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THE WIDOW DALE OF ALLINGTON.

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the lawn to the house with her burden on her arm, and sat herself down on the step of the drawing-room window, looking out on the sweet summer flowers and the smooth surface of the grass before her.

Had not God done well for her to place her where she was? Had not her lines been set for her in pleasant places? Was she not happy in her girls, -- her sweet, loving, trusting, trusty children? As it was to be that her lord, that best half of herself, was to be taken from her in early life, and that the springs of all the lighter pleasures were to be thus stopped for her, had it not been well that in her bereavement so much had been done to soften her lot in life and give it grace and beauty? 'Twas so, she argued with herself, and yet she acknowledged to herself that she was not happy. She had resolved, as she herself had said often, to put away childish things, and now she pined for those things which she so put from her. As she sat she could still hear Lily's voice as they went through the shrubbery,

hear it when none but a mother's ears would have distinguished the sound. Now that those young men were at the Great House, it was natural that her girls should be there too. The squire would not have had young men to stay with him had there been no ladies to grace his table. But for her, she knew that no one would want her there. Now and again she must go, as otherwise her very existence, without going, would be a thing disagreeably noticeable. But there was no other reason why she should join the party; nor in joining it would she either give or receive pleasure. Let her daughters eat from her brother's table and drink of his cup. They were made welcome to do so from the heart. For her there was no such welcome as that The Small House at Allington. I.

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at the Great House, nor at any other house, or any other table!

"Mamma will stay at home to eat the peas.”

And then she repeated to herself the words which Lily had spoken, sitting there, leaning with her elbow on her knee, and her head upon her hand.

"Please, ma'am, cook says, can we have the peas to shell?" and then her reverie was broken.

Whereupon Mrs. Dale got up and gave over her basket. “Cook knows that the young ladies are going to dine at the Great House?”.

“Yes, ma'am."

"She needn't mind getting dinner for me. I will have tea early.” And so, after all, Mrs. Dale did not perform that special duty appointed for her.

But she soon set herself to work upon another duty. When a family of three persons has to live upon an income of three hundred a year, and, nevertheless, make some pretence of going into society, it has to be very mindful of small details, even though that family may

y consist only of ladies. Of this Mrs. Dale was well aware, and as it pleased her that her daughters should be nice and fresh, and pretty in their attire, many a long hour was given up to that care.

The squire would send them shawls in winter, and had given them riding habits, and had sent them down brown silk dresses from London, – so limited in quantity that the due manufacture of two dresses out of the material had been found to be beyond the art of woman, and the brown silk garments had been a difficulty from that day to this, the squire having a good memory in such matters, and being anxious to see the fruits of his liberality. All this was doubtless of assistance, but had the squire given the amount which he so expended in

money to his nieces, the benefit would have been greater. As it was, the girls were always nice and fresh and pretty, they themselves not being idle in that matter; but their tire-woman in chief was their mother. And now she went up to their room and got out their muslin frocks, and — but, perhaps, I should not tell such tales! She, however, felt no shame in her work, and she sent for a hot iron, and with her own hands smoothed out the creases,

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proper set to the crimp flounces, and fixed a new ribbon where it was wanted, and saw that all was as it should be. Men think but little how much of this kind is endured that their eyes may be pleased, even though it be but for an hour,

“Oh! mamma, how good you are," said Bell, as the two girls came in, only just in tim to make themselves ready for returning to dinner.

"Mamma is always good,” said Lily. "I wish, mamma, I could do the same for you oftener," and then she kissed her mother. But the squire was exact about dinner, so they dressed themselves in haste, and went off again through the garden, their mother accompanying them to the little bridge.

“Your uncle did not seem vexed at my not coming?" said Mrs. Dale.

“We have not seen him, mamma," said Lily. “We have been ever so far down the fields, and forgot altogether what o'clock it was.”

“I don't think uncle Christopher was about the place, or we should have met him," said Bell. “But I am vexed with

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you, mamma

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Bell? It is very bad of you to stay here all alone, and not come.

"I suppose mamma likes being at home better than up at the Great House,” said Bell, very gently; and as she spoke she was holding her mother's hand.

"Well; good-by, dears. I shall expect you between ten and eleven. But don't hurry yourselves if anything is going on.” And so they went, and the widow was again alone. The path from the bridge ran straight up towards the back of the Great House, so that for a moment or two she could see them as they tripped on almost in a run. And then she saw their dresses flutter as they turned sharp round, up the terrace steps. She would not go beyond the nook among the laurels by which she was surrounded, lest any one should see her as she looked after her girls. But when the last flutter of the pink muslin had been whisked away from her sight, she felt it hard that she might not follow them. She stood there, however, without advancing a step. She would not have Hopkins telling how she watched her daughters as they went from her own home to that of her brother-in-law. It was not within the capacity of Hopkins to understand why she watched them.

“Well, girls, you're not much too soon. I think your mother might have come with you," said uncle Christopher. And this was the manner of the man. Had he known his own wishes he must have acknowledged to himself that he was better pleased that Mrs. Dale should stay away,

He felt himself more absolutely master and more comfortably at home at his own table without her company than with it. And yet he frequently made a grievance of her not coming, and himself believed in that grievance.

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"I think mamma was tired," said Bell.

“Hem. It's not so very far across from one house to the other. If I were to shut myself up whenever I'm tired But never mind. Let's go to dinner. Mr. Crosbie, will you take my niece Lilian.” And then, offering his own arm to Bell, he walked off to the dining-room.

“If he scolds mamma any more, I'll go away,” said Lily to her companion; by which it may be seen that they had all become very intimate during the long day that they had passed together.

Mrs. Dale, after remaining for a moment on the bridge, went in to her tea. What succedaneum of mutton chop or broiled ham she had for the roast duck and green peas which were to have been provided for the family dinner we will not particularly inquire. We may, however, imagine that she did not devote herself to her evening repast with any peculiar energy of appetite. She took a book with her as she sat herself down,

some novel, probably, for Mrs. Dale was not above novels, and read a page or two as she sipped her tea. But the book was soon laid on one side, and the tray on which the warm plate had become cold was neglected, and she threw herself back in her own familiar chair, thinking of herself, and of her girls, and thinking also what might have been her lot in life had he lived who had loved her truly during the few years that they had been together.

It is especially the nature of a Dale to be constant in his likings and his dislikings. Her husband's affection for her had been unswerving, so much so that he had quarrelled with his brother because his brother would not express himself in brotherly terms about his

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