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Lord Altamont nodded to him in token of favour and recognition, half rose from his seat, and shading his eyes with his hand, fixed them on the great clock over the chimney; then drawing out from his black velvet waistcoat a chased gold watch, to ascertain the agreement of the time-keepers, paused a moment, and the next a sonorous bell struck twelve, while the pressed repeater echoed the hour in faithful precision.

Very exact !” he said ; and resuming his seat, took up a small MS. book, and, running his finger over the notes of the opened page, read aloud :

“ The palings round the young plantations of the East Park to be repaired : I saw one of the outlying deer there two days ago. Let me not have to mention this a second time.”

Lord Altamont dropped his book, and fixed his eyes on his steward as though waiting for a reply. “Your lordship shall be obeyed ; depend upon it, my lord, not a mouse shall get through in future."

“ And the east gate, leading to the inner park, Clarkson : the trefoil ornaments on the top have suffered injury, and I suspect the mischief has been done by those idle boys the Bensons; if so, and if you can ascertain the fact, I will no longer allow their father to occupy the lodge. Tell him this,— tell him so directly, Clarkson.”

“ I shall obey your lordship’s commands.”

“ Which of the masons will you employ about the porch of the church? Was it Howden or Benson who last worked there?"

“Howden, my lord.” “Well, then, let Benson be employed now.”

Clarkson pulled the ends of his cravat, stood first upon one foot, then on the other : there was a considerable pause.

My lord, may it please your lordship, if I

may be so bold as to say it, Howden is the better workman of the two."

“Maybe so; but it does not please my lordship that Howden should be the man enployed. You have my orders.”

A bow, and again a pause.

“ When will the roan mare be fit for use? She has been a long time out of work.”

“ Indeed, my lord, she is but poorly ; and

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unless Hornaway the farmer can do more for her than your lordship’s groom, I think she had better be shot."

Humph !” emphatically burst from Lord Altamont; and, after a minute's silence, he asked, “How is your lameness, Clarkson ?”

“Why, thank your lordship, I am sorry to say I does not get much better. Sukey does all she can in rubbing of it, but —”

“Well, then, and because you are not better, you had best be shot — eh ?”

A sort of smile played round the steward's lips as he replied, “Your lordship knows there is a difference between a man and a beast.”

“ Yes; the latter is sometimes the least brute of the two."

Tap, tap, tap, swiftly repeated on the door, announced another visiter ; and, without waiting for leave, in came the beauteous and only child of Lord Altamont, the Lady Elizabeth Delamere, and stepping up to her father, half courtesied, and kissing first his hand then his forehead, blessed the day that saw him

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in health and peace.

1

“You may go, Clarkson ; and you, my own child, come and talk with me.

Here is your ivory chair, sweet ; take the seat that none may rest upon but you, and tell me of all you wish and all you want. Yet, ere you commence our conversation, I must give you some news. The young incumbent has arrived to take possession of the living I have endowed him with at the request of my late friend his lamented father. I shall waive my usual rule of never inviting my neighbours except on public days, and send him a card for Sunday, to dine. You know, Elizabeth, that the incumbent's brother is said to be dissipated, and lives so wildly that he may possibly die without being married ; in which case, Lord Deloraine would not be an unfitting match even for you. However, let not your eyes run away with you, my child; nor the possibility of chances lead you to lay any stress on these my somewhat unadvised words.

The dignified retirement in which you have been hitherto secluded must not last for ever : you shall yet see the

great world, and have an opportunity to select a proper partner for life. Though that

world has treated your father too scurvily for him again to enter on its scene, yet when my sister, Lady Juliana, returns from Ireland, you, my love, under her auspices, shall shine out among the first, as it is your right to do. Therefore, again I say, guard well your fancy ; rein in that, and look warily around you, so shall you be safe. A woman's fancy is sure to be her ruin, if proper pride does not come to her aid. This Honourable Mr. St. Aubyn is, they say, a personable man, and not one of the nonentities whom the heads of great families put into the Church for want of knowing what to make of them. But enough of him for the present at least. When do you expect Ethel Delamere, my love ?"

“She comes to-night, I think, papa.”

“ Between ourselves, if that poor sick brother of hers was dead, it would be no loss; for, with his deformed person, he can live to much purpose, and she is always leaving you to attend him. She should remember that to wait upon my daughter is an honour which should supersede all other cares." "Oh ! dear

papa, I have no fault to find

never

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