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ou laissez moi mourir.' And now, Dolly, darling, I have done. Secure me the villa, engage my people. Tanti Saluti to the dear cardinal,--as many loves to all who are kind enough to remember me. Send me a lasciapassare for my luggage—it is voluminous—to the care of the consul at Civita Vecchia, and tell him to look out for me by the arrival of the French boat, somewhere about the 20th or 21st; he can be useful with the custom-house creatures, and obtain me a carriage all to myself in the train.

s. It is always more carino' to talk of a husband at the last line of a letter, and so I say, give dear Tino all my loves, quite apart and distinct from my other legacies of the like nature. Tell him, I am more tolerant than I used to be he will know my meaning—that I make paper cigarettes just as well, and occasionally, when in high good-humour, even condescend to smoke one too. Say also, that I have a little chestnut cob, quiet enough for his riding, which shall be always at his orders ; that he may dine with me every Sunday, and have one dish–I know well what it will be, I smell the garlic of it even now—of his own dictating; and if these be not enough, add that he may make love to me during the whole of Lent; and with this, believe me

• Your own doating sister,

“ AUGUSTA BRAMLEIGH."

“ After much thought and many misgivings I deemed it advisable to offer to take one of the girls with me, leaving it open,

to mark

my

indifference, as to which it should be. They both, however, refused, and to my intense relief, declared that they did not care to come abroad ; Augustus also protesting that it was a plan he could not approve of. The diplomatist alone opined that the project had anything to recommend it; but as his authority, like my own, in the family, carries little weight, we were happily outvoted. I have, therefore, the supreme satisfaction—and is it not such ?-of knowing that I have done the right thing, and it has cost me nothing; like those excellent people who throw very devout looks towards heaver, without the remotest desire to be there."

CHAPTER III.

THE EVENING AFTER A HARD RUN."

It was between eight and nine o'clock of a wintry evening near Christmas ; a cold drizzle of rain was falling, which on the mountains might have been snow, as Mr. Drayton, the butler at the Great House, as Castello was called in the village, stood austerely with his back to the fire in the dining-room, and as he surveyed the table, wondered within himself what could possibly have detained the young gentlemen so late. The hounds had met that day about eight miles off, and Colonel Bramleigh had actually put off dinner half-an-hour for them, but to no avail; and now Mr. Drayton, whose whole personal arrangements for the evening had been so thoughtlessly interfered with, stood there musing over the wayward nature of youth, and inwardly longing for the time when, retiring from active service, he should enjoy the ease and indulgence his long life of fatigue and hardship had earned.

" They're coming now, Mr. Drayton," said a livery-servant, entering hastily. George saw the light of their eigars as they came up the avenue."

"Bring in the soup, then, at once, and send George here with another log for the fire. There'll be no dressing for dinner to-day, I'll be bound," and imparting a sort of sarcastic bitterness to his speech, he filled himselfs glass of sherry at the sideboard and tossed it off; only just in time, for the door opened, and a very noisy, merry party of four entered the room, and made for the fire.

“As soon as you like, Drayton," said Augustus, the eldest Bramleigh, a tall, good-looking, but somewhat stern-featured man of about eight-andtwenty. The second, Temple Bramleigh, was middle-sized, with a handsome but somewhat over-delicate-looking face, to which a simpering affectation of imperturbable self-conceit gave a sort of puppyism ; while the youngest, Jack, was a bronzed, bright-eyed, fine-looking fellow, manly, energetic, and determined, but with a sweetness when he smiled and showed his good teeth that implied a soft and very impressionable nature. They were all in scarlet coats, and presented a group strikingly goodlooking and manly. The fourth of the party was, however, so eminently handsome, and so superior in expression as well as lineament, that the others seemed almost vulgar beside him. He was in black coat and cords, a checked cravat seeming to indicate that he was verging, so far as he might, on the limits of hunting costume ; for George L'Estrange was in orders, and the curate of the parish in which Castello stood. It is not necessary to detain the reader by any lengthened narrative of the handsome young parson. Enough to say, that it was not all from choiee he had entered the Church,-narrow fortune, and the hope of a small family living, deciding him to adopt a career which to one who had the passion for field-sports seemed the very last to gratify his tastes. As a horseman he was confessedly the first in the country round; although his one horse—he was unable to keep a second-condemned him to rare appearance at the meets. The sight of the parson and his black mare, Nors Creina, in the field, were treated with a cheer, for he was a universal favourite, and if a general suffrage could have conferred the episcopate, George would have had his mitro many a day ago.

So sure a seat and so perfect a hand needed never to have wanted a mount. There was not a man with a stable who would not hare been well pleased to see his horse ridden by such a rider; but L'Estrange declined all such offers a sensitive fear of being called a hunting parson deterred him; indeed it was easy to see by the rarity with which he permitted himself the loved indulgence, what a struggle he maintained

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between will and temptation, and how keenly he felt the sacrifice he imposed upon himself.

Such, in brief, was the party who were now seated at table, well pleased to find themselves in presence of an admirable dinner, in a room replete with every comfort. The day's run, of course, formed the one topic of their talk, and a great deal of merriment went on about the sailor-like performances of Jack, who had been thrown twice, but on the whole acquitted himself creditably, and had taken one high bank so splendidly as to win a cheer from all who saw him.

“I wish you had not asked that poor Frenchman to follow you, Jack," said Augustus ; "he was really riding very nicely till he came to that unlucky fence."

“I only cried out, · Venez donc, monsieur,' and when I turned my head, after clearing the bank, I saw his horse with his legs in the air and monsieur underneath."

“ When I picked him up," broke in L'Estrange, “he said, “Merci, mille fois, monsieur,' and then fainted off, the poor fellow's face actually wearing the smile of courtesy he had got up to thank me.”

" Why will Frenchmen try things that are quite out of their beat ? ” said Jack.

" That's a most absurd prejudice of yours, Master Jack," cried the diplomatist. “ Frenchmen ride admirably, nowadays. I've seen a steeplechase in Normandy, over as stiff a course, and as well ridden as ever Leicestershire witnessed.”

“ Yes, yes; I've heard all that,” said the sailor, “just as I've heard that their iron fleet is as good, if not better than our own.”

“ I think our own newspapers rather hint that,” said L'Estrange.

" They do more," said Temple; “ they prove it. They show a numerical superiority in ships, and they give an account of guns, and weight of metal dead against us.”

“I'll not say anything of the French ; but this much I will say,” cried the sailor; “the question will have to be settled one of these days, and I'm right glad to think that it cannot be done by writers in newspapers.” May I come in ? ” cried a soft voice; and a very pretty head, with

I long fair ringlets, appeared at the door.

“ Yes. Come by all means,” said Jack; “perhaps we shall be able, by your help, to talk of something besides fighting Frenchmen."

While he spoke, L'Estrange had risen, and approached to shake hands with her.

“ Sit down with us, Nelly,” said Augustus, " or George will get no dinner.”

“Give me a chair, Drayton,” said she ; and, turning to her brother, added, “I only came in to ask some tidings about an unlucky foreigner; the servants have it he was cruelly hurt, some think hopelessly.”

“ There's the culprit who did the mischief," said Temple, pointing to Jack ; " let him recount his feat.”

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" I'm not to blame in the least, Nelly. I took a smashing high bank, and the little Frenchman tried to follow me and came to grief.”

“Ay, but you challenged him to come on," said Temple. “Now, Master Jack, people don't do that sort of thing in the hunting-field.”

“I said, “ Come along, monsieur,' to give him pluck. I never thought for a moment he was to suffer for it."

“But is he seriously hurt ? ” asked she.

“I think not,” said L'Estrange ; "he seemed to me more stunned than actually injured. Fortunately for him they had not far to take him,

, for the disaster occurred quite close to Duckett's Wood, where he is stopping.”

“ Is he at Longworth’s ?” asked Augustus.

“Yes. Longworth met him up the Nile, and they travelled together for some months, and when they parted, it was agreed they were to meet here at Christmas; and though Longworth had written to apprise his people they were coming, he has not appeared himself, and the Frenchman is waiting patiently for his host's arrival."

“And laming his best horse in the meanwhile. That dark bay will never do another day with hounds," said Temple.

“She was shaky before, but she is certainly not the better of this day's work. I'd feed her, and turn her out for a full year,” said Augustus.

“I suppose that's another of those things in which the French are our superiors,” muttered Jack, “but I suspect, I'd think twice about it before I'd instal myself in a man's house, and ride his horses in his absence."

“ It was the host's duty to be there to receive him," said Temple, who was always on the watch to make the sailor feel how little he knew of society and its ways.

"I hope when you've finished your wine," said Ellen, "you'll not steal off to bed, as you did the other night, without ever appearing in the drawing-room."

“L'Estrange shall go, at all events,” cried Augustus. • The church shall represent the laity.”

“I'm not in trim to enter a drawing-room, Miss Bramleigh," said the curate, blushing. “I wouldn't dare to present myself in such a costume."

“I declare," said Jack, “I think it becomes you better than your Sunday rig; don't you, Nelly ? ”

Papa will be greatly disappointed, Mr. L'Estrange, if he should not see you,” said she, rising to leave the room ; "he wants to hear all about your day's sport, and especially about that poor Frenchman. Do you know his name

? “Yes, here's his card ;—Anatole de Pracontal.” “A good name," said Temple, “but the fellow himself looks a snob."

“I call that very hard,” said Jack, " to say what any fellow looks like when he is covered with slush and dirt, his hat smashed, and his mouth full of mud."

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" Don't forget that we expect to see you,” said Ellen, with a nod and a smile, to the curate, and left the room.

* And who or what is Mr. Longworth ? " said Temple.

"I never met him. All I know is, that he owns that very ugly red brick house, with the three gables in front, on the hill-side as you go towards Newry," said Augustus.

"I think I can tell you something about him," said the parson; "his father was my grandfather's agent. I believe he began as his steward, when we had property in this county; he must have been a shrewd sort of man, for he raised himself from a very humble origin to become a small estated proprietor and justice of the peace; and when he died, about four years ago, he left Philip Longworth something like a thousand a year in landed property, and some ready money besides."

“ And this Longworth, as you call him,—what is he like ?"

A good sort of fellow, who would be better if he was not possessed by a craving ambition to know fine people, and move in their society. Not being able to attain the place he aspires to in his own county, he has gone

abroad, and affects to have a horror of English life and ways, the real grievance being his own personal inability to meet acceptance in a certain set. This is what I hear of him; my own knowledge is very slight. I have ever found him well-mannered and polite, and except a slight sign of condescension, I should say pleasant."

“I take it," said the sailor, “ he must be an arrant snob.”

“Not necessarily, Jack," said Temple. “There is nothing ignoble in a man's desire to live with the best people, if he do nothing mean to reach that goal.”

“Whom do you call the best people, Temple ? " asked the other.
“By the best people, I mean the first in rank and station.
Ι

I am not speaking of their moral excellence, but of their social superiority, and of that pre-eminence which comes of an indisputable position, high name, fortune, and the world's regards. These I call the best people to live with.”

“And I do not,” said Jack, rising, and throwing his napkin on the table, " not at least for men like myself. I want to associate with my equals. I want to mix with men who cannot overbear me by any accident of their wealth or title."

" Jack should never have gone into the navy, that's clear,” said Augustus, laughing, " but let us draw round the fire and have a cigar.”

“ You'll have to pay your visit to the drawing-room, L'Estrange," said Jack, “ before we begin to smoke, for the governor hates tobacco, and detects it in an instant."

“I declare," said the parson, as he looked at his splashed cords and dirty boots, "I have no courage to present myself in such a trim as this."

Report yourself and come back at once,” cried Jack. “I'd say, don't go in at all," said Temple.

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