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to the means by which a political encounter might be avoided. Among the duties delegated to Gertrude as her aunt's aide-de-camp on this memorable evening was that of preventing a collision, by the preoccupation of Mr. Greville.

Talk to him about the weather, or the London season, or the Opera, or the Exhibition, or anything you please but politics,' was Lady Berkeley's brief to her inquiring niece, who, on being told off for this delicate duty, asked for instructions as to its performance. And accordingly Gertrude tried her hand all the evening at the various topics suggested, which fell as flatly on the ear of Greville as is possible in the case of pretty nothings uttered to order by pretty lips.

Short and courteous acknowledgments, acquiescence in every opinion, a gentle 'yes' or an undecided no,' were the only responses poor Gertrude could elicit, until, her subjects being nearly exhausted, some allusions to the neighbouring village led to the cottages and their inmates, when Greville, roused from his apathy, began a series of cross questions on the condition of the poor, and with sudden animation to pursue into close details the topic which at last seemed to succeed in rendering the conversation something more than an effort on both sides to maintain conventional proprieties. For though Gertrude did not affect any knowledge as to the value of labour or demand and supply,' or, indeed, the slightest acquaintance with political economy; she seemed to have caught an intuitive perception of what was due as between rich and

poor,

which for all practical purposes stood her instead of theories, and enabled her to define their relative rights more accurately than profound philosophers of the sterner sex deemed possible to an unlearned woman. Occasional visitations of the poor in their own dwellings which had been permitted from her childhood had familiarised Gertrude with the habits, feelings, and wants of the rural population, so that her sympathies had the less danger of degenerating into mere sentimentalism.

* But what puzzles me,' said Greville, after listening with interest to Gertrude's answers to some of his inquiries, 'is, how it comes to pass that, with a Parliament always talking about Poor Laws, and with all sorts of Boards, local and central, constantly pottering over their administration, we never seem to get nearer the solution of the question. Here and there we may find a little paradise of a village like yours under the reign of divine squires and inspired vicars, haunted by ministering angels, where every want is anticipated, and where Boards and relieving officers enjoy a happy sinecure ; but what are we to do with the teeming millions of our manufacturing districts, where the capricious disturbance of a single industry may, at scarcely a moment's notice, throw on their own resources, or on public aid, a vast and helpless population-yesterday ratepayers, today paupers ? '

Before Gertrude had time to reply to a question which might have and Tapers, but because he despised and hated still more the fullgrown babies who were playing at civil and religious liberty' on the other side. Greville was no political antiquarian, no lover of rust and dust for its own sake. If he had lived in the days of Eldon he might probably have espoused Eldonism ; but as he did not, it was of no account to him. He had seen with his own eyes corruption in its vilest forms infecting the whole body politic of the United States, and he knew that the great American Republic, which some of his Oxford contemporaries had loved to extol as the model of purity and freedom, was in fact affording to the world a type of political degradation, compared with which Sir Robert Walpole's administration was spotless. Greville, therefore, though. liberal' in the best acceptation of that adjective, was in the party nomenclature of the day a Conservative and something more; and when, shortly after his uncle's 50,000l. had fallen into his pockets, our hero was on a visit to an old college friend in Suffolk, whose father had formerly represented his native county, it is no matter of surprise that Greville should have been infected by the atmosphere which surrounded him, and seized the opportunity which the coming election offered for entering into the fray. Nor was it unnatural that on his arrival at the Grange, Sir Henry Berkeley's country house, distant a few miles from Shamboro', he should impart to him his views and wishes. With the ardour of youth he let fly at the Jacobins of the day, whom he omitted no opportunity of denouncing. It so happened that two days after Greville's arrival there was to be a dinner party at the Grange, and there was one inflammable element in it in the shape of a Radical brother-in-law of Sir Henry's residing in the neighbourhood, and for the sparks that might fly off the worthy baronet feared that his son's Tory friend might provide tinder.

The extensive cousinhood of the Berkeley family made up to the party at the Grange that which was lacking by reason of Sir Henry's want of grown-up daughters, and whenever any gathering took place the services of one or other of his various nieces were placed under requisition. It so happened that on the present occasion Gertrude Berkeley, whose father, a younger brother of Sir Henry's, had died some years before in India, had been summoned by her aunt to aid her in entertaining her guests and making tea and conversation at the Grange. And whenever she was summoned, it followed as a necessary consequence that her uncle and guardian, Mr. Richardson, at whose house she was domiciled, should also be invited. For though Mrs. Richardson was Sir Henry's sister, she had unfortunately married an individual so odious that even his Whig neighbours sighed for the predicted millennial period when the vile person should no more be called Liberal.'

Sir Henry, whose aim was peace with all men, always dreaded the visitations from Pinchbeck Park, and knowing as he did the outspoken freedom of his son's young Tory friend, and Mr. Richardson's capacity

to the means by which a political encounter might be avoided. Among the duties delegated to Gertrude as her aunt's aide-de-camp on this memorable evening was that of preventing a collision, by the preoccupation of Mr. Greville.

Talk to him about the weather, or the London season, or the Opera, or the Exhibition, or anything you please but politics,' was Lady Berkeley's brief to her inquiring niece, who, on being told off for th delicate duty, asked for instructions as to its performance. And accordingly Gertrude tried her hand all the evening at the various topics suggested, which fell as flatly on the ear of Greville as is possible in the case of pretty nothings uttered to order by pretty lips.

Short and courteous acknowledgments, acquiescence in every opinion, a gentle'yes' or an undecided no,' were the only responses poor Gertrude could elicit, until, her subjects being nearly exhausted, some allusions to the neighbouring village led to the cottages and their inmates, when Greville, roused from his apathy, began a series of cross questions on the condition of the poor, and with sudden animation to pursue into close details the topic which at last seemed to succeed in rendering the conversation something more than an effort on both sides to maintain conventional proprieties. For though Gertrude did not affect any knowledge as to the value of labour or 'demand and supply, or, indeed, the slightest acquaintance with political economy; she seemed to have caught an intuitive perception of what was due as between rich and poor, which for all practical purposes stood her instead of theories, and enabled her to define their relative rights more accurately than profound philosophers of the sterner sex deemed possible to an unlearned woman. Occasional visitations of the poor in their own dwellings which had been permitted from her childhood had familiarised Gertrude with the habits, feelings, and wants of the rural population, so that her sympathies had the less danger of degenerating into mere sentimentalism.

But what puzzles me,' said Greville, after listening with interest to Gertrude's answers to some of his inquiries, is, how it comes to pass that, with a Parliament always talking about Poor Laws, and with all sorts of Boards, local and central, constantly pottering over their administration, we never seem to get nearer the solution of the question. Here and there we may find a little paradise of a village like yours under the reign of divine squires and inspired vicars, haunted by ministering angels, where every want is anticipated, and where Boards and relieving officers enjoy a happy sinecure ; but what are we to do with the teeming millions of our manufacturing districts, where the capricious disturbance of a single industry may, at scarcely a moment's notice, throw on their own resources, or on public aid, a vast and helpless population-yesterday ratepayers, today paupers ?'

Before Gertrude had time to reply to a question which might have

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puzzled Miss Lydia Becker and the Women's Rights Association, a general rustling of dresses, and several audible 'good nights,' gave timely notice that her task for the evening was ended, and her aunt's voice summoned her to join the retreating party.

On the retirement of the ladies and the departure of the guests, by Sir Henry's special instructions to his son, the usual motion of adjournment to the smoking-room was omitted, and all one by one vanished somewhat gloomily to bed.

So Mr. Greville has retired without beat of drum, eh ?' inquired Sir Henry, when they met the next morning at the breakfast table.

“Yes,' said Lady Berkeley; he had a telegram from London this morning, and went off to the station for the seven o'clock train ; and I am sorry to say,' added her ladyship, that Mr. Richardson told me last night that your sister wants Gertrude in Stanhope Street next week, to help her about her last “at home” before they leave London, and we are to send her to the Shamboro' Junction to go up with her uncle on Tuesday.

Well, it can't be helped,' said Sir Henry; "only get the dear girl back to the Grange as soon as possible.'

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6

CHAPTER VII.

It was at that waning period of the London season when gentlemen who have been playing at Parliament for five months think it is time to play at something else, and chaperones who have been unsuccessfully angling for coronets are ordered' by their medical advisers to seek repose from their toils at German baths, that Mr. Richardson had for his own convenience retained the services of his niece to aid her aunt in winding up some of the posted and ledgered liabilities of her fashionable drudgery in the metropolis. There were cards to be left, excuses to be written, one more at home' to be given, which was to comprise all the odds and ends, poor relations, and unpresentables whom it was impossible to combine with her grand gatherings, but who could not, as Mrs. Richardson phrased it, be altogether excluded from her social circle.'

Before a table spread with invitation cards, in the centre of which was engraven Mrs. Richardson at home, and in the corner her

• address in Stanhope Street, Mayfair, sat the hapless Gertrude. In her hand was the pen of an unready writer, inditing to her aunt's order the names of those guests whom Mrs. Richardson deigned to honour with her invitations.

• By the way, Gerty, there's Mr. Greville. I know he's in town, for I saw him turn into the Albany yesterday evening, as we drove home through Piccadilly, and though he belongs to what your uncle

candidate for Shamboro,' he'll find some of his own sort here on Thursday-send him a card.'

Gertrude silently obeyed, and, thankful that her morning's task was done, escaped from the drawing-room.

Mrs. Richardson's At Home' differed in no material respect from scores of similar festivities which were taking place at scores of London houses on the same evening. A few country cousins' and awkward boors prematurely appeared at ten o'clock, and floated up and down the drawing-rooms as unconnectedly as the atoms of Epicurus, until the plot began to thicken, and one or two second-rate celebrities arrived whom Mrs. Richardson deemed worthy of a share of her attention.

Mr. Richardson also, who had dined at his club, dropped in with a few friends.

Perpendicular refreshments of cool coffee and warm ices were provided in the dining-room. Gertrude was ordered off to the pianoforte, though the general buzz and chatter rendered it very immaterial what her performances might be. This circumstance was, however, an advantage in the opinion of her aunt, who simply regarded her niece as a slave, and had no intention of allowing her accomplishments and attractions to interfere with the prospects of one of her own daughters who was coming out' next season.

Greville, who had dined at the Travellers' with an old schoolfellow, and had not much taste for drums,' had almost made up his mind to shirk Mrs. Richardson and her soirée, but remembering that the proprietor of Pinchbeck Park was rather a keen politician on the opposite side, and capable of doing him more or less mischief in the campaign for which, as he had learnt at the Carlton, there was an opening for him at Shamboro', determined on second thoughts to be on the safe side, and to avoid, at all events, the appearance of incivility. It was past eleven before Greville found himself in the reception rooms at Stanhope Street, and after a passing word to the hostess, was lost among the crowd. It was not without some surprise that, after edging his way uncomfortably through the rather uninteresting throng, Greville met the recognising glance of Gertrude, of wbose relationship to the Richardsons he was unaware.

Good heavens!' he exclaimed, what can have brought you here? I thought you were distributing tea and tracts among the poor people at the Grange.'

Gertrude, slightly taken aback at this abrupt salutation, expressed, in turn, her surprise at seeing Mr. Greville, whom she supposed to have been engaged in his electioneering campaign.

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Lydia Buncombe, Mr. Greville,' suddenly interposed Mrs. Richardson, rather jealous of the attentions her slave was receiving at his hands. • Dr. Lydia, as you are of course aware, is one of the most gifted professional ladies in the United States, and has just been elected at the Boston Hospital as House Physician, by an overwhelming majority.'

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