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"There!" said my mother, laying her finger
on the passage, "read that aloud to the little
ones. Let them hear how their father's
good report travelled far and wide, and how
well he is spoken of by one whom he never
saw. COUSIN Richard, how prettily her
ladyship writes! Go on, Margaret!" She
wiped her eyes as she spoke; and laid her
finger on her lips, to still my little sister,
Cecily, who, not understanding anything
about the important letter, was beginning to
talk and make a noise.

You say you are left with nine children. I too
should have had nine, if mine had all lived. I have
none left but Rudolph, the present Lord Ludlow. He
is married, and lives, for the most part, in London.
But I entertain six young gentlewomen at my house
at Connington, who are to me as daughterssave
that, perhaps, I restrict them in certain indulgences in
dress and diet that might be befitting in young ladies
of a higher rank, and of more probable wealth. These
young personsall of condition, though not of means
are my constant companions, and I strive to do my
duty as a Christian lady towards them. One of these
young gentlewomen died (at her own home, whither
she had gone upon a visit) last May. Will you do me
the favour to allow your eldest daughter to supply her
place in my household? She is, as I make out, about
sixteen years of age. She will find companions here
who are but a little older than herself. I dress my
young friends myself, and make each of them a small
allowance for pocket-money. They have but few
opportunities for matrimony, as Connington is far
removed from any town. The clergyman is a deaf old
widower; my agent is married; and as for the
neighbouring farmers, they are, of course, below the notice
of the young gentlewomen under my protection. Still,
if any young woman wishes to marry, and has
conducted herself to my satisfaction, I give her a wedding
dinner, her clothes, and her house-linen. And such as
remain with me to my death, will find a small
competency provided for them in my will. I reserve to
myself the option of paying their travelling expenses,—
disliking gadding women, on the one hand; on the
other, not wishing by too long absence from the family
home to weaken natural ties.

If my proposal pleases you and your daughteror
rather, if it pleases you, for I trust your daughter has
been too well brought up to have a will in opposition
to yourslet me know, dear cousin Margaret Dawson,
and I will make arrangements for meeting the young
gentlewoman at Cavistock, which is the nearest point
to which the coach will bring her.

My mother dropped the letter, and sate
silent.

"I shall not know what to do without you,
Margaret."

A moment before, like a young untried girl
as I was, I had been pleased at the notion of
seeing a new place, and leading a new life,
but now,—my mother's look of sorrow, and
the children's cry of remonstrance: "Mother!
I won't go," I said.

"Nay! but you had better," replied she,
shaking her head. "Lady Ludlow has much
power. She can help your brothers. It will
not do to slight her offer."

So we accepted it, after much consultation.
We were rewarded,—or so we thought, for,
afterwards, when I came to know Lady Ludlow,
I saw that she would have done her
duty by us, as helpless relations, however we
might have rejected her kindness,—by a
presentation to Christ's Hospital for one of
my brothers.

And this was how I came to know my
Lady Ludlow.

I remember well the afternoon of my arrival
at Hanbury Court. Her ladyship had sent
to meet me at the nearest post-town at which
the mail coach stopped. There was an old
groom inquiring for me, the ostler said, if my
name was Dawsonfrom Hanbury Court, he
believed. I felt it rather formidable; and
first began to understand what was meant by
going among strangers, when I lost sight of
the guard to whom my mother had intrusted
me. I was perched up in a high gig with a
hood to it, such as in those days was called a
chair, and my companion was driving deliberately
through the most pastoral country I
had ever yet seen. By-and-by we ascended
a long hill, and the man got out and walked
at the horse's head. I should have liked to
walk, too, very much indeed; but I did not
know how far I might do it; and, in fact, I
dared not speak to ask to be helped down the
deep steps of the gig. We were at last at
the top,—on a long, breezy, sweeping,
unenclosed piece of ground, called, as I afterwards
learnt, a Chace. The groom stopped, breathed,
patted his horse, and then mounted again to
my side.

"Are we near Hanbury Court?" I asked.

"Near! Why, Miss! we've a matter of
ten mile yet to go."

Once launched into conversation, we went
on pretty glibly. I fancy he had been afraid
of beginning to speak to me, just as I was to
him; but he got over his shyness with me
sooner than I did mine with him. I let him
choose the subjects of conversation, although
very often I could not understand the points
of interest in them; for instance, he talked
for more than a quarter of an hour of a famous
race which a certain dog-fox had given him,
above thirty years before; and spoke of all
the covers and turns just as if I knew them
as well as he did; and all the time I was
wondering what kind of an animal a dog-fox
might be.

After we left the Chace, the road grew
worse. No one in these days, who has not
seen the bye-roads of fifty years ago, can
imagine what they were. We had to quarter,
as Randal called it, nearly all the way
along the deep-rutted, miry lanes; and the
tremendous jolts I occasionally met with
made my seat in the gig so unsteady, that I
could not look about me at all, I was so much
occupied in holding on. The road was too
muddy for me to walk without dirtying
myself more than I liked to do, just before
my first sight of my Lady Ludlow. But by-
and-by, when we came to the fields in which
the lane ended, I begged Randal to help me

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