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cloaks on, we found Mr. Gray awaiting my
lady's coming. I believe he had paid his
respects to her before, but we had never
seen him; and he had declined her invitation
to spend Sunday evening at the Court (as
Mr. Mountford used to do pretty regularly,—
and play a game of picquet too,—) which,
Mrs. Medlicott told us, had caused my lady
to be not over well pleased with him.

He blushed redder than ever at the sight
of us, as we entered the hall, and dropped
him our curtsies. He coughed two or three
times, as if he would have liked to speak to
us, if he could but have found something to
say; and every time he coughed, he went
hotter-looking than ever. I am ashamed to
say, we were nearly laughing at him; half
because we were so shy too that we
understood what his awkwardness meant.

My lady came in, with her quick active
stepshe always walked quickly when she
did not bethink herself of her cane,—as if
she were sorry to have kept us waiting,—and
as she entered, she gave us all round one of
those graceful sweeping curtseys, of which
I think the art must have died out with her,
it implied so much courtesy;—this time it
said, as well as words could do, "I am sorry
to have kept you all waiting,—forgive me."

She went up to the mantelpiece, near
which Mr. Gray had been standing until her
entrance, and curtseying afresh to him, and
pretty deeply this time, because of his cloth,
and her being hostess, and he, a new guest.
She asked him if he would not prefer speaking
to her in her own private parlour, and
looked as though she would have conducted
him there. But he burst out with his errand,
of which he was full even to choking, and
which sent the glistening tears into his large
blue eyes, which stood farther and farther
out with his excitement.

"My lady, I want to speak to you, and to
persuade you to exert your kind interest,
with Mr. LathomJustice Lathom of
Hathaway Manor—"

"Harry Lathom?" inquired my lady,—as
Mr. Gray stopped to take the breath he had
lost in his hurry,—"I did not know he was
in the commission."

"He is only just appointed; he took the
oaths not a month ago,—more's the pity!"

"I do not understand why you should
regret it. The Lathoms have held Hathaway
since Edward the First, and Mr. Lathom
bears a good character, although his temper
is hasty—"

"My lady! he has committed Job Gregson
for stealinga fault of which he is as innocent
as Iand all the evidence goes to prove
it, now that the case is brought before the
Bench; only the Squires hang so together
that they can't be brought to see justice, and
are all for sending Job to gaol, out of
compliment to Mr. Lathom, saying it is his first
committal, and it won't be civil to tell him
there is no evidence against his man. For
God's sake, my lady, speak to the gentlemen;
they will attend to you, while they only tell
me to mind my own business."

Now, my lady was always inclined to
stand by her order, and the Lathoms of
Hathaway Court were cousins to the Hanburys.
Besides, it was rather a point of
honour in those days to encourage a young
magistrate, by passing a pretty sharp
sentence on his first committals; and Job Gregson
was the father of a girl who had been lately
turned away from her place as scullery-maid
for sauciness to Mrs. Adams, her ladyship's
own maid; and Mr. Gray had not said a
word of the reasons why he believed the man
innocent,—for he was in such a hurry, I
believe he would have had my lady drive off
to the Henley Court-house then and there;—
so there seemed a good deal against the man,
and nothing but Mr Gray's bare word for
him; and my lady drew herself a little up,
and said:

"Mr. Gray! I do not see what reason
either you or I have to interfere. Mr. Harry
Lathom is a sensible kind of young man, well
capable of ascertaining the truth without our

"But more evidence has come out since,"
broke in Mr. Gray.

My lady went a little stiffer, and spoke a
little more coldly.

"I suppose this additional evidence is before
the justices; men of good family, and of
honour and credit, well known in the county.
They naturally feel that the opinion of one of
themselves must have more weight than the
words of a man like Job Gregson, who bears a
very indifferent character,—has been strongly
suspected of poaching, coming from no one
knows where, squatting on Hareman's Common
which, by the way, is extra-parochial,
I believe; consequently you, as a clergyman,
are not responsible for what goes on there;
and, although impolitic, there might be some
truth in what the magistrates said, in
advising you to mind your own business,"—said
her ladyship, smiling,—"and they might be
tempted to bid me mind mine, if I interfered,
Mr. Gray; might they not?"

He looked extremely uncomfortable; half
angry. Once or twice he began to speak, but
checked himself, as if his words would not
have been wise or prudent. At last he said:

"It may seem presumptuous in me,—a
stranger of only a few weeks standingto
set up my judgment as to men's character
against that of residents—" Lady Ludlow
gave a little bow of acquiescence, which,
was, I think, involuntary on her part, and
which I don't think he perceived,—"but I
am convinced that the man is innocent of
this offence,—and besides, the justices
themselves allege this ridiculous custom of paying
a compliment to a newly-appointed magistrate
as their only reason."—

That unlucky word "ridiculous!" It
undid all the good his modest beginning had

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