change your circumstances for the better, but in my private opinion, it is far more likely to produce a contrary result.'

`So thinks Milicent, but allow me to say, I think otherwise. If I thought myself doomed to old-maidenhood, I should cease to value my life. The thought of living on, year after year at the Grove--a hanger--on upon mamma and Walters mere cumberer of the ground (now that I know in what light they would regard it), is perfectly intolerable--I would rather run away with the butler.'

`Your circumstances are peculiar I allow; but have patience, love; do nothing rashly. Remember you are not yet nineteen, and many years are yet to pass before any one can set you down as an old maid: you cannot tell what Providence may have in store for you. And meantime, remember you have a tight to the protection and support of your mother and brother, however they may seem to grudge it.'

`You are so grave, Mrs. Huntingdon,' said Esther after a pause. `When Milicent uttered the same discouraging sentiments concerning marriage, I asked if she was happy: she said she was; but I only half believed her; and now I must put the same question to you.'

`It is a very impertinent question,' laughed I, `from a young girl to a married woman so many years her senior--and I shall not answer it.'

`Pardon me, dear madam,' said she, laughingly throwing herself into my arms, and kissing me with playful affection; but I felt a tear on my neck, as she dropped her head on my bosom and continued, with an odd mixture of sadness and levity, timidity and audacity,--`I know you are not so happy as I mean to be, for you spend half your life alone at Grassdale, while Mr. Huntingdon goes about enjoying himself where, and how he pleases.--I shall expect my husband to have no pleasures but what he shares with me; and if his greatest pleasure of all is not the enjoyment of my company--why--it will be the worse for him--that's all.'

`If such are your expectations of matrimony, Esther, you must indeed, be careful whom you marry--or rather, you must avoid it altogether.'

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