The Old, Old Story.
An old woman whose recorded name need not be given, because it is only assumed, and that which the law entitles her to bear is well forgotten, appeared at the Police Court during last week on a charge of vagrancy, and was sent to gaol for six months—her fifty-second conviction ! What a record of sin and shame ! What a picture of degradation the unfortunate wretch presented. She was pointed out to me the day before her arrest, and her story told me. Truth is as strange as fiction in her case, and the facts as told me—and as they are—do not materially differ from those related by Ouida in * Held in Bondage. Let me give you a sketch of the sad records. It is over thirty years ago that a young squatter in Victoria married one of the fairest daughters of New South Wales, and took her to a beautiful home bn the Werribee River. The lady’s health became delicate, and she frequently visited friends in Melbourne, her husband hoping that the changes would do her good. After a time it became evident that she was very unhappy, and ultimately she declined to live at Werribee longer, and to please her, her husband consented to live in Melbourne. But this necessitated frequent visits by him to the station. On his return on one occasion he received some news which had a very disquieting effect on him. It was an accusation against bis wifels fidelity. He felt that there was an estrangement of her affections, but, in the absence of any proof of impropriety, said nothing. On one occasion, when at Werribee, he was suddenly called to Melbourne. He found his home deserted—his wife had fled, whither he knew not. For ten years he did not ascertain where she had gone—he knew with whom, and made no inquiry. She was gone—was dead to him. Ten years after he saw a drunken woman picked up in Sussex street, Sydney, and as the police dragged her past he saw her face. It was his wife, still beautiful, but drunken, debauched, dissolute. She had been deserted a few months after her flight, and her paramour, an opera singer, had gone to England. The husband, who through those long bitter years had borne the iron in his soul without one word, followed the police to the station, hailed the woman out, sent her to lodgings, and, though never speaking one word to her, allowed her L 3 per week during such time as she abstained from flagrant imtndrality. The payments were not for long, as within three months the woman . had returned to a life of infamy in the lowest streets in Sydney. Ten years ago she came to Queensland. Like Fantine, God’s part in her has long since been battered out, and now, over fifty years of age, she is one of the most depraved and wretched-looking of the loathsome beings who lie drunk of nights in the cold and dews on North Quay: All refinement has gone from her ; she is just a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, bedraggled demirep. And her husband ? The kindly finger of death was laid upon him fifteen years ago. He never recovered the shock, the terrible disgrace, his irreparable dishonor.—’ Gympie Times,’
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The Old, Old Story., Evening Star, Issue 8002, 3 September 1889
The Old, Old Story. Evening Star, Issue 8002, 3 September 1889
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