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master, had fallen asleep in a passage; he woke up at last, and heard Sir John snoring so loud from an open chamber, that it seemed ere long to snort through all the house, and then heavily to moan. He thought it was a dream the baronet might have fallen into, and, running up, strove to wake him, but could not; then to bleed him with a horse-flemm, but equally in vain: Sir John was senseless. The man roused the servants, and, taking the best horse, rode off full speed to Deanstoke for the surgeon; he did not find him at his house, but on the way back, leaning quietly over a gate. So when the surgeon refused to come, saying with a hiccup it was all nothing but too little claret after the port, the stout huntsman, with an oath, caught the little doctor by the collar as he rode on, dragged him with a souse through the first horsepond, and brought him dripping sober up the avenue, to bleed Sir John. But Sir John would bleed no longer, for lancet or leech-blisters helped little better; only by the afternoon he roused up in a way, though quite speechless, his eyes looking out dully from the curtains to the light, and round the room walls, where his guests had brought him by chance; they were hung with an old-fashioned tapestry, full of wild figures in helmets, waves that bore antique vessels, hoary harpers, and maidens with roses, acting various shadowy scenes. The old housekeeper had preserved it there, and it was said afterwards, that in the same bedroom his own mother, who eloped with the penniless baronet, his father, had actually been born. By that time the curate had come up at the doctor's advice, and made some attempts to convey a sense of his awful state to Sir John, to no purpose. At last the old rector came in cautiously behind the curtains, sidling toward the curate with some mumbled whisper about the communion, or a sacramental occasion; till suddenly, seeing the sick man's stare rest on him with a sort of glassy brightness, the rector sank upon a chair helpless, covering his face with his hands, and sitting there, not daring to go. Outside the door the whole while had been the huntsman, Welsh Will, who was as

as the clear, keen glow of orange followed it, from streak to streak of cloud, the house might have been thought to light up for a wedding.

It was a cloudy night when the guests came riding out homeward, and with sweeping fits of shadow and light, that drizzled rain; but they were merrier than before. The old fat rector came walking slowly forth with the surgeon from Deanstoke, on whom he leant heavily, seeming the only solemn man of the party: he would on no account go out through the wicket, but must have the carriagegate thrown wide for him. He closed it himself after them with extreme care, having become all at once exceedingly angry with the surgeon for a joke about the broad and the narrow ways, and the camel going through the eye of a needle; nay, stood endeavouring to reprove him, almost in a religious strain-sometimes staring, with a mysterious gravity, at the devices in the iron. work, as the weak fits of moonlight brought them out wet and gleaming. Yet they went on again together in the friendliest way, often repeating to each other, "Sub Rosâ," till they laughed; indeed, when they shook hands, the rector would fondly have seen the surgeon home all the way to Deanstoke, as his parishioner, but that the latter left him inside the rectory gate. As for the last horsemen, they left Stoke avenue with loud voices, laughing, shouting a catch for four: as they rode round into the highway, the house fronted them again through the bare trees of the park, with three or four of its triple-mullioned windows still lit; nor could they but look at it, till it was blended with the woods. Then they were seized with more obstreperous mirth and voice, for it was the first time any one had known Sir John give way to liquor, or could say they helped to carry him upstairs-he had never before been suspected of a brain that could be soaked. But with the chill midnight that gloomed about them, full of a sharp wind that rose far off, bringing wet gusts and dead leaves, their words waxed incoherent; letting their impatient horses go, they scattered off.

Welsh Will, a dark half-witted fellow, indeed, but always near his

rough as he was half-witted, and Sir-nor, above all, mysteriously satisJohn had often rated him with fied. There were two or three times, pretty harsh usage, like the hounds: during the nights of their watching, he had his shoes off, holding his while they comforted themselves on breath and hiding, though he brushed the other side of a screen at the his nose ever and anon with his shin- fire, that, pipkin in hand, they paused, ing cuff, till towards the last it began looked to each other fearfully, and to be thought there was a dog up- hastily put by some particularly welstairs, for his low sniffings grew to a come viand, not used in cottagesbroken whimper, then suddenly into as if he had been that moment about a loud sobbing howl, at which he was to leap up, throw off the drapery, and discovered, and angrily sent down make something known that he had stairs. His mean spirit was by some left unsaid. That rumour even crept of the other servants imputed to about the neighbourhood, that there cunning for Sir John's heavy eyelids had been more than common, after all, had striven to rise, he had seemed in Sir John. trying for a moment to turn his head that way; but they soon saw that if there had been no will made already, the fellow's grief could only have been at thinking none could be made, or that the relations might hear of it. The baronet dozed into deeper and deeper sleep, that grew a lethargy; not a muscle stirred, nor a breath seemed to come; past midnight, the surgeon listened at his mouth, felt the pulse, even brought a looking-glass to hold above his face, peering at the same time into it himself. The doctor said at last to the old woman from Stoke, and the housekeeper, that he was gone; but till the doctor went down stairs, saying the sooner they saw things right, the better, they scarce believed it.

The two old women had often seen Sir John at church, and knew his face well. So when, after its hearty and jovial aspect, its rosy fulness, somewhat stolid latterly, his body lay straight, cold, and taking the hue of stone, it really looked unusual to them, accustomed to such sights though they were. He had never seemed stately before, nor gravely wise

A message had been sent by post to Colonel Willoughby in London, when he first fell ill, as well as one to Mr Hesketh in Exeter. The lawyer had arrived that night, but finding all useless, took up a candle in the dininghall as soon as he saw the surgeon, with sealing-wax and the baronet's own seal; then taking his clerk and the housekeeper to every desk, cabinet, drawer, or closet, that could hold money or papers, stamped the crested motto of the Willoughbies over its lock, in conspicuous red. That done, he gave the seal itself to the rector, to carry carefully home; and another message to London for the colonel was sent in the track of the first. The entail that should haye bound Sir John, even after the loss of his infant son, from parting with any portion of the estate, or otherwise burdening it, needed no better fulfilment than the reputation of the Colonel. It had been prepared by the lawyerly anxiety of their eldest brother, Sir Henry, though only not finished and signed during his last moments. Sir Henry had seemed to have a thorough apprehension of his brother's careless turn of mind.


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people hastened to gain a view of the noble occupant within, or his son, or some one belonging to that elevated family-when boys stretched from a wall, or peered breathless from round the wall-tops of the gate-pillars, and out of the very churchyard branches, to see through the glass-it was almost as startling as if they had gazed into the hearse itself. The breath from within did not steam the ice-cold pane, though the day was frosty with rime; it could be clearly seen into, and some had caught momentary glimpses of a countenance looking out, or even more than one, with every appearance of the expected presence; till the dull light stared through and through at a corner, as the carriage slowly returned, following next in order to the mourning-coach which bore the family-and everybody saw with a strange surprise that it was quite empty. Still, on reflection, when his lordship was really found not to have remained at the Hall, nor to have come in any bodily sense whatever, it gave an impressive feeling of the earl's disposition to pay due respect, by acknowledging the invitation and the relationship, though no doubt detained personally by affairs of public concern or cares of state.

Creed, and he audibly joined his clear voice to the dolorous "Amen" of the little parish-clerk, or stood and sang to the choir and organ, with downcast eyelids. He was Mr Francis, from Oxford, who had once or twice been seen at Stoke before, sometimes shooting with his uncle; but oftener angling, a sport rather too quiet for poor Sir John. It was the younger lad, sitting by his father, that drew all eyes; for he was quite new to them, and like no Willoughby that any one remembered; so rich brown was the health on the boy's cheek, with bright-brown eyes, and vivid, cordial mouth, and over his full round forehead such curling hair as gave out gold wintry though the daylight was, when the dusky blazonry of the great window did not brighten, and the chequers of the tesselated pavement on the chancel lay cold-blue beneath, glossed with a marble chill. In his looks there crept out nothing of that vague dissatisfaction which, whether keen or gloomy, thoughtful or involuntary, had come to resemble a foreboding in the family; but the quick light gathered in his eyes like a wish to speak through the church, and freely he turned them about, as if enjoying what was new, noticing every face; sometimes with demure repression of a smile, when the curate droned, or the clerk snuffled, or the old fat rector, sitting inside the rail beyond the reading-desk, opened his dull eyes with a start, and coughed, followed by half his flock; while ever would his upward gaze settle visibly on the glow of that circle in the arch, as on a novelty; where, like a blended posy, it rose high from out of the flowing trace-work, threefold yet single-hearted, seeming to turn inward from some hidden tree of radiance outside, that climbed from the churchyard, all netted over outside with wire. Almost the whole congregation appeared to gaze with him, curious as himself, to mark it slowly burn brighter, and cast the painted expanse below into shade, with all the saintly old imagery, compartment by compartment; till the crimson foils, the snowy white, the deep marigold, and the blood-red centre, were flushed together in one lustre, and there came shifting beams adown the

The rector of Stoke, too, was prevented by indisposition from performing the last rites, as on the subsequent Sunday his feelings naturally rendered him incapable of preaching either of the sermons. But the curate seemed to have devoted his whole mind to consolation, while with face unconsciously turned toward the blackhung pew, he rapidly enumerated all its reasons, and dwelt with a plaintive resignation on the transitory nature of things in general. The sight of Colonel Willoughby, now Sir Godfrey, was indeed reassuring in itself: tall, erect, and serious, yet mild, with hair whose blackness the white hair-powder could not conquer, he steadily kept his eyes on the clergyman in grave attention; while opposite him, with a composed, quiet air, half-sad, halfthoughtful, a dark young man sat listening, though turned another way: there was something firm and manly about his whole aspect, though at all the responses in the service his lips moved, his head bent devoutly at the

dusk, of all rainbow tints, visiting the remotest parts of the church, to the dustiest corner, or the damp-green stain on the wall-then imperceptibly passing away. Nay, straight round they glanced with him to the aisle where the new hatchment hung, as if to compare the motto in both places, and translate "Sub rosâ robur." People felt proud of the boy's interest, and there were few to doubt but that this was the lively young face which, some day or other, might be dignified to that of an earl. It was to little purpose that a neighbouring vicar, who discoursed in the afternoon, made many sad comments on the vanity of human wishes, and the brevity of human life; a bald-headed clergyman with a large white wig, similar to the downy crown of an old thistle, or the hazy film-ball of a ripe dandelion-who was full of proverbial triteness. But there was far more confidence under the fresh promise before them, than sadness in the thought of Sir John, with all his ruddy vigour, covered by the hush of that aisle, and gone under the rose for ever. The black-hung pew, the mourning suits, and the grave features, looked a becoming guise, ere long to be cast aside; when repairs at the Manor, and cheerful stir, and a pleasant air altogether, would revive all Stoke till Lady Willoughby came down. She was no fashionable town-dame, it seemed, but come of a good country stock, as notable for thrift and management as for number and health, with a name that, peculiar as it was, had never before been heard of.

Colonel Willoughby, however, found the examination of his late brother's papers a somewhat painful matter. They were sufficiently unimportant in themselves, as they were quite valueless enough, to have been spared the careful secresy of the lawyer's wax, the seal, or the tape. He had long anticipated the disorder which Mr Hesketh was aware of, and which professional service abroad, delicacy of position, perhaps reasons for sympathy, and acquaintance with his brother's character, had precluded him from seriously attempting to avert. Not less difficult had been the office of the solicitor to make the best of it, despite all the late baronet's hot

temper, his strange eccentricities, and his ever-confirmed incapacity for business, or inveterate neglect of it; so that the former had more than once, after reasoning with him, been desirous to throw up the guidance, only consenting to retain it on conditions which had been as often forgotten. He excused Sir John on the ground of a natural carelessness, a generous disposition, perhaps a mind latterly somewhat shaken. It had been much against Mr Hesketh's wishes that even so recently as a few weeks before his death, a considerable sum had for the last time been advanced on the best farm in the estate, through a source opened as usual by the solicitor himself-from, in fact, one of his own oldest and most confidential clients, whose money lay at his professional disposal; an arrangement so unusual, that but for its easier terms, and hints from Sir John of application to other sources, he could scarcely have agreed to effect it.

The Colonel, with unshaken calmness, gave his scrupulous attention to all. As paper after paper, parchment upon parchment, was unfolded, he showed at once a clear, straightforward purpose to see the worst, a military promptitude and exactness which struck through all technical complications-serving him, as it seemed, in lieu of them and an honourable nicety in determining to render every one his due, though it were legally inexigible. He studiously refrained from the least censure of his brother's acts, as from any response to excuses for them; but at the end did not fail to show a sense of the lawyer's correct judgment, the friendly intimations he himself had on more than one occasion previously received from him, with the slightness of the professional emolument which had in fact resulted to Mr Hesketh throughout. The long services and well-known integrity of old Mr Hesketh, the father, had indeed been such during the time of the former squires, the colonel's maternal grandfather and uncle, as to make it as much an obligation as a choice, that his eldest brother, Sir Henry, with all his own legal ability, had judged fit to retain the advice and experience of the son. And as he

said so, sitting up erect in his chair, from the old library table covered with the proofs of undeniable embarrassment, Sir Godfrey's marked features displayed their mild tendency. Looking straight at Mr Hesketh, his air grew firmer again; he repeated his satisfaction more emphatically, and his reliance on the same skilful management for the future, in a tone of soldier-like brevity, as if assured of assent, yet ready to put it as a question. The lawyer bowed formally. He had been verging more and more to some important point, through suggestions whether the legal care had not better be now transferred to some other; with allusions to failing strength and the cares of business, from which he had some thoughts of retiring, since they were already grown somewhat onerous for his time of life, and ought, perhaps, to be left chiefly to his experienced partner, along with his own son, bred under his own eye. There was, in truth, nothing to excite personal warmth in the dry, unfeeling air of Mr Hesketh, or about his square visage, all bare, colourless, and netted over with small wrinkles and cracks, like parchment itself; with his brown unpowdered wig, the chill clearness of his small eyes, and that manner of rugged probity. No cordial intercourse could be produced; he had not seemed conscious of the delicacy of some points, from which, during the course of their investigations, the colonel had wincedoffended by a haughty tone, or an occasionally recoiling superiority. Yet he had been just as cautious of giving advice, as he seemed careful to hear the colonel's opinion, or to hear his purposes. He again lowered the large gold spectacles he had pushed up on his forehead, and gazed with protruded chin, projected lower lip, upon the principal documents spread before him, musing deeply.


of his sagacity as bird-like: he seemed to have double eyes-those of pebble that looked up from his brow, or gazed down those of more human substance, which coincided but partially with their shining shells.

"This could not have gone on much longer, Colonel Willoughby-Sir Godfrey, I should have said. Certainly not!" And Mr Hesketh shook his head, still glancing downward from paper to paper. In that attitude, with lean neck thrust forth from his cravat, with the sharp, hooked nose, and the wig somewhat off his forehead, it was difficult not to think

"Iagree with you, sir," said Sir Godfrey, whose anxious look had reverted to him, "thoroughly. But it is now ended. I await your advice, Mr Hesketh. The naked sum is - a heavily encumbered estate timber neglected, or cut down a house greatly out of repair-old plate, old furniture, and a few family portraits or worthless pictures with longstanding bills and their interest."

"Just so," said the lawyer, drily, as he gathered the respective statements together. "Some of these bills appear to have been purposely delayed-a rascally thing; but I fear they had better be paid at once. With interest on the mortgages, it will almost cover the next year's rents, Sir Godfrey." "So I see," was the reply. "But there has been no increase of rental, as I think, for a considerable time: is there no room for change in this respect? Can you not effect-fairly, of course—a little improvement over the estate ?"

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"Scarcely at present, Sir Godfrey, I am afraid," answered the solicitor, thoughtfully. "In one or two cases, perhaps-but since the peace on the Continent, and the independence of the colonists, markets have continued low. A bad harvest might do something - still better, a war - which seems improbable. As it is, farmers even grumble at the game."

"I understand, however," said Sir Godfrey, "that rents are considerably higher on some of the neighbouring properties where the land is no better than here?"

"I am aware of it," continued Mr Hesketh, calmly. "Mrs Dilkes has the game carefully kept down at the Priory, and will not prosecute a poacher-on Merltor estate there are few leases given at all, or very short ones. As for Lord Wycombe, he does not reside, and leaves the entire control to his legal agent, of whom, from professional propriety, I shall say nothing more than that a tenant seldom continues long under him."

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