The Story of Bessie Costrell. Mrs. Humphry WARD.

The Story of Bessie Costrell. New York: Macaulay Company, 1895.

First Edition. Small octavo, original tan decorative cloth, printed and decorated dustjacket. Australian-born British novelist. "In this story Mrs. Ward has depicted life among the working classes under most painful and trying conditions. Bessie Costrell is the niece of John Bolderfield, an old man who, by dint of scrimping and saving for many years, has accumulated by hard labor enough money to support himself for the remainder of his life. This wealth, the acquirement of which had been the one ambition of his life, has been kept hoarded in an old trunk; and this he confides to the care of his niece, before leaving his native town for a period of some months. Bessie is much delighted to be given charge of the money, and at first only regards it with honest feelings of pride; but eventually the temptation becomes too strong for her, and her natural extravagance asserting itself, she opens the chest and spends part of the money in a reckless way, drinking and treating her friends. At length her free use of money begins to arouse suspicion; and she takes alarm and goes to the chest to count the balance, when she is caught in the act by her husband’s profligate son, who assaults her and robs her of the remainder. Matters have reached this crisis when John returns home, and to his horror and consternation, finds his money gone. He is at first prostrated by the terrible discovery; but on recovering consciousness, he accuses Bessie of the theft, which she strenuously denies. John then sends for the constable, who succeeds in proving her guilt. Bessie’s husband, Isaac Costrell, a stern, hard man, who is a leader in the church, is overcome with horror on learning of his wife’s dishonesty, agrees that she will have to go to prison, and tells her that he will have nothing more to do with her. The wretched woman, overwhelmed with terror and grief, drowns herself in a well; and the narrative ends leaving the husband filled with remorse, and John broken-hearted and penniless." [Tanselle 95.76] Near Fine in Very Good dustjacket, some chipping at spine ends and flap corners.

Price: $175.00

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