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A LOVE STORY.

CHAPTER I.

THE FAMILY.

1 It was a vast and venerable pile."

i Oh, may'st thou ever be as now thou art,
Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring."

I HE mansion in which dwelt the Delmes was one of wide and extensive range. Its centre slightly receded, leaving a wing on either side. Fluted ledges, extending the whole length of the building, protruded above each story. These were supported by quaint heads of satyr, martyr, or laughing triton. The upper ledge, which concealed the roof from casual observers, was of considerably greater projection. Placed above it, at intervals, were balls

B

of marble, which, once of pure white, had now caught the time-worn hue of the edifice itself. At each corner of the front and wings, the balls were surmounted by the family device—the eagle with extended wing. One claw closed over the stone, and the bird rode it proudly an' it had been the globe. The portico, of a pointed Gothic, would have seemed heavy, had it not been lightened by glass doors, the vivid colours of which were not of modern date. These admitted to a capacious hall, where, reposing on the wide-spreading antlers of some pristine tenant of the park, gleamed many a piece of armour that in days of yore had not been worn ingloriously.

The Delme' family was an old Norman one, on whose antiquity a peerage could have conferred no new lustre. At the period when the aristocracy of Great Britain lent themselves to their own diminution of importance, by the prevalent system of rejecting the poorer class of tenantry, in many instances the most attached,—the consequence was foreseen by the then proprietor of Delme' Park, who, spurning the advice of some interested few around him, continued to foster those whose ancestors had served his. The Delmes were thus enabled to retain—and they deserved it—that fair homage which rank and property should ever command. As a family they were popular, and as individuals universally beloved.

At the period we speak of, the Delme family consisted but of three members: the baronet, Sir Henry Delme'; his brother George, some ten years his junior, a lieutenant in a light infantry regiment at Malta; and one sister, Emily. Emily Delm6 was the youngest child; her mother dying shortly after her birth. The father, Sir Reginald Delme, a man of strong feelings and social habits, never recovered this blow. Henry Delme was barely fifteen when he was called to the baronetcy and to the possession of the Delme' estates. It was foun that Sir Reginald had been more generous than the world had given him credit for, and that his estates were much encumbered. The trustees were disposed to rest contented with paying off the strictly legal claims during Sir Henry's minority. This the young heir would not accede to. He

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