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Agnes Surriage


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

When, in 1742, Sir Henry Frankland, collector of the port of Boston, went
to Marblehead to inquire into the smuggling that was pretty boldly
carried on, he put up at the Fountain Inn. As he entered that hostelry a
barefooted girl, of sixteen, who was scrubbing the floor, looked at him.
The young man was handsome, well dressed, gallant in bearing, while Agnes
Surriage, maid of all work, was of good figure, beautiful face, and
modest demeanor. Sir Henry tossed out a coin, bidding her to buy shoes
with it, and passed to his room. But the image of Agnes rose constantly
before him. He sought her company, found her of ready intelligence for
one unschooled, and shortly after this visit he obtained the consent of
her parents--humble folk--to take this wild flower to the city and
cultivate it.

He gave her such an education as the time and place afforded, dressed her
well, and behaved with kindness toward her, while she repaid this care
with the frank bestowal of her heart. The result was not foreseen--not
intended--but they became as man and wife without having wedded. Colonial
society was scandalized, yet the baronet loved the girl sincerely and
could not be persuaded to part from her. Having occasion to visit England
he took Agnes with him and introduced her as Lady Frankland, but the
nature of their alliance had been made known to his relatives and they
refused to receive her. The thought of a permanent union with the girl
had not yet presented itself to the young man. An aristocrat could not
marry a commoner. A nobleman might destroy the honor of a girl for
amusement, but it was beneath his dignity to make reparation for the act.

Sir Henry was called to Portugal in 1755, and Agnes went with him. They
arrived inopportunely in one respect, though the sequel showed a blessing
in the accident; for while they were sojourning in Lisbon the earthquake
occurred that laid the city in ruins and killed sixty thousand people.
Sir Henry was in his carriage at the time and was buried beneath a
falling wall, but Agnes, who had hurried from her lodging at the first
alarm, sped through the rocking streets in search of her lover. She found
him at last, and, instead of crying or fainting, she set to work to drag
away the stones and timbers that were piled upon him. Had she been a
delicate creature, her lover's equal in birth, such as Frankland was used
to dance with at the state balls, she could not have done this, but her
days of service at the inn had given her a strength that received fresh
accessions from hope and love. In an hour she had liberated him, and,
carrying him to a place of safety, she cherished the spark of life until
health returned. The nobleman had received sufficient proof of Agnes's
love and courage. He realized, at last, the superiority of worth to
birth. He gave his name, as he had already given his heart, to her, and
their married life was happy.

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