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restless Lady Margaret Colston, who, during her wedded life, had taken care not to spend two days at his country-seat; and whom, at her death, he was equally careful to inter in the gay city in which her soul delighted, in order that nothing at Hartington might ever serve to remind him of a person so disagreeable.

No wonder, therefore, that people should forget he had been married. He had almost forgotten it himself. Forty years of profound peace had happily obliterated all remembrance of those unquiet days, when he was racketed from one watering-place to another, from London to Paris, from Paris to Naples, without rest or intermission; distracted by the balls, operas, and masquerades of half the capitals in Europe. In the joy of his release, the widower had probably made some secret vow that, being his own master again, nothing should induce him a second time to renounce the ease and comfort of a country life; for, from the day he returned to Hartington Hall after his lady's funeral, he was never known

to quit the precincts. An easy walk, an easy ride, an easy drive, constituted the pleasures of his tranquil life. Early hours and moderate diet, old-fashioned books and oldfashioned habits, satisfied his unambitious mind; the sort of yea-nay existence that makes neither friend nor enemy.

But it is under the sceptre of such country gentlemen that our oaks acquire giant growth, that a few village greens are left unencroached upon by the lord of the manor; and that such highways, or rather byways as the Church Lane of Hartington, are left to put to the proof the pattens and patience of the churchgoing old dames of the parish.

The crossest of them, however, never uttered a word of displeasure against Sir Clement. The quiet, little old gentleman was the idol of his tenants; half of whom had never exchanged a word with him, though for nearly half a century he had dwelt upon his estate. But in England this is no uncommon thing; and many are the men who lead the life of Robinson Crusoe, without

having been cast away on an uninhabited island.

The only person with whom he lived in habits of intimacy was the parson of the parish, an old college chum, whose temper and pursuits were nearly as torpid as his own. In youth, both of them had been fond of fishing; in age, both of them were zealous antiquaries ; and they met daily and talked of the things of this world, as though they dwelt in another; a little to the indignation of Mrs. Wigswell, the rector's wife, who saw no reason why a man of Sir Clement Colston's fortune, and a beneficed clergyman like her husband, should not extend the sphere of their hospitalities, and live like the rest of their neighbours.

She was forced, however, to limit her appeals for sympathy to letters to her married daughters in London; for, at Hartington, what auditor could she have found for grumblings against the rector or lord of the manor ? Both were so good to the poor, so kind to their servants, and so guiltless of offence to man or beast, that, in the eyes of the parish, they could do

no wrong.

Madam Wigswell herself, indeed, passed for “a little uppish, and a bit of a skinfint;" but not a tongue was ever wagged against the parson or his patron.

Among those by whom this species of steeple-loyalty was mainly upheld, was the parish clerk; not in an abject spirit, but in pure thankfulness for having been, for the last five-and-twenty years, an object of bounty to both. And, in his turn, John Downing was a man who had some need of bounty. In the uneventful history of the village, his was the tragic tale. When a young man, struggling with the world, and having four children to maintain out of the humble fees of his clerk. hood, he had been deprived of the best of wives, a pretty young woman of five-andtwenty, by an accident which still served to excite on winter nights the sympathy of the firesides of Hartington. By the carelessness of a drunken nurse attending upon her fourth confinement, she was burnt to death, surviving the sad catastrophe only long enough to in crease the anguish of the survivors.

To nurse her in her last moments, the sister of her husband, who inhabited a village about eight miles from Hartington, had hastened to his assistance; and, when her sufferings were relieved by death, the good woman had mercifully accepted the charge of the motherless infant.

Better had she extended her kindness to two others, who were scarcely able to run alone! HEAVEN, however, did for them what the circumstances of the husband of Dame Harman did not allow. HEAVEN took the helpless children to itself! Within five

years after the loss of his wife, John Downing had but two children remaining,—Jack, his eldest born, a fine robust boy, well qualified to defy the rubs of life, whether of indigestion or starvation; and Luke, Dame Harman's adopted, whom his father would have been content to receive home again, now that the feebleness of his infancy was past. But the boy's attachment to the young cousins at Norcroft, among whom he had been reared, and the cuffs his milksop habits were apt to

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