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a breaking up of everything, as though nothing wasn't good enough for nobody. I never went away, and I can't abide it." Well, Hopkins; it's settled now," said Mrs. Dale, " and I'm afraid it can't be unsettled."

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Settled; well. Tell me this: do you expect, Mrs. Dale, that he's to live there all alone by hisself without any one to say a cross word to,-unless it be me or Dingles; for Jolliffe's worse than nobody, he's so mortial cross hisself. Of course he can't stand it. If you goes away, Mrs. Dale, Mister Bernard, he'll be squire in less than twelve months. He'll come back from the Hinges, then, I suppose?

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"I don't think my brother-in-law will take it in that way, Hopkins."

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A, ma'am, you don't know him,-not as I knows him;-all the ins and outs and crinks and crannies of him. I knows him as I does the old apple-trees that I've been a-handling for forty year. There's a deal of bad wood about them old cankered trees, and some folk say they ain't worth the ground they stand on; but I know where the sap runs, and when the fruit-blossom shows itself I know where the fruit will be the sweetest. It don't take much to kill one of them old trees,--but there's life in 'm yet if they be well handled."

"I'm sure I hope my brother's life may be long spared to him," said Mrs. Dale.

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Then don't be taking yourself away, ma'am, into them gashly lodgings at Guestwick. I says they are gashly for the likes of a Dale. It is not for me to speak, ma'am, of course. And I only came up now just to know what things you'd like with you out of the greenhouse."

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Oh, nothing, Hopkins, thank you," said Mrs. Dale.

He told me to put up for you the best I could pick, and I means to do it;" and Hopkins, as he spoke, indicated by a motion of his head that he was making reference to the squire. "We shan't have any place for them," said Lily.

"I must send a few, miss, just to cheer you up a bit. I fear you'll be very dolesome there. And the doctor, he ain't got what you can call a regular garden, but there is a bit of a place behind."

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But we wouldn't rob the dear old place," said Lily.

"For the matter of that what does it signify? T' squire'll be that wretched he'll turn sheep in here to destroy the place, or he'll have the garden ploughed. You see if he don't. As for the place, the place is clean done for, if you leave it. You don't

suppose he'll go and let the Small House to strangers. T' squire ain't one of that sort any ways."

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Ah me!" exclaimed Mrs. Dale, as soon as Hopkins had taken himself off.

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What is it, mamma? He's a dear old man, but surely what he says cannot make you really unhappy."

It is so hard to know what one ought to do. I did not mean to be selfish, but it seems to me as though I were doing the most selfish thing in the world."

"Nay, mamma; it has been anything but selfish. Besides, it is we that have done it; not you.'

"" Do you know, Lily, that I also have that feeling as to breaking up one's old mode of life of which Hopkins spoke. I thought that I should be glad to escape from this place, but now that the time has come I dread it."

"Do you mean that you repent?

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Mrs. Dale did not answer her daughter at once, fearing to commit herself by words which could not be retracted. But at last she said, "Yes, Lily; I think I do repent. I think that it has not been well done."

"Then let it be undone," said Lily.

The dinner-party at Guestwick Manor on that day was not very bright, and yet the earl had done all in his power to make his guests happy. But gaiety did not come naturally to his house, which, as will have been seen, was an abode very unlike in its nature to that of the other earl at Courcy Castle. Lady de Courcy at any rate understood how to receive and entertain a houseful of people, though the practice of doing so might give rise to difficult questions in the privacy of her domestic relations. Lady Julia did not understand it; but then Lady Julia was never called upon to answer for the expense of extra servants, nor was she asked about twice a week who the was to pay

the wine-merchant's bill? As regards Lord de Guest and the Lady Julia themselves, I think they had the best of it; but I am bound to admit, with reference to chance guests, that the house was dull. The people who were now gathered at the earl's table could hardly have been expected to be very sprightly when in company with each other. The squire was not a man much given to general society, and was unused to amuse a table full of people. On the present occasion he sat next to Lady Julia, and from time to time muttered a few words to her about the state of the country. Mrs. Eames was terribly afraid of everybody there, and especially of the earl, next to whom she sat, and

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whom she continually called "my lord," showing by her voice as she did so that she was almost alarmed by the sound of her own voice. Mr. and Mrs. Boyce were there, the parson sitting on the other side of Lady Julia, and the parson's wife on the other side of the earl. Mrs. Boyce was very studious to show that she was quite at home, and talked perhaps more than any one else; but in doing so she bored the earl most exquisitely, so that he told John Eames the next morning that she was worse than the bull. The parson ate his dinner, but said little or nothing between the two graces. He was a heavy, sensible, slow man, who knew himself and his own powers. Uncommon good stewed beef," he said, as he went home; "why can't we have our beef stewed like that? "Because we don't pay our cook sixty pounds a year," said Mrs. Boyce. 'A woman with sixteen pounds can stew beef as well as a woman with sixty," said he; she only wants looking after." The earl himself was possessed of a sort of gaiety. There was about him a lightness of spirit which often made him an agreeable companion to one single person. John Eames conceived him to be the most sprightly old man of his day,- —an old man with the fun and frolic almost of a boy. But this spirit, though it would show itself before John Eames, was not up to the entertainment of John Eames's mother and sister, together with the squire, the parson, and the parson's wife of Allington. So that the earl was overweighted and did not shine on this occasion at his own dinnertable. Dr. Crofts, who had also been invited, and who had secured the place which was now peculiarly his own, next to Bell Dale, was no doubt happy enough; as, let us hope, was the young lady also; but they added very little to the general hilarity of the company. John Eames was seated between his own sister and the parson, and did not at all enjoy his position. He had a full view of the doctor's felicity, as the happy pair sat opposite to him, and conceived himself to be hardly treated by Lily's absence.

The party was certainly very dull, as were all such dinners at Guestwick Manor. There are houses, which, in their everyday course, are not conducted by any means in a sad or unsatișfactory manner, in which life, as a rule, runs along merrily enough; but which cannot give a dinner-party; or, I might rather say, should never allow themselves to be allured into the attempt. The owners of such houses are generally themselves quite aware of the fact, and dread the dinner which they resolved to give quite as much as it is dreaded by their friends. They

know that they prepare for their guests an evening of misery, and for themselves certain long hours of purgatory which are hardly to be endured. But they will do it. Why that long table, and all those supernumerary glasses and knives and forks, if they are never to be used? That argument produces all this misery; that and others cognate to it. On the present occasion, no doubt, there were excuses to be made. The squire and his niece had been invited on special cause, and their presence would have been well enough. The doctor added in would have done no harm. It was good-natured, too, that invitation given to Mrs. Eames and her daughter. The error lay in the parson and his wife. There was no necessity for their being there, nor had they any ground on which to stand, except the party-giving ground. Mr. and Mrs. Boyce made the dinner-party, and destroyed the social circle. Lady Julia knew that she had been wrong as soon as she had sent out the note.

Nothing was said on that evening which has any bearing on our story. Nothing, indeed, was said which had any bearing on anything. The earl's professed object had been to bring the squire and young Eames together; but people are never brought together on such melancholy occasions. Though they sip their port in close contiguity, they are poles asunder in their minds. and feelings. When the Guestwick fly came for Mrs. Eames, and the parson's pony-phaeton came for him and Mrs. Boyce, a great relief was felt; but the misery of those who were left had gone too far to allow of any reaction on that evening. The squire yawned, and the earl yawned, and then there was an end of it for that night.

CHAPTER LIV

THE SECOND VISIT TO THE GUESTWICK BRIDGE

BELI had declared that her sister would be very happy to see John Eames if he would go over to Allington, and he had replied that of course he would go there. So much having been, as it were, settled, he was able to speak of his visit as a matter of course at the breakfast table, on the morning after the earl's dinner-party. "I must get you to come round with me, Dale, and see what I am doing to the land," the earl said. And then he proposed to order saddle-horses. But the squire preferred

walking, and in this way they were disposed of soon after breakfast.

John had it in his mind to get Bell to himself for half an hour, and hold a conference with her; but it either happened that Lady Julia was too keen in her duties as a hostess, or else, as was more possible, Bell avoided the meeting. No opportunity for such an interview offered itself, though he hung about the drawing-room all the morning. "You had better wait for luncheon, now," Lady Julia said to him about twelve. But this he declined; and taking himself away hid himself about the place for the next hour and a half. During this time he considered much whether it would be better for him to ride or walk. If she should give him any hope, he could ride back triumphant as a field-marshal. Then the horse would be delightful to him. But if she should give him no hope,—if it should be his destiny to be rejected utterly on that morning,-then the horse would be terribly in the way of his sorrow.

Under

such circumstances what could he do but roam wide across the fields, resting when he might choose to rest, and running when it might suit him to run. And she is not like other girls," he thought to himself. She won't care for my boots being dirty."

So at last he elected to walk.

"Stand up to her boldly, man," the earl had said to him. "By George, what is there to be afraid of? It's my belief they'll give most to those who ask for most. There's nothing sets 'em against a man like being sheepish." How the earl knew so much, seeing that he had not himself given signs of any success in that walk of life, I am not prepared to say. But Eames took his advice as being in itself good, and resolved to act upon it. "Not that any resolution will be of any use," he said to himself, as he walked along. When the moment comes I know that I shall tremble before her, and I know that she'll see it; but I don't think it will make any difference in her."

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He had last seen her on the lawn behind the Small House, just at that time when her passion for Crosbie was at the strongest. Eames had gone thither impelled by a foolish desire to declare to her his hopeless love, and she had answered him by telling him that she loved Mr. Crosbie better than all the world besides. Of course she had done so, at that time; but, nevertheless, her manner of telling him had seemed to him to be cruel. And he also had been cruel. He had told her that he hated Crosbie,-calling him "that man," and assuring her that no earthly consideration should induce him to go into "that man's

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