently above their knees in water : and it seemed to be a matter of impossibility for any human being to survive many minutes in the awful situation which the child had described her mother to be placed in. Mrs. Wallingford, in whose bosom the adventure had excited a deep interest, watched Ralph and his companions with anxious eyes, until, entering upon the Dell, they were hid from her view; she then hastened to give her orders for the reception of the unfortunate wanderer.

In the course of twenty minutes, the noise of Ralph and his companions convinced her they were approaching the hall, and hastening to the parlour, her conjecture proved to be correct, for the men were rapidly advancing towards the house, bearing something which appeared to be a human form, while the child hastened before them, every now and then turning around with affectionate solicitude and gazing upon the burthen they carried.

Ralph and his companions now entered the room, supporting the senseless form of a woman, who was completely saturated with the rain to which she had been so long exposed. She appeared to be about thirty years of age; her features were regular and handsome, her complexion was a bright olive , on which the cankerworm of care had set its destructive mark. The contour of her forehead and eyebrows was fine in the extreme. Her hair was black as the plumes of the raven, and flowed the long tresses over her shoulders. her figure was tall and powerful : and although somewhat attenuated, yet bore the remains of grace and elegance. Although she seemed to have moved in a far better sphere of life than her present appearance bespoke.

Her dress evidently marked her for one of the Gipsy tribe, and yet her handsome features bore that nobleness of expression which rendered her connection with them unaccountable. She was attired in a dark stuff gown, covered with patches of various colours, which seemed to be placed there by design rather than necessity. Her shoulders were covered with a short, scarlet cloak, and a coarse straw hat surmounted her head.

Soon after the wretched wanderer had been brought back to the hall, Dr. Hartley arrived, and after eyeing the form of the invalid with no small degree of astonishment, proceeded to apply such antidotes as his knowledge dictated. During the proceedings, the affectionate child clung around it’s unfortunate mother’s knees, and looked up in her pallid countenance with the utmost solicitude and anxiety; and when she beheld her again breathe more freely, although still insensible, she evinced her ecstasy in the most affecting manner.

In the course of some inquiries which Dr. Hartley put to the child, for although in other respects a worthy man, he was prone to inquisitiveness and suspicion, he elicited a confirmation of the woman being one of a gang of Gipsies, who had frequently taken up their abode in Rosemary Dell, much to the annoyance of the persons who lived around, that she had been on a secret mission to a distant part of the country, and was to join the rest of the gang at Rosemary Dell; but illness had overtaken her on the road, and, to add to her difficulty, upon reaching the Dell, she found that the tribe had not yet arrived : overcome with fatigue, illness, and disappointment, she had at length become insensible, as the child had before described, who, with a courage and presence of mind, remarkable at her age, hastened in quest of the nearest habitation in which she might obtain assistance.

The unfortunate woman evinced symptoms of slowly recovering, but she still remained unconscious of all that was going on around ; and Dr. Hartley, after prescribing what was necessary, having to visit another patient, was compelled to depart.

When the doctor was gone, Mrs. Wallingford, who felt an unaccountable interest in the fate of the stranger, paid her the most affectionate attention, and watched the progress of recovery with the greatest anxiety. She had just mentioned to Dorothy the propriety of placing their patient in a warm bed, when she breathed a deep sigh, and opening her full black eyes, fixed them with wild scrutiny upon the features of Mrs. Wallingford, and then round the apartment.

“Where am I ?” she exclaimed in a tone of voice that penetrated to the very soul of her auditors, and fixed them in mute attention and astonishment. “What vision of mystery is this? surely I dream. Ah! my child ! my darling, the only hope besides that of revenge which makes me cling to the wretched existence it is now my lot to bear ! - If it were not for thee, my loved one, oh, that this happy sensibility had lasted forever.”

“Mother, dear, dear mother,” sobbed forth the poor child, climbing on its parent’s knee, and looking into her care-worn face with indescribable love.

“My girl ! my own fond cherub ! Oh, amid thy wretched parent’s miseries, there is a joy unspeakable in knowing that thou really lovest me, that thou art yet unacquainted with that base hypocrisy which has made thy mother the despised, the degraded, abandoned being that she is.” And she hugged her child with frantic fondness to her bosom, and kissed her forehead, cheeks and lips vehemently.

“But how came I here?” she continued after a pause; “ what right now has the outcast Ela beneath the roof of luxury and splendour? - Is this done to mock me? - The barren wild, the rugged mountain, the shade of the oak for her canopy, the rude shelter of the Gipsy tent, and the sterile oak for her couch, are now all that Ela the outcast can expect. Tell me woman, why am I brought hither?”

As the mysterious woman thus spoke, in an authorative tone, she arose from her chair, and fixed her piercing eye sternly upon the countenances of Mrs. Wallingford and her maid. The lady was much alarmed by her behavior, but fearful of the consequences of revealing her fears, she endeavored to suppress her terrors, and in a voice of mild persuasiveness she replied :-

“Fear not, my good woman, I beseech you, believe me that here you are in the society of friends.”

“Friends !” almost shrieked Ela, in a tone of irony and contempt, which made Mrs. Wallingford tremble, while an expression passed over her strongly-marked features, which was almost terrific - “Friends !” she repeated, laughing hysterically; “Ha! ha! ha! base, infamous, accursed title; - the scorpion that bears a thousand stings; the basilisk that tempts innocence to ruin !- The honeyed poison conveyed by the tongue of treachery, which I have sucked deep into my veins, which rankles at my heart and scorches up my brain : which has made me what I am ! Lady, look on this emaciated form, this care-worn visage, this tattered garb; - this form, this face, were once fair as thine, and as costly garbs bedecked this person as those thou now wearest? what think ye then has wrought this change? I’ll tell thee, ‘tis that delusive phantom called a friend ! a shameless hypocrite who - fool? why should I thus waste words upon a subject that boots thee not, and for which thou mayest perhaps only mock, revile at me after, and call me madwoman? - Farewell, lady : this is no place for Ela !”

Mrs. Wallingford was so overcome by the affecting manner in which the mysterious woman pronounced this wild speech, that she was unable to utter a word. Ela, hastily grasping her child by the hand, was about to quit the apartment, when a sudden thought seemed to strike her, and turning back, she said in a more subdued tone :-

“Lady, I perhaps have been too hasty; thou has sought to do me a kindness, and I thank thee? I would know the name of her to whom I am indebted?”

“My good woman,” said Mrs. Wallingford mildly, “I have done no more than a simple duty towards a fellow creature : but if you should at any time need assistance, rest assured that Mrs. Wallingford -”

“Wallingford !” reiterated the woman, in a voice almost superhuman, and her eyes dilated, her bosom heaved, and her whole frame became convulsed with strange emotion, - “Wallingford ! - and - and - they - husband’s name, - tell me, speak !”

“’Tis Edward Wallingford;” faltered forth the affrighted lady, - for Heaven’s sake why do you grasp my arm so fiercely?”

The eyes of Ela appeared to flash fire, and she clutched the arm of Mrs. Wallingford with a vehemence that made her scream, while she looked into her countenance with an expression approaching to ferocity. “And have I then,” she cried in a voice hoarse with rage, “have I then once more wandered beneath the accursed roof of the villain Wallingford? Have I lived to see a kindness from her for whom I was abandoned, left to misery, degradation, shame? Oh, revenge, revenge, thou art now within my grasp, and -”

“Oh, mother, dear mother !” lisped forth the child imploringly, embracing her parent’s knees, and looking up to her with supplicating innocence; do not say such wicked words; do not hurt this poor lady, who has been so kind to us.”

“Mysterious awful woman,” ejaculated Mrs. Wallingford, while Dorothy was completely petrified with horror, and unable to move or speak; “what do you want with me? For mercy’s sake leave go your hold !”

“Ah ! woman,” exclaimed the Gipsy, with an aspect of alarming ferocity, - “well may ‘st thou shrink with me; I have cause to curse and hate thee and thine; thine head reposes in the bosom which has sheltered mine, and should do now, thine offspring enjoy that wealth and luxury, that by right belong to this poor child, yes, this child of my weakness, the child of thy husband, - thy Edward Wallingford ! - say that I am mad, - I am an outcast, a wandering vagrant, a despised wretch - who is it that has made me so ? Thine ! thine ! thy Edward Wallingford ! - But think not I covet him of thee- no ! I detest, I abhor him, curse him ! - when thou seest him again,- when thou pressest him to thine heart, , whisper in his ear that thou hast seen Ela; her whom he vowed to love, to protect - her whom he falsely deceived - betrayed ! Tell him that her broken-hearted father lived to pardon his wretched daughter, and that his latest breath was employed to heap a bitter curse upon the betrayer of his child. Tell him that Ela still lives for revenge; that as he has been her curse, so she has sworn to be his bane till death ! This, tell the villain Edward Wallingford.”

As the distracted woman uttered these words, she snatched her child up in her arms, and bounded through the open window on the lawn, and that moment a vivid flash of lightning darted across her form, and gave her rather the appearance of a spirit of evil than a human being.

Overcome with the power of her emotions, the unhappy Mrs. Wallingford screamed and became insensible, while the cries of Dorothy quickly brought the other domestics to the room, who conveyed their mistress to bed, and instantly sent for Dr. Hartley.

Continued in our Next...

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