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THE

BURLINGTON.

FEBRUARY, 1881.

Story of a Sin.

By the Author of “ COMIN' THRO' THE RYE.”

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He hoist up sails, and hame came he-
Hame unto his ain countrie;
The first he met on his own land,

It chanced to be a beggar man.
JHE beauty of Lord Lovel's woods was invisible to the man

who after dark that night traversed them with now hasty, now lingering steps, inhaling with an odd sense of memory the crushed scent of the wild flowers that from time to time he trod underfoot.

No friendly gleam of light beckoned him towards the ancient house; no voice save a hireling's was likely to be uplifted in his welcome; and that sense of chillness with which we approach a place of which hearts once made a home, oppressed the wanderer

VOL. I.

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as he crossed his own threshold, and hearkened to the long reverberations of the great bell as it clanged through the lonely, deserted place.

At last a woman came; but, before she could ask a question, he had passed her, and was standing in the midst of the dininghall, when, amazed at his audacity, lamp in hand, she had shut the hall-door and overtaken him.

“I want Job,” he said ; “ will you send him to me?” And his voice and manner being of that sort which wins princess and peasant alike (for, after all, a princess, however finely she laces her bodice, can do no more than have a woman's heart inside it), she departed, and presently an elderly serving-man entered, who looked scrutinisingly at his visitor's back, at that moment turned towards him.

For a moment he stood, his pulses beating between doubt and hope ; then, as the other turned in his walk, he ran forward, and seizing the young man in his arms, cried out in a perfect paroxysm of love and joy

So you've come home at last, my dear, dear little Master Frank!"

Yes, Job; come back at last,” said his master, laying his hand on the old man's shoulder; "and come home to stay, please God.”

“That's good hearing,” said Job, retreating a step to gaze at his new-found treasure; “but what brought you home so sudden-like?” he added, certain misgivings darting painfully through his mind.

“I got home-sick," said the young fellow, still resolutely fighting off a certain thought that had beset him ever since he set foot on English soil ; "and, perhaps, I was tired of playing at schoolboy, and wanted to be my own master—and yours, too, old friend,” he added, wringing Job's hand, as though he found in that honest palm all the welcome man could desire.

“God bless your little heart !” said Job, to whom the birth of Frank was a mere matter of yesterday, and this stalwart young soldier no bigger than the toddling child whose steps he had so often guarded from danger; "but no bells rung! no carriage to meet you! What'll folks say to your coming home in this promiskis sort of way?

“That as I've been travelling since daybreak I must be hungry,” said Frank, seizing the candle. “Come along, Job.

• I've ransacked the larder too often not to know its whereabouts.”

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Job, as he followed those light heels, thought how bright the house had all at once become with that sunshine which his young master carried with him everywhere—in at the chinks of men's shut hearts, and in lonely places that the sun had forgotten, and, in short, into every nook and corner where his eye glanced and his step came.

“A poor home-coming !” said Job, shaking his head, as he served his master at the kitchen-table; "and you've come a bit too early, or a bit too late," he added below his breath, wistfully searching Frank's face for the wickedness nowhere to be found in it.

The young fellow caught the look, and coloured. He too longed, yet feared to ask a certain question, but it was unasked still when at midnight he stood alone in his chamber, and, drawing aside the curtain from his mother's picture, answered in words to the mute welcome her lips seemed to speak.

“I've come home, mother,” he said simply, just as though she heard him ; "and you'll help me ;” and perhaps she did hear her boy, and did help him-afterwards—who knows? Sleep was impossible to him ; here, under his own roof-tree, he realised what his future life must and should be, as his father's had been before him. All that he looked on, all that he touched, spoke to him of duty and the noble traditions of an unstained name; and, as he threw the casement wide, and hearkened to the night wind as it rustled like a sigh through the woods below, his heart swelled within him, and he swore that he would be a faithful steward to the hundreds of sleeping souls entrusted to his care. The morning sun was shining in his eyes when he awoke and descended to the library, where Job, no longer the transported friend, but the faithful domestic, awaited him with a breakfast that was the product of a sleepless night.

It vexed the old man that his master would look through the open windows instead of his plate; and yet who could take his eyes from those three avenues of over a mile in length, through whose fretted aisles, like a magnificent burst of melody from an unseen source, had swept the tide of God's eternal green ?

“I don't s'pose you've seen anything since you went away to beat that,remarked Job complacently; “but, lor, what can you expect out of England, Master Frank?”

Frank laughed, and his laugh was something to remember, for its delightful ring and the suggestions of happiness both to himself and others that it unconsciously brought.

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“And yet there are some fine sights abroad, Job, as you would say if you could see them."

“So the Squire seems to think,” putting on a deceitful air of innocence as he poured his master out a second cup of coffee. 'He's eating frogs this blessed minute, no doubt; though I'm much mistook if Nancy of the Mill cottons down to eating 'em along with him.'

“ The old Squire has left Lovel ?” cried Frank, pushing back his plate.

“To be sure,” said Job, with an elaborate appearance of unconcern; “it must be nigh on five year and a half ago that the county folks made up their minds that they couldn't stand Miss Nancy, and so

And so the Red Hall's empty!” exclaimed Lord Lovel, starting up from his seat; "and I've been thinking of that old reprobate as holding his court there, and setting a bad example to the neighbourhood-an influence that would dwarf mine so hopelessly, Job, that I could make no way against it." “Well—well,” said Job deprecatingly, "he were a rare bit

“ of human natur', to be sure; and human natur's lively and interestin', Master Frank, while the Ten Commandments in the main is dull.”

“But they don't bring disgrace in their train,” said Frank, walking to the window and looking out. · Who was it you said was living at the Red Hall now?”

“His son,” said Job, in a tone of suspicious mildness, as he busied himself about the table; “he's been here for years, and a new order of things it is up yonder-church and children, and sweethearting—but always with his own wife . . . . They ride by here often, and I wonder how long it will last,” added Job, with a smile.

"Barrington Eyre is married !cried Frank, advancing, “then what became of-of

“Mr. Barrington was killed in a duel,” said Job, inwardly

“ marvelling at his master's ignorance; "it's young Mr. Eyre that's living up at the Hall now."

“Young Mr. Eyre!” cried Frank, starting back as though a bullet had struck him—“old Mr. Eyre, you mean,—and he is here-here—impossible!”

"Well, he ain't a chicken, to be sure,” said Job, impartially, "that's why I've got some hopes of him yet; when folks of his age takes a moral turn, it gets fixed into a sort of habit with 'em."

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“ Then he has turned over a new leaf !” exclaimed Frank, involuntarily.

Lor, Master Frank, I wonder if he knows his own face in the glass, he's that altered; he's a justice and a magistrate, and punishes folks for being wicked instead of making 'em so, as he and all the Eyres did afore him. But it's deadly dull in the village now," added Job regretfully, “or so the women say; all the pretty chicks hereabouts go unchucked, and if there's a bit of beauty growing up in the place, there ain't a soul in life to discover it.”

“Would you have him as bad as his father?” burst out poor Frank in a rage, and still pale with the shock of finding Madcap living at his very gates.

“Well,” said Job, in a tone that befitted his name, “I hope it may last; but there's no reckoning on them Eyres; and though he just dotes on her now—women cloy, even the best of 'em-God aʼmighty mostly makes 'em too sweet or too sour, and there's few a man can sup of every day and not wish for a change once by whiles, Master Frank."

But the latter part of Job's dissertation was lost on Frank, who had escaped through the open window, and was striding down the central avenue as for a wager.

This sudden knowledge of her nearness for the moment overcame him-it was as though a picture he had been gazing at from a distance had stepped out of its frame to stand beside him, and he must take its flesh-and-blood hand in his own, and change the likeness of his face towards it .... for while in his memory, and afar off, she was still his sweet little Madcap, his tyrant, his love, here at his gates; she was wife to his friend only- his friend who had stolen her from him, but who had made her-happy.

He looked around him-that exquisite sense of newness with which the old country ever strikes us after long sojourn in burning climes, gradually stole upon and soothed him; and the pride in his own soil, that every true man knows, awoke and prompted thoughts of an existence apart from love. With a sudden backward movement of the shoulders, as though he shook some weight from them, he stood for a moment to watch

Two white May-leaves downward winning

Through the ceiling's miracle

a shaft of sunlight fell full on the young, beautiful face, refined almost to sternness by its absorption of thought; but,

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