Agnes Surriage

: 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
br /> 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.