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until they found themselves alone, for the whole morning and afternoon, without a chance existing of his coming in, for a moment, at least, in the course of every hour, to see if they wanted anything that might be conducive either to their amusement or comfort. They could not fail to miss his never-ceasing good humour.

The two girls wandered about the grounds in a somewhat melancholy fashion, returning to the house when the shadows lengthened, expecting to find him come back. Dixon knocked at the drawingroom door, to advise them not to wait for him. Master was very uncertain; and, when the gentlemen met, on these occasions, there was always a dinner at the Hotel. She did not think that he was likely to get away before nightfall.

When they had lived at Maydwell as long as she had done, they would leave off fretting about him, for Sir Frederick did not like being troubled to keep to any exact hour, and had

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come home, safe and sound, time after time when she had given him up. What she could not help often thinking of, was, there being people in the country, not a hundred miles off, who would be glad enough to hear that the black colts had kicked the carriage to pieces, or the chesnuts run away with it; for the horses Sir Frederick generally drove, when he went out alone, were young and skittish things, which he had bred and broken himself. That was the pair he kept for the ladies, which he had taken out yesterday.

The housekeeper told them that the meeting he was gone to attend was occasioned by the opening of a new road to the county-town; in which he took great interest. If any one cared about improving the way of getting from place to place, it ought to be her master, for he always seemed to be on the move; and yet people said no gentleman had such crooked, hilly lanes to bother him. For her part, in the winter, with dark nights and so many dinner

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together; the rich hue of the bark gaining a crimson tint from the sunlight, wherever a gleam found entrance through the thick foliage of the hedges, or shone overhead upon their resinous stems and branches.

Beneath, or rather leaning against the trees, a ruinous-looking cottage stood on one side of the lane. The thatched roof was full of holes, imperfectly stopped with wisps of straw and clods of soil ; the chimneys, formed of great stones, were sadly out of the perpendicular ; a yawning crack from top to bottom of the house wall, caused it to be propped up with beams of wood.

The tenement seemed scarcely fit even for a Cow-shed, for the rain and wind must find entrance in every direction; and window and door-posts were all aslant, as if some settlement had taken place, soon after the erection of the building, which had set every part at variance with its neighbours.

A saddened feeling crept over Miss Derwent and Clarice, when they perceived that, desolate as the hovel appeared, it was not without occupants. A woman, whose clothing seemed to take pattern from her dilapidated abode, an to be as unseemly and ineffectual for protection from the weather, looked suddenly out, and called to a child who was fetching water from a spring, on the opposite side of the road. The girl shook back her tangled elf-locks to gaze at the ladies, but would not stop to be questioned. Ragged and dirty as she was, with her torn frock and dishevelled hair, still, as the poor, wan-looking child ran across the lane, with the water dripping from the can down to the ground, the blue petticoat and falling drops caught the light, and helped to make a foreground to the picture, composed of the half-ruined cottage walls propped against the red stems of the fir-trees, their dark spreading tops massed against the sunset sky, and the stream trickling down the bright green turf of the bank, and over the shining pebbles.

It seemed impossible to pass so forlorn a dwelling, without some attempt to alleviate the extreme poverty denoted by its appearance. Both the woman and the child had sickly countenances, but neither of them looked inclined to be communicative. The house door was shut, and no one visible. Nevertheless, Clarice laid her hand on the latch of the garden gate, and was about to enter, when the cottage door again opened from within, and Lewis Pemberton stepped over the threshold. He was speaking, in accents of comfort and kindness, to some person behind him; but as he turned his head, and caught sight of the ladies, he hastily finished what he was saying, and made a sign with his hand for them to keep back.

“ You must not go into any of these cottages, at present :” he said, coming quickly towards them. These people are recovering from a low, infectious fever, which has hung about these swampy lanes all the spring.


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