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music. Clarice, began to think she had been right in prognosticating, that, when she once began to sing to him, he would never allow her to leave off. Her style was that which he most admired, and could seldom enjoy in the country. Before long, he forgot his shyness, and was taking a part in her Italian duets with her. He had lived for many years abroad, and, though unacquainted with the science of music, he said he knew the trick of each composer so well, that, if she sang a few bars of the air, the whole came back to him, and he was seldom at fault.

Laura said, jestingly, that, if Mrs. Holcombe had heard them, she would certainly have remarked that Clarice was giving him his first lesson. She told him of their visitor's having been very desirous that he should cultivate his talents, and profit by so excellent an opportunity of obtaining the best instruction.

Sir Frederick did not take the joke so well as usual. Perhaps he imagined that Miss Le

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Sage might not like it ;—that it would come too near the truth to be agreeable, and remind her, unpleasantly, of the necessity under which she laboured, of turning her accomplishments and abilities to account.

He looked grave, and did not ask her to sing again. Even though fatigued, she might not, he fancied, deem it proper to refuse. It pained his generous nature to think that her goodhumour and readiness to oblige might be used against her; and he wished that Mrs. Holcombe had not made, nor Laura repeated, a remark which disturbed the pleasant harmony subsisting among them. .

Laura was perplexed by his manner, but Clarice understood him perfectly. She liked him the better for shutting the piano-forte, and talking to them the rest of the evening. He should not lose the pleasure of hearing her sing, by his scrupulousness, she inwardly resolved; and she did not think he appreciated at less than its due value the talent which she

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was conscious of possessing, because he would not permit her to tire herself. When he heard her practising in the drawingroom, the next day, he came in to listen ; and forgot an engagement with the Rector, in the pleasure of accompanying her.

Their musical evenings were very agreeable to them all. Laura recovered her spirits sufficiently to join with the others; or reclined upon the sofa, when her voice was weak, contented to hear her friend's rich notes swell upon the air ; while tears of pleasure often mounted to her eyes, but did not fall from them. Clarice seemed glad to find some means of showing her sense of Sir Frederick's constant kindness; and assured him that singing was as natural to her as speaking, and seldom wearied her. In this manner, and without a single interruption to their tranquillity, another week slipped away.

Mr. Holcombe began to feel rather uneasy about his friend. He tried to laugh him out

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of his singing mania, which, in some way or other, probably through the gossip of servants, and greatly to Sir Frederick's annoyance, had transpired; but the Baronet looked so grave that he did not like to continue the subject.

Mrs. Holcombe was equally unsuccessful. Though she generally contrived to be watering her geraniums, when the carriage brought home in an evening the party from Maydwell Place, Sir Frederick only kissed his hand to her in passing. He did not, as had been usual, stop the horses.

When he came to the Rectory, he was always in a hurry. The ladies wanted him to drive them to Fordington, or to show them some fine prospect. He was no longer his own master; and Laura's spirits, though greatly improved, were still too uncertain to make her wish to see company. Good-humoured as he was, Sir Frederick Derwent was a person with whom, when he chose to prevent it, it was difficult to take liberties; and, if the Rector

and his wife attempted to rally him, he seemed not to understand their meaning, in the least.

He would not allow them, by one careless word or ill-timed jest, to outrage his own sense of propriety; or to imply the possibility that the young girls whom he had received under the shelter of his roof, could find it an inadequate or unbefitting asylum. On these points, thoughtless as he might be on others, Sir Frederick Derwent's feelings towards women partook of the very essence of chivalry; and he did not choose it to be supposed, nor himself suspect, that he could deviate from the course which he knew to be the only proper one to pursue. If Maydwell had not, hitherto, been exactly the residence Laura might have preferred, he was resolved, henceforth, to model his establishment, and conduct himself, as much as possible, in accordance with her wishes.

VOL. I.

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