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A profound silent bow was Greville's only response to this unseasonable interruption.

If,' continued Mrs. Richardson, you could be sure of as good a majority at Shamboro' next November, you would have less need of our present apprehensions as to your political destiny.'

The task of snubbing your hostess in her own drawing-room was one of which Greville was thankful to be relieved by the sudden disappearance of Mrs. Richardson, at the summons of her husband, to the discharge of some imperative social duties. Taking advantage of one of those many opportunities of escape which that fortuitous concourse of atoms called an evening party afford to the initiated, Greville adroitly evaded the Lady Doctor to whose charge he had been committed, and by some marvellous accident Gertrude drifted through the crowd in the same direction, till they reached the remotest region of Mrs. Richardson's salon, where a grand pyramid of azaleas afforded a pretext for so distant a pilgrimage to enterprising adventurers, who, under botanical and horticultural pretences, carried on in these bowery recesses those interesting studies of each other's characters which ill-natured persons call flirtation. It must not, however, be supposed that Greville and Gertrude had their little earthly paradise to themselves. Though perhaps a trifle less crowded than the centre of Mrs. Richardson's civilisation, all that could be said of this glazed boudoir was that you could breathe and move in it with less difficulty than elsewhere.

•Why on earth does your aunt bring all these strange people together?' rather abruptly asked Charles. I can't understand the use of herding in a heated atmosphere a lot of incongruous people, who if they had any ideas could not exchange them, but nine-tenths of whom have probably, as a matter of fact, no ideas at all.'

• Do you include in your general censure the Lady Doctors ?' inquired Gertrude.

“Thank heaven, I know nothing about them, and I hope I never shall. I've seen enough of your unprofessional strong-minded women ever to get in their way if I can help it; but now that they have taken to be physicians, of course they will soon come out as colonels of militia, and members of Parliament, and chancellors, and Ladies of the Admiralty, and we unhappy men shall all be shunted into the nursery and the schoolroom.'

How I wish I was in the schoolroom again,' sighed Gertrude, so that I might have a chance of learning something besides the everlasting music and Italian which seem to be the chief requisites for a useful slave in a large family. I am trying now to pick up a little English history and German; but all my time is taken up helping my aunts and uncles to do nothing.'

I wish you would help me to do something,' bluntly interrupted Greville.

• What do you mean ?' she asked.

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sphere of life to which it has pleased God, or my own caprice (I am not sure which), to call me.'

At this moment, and before Gertrude had time to utter a syllable in response to this mysterious appeal, her aunt, with the most bewitching company smile, tapped her on the shoulder, and summoned her to her neglected duties at the pianoforte, leaving Greville to escape from the throng, and wend his way meditatively to his chambers in the Albany.

Three days after the at home' in Stanhope Street, the Richardsons left London, taking Gertrude with them to Pinchbeck Park, there to toil on in domestic drudgery more intolerable than that endured by West Africans on the Gold Coast, on whose sorrows her uncle exhausted all his sympathies at provincial public meetings. On the present occasion the general election, which was expected to come off in two or three months, was the absorbing topic of the minor potentates who domineered over the suburbs of Shamboro', among whom Mr. Richardson considered himself to be the chief.

Charles remained for a time in London, and then went to the Highlands for a month's deer-stalking with one of his College friends, it having been previously arranged at the Carlton that he was to be formally invited to stand for Shamboro' when the proper time came. But before that time Augustus, who knew nothing of his friend's political designs, became so urgent in his invitations that, before October was over, while still many Suffolk pheasants survived, and before a single fox had been killed, Charles made tracks southward, and found himself at his old hospitable quarters at the Grange.

CHAPTER VIII.

* THEN, Sir, we quite understand each other,' said Mr. Cheetham, as he re-entered a Shamboro' fly which had been standing for half an hour at the hall door of the Grange; "win or lose, you are only called upon for 1,000l. Leave details to us; send me your address to-morrow. Good morning, Sir.'

As Greville stood for a few minutes at the front door, apparently watching the receding fly, but really meditating on the possible consequences of the step he had just taken, his thoughts were interrupted by a rather noisy troop of youths emerging from the billiard room, who had been amusing themselves by speculating on the possible object of Charles Greville's visitor.

I say, Charley,' shouted the foremost of the mob, what did that seedy old party come for ? You've been and gone and done it, I expect, by the look of you. I'll be bound that chap came about the marriage settlements. That's what comes of shamming law and reading poetry. I knew you were in love by the lay of your topsail. Come, old fellow, out with it.'

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not quite in the humour for all this chaff; and, determined to escape all further interrogations, he quickly evaded his tormentors, and found refuge in the library, into which sanctuary he knew the fear of the elders would deter the juniors from pursuing him.

Sir Henry Berkeley, who was absorbed in the newspaper, scarcely observed Charles's entrance at first ; but, hearing the sound of some step across the room, asked, without looking up, whether any visitor had called, and whose carriage he had heard on the drive.

• Only a solicitor,' said Charles, “ who came to see me from Shamboro' about the election there.'

* And what did he want of you?' asked Sir Henry, eyeing his son's friend with a scrutinising glance.

He came as a deputation from the Conservative Committee, asking me to stand with Mr. Dibbs at this election,' replied Charles,

against the two candidates the Reform Club have started. I think he said their names were Barker and Maxwell.'

• And what did you say ??.

Well, I told him I didn't mind spending 1,000l. on the chance, but I thought it was a poor one, because I knew nobody in the borough.

“I don't think that signifies much, dryly observed Sir Henry; there are very few people worth knowing there, I believe ; and, so far as I have ever heard, they don't trouble themselves much about politics. It's simply an affair of publicans and attorneys-nothing

The only difficulty I see is the money. Of course Dibbs can pay it all without feeling it, even if he buys up the town. But he's the greatest rogue unhanged, and if he can cheat you, or anyone else, he will.'

'I named my outside figure,' said Charles, “to Cheetham, the attorney, who was here this morning.'

Were there any witnesses present ?' asked Sir Henry.

• Well,' said Charles, eye witnesses, but not, I suspect, ear witnesses of our conversation.'

Here a sudden rap at the library window put an end to the dialogue, for Lady Berkeley had come to summon the inmates to take a view of the fox-hounds, as they were in full cry at the lower end of the park, and in sight of the windows.

*Come out and let Mr. Greville see the sport, Henry; don't sit muzzing over the papers all the morning,' said her ladyship, opening at the same time the casement-window, and the political discussion was necessarily adjourned. Charles did not care much for fox-hunting at any time, and now his thoughts were too much absorbed with other topics to leave space for more than a casual glance at the landscape, dotted with red-coated riders, who were galloping across the greensward as if life and death depended on who should first reach a brook which, swollen with recent rains, wound across the park at no great distance, and which was destined on this occasion to provide

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had turned away in search of his friend Augustus, to whom be longed to communicate his political secret, when a scream from a bevy of young ladies seemed to give note of some trick or tragedy, past or impending. The cause soon revealed itself in half-a-dozen riderless horses plunging in the brook. Two or three hunting-caps were seen floating on the stream, and an equal number of drenched and dripping sportsmen struggling to the bank. A contingent from the Grange was instantly on the spot. Greville and Augustus ran across the park, but before they had reached the brook all the riders but one had recovered their horses and their seats, and were again at full gallop after the hounds. One only was hors de combat, and as he limped along the bank a slight droop in the right shoulder indicated some fracture or dislocation, which subsequent examination proved to have taken place. Sir Henry's groom had caught and was leading his horse towards the house, whither the young sportsman reluctantly turned his steps, yielding to the earnest entreaties of Augustus Berkeley, who in this respect only anticipated his father's hospitalities.

No bones broken, I hope,' said Sir Henry, cheerfully encountering his approaching guest, whose countenance and gait indicated, nevertheless, suppressed pain and discomfort.

“Yes, there are, though,' answered Augustus ; “but I've sent for Gregory. It's his day at the Union, and we shall just catch him there: he'll be here directly. Meanwhile Mr. Maxwell can rest on the sofa in the library.'

Before this move had been accomplished, the Union doctor appeared, trotting quickly up the drive, and was presently at his patient's side ; and having set the broken bone and prescribed rest, and forbidden Maxwell's mad proposal of an immediate return home through fifteen miles of pouring rain, departed, promising to come again next morning, and inwardly rejoicing in the thought that one Grange patient for a week would be worth more to him than the whole Union for six months. Mr. Gregory on the following morning revisited his patient, who had passed a restless night, and was evidently depressed at the prospect of confinement and interruption to his duties at so unseasonable a time; but the doctor, who hinted to Sir Henry at a 'nervous shock,' occasioned by the fall, told his patient plainly and positively that he must make up his mind to ten days' or a fortnight's imprisonment to his bedroom. In addition to the broken arm, it was discovered that an ankle had been badly sprained, and much inflamed by Jem's walk across the park, and his endeavours to conceal his lameness. So that he had become what would have been called in the Union an irremovable pauper,' and travelling was for the present quite out of the question.

Maxwell philosophically submitted, and his father and brothers, who on hearing of his accident had immediately driven over to the Grange, quieted Jem's political apprehension by assuring him that they had seen the Australian squatter who had come down the night

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not quite in the humour for all this chaff; and, determined to escape all further interrogations, he quickly evaded his tormentors, and found refuge in the library, into which sanctuary he knew the fear of the elders would deter the juniors from pursuing him.

Sir Henry Berkeley, who was absorbed in the newspaper, scarcely observed Charles's entrance at first; but, hearing the sound of some step across the room, asked, without looking up, whether any visitor had called, and whose carriage he had heard on the drive.

Only a solicitor,' said Charles, 'who came to see me from Shamboro' about the election there.'

* And what did he want of you?' asked Sir Henry, eyeing his son's friend with a scrutinising glance.

He came as a deputation from the Conservative Committee, asking me to stand with Mr. Dibbs at this election,' replied Charles,

against the two candidates the Reform Club have started. he said their names were Barker and Maxwell.'

• And what did you say?'

Well, I told him I didn't mind spending 1,000l. on the chance, but I thought it was a poor one, because I knew nobody in the borough.

'I don't think that signifies much, dryly observed Sir Henry: “there are very few people worth knowing there, I believe; and, so far as I have ever heard, they don't trouble themselves much about politics. It's simply an affair of publicans and attorneys—nothing more. The only difficulty I see is the money. Of course Dibbs can pay it all without feeling it, even if he buys up the town. But he's the greatest rogue unhanged, and if he can cheat you, or anyone else, he will.

'I named my outside figure,' said Charles, “to Cheetham, the attorney, who was here this morning.'

"Were there any witnesses present ?' asked Sir Henry.

Well,' said Charles, eye witnesses, but not, I suspect, ear witnesses of our conversation.'

Here a sudden rap at the library window put an end to the dialogue, for Lady Berkeley had come to summon the inmates to take a view of the fox-hounds, as they were in full cry at the lower end of the park, and in sight of the windows.

Come out and let Mr. Greville see the sport, Henry; don't sit muzzing over the papers all the morning,' said her ladyship, opening at the same time the casement-window, and the political discussion was necessarily adjourned. Charles did not care much for fox-hunting at any time, and now his thoughts were too much absorbed with other topics to leave space for more than a casual glance at the landscape, dotted with red-coated riders, who were galloping across the greensward as if life and death depended on who should first reach a brook which, swollen with recent rains, wound across the park at no great distance, and which was destined on this occasion to provide

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