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Mr. Hale's last words, and protected by his
presence from Margaret's upbraiding eyes,
made bold to say, " My poor mistress!"

"You don't think her worse to-day," said
Mr, Hale, turning hastily.

"I am sure I can't say, sir. It is not for
me to judge. The illness seems so much
more on the mind than on the body.''

Mr. Hale looked infinitely distressed.

You had better take mamma her tea while
it is hot, Dixon," said Margaret, in a tone of
quiet authority.

"Oh! I beg your pardon, miss! My
thoughts was otherwise occupied in thinking
of my poorof Mrs. Hale."

"Papa! " said Margaret, " it is this suspense
that is bad for you both, Of course, mamma
must feel your change of opinions: we can't
help that," she continued, softly; "but now
the course is clear, at least to a certain point.
And I think, papa, that I could get mamma to
help me in planning if you could tell me what
to plan for. She has never expressed any
wish in any way, and only thinks of what
can't be helped. Are we to go straight to
Milton? Have you taken a house there?"

"No," he replied. " I suppose we must go
into lodgings, and look about for a house."

"And pack up the furniture so that it can
be left at the railway station till we have met
with one?"

"I suppose so. Do what you think best.
Only remember we shall have much less
money to spend."

They had never had much superfluity, as
Margaret knew. She felt that it was a great
weight suddenly thrown upon her shoulders.
Four months ago all the decisions she
needed to make were what dress she would
wear for dinner, and to help Edith to make
out the lists of who should take down
whom in the dinner parties at home. Nor
was the household in which she lived one
that called for much decision. Except in the
one grand case of Captain Lennox's offer,
everything went on with the regularity of
clockwork. Once a year there was a long
discussion between her aunt and Edith as to
whether they should go to the Isle of Wight,
abroad, or to Scotland? but at such times
Margaret herself was secure of drifting,
without any exertion of her own, into the
quiet harbour of home. Now, since that day
when Mr. Lennox came, and startled her into
a decision, every day brought some question,
momentous to her, and to those whom she
loved, to be settled.

Her father went up after tea to sit with
his wife. Margaret remained alone in the
drawing-room. Suddenly she took a candle
and went into her father's study for a great
atlas, and lugging it back into the drawing-
room, she began to pore over the map of
England. She was ready to look up brightly
when her father came down stairs.

"Papa, I have hit upon such a beautiful
plan. Look here, in Darkshire, hardly the
breadth of my finger from Milton, is Heston,
which I have often heard of from people
living in the north as such a pleasant little
bathing-place. Now, don't you think we
could get mamma there with Dixon, while you
and I go and look at houses, and get one all
ready for her in Milton? She would get a
breath of sea air to set her up for the winter,
and be spared all the fatigue, and Dixon
would enjoy taking care of her."

"Is Dixon to go with us? " asked Mr.
Hale, in a kind of helpless dismay.

"Oh, yes! " said Margaret. " Dixon quite
intends it, and I don't know what mamma
would do without her."

"But we shall have to put up with a very
different way of living, I am afraid. Everything
is so much dearer in a town. I doubt
if Dixon can make herself comfortable. To
tell you the truth, Margaret, I sometimes
feel as if that woman gave herself airs."

"To be sure she does, papa," replied Mar-
garet; "and if she has to put up with a
different style of living, we shall have to put up
with her airs, which will be worse. But she
really loves us all, and would be miserable to
leave us, I am sure, especially in this change;
so, for mamma's sake, and for the sake of
her faithfulness, I do think she must go."

"Very well, my dear. Go on. I am
resigned. How far is Heston from Milton?
The breadth of one of your fingers does not
give me a very clear idea of distance."

"Well, then, I suppose it is thirty miles;
that is not much!"

"Not in distance, but in—. Never mind!
If you really think it will do your mother
good, let it be fixed so."

This was a great step. Now Margaret
could work, and act, and plan in good
earnest. And now Mrs. Hale could rouse
herself from her languor, and forget her real
suffering in thinking of the pleasure and the
delight of going to the sea-side. Her only
regret was that Mr. Hale could not be with
her all the fortnight she was to be there, as
he had been for a whole fortnight once, when
they were engaged, and she was staying with
Sir John and Lady Beresford at Torquay.


A COUNCIL composed of noble and gentle
amateurs; a sprinkling of real farmers; a
library of books on agriculture which few
read; models of implements which few
examine; and samples of seeds for which
few inquirethese are the components of
the Royal Agricultural Society as it exists in
a dingy mansion of Hanover Square, London.
For eleven months of the year its only
sign of life is an occasional discussion, from
which reporters for the public press are
inflexibly excluded; but, on the twelfth
there follows, thanks to railroads, a
July fortnight of real agricultural work.
Then the whole agricultural element of the

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