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your happiness, and that of Conny, must always be my foremost earthly care.

“ CÉCILE BASINSTOKE.”

The day on which these letters were received and read was a gloomy one at Redburn Hall. It seemed as if the atmosphere itself were oppressed and burdened by some secret and heavy sorrow. We are speaking not figuratively, but positively. We have witnessed some such natural effect, and that not so long since, when, as it were in the full radiance of its lustre, the leading star of this Empire was obscured for ever: Then, as we departed with the dispersing crowds who had watched, and wept, and lingered to the last, it appeared to us as if the day-light of England were indeed darkened with that loss. So it was at Redburn on that day. Something was withdrawn, which had mingled so curiously with the life and breath of every one there, that nought could replace it—and yet it was gone for ever!

Neither Sir Charles Basinstoke nor his nephew were men to sit still, in such an emergency as this. Every domestic, every labourer, every tenant was interrogated. The railway

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station was visited, each official there closely questioned, and the more active and intelligent retainers were dispatched, through the neighbouring country, to obtain information. Father Athanasius was sent for and handed over to the gentle inquisition of Constance; but it was all in vain. He who alone could speak to the purpose was pledged to silence, and they who would most willingly have been communicative, had all, without a single exception, been comfortably ensconced in their warm couches, whilst the Saint had been accomplishing her rapid and cheerless progress. Thus it was that a whole week elapsed ere, by a most ingenious and elaborate concatination of conflicting evidence, the worthy Baronet was enabled to trace the fugitive's steps as far as the pleasant little Nunnery of Clitheroe in North Lancashire. There he accordingly proceeded, and even obtained admission, but offers, entreaties, and menaces were equally unavailing. The presence of a recently arrived postulant was not denied, but her own repeated injunctions were appealed to, as debarring all without from any intercourse or communication with her during three whole months. The discomfited Sir Charles was

therefore constrained to return homewards, with scarcely more hope than he had entertained on starting.

We must now take our leave of Redburn. The Evil Genius of the old Hall having thus fortunately been withdrawn, the life there resumed that peaceful, untroubled, sedate complexion, which, while most gratifying to those more immediately interested, offers little interest to the intruder. We have only to add that, by all accounts, the Saint's last parting wishes met with the full amount of deferential regard which she was entitled to expect from all to whom they were addressed. Not only Lord St. Edmunds, but his father also protracted their stay with their relatives. The fair Constance was seen in hourly and intimate communication with both, and more particularly with the former, while this constant and affectionate intercourse was watched and fostered, with the greatest complacency, by Sir Charles, by Lady Helen, and by Edward, who had reappeared as expected. Before very long, her Ladyship's lady’s-maid intimated to Miss Basinstoke's lady’s-maid, who was not at all surprised at the intelligence, that an auspicious event was

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near at hand ;- -and when our old acquaintance, the “ Lincoln Express,” reported and repeated the uncontradicted statement that Lord St. Edmunds's marriage with his lovely cousin was fully decided upon, no one at Redburn was at all so thankful for the information as he ought to have been

CHAPTER XIX.

THE CONCLUSION.

OUR narrative is verging to its conclusion. Indeed, were we to say that we have reached it, we trust that the immortal Sam Weller himself, if we were so fortunate as to secure him for a reader, would pronounce it to be a very good notion of a conclusion. Who is not satisfied ? inquire we, and echo alone triumphantly replies, Who? Certainly not Lord Tewkesbury, nor Sir Charles, nor Lady Helen, whose long cherished hopes will thus be realized. As to Miss Conny, pretty though she may deem herself, we cannot admit that she had a right to expect a better-looking, better-dressed, betterhearted, or, in short, a more suitable husband.

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