Before the close of the explanation, we drew up at the park gates. Now for the trial--if I should find her within--but alas! she might be still at Staningley: her brother had given me no intimation to the contrary. I enquired at the porter's lodge if Mrs. Huntingdon were at home. No, she was with her aunt in ---hire, but was expected to return before Christmas. She usually spent most of her time at Staningley, only coming to Grassdale occasionally, when the management of affairs, or the interest of her tenants and dependants required her presence.
`Near what town is Staningley situated?' I asked. The requisite information was soon obtained. `Now then, my man, give me the reins, and we'll return to M---. I must have some breakfast at the Rose and Crown, and then away to Staningley by the first coach for---"
`You'll not get there to-day, sir.'
`No matter, I don't want to get there to-day; I want to get there to-morrow, and pass the night on the road.'
`At an inn, sir? You'd better by half stay at our house; and then start fresh to-morrow, and have the whole day for your journey.'
`What, and lose twelve hours? not I.'
`Perhaps, sir, you're related to Mrs. Huntingdon?' said he, seeking to indulge his curiosity since his cupidity was not to be gratified.
`I have not that honour.'
`Ah! well,' returned he with a dubious, sidelong glance at my splashed, grey trousers and rough P jacket. `But,' he added, encouragingly, `there's many a fine lady like that `at has kinsfolks poorer nor what you are, sir, I should think.'
`No doubt,--and there's many a fine gentleman would esteem himself vastly honoured to be able to claim kindred with the lady you mention.'
He now cunningly glanced at my face. `Perhaps, sir, you mean to--'
I guessed what was coming, and checked the impertinent conjecture with,--`Perhaps you'll be so good as to be quiet a moment. I'm busy.
`Yes, in my mind, and don't want to have my cogitations disturbed.'
You will see that my disappointment had not very greatly affected me, or I should not have been able so quietly to bear with the fellow's impertinence. The fact is I thought it as well--nay better, all things considered, that I should not see her to-day,--that I should have time to compose my mind for the interview-- to prepare it for a heavier disappointment, after the intoxicating delight experienced by this sudden removal of my former apprehensions; not to mention that, after travelling a night and a day without intermission, and rushing in hot haste through six miles of new-fallen snow, I could not possibly be in a very presentable condition.
At M-- I had time before the coach started to replenish my forces with a hearty breakfast, and to obtain the refreshment of my usual morning's ablutions, and the amelioration of some slight change in my toilet,-- and also to dispatch a short note to my mother (excellent son that I was) to assure her that I was still in existence and to excuse my nonappearance at the expected time. It was a long journey to Staningley for those slow travelling days; but I did not deny myself needful refreshment on the road, nor even a
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