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was Augustus that chose Charles, not Charles who chose Augustus. Inferior characters cleave to those above them, not from any capacity of appreciating their intelligence or of sympathy with their tastes, but simply from admiration of an unselfish spirit, to which they know they have themselves never attained. So it was with Augustus. At Oxford he had lived in a noisy and expensive set to which Charles had neither the means nor the inclination to belong'; but the two young men met occasionally at the tennis court, and the acquaintance ripened into a queer sort of friendship. Augustus would probably have been rusticated more than once if Charles had not kept him out of scrapes, and possibly might have taken a degree (which he never lid) if Charles had fallen in with him a term or two earlier. When Greville left Oxford, Augustus never lost sight of him, and was always reminding him of promised visits to the Grange, which, as we have seen, were destined ere long to come about with consequences not at first sight so convenient to our hero as his friends might have desired.

CHAPTER XVII.

CHRISTMAS at the Grange bore a strong family resemblance to the ordinary features of that serio-comic season at thousands of the happy homes of England. There, as in the circles gathered round other firesides, there were elements of joy and woe

gaps once filled by happy smiling faces--traces of anxiety and disappointment illveiled by a temporary and artificial hilarity-the boisterous mirth of youth mingled with the chastened and subdued cheerfulness of middle age, and here and there a heart which bore its own life-long burden, lightened perhaps at the great Christian festival by a joy with which strangers did not intermeddle. Sir Henry was one of those taciturn easy-going country gentlemen, who having been a keen sportsman in his youth, and a distinguished member of the · Coaching Club, was sometimes described by his friends as “a man of few words and four horses. If his epitaph had told survivors that he was a loving husband, a kind father, and a firm friend,' it would have been truer than epitaphs generally are. But the time had not yet come for writing Sir Henry's epitaph, and his contemporaries and old schoolfellows now were and had long been contented with describing him as 'not half a bad fellow, but a trile slow.'

Though Sir Henry was never guilty of the pompous vulgarity of telling his guests that his house was • Liberty Hall, they all found it ont soon enough without being told. If the men wished to shoot they shot, if the women wished to flirt they flirted, if the boys home for the holidays preferred lying in bed to coming down to breakfast they dropped in to their matutinal meal whenever it pleased them.

For though Sir Henry himself was more punctual than ordinary modern clockwork as his own chaplain at family prayers, this ordinance had no relation whatever to breakfast, and was conducted, like everything else at the Grange, on principles of civil and religious liberty. In the breakfast-room little tables were scattered up and down, and from 9 till 11 any guest who chanced to drop in had his choice of tea or coffee with its usual accompaniments of hot or cold viands. Lady Berkeley was in rather delicate health, and seldom appeared at all at breakfast, leaving the guests to the guardianship of her pieces and of an old friend of the family who generally passed her Christmas at the Grange. For the gentlemen, hunting and shooting alternated as their daily occupation almost as evenly as the bread and meat in a pile of sandwiches, though to Sir Henry himself the regularity was often broken by his attendance at the Board of Guardians and Petty Sessions, of both of which he was the Chairman. In justice to the worthy Baronet it must be said at once that though his twenty years of Parliamentary life had not won for him any great distinction as a statesman, his independence and honesty had conciliated the good-will of all his neighbours. As a preserver of game his arrangements contrasted favourably with those of most of the county nabobs.

His tenants could kill all the rabbits on their farms if they pleased. He never sold his venison or his pheasants, and besides distributing the latter very liberally all round the neighbourhood, he generally sent ten or twenty brace every year to the County Hospital at Shamboro'. He subscribed to all the public charities, supported the Bishop of the diocese whatever might be his theological opinions, kept in his cellar a capital stock of claret, and was the best judge of shorthorns in the county.

The old friend of the family to whom we have referred deserves to be specially described. Lady Anne Makepeace was quite a personage of social authority, uniting a warm heart to great practical usefulness. She was one of those ladies who are always in request in half a dozen quarters at once. No birth, death, or marriage could occur within the wide circle of Lady Anne's acquaintance without involving her in urgent appeals for her personal presence and active sympathy in the joys or sorrows of her friends. Everybody appealed to her as the supreme court of judicature on all points of moral casuistry. Don't

you
think so, Lady Anne?' was

on Lady Berkeley's lips when her guest was at the Grange.

• What can we do to interest the boys and make them less desultory? What does Lady Anne think of this book, or that announcement, or of Mr. Proser's sermon, or of the signs of the times ?'

Such were the constant queries addressed to this walking oracle, to whom consequently all members of the family of all ages were predisposed to render an almost mysterious homage.

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with encaustic tiles, along which fairy forms were passing to and fro, sometimes pausing to admire the foliage of the coleus or the petals of the orchids, oftener to exchange greetings with their neighbours, and gossip about their enemies. Among the guests were the party from Pinchbeck Park, for the Richardsons were, of course, on Lady Puddingtown's list, and Lady Anne's prophecy was fulfilled that do what you will and forbid as you please, young people who wish to meet are sure to meet.' She was not therefore surprised when she saw beneath the fronds of a grand New Zealand fern Gertrude Berkeley apparently in earnest conversation with Charles Greville. Lady Anne was too good a friend to both to think of interrupting their colloquy, and as there were no reporters at hand, no record remains of what passed on that interesting occasion. There may have been inquisitive spectators of all the little events of Lady Puddingtown's ball who took a note of the brief interview between Charles and Gertrude ; but if there were such, their appetite for gossip must have been altogether unsatisfied. For though both were afterwards seen with other partners and in other coteries, never again were Charles and Gertrude seen together. Gertrude, who was an quisitely graceful dancer, was seen in many a valse and galop,

, careering through the ball room with the choicest chivalry of the county, but never as Charles's partner. Greville, who, though he hated dancing, felt that the terms on which Lady Berkeley had included him in the Grange contingent compelled him to enter the lists, was seen devoting himself to the daughters of the hostess, who were by common consent the plainest and most unattractive girls of all the throng. So that when the time came for disbanding the forces, and after the interlude of supper, all the usual complimentary pressure to stay till it was over' had been exhausted, Lady Anne suggested to Augustus at about three A.M. that it would be well to make inquiries about the carriage. Whereupon the last-named hero, who had been fearfully bored by the whole concern, gladly undertook the mission, and by four o'clock the quartette, who had jolted in the interval over seven miles of ty lanes, arrived more than half asleep at the Grange, and tumbled as rapidly as circumstances would admit into their beds, where we must leave them to follow another of the retreating carriages from the castle to its home.

• Well,' exclaimed Mrs. Richardson, as soon as her husband and Gertrude were seated in the carriage, it's quite clear what Mr. Greville is about. We shall shortly hear, I suppose, that "the recently defeated candidate for Shamboro’ is about to lead to the hymeneal altar the accomplished and honourable Jemima Puddingtown ”—and not a bad choice for him either, for she'll have some 50,000.-and if Mr. Greville turns Whig, which he's safe to do if it answers his purpose, who knows but his lordship may get him some place under Government, or something of that sort, eh?'

Well, I shouldn't wonder; but he's so confoundedly proud that

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would like for a son-in-law. Your friend, Mr. Greville, is fond of his own way, I believe, isn't he, Gertrude?'

It was fortunate for our heroine that the carriage lamps projected their rays only on the road in advance, and that the carriage itself was in total darkness, in which the countenances of its occupants were wholly invisible to each other. Had it been otherwise, the moist glittering eyes of poor Gertrude could hardly have failed to reveal the struggles of her inmost soul. For beneath the fronds of the bowery ferns in the conservatory mutual vows of life-long faith had a few hours before been exchanged by her with Greville. In the few minutes granted to them for drawing up the protocols of their momentous treaty they had mutually arranged that, with a view of disarming all criticism or suspicion, they should speak no more to each other through the remainder of the evening. Now, though it was no new thing for her to hear him reviled by her guardian and his family, and to listen in silence to their taunts, any utterance which did not reveal the indignation which these remarks excited seemed almost disloyal to her betrothed.

So Gertrude was silent, and after a short pause, ' The girl's asleep, tired, no doubt, with her dancing,' said her guardian, and following what they supposed to be her example, Mr. and Mrs. Richardson dozed off, and were only jerked out of their slumbers by the sudden stoppage of the equipage at the lodge gate of Pinchbeck Park. It was not in repose that poor Gertrude passed that long half-hour. As the leafless hedgerows glistened in the glare of the lamps of the carriage as it rolled along the road, they seemed to her emblems of the long weary years of trouble and struggle which she foresaw as the ordeal through which she must pass till freed from the control of her guardian, whose opposition would, she knew, be stern and inexorable.

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CHAPTER XIX.

AFTER many anxious consultations between attorneys, Parliamentary agents, and counsel, previously to which every nook and corner of Sbamboro' had been ferreted for evidence of Tory corruption, by Mr. Pinchum and his satellites, the last-named gentleman thought it expedient to make sure of the costs of the rather expensive proceedings about to be instituted, by a guarantee in black and white from the ex-Australian potentate. A laconic mandate to do all that was necessary' was, of course, sufficient, and Mr. Pinchum proceeded at once to London, to lay the train which was to explode Dibbs, stun Greville, and reinstate the Liberal party in complete ascendency.

In those bygone days, before members of Parliament were reduced to the level of felons at assize, and called on to plead before puisne judges on special circuit, a petition was a very different

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Mr. Pinchum having copied from a stereotyped form a farrago of insolent libels, charging personal bribery, corruption, and intimidation on all parties concerned, had only to hand it in at the proper office, where it was printed at the public expense, and circulated the next morning to all the members of the Legislature. Among the rest Mr. Dibbs was thus afforded the privilege of perusing a document in which his name figured conspicuously as the aider and abettor of all these political iniquities. And as he had been at Constantinople during the two months that had intervened since the election, dabbling in Oriental securities, this was his first opportunity of even hearing of the plots that were being hatched for the termination of his Parliamentary existence even before it had well commenced. It need hardly be said that he lost no time in posting off to his solicitors to tell them, in the language of his colleague, to do what was necessary,' and it became necessary in the judgment of Messrs. Freshman and Grubbe to 'do' a great deal.

Two of the leading Parliamentary counsel being already retained on the other side, Mr. Dibbs's agents immediately seized on the three next in reputation, while one of their own firm was despatched by the next train to Shamboro’ to confer with the local lawyers with the view of getting up a counter-petition against the Liberals. What followed in showers of telegrams, letters, parcels privately despatched to mysterious · Men in the Moon,' need not be recapitulated. Suffice it to say that in three days a counter-petition against Barker, containing precisely the same complimentary allegations as that to which we have already alluded, found its way to the Vote Office and was circulated accordingly.

In less than three weeks the committee for trying the Shamboro' petition (No. 1) was chosen, and, to the joy of Mr. Pinchum, a Liberal chairman selected to serve on the committee, in the person of Sir Theophilus Winkhard, a faithful and veteran hack of the Whig party, who had represented for more than thirty years a drowsy .constituency, which owed much of its somnolent propensities to the political opiates on which Sir Theophilus was said to expend 1,000l. a year, entered in the counterfoils of his cheque-book to what he benevolently designated as his • Charity Account.'

• A Daniel come to judgment!' exclaimed the enthusiastic Pinchum, when he learnt from the Parliamentary reports in the evening paper that the arbitrament of the political destinies of Shamboro’ was to be committed to a judicial mind trained to a decent and quiet connivance at all the petty machinations of organised corruption. The question now arose whether the petitioners should content themselves with invalidating Mr. Dibbs's election, or should go on to claim the seat for the second Liberal candidate, Mr. Vaxwell ; and in the decision of this point the cautious Pinchum determined to evade any personal responsibility. Knowing well, as he did, that acts had been done on both sides which would not only, if proved, unseat

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