looked out at the dark church, she almost hoped to see the windows lighted up, and hear the organ’s swell, and sound of voices, on the rushing wind.

The old sexton soon got better, and was about again. From him the child learnt many other things, though of a different kind. He was not able to work, but one day there was a grave to be made, and he came to overlook the man who dug it. He was in a talkative mood; and the child, at first standing by his side, and afterwards sitting on the grass at his feet, with her thoughtful face raised towards his, began to converse with him.

Now, the man who did the sexton’s duty was a little older than he, though much more active. But he was deaf; and when the sexton (who peradventure, on a pinch, might have walked a mile with great difficulty in half-a-dozen hours) exchanged a remark with him about his work, the child could not help noticing that he did so with an impatient kind of pity for his infirmity, as if he were himself the strongest and heartiest man alive.

‘I’m sorry to see there is this to do,’ said the child, when she approached. ‘I heard of no one having died.’

‘She lived in another hamlet, my dear,’ returned the sexton. ‘Three mile away.’

‘Was she young?’

‘Ye-yes’ said the sexton; ‘not more than sixty-four, I think. David, was she more than sixty-four?’

David, who was digging hard, heard nothing of the question. The sexton, as he could not reach to touch him with his crutch, and was too infirm to rise without assistance, called his attention by throwing a little mould upon his red nightcap.

‘What’s the matter now?’ said David, looking up.

‘How old was Becky Morgan?’ asked the sexton.

‘Becky Morgan?’ repeated David.

‘Yes,’ replied the sexton; adding in a half compassionate, half irritable tone, which the old man couldn’t hear, ‘you’re getting very deaf, Davy, very deaf to be sure!’

The old man stopped in his work, and cleansing his spade with a piece of slate he had by him for the purpose — and scraping off, in the process, the essence of Heaven knows how many Becky Morgans — set himself to consider the subject.

‘Let me think,’ quoth he. ‘I saw last night what they had put upon the coffin — was it seventy-nine?’

‘No, no,’ said the sexton.

‘Ah yes, it was though,’ returned the old man with a sigh. ‘Nor I remember thinking she was very near our age. Yes, it was seventy-nine.’

‘Are you sure you didn’t mistake a figure, Davy?’ asked the sexton, with signs of some emotion.

‘What?’ said the old man. ‘Say that again.’

‘He’s very deaf. He’s very deaf indeed,’ cried the sexton petulantly; ‘are you sure you’re right about the figures?’

‘Oh quite,’ replied the old man. ‘Why not?’

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