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remain longer than he felt certain of his welcome. He went away quite early, stopping in the garden-parlour to light a cigar, and profiting by the private walk through the shrubbery, which shortened the distance to the Rectory. It was a constant practice with Sir Frederick to walk home with his friend. He had no excuse for breaking through it, this evening; and he bade Laura and Clarice good night, at the same time with Mr. Holcombe.

It was neither of music nor of cricket that they conversed, as they passed along, without noticing the pale light of the glow-worms on the bank, or the planets shining overhead through the branches of the trees. They were men, not boys or lovers; and, having played out their game, and talked pleasantly for an hour or two with the ladies as they went through the woods, they spoke about money.

It did not appear, from the terms they used, that this was an unfamiliar subject. They

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were well acquainted, evidently, with each
other's circumstances; and it was equally plain
that these easy-going men, though treating of
them lightly enough, had had experience of
difficulties—that their paths were not even now
clear before them.

Mr. Holcombe's college debts had hung over
him heavily, lightened only by the expectation
of future preferment in the Church, until his
friend offered him the presentation to the
living of Maydwell. He thought it an ob-
scure existence for a man of his merits; but,
such as it was, under the pressure of embar-
rassment, he accepted it thankfully; allowing
himself as many indulgences as the income
would justify, after he had staved off such
demands as he could not immediately meet,
and liquidated the most urgent.

Sir Frederick Derwent, also, had suffered for many years the pangs of hope deferred, without ever reconciling himself to the idea that, until his uncle's widow died, he was a

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250

SIR FREDERICK DERWENT.

poor man.

Like all his race, except Laura's father, whose hot blood had been poured out on the battle-fields of his country, in Western India, he had lived very fast. His extravagances had not exactly amounted to vices, but they had led him to their very verge; and Mrs. Derwent's death had only occurred just in time to save him from irremediable calamities.

It was, perhaps, in some respects, unfortunate that he had never had a sufficient shock to sober him. He might have been a wiser and a better man ever afterwards, if real misfortune had come upon him; but, at the moment when the world was beginning to look dark to the thoughtless' man of pleasure, his accession to fortune opened a new field of amusement to him. He settled down contentedly enough at the old place, glad that it was no worse, and satisfied with what, ten years before, would have seemed to him a very monotonous existence.

His horses, his cricketing, the gay reception given him into the neighbourhood, a thousand trifles, occupied his mind. He did not require the excitement of gambling or of the turf, when it was something new and engrossing to lead a respectable country life, and find himself the object of universal attention. Besides this, he knew, and so did the Rector, that past pleasures and byegone follies still crippled his income; and that it would require a length of time and the exercise of considerable forbearance, to enable him to discharge the heavy liabilities incurred during twenty years' impatient expectation of his inheritance.

There was only one man in the world, besides his lawyer, fully acquainted with the present state of Sir Frederick's affairs. That person was Mr. Holcombe. They had no reserve on these subjects with each other; and, whatever his profession might lead people to expect, the Rector was not in the habit of troubling his friend with serious advice.

252

SIR FREDERICK DERWENT,

They walked up the village street, where the lights in the cottage windows were going out, one after another, and made a long stop at the Rectory-gate, still talking with earnestness upon matters of business. Sir Frederick would not go in, as he generally did ; but shook hands warmly with his friend, as if, by inducing him to unburden his mind, Holcombe had conferred a favour upon him. Sir Frederick did not whistle

any Italian melodies, on his way home; but passed silently by the cottages which now were lighted up by the moon, on the bright side of the street, and stood in a dark row on the other; with no gleam shining through the casements, except in one or two where people were sitting up with the sick; and in the public house, where a good deal of noisy brawling was still kept up.

Sir Frederick took no notice; only walking rather quicker as he passed, perhaps, for fear of being a witness of any disorderly action which it might be troublesome and yet neces

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