The tardy gig had overtaken me at last. I entered it, and bade the man who brought it drive to Grassdale Manor--I was too busy with my own thoughts to care to drive it myself. I would see Mrs. Huntingdon-- there could be no impropriety in that now that her husband had been dead above a year--and by her indifference or her joy at my unexpected arrival, I could soon tell whether her heart was truly mine. But my companion, a loquacious, forward fellow, was not disposed to leave me to the indulgence of my private cogitations.

`There they go!' said he as the carriages filed away before us. `There'll be brave doings on yonder to- day, as what come tomorra.--Know anything of that family, sir? or you're a stranger in these parts?'

`I know them by report.'

`Humph!--There's the best of `em gone anyhow. And I suppose the old missis is agoing to leave after this stir's gotten overed, and take herself off, somewhere, to live on her bit of a jointure, and the young `unit least the new `un (she's none so very young) is coming down to live at the Grove.'

`Is Mr. Hargrave married, then?'

`Ay sir, a few months since. He should a been wed afore, to a widow lady, but they couldn't agree over the money: she'd a rare long purse, and Mr. Hargrave wanted it all to his-self, but she wouldn't let it go, and so then they fell out. This one isn't quite as rich--nor as handsome either, but she hasn't been married before. She's very plain they say, and getting on to forty or past, and so, you know, if she didn't jump at this hopportunity, she thought she'd never get a better. I guess she thought such a handsOme young husband was worth all `at ever she had, and he might take it and welcome; but I lay she'll rue her bargain afore long. They say she begins already to see 'at he isn't not altogether that nice, generous, perlite, delightful gentleman 'at she thought him afore marriage begins a being careless, and masterful already. Ay, and she'll find him harder and carelesser nor she thinks on.' `You seem to be well acquainted with him,' I observed. `I am, sir; I've known him since he was quite a young gentleman; and a proud'un he was, and a wilful. I was servant yonder for several years; but I couldn't stand their niggardly ways--she got ever longer and worse did Missis, with her nipping and screwing, and watching and grudging; so I thought I'd find another place as what came.' And then he discoursed upon his present position as ostler at the Rose and Crown, and how greatly superior it was to his former one, in comfort and freedom, though inferior in outward respectability; and entered into various details respecting the domestic economy at the Grove, and the characters of Mrs. Hargrave and her son,--to which I gave no heed, being too much occupied with my own anxious, fluttering anticipations and with the character of the country through which we passed, that, in spite of the leafless trees and snowy ground, had for some time begun to manifest unequivocal signs of the approach to a gentleman's country seat. `Are we not near the house?' said I, interrupting him in the middle of his discourse. `Yes, sir; yond's the park.' My heart sank within me to behold that stately mansion in the midst of its expansive grounds-he park as beautiful now, in its wintry garb, as it could be in its summer glory; the majestic sweep, the undulating swell and fall, displayed to full advantage in that robe of dazzling purity, stainless and printless--save one long, winding track left by the trooping deer--the stately timber-trees with their heavy laden branches gleaming white against the dull, grey sky; the deep, encircling woods; the broad expanse of water sleeping in frozen quiet; and the weeping ash and willow drooping their snowclad boughs above it--all presented a picture, striking, indeed, and pleasing to an unencumbered mind, but by no means encouraging to me. There was one comfort however,-all this was entailed upon little Arthur, and could not under any circumstances, strictly speaking, be his mother's. But how was she situated? Overcoming with a sudden effort my repugnance to mention her name to my garrulous companion, I asked him if he knew whether her late husband had left a will, and how the property had been disposed of. Oh, yes, he knew all about it; and I was quickly informed that to her had been left the full control and management of the estate during her son's minority, besides the absolute, unconditional possession of her own fortune (but I knew her father had not given her much), and the small additional sum that had been settled upon her before marriage.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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