The Stepney Lady
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
You may give Three Stars or Eusebia's compliments, which you please, to Mr. Malcolm, and acquaint him, I should have answered his obliging reply to my query (concerning the lady buried at Stepney) sooner [see Note 25]; but I have been hunting the ballad stalls for the old song without success; though all the old women are well acquainted with it, my memory is not good enough to give any stanzas of it as a specimen, so the story shall be at Mr. M.'s service in humble prose. A gentleman, benighted in travelling, is sheltered in a cottage, where the good wife is in labour ; he draws the horoscope of the infant, and finds it destined to be his future bride ; this his pride revolting against, he pretends compassion to the circumstances of the parents, who are easily induced to part with one child from a numerous brood to a rich man, who promises to provide so much better for it than they can : he carries it off with an intention to destroy it, but, not being hardened enough to imbrue his hands in its blood, he leaves it in some lonely forest, to, at least, as certain destruction ; here some shepherd or cottager finds it, takes it home to his wife, who nurses it with great tenderness, as has been ever usual in these stories, from the time of Romulus and Remus. She grows up in all the bloom of beauty. Again her future spouse is drawn by his stars to this spot ; stricken with her charms, but hearing her history, from her supposed father, is again enraged, and meditates her death ; covering his design with pretended love, gets her a second time into his hands; again melted by her tears and petitions, throws his ring into a river they was near, vowing to destroy her if ever she appeared before him without that ring. After several adventures, she gets into service as a cook in a family. Here, gutting a large fish, to her great astonishment she finds this ring, which she carefully keeps ; and, not long after, he comes; threatens; but, on seeing the ring, finds it in vain to resist destiny ; and, her planet having now the full ascendancy, they form a very happy conjunction. I do not know, Mr. Urban, whether you will think this old woman's tale worth inserting. I have endeavoured to relate it as concisely as I could.