are too clever, no doubt, now that you have property. But we fear that you will take to drinking, and to squandering money. There are many examples of this around us; and we know what the fate of the wife is. It has been hard to tell you this, under our own roof, and with our own—’ Here mother hesitated.

‘Spirits, and cider, and beer,’ I broke in; ‘out with it, like a Ridd, mother; as he will have all of it.’

‘Spirits, and cider, and beer,’ said mother very firmly after me; and then she gave way and said, ‘You know, Tom, you are welcome to every drop and more of it.’

Now Tom must have had a far sweeter temper than ever I could claim; for I should have thrust my glass away, and never have taken another drop in the house where such a check had met me. But instead of that, Master Faggus replied, with a pleasant smile,—

‘I know that I am welcome, good mother; and to prove it, I will have some more.’

And thereupon be mixed himself another glass of hollands with lemon and hot water, yet pouring it very delicately.

‘Oh, I have been so miserable—take a little more, Tom,’ said mother, handing the bottle.

‘Yes, take a little more,’ I said; ‘you have mixed it over weak, Tom.’

‘If ever there was a sober man,’ cried Tom, complying with our request; ‘if ever there was in Christendom a man of perfect sobriety, that man is now before you. Shall we say to-morrow week, mother? It will suit your washing day.’

‘How very thoughtful you are, Tom! Now John would never have thought of that, in spite of all his steadiness.’

‘Certainly not,’ I answered proudly; ‘when my time comes for Lorna, I shall not study Betty Muxworthy.’

In this way the Squire got over us; and Farmer Nicholas Snowe was sent for, to counsel with mother about the matter and to set his two daughters sewing.

When the time for the wedding came, there was such a stir and commotion as had never been known in the parish of Oare since my father’s marriage. For Annie’s beauty and kindliness had made her the pride of the neighbourhood; and the presents sent her, from all around, were enough to stock a shop with. Master Stickles, who now could walk, and who certainly owed his recovery, with the blessing of God, to Annie, presented her with a mighty Bible, silver-clasped, and very handsome, beating the parson’s out and out, and for which he had sent to Taunton. Even the common troopers, having tasted her cookery many times (to help out their poor rations), clubbed together, and must have given at least a week’s pay apiece, to have turned out what they did for her. This was no less than a silver pot, well-designed, but suited surely rather to the bridegroom’s taste than bride’s. In a word, everybody gave her things.

And now my Lorna came to me, with a spring of tears in appealing eyes—for she was still somewhat childish, or rather, I should say, more childish now than when she lived in misery—and she placed her little hand in mine, and she was half afraid to speak, and dropped her eyes for me to ask.

‘What is it, little darling?’ I asked, as I saw her breath come fast; for the smallest emotion moved her form.

‘You don’t think, John, you don’t think, dear, that you could lend me any money?’

‘All I have got,’ I answered; ‘how much do you want, dear heart?’

‘I have been calculating; and I fear that I cannot do any good with less than ten pounds, John.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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