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           THE SIN OF A FATHER

DOCTOR BROWN was poor, and had to make
his way in the world. He had gone to study
his profession in Edinburgh, and his energy,
ability, and good conduct had entitled him to
some notice on the part of the professors. Once
introduced to the ladies of their families, his
prepossessing appearance and pleasing manners
made him an universal favourite, and perhaps
no other student received so many invitations
to dances, evening parties, or was so
often singled out to fill up an odd vacancy
at the last moment at the dinner-table. No
one knew particularly who he was, or where
he sprang from; but then he had no near
relations, as he had once or twice observed;
so he was evidently not hampered with low-born
or low-bred connections. He had been
in mourning for his mother when he first
came to college.

All this much was recalled to the
recollection of Professor Frazer by his niece
Margaret as she stood before him one
morning in his study, telling him, in a low but
resolute voice, that the night before Doctor
James Brown had offered her marriage, that
she had accepted him, and that he was
intending to call on Professor Frazer (her uncle
and natural guardian) that very morning to
obtain his consent to their engagement.
Professor Frazer was perfectly aware, from
Margaret's manner, that his consent was regarded
by her as a mere form, for that her mind was
made up; and he had more than once had
occasion to find out how inflexible she could
be. Yet he too was of the same blood, and
held to his own opinions in the same obdurate
manner. The consequence of which frequently
was, that uncle and niece had argued
themselves into mutual bitterness of feeling,
without altering each other's opinions one jot.
But Professor Frazer could not restrain
himself on this occasion of all others.

"Then, Margaret, you will just quietly
settle down to be a beggar, for that lad Brown
has little or no money to think of marrying
upon: you that might be my Lady Kennedy
if you would."

"I could not, Uncle."

"Nonsense, child. Sir Alexander is a personable
and agreeable man,—middle-aged, if
you willwell, a wilful woman must have
her way; but, if I had had a notion that
youngster was sneaking into my house to
cajole you into fancying him, I would have
seen him far enough before I had ever let
your aunt invite him to dinner. Aye!  you
may mutter; but I say no gentleman would
ever have come into my house to seduce my
niece's affections without first informing me
of his intentions and asking my leave."

"Doctor Brown is a gentleman, Uncle
Frazer, whatever you may think of him."

"So you think,— so you think. But who
cares for the opinion of a love-sick girl?  He
is a handsome, plausible young fellow, of good
address. And I don't mean to deny his
ability. But there is something about him I
never did like, and now it's accounted for.
And Sir Alexander—  Well, well!  your
aunt will be disappointed in you, Margaret.
But you were always a headstrong girl. Has
this Jamie Brown ever told you who or
what his parents were, or where he comes
from? I don't ask about his forebears, for
he does not look like a lad who has ever
had ancestors; and you a Frazer of Lovat!
Fie, for shame, Margaret! Who is this Jamie
Brown?"

"He is James Brown, Doctor of Medicine
of the University of Edinburgh: a good,
clever young man, whom I love with my
whole heart," replied Margaret, reddening.

"Hoot! Is that the way for a maiden to
speak?  Where does he come from?  Who
are his kinsfolk? Unless he can give a pretty
good account of his family and prospects, I
shall just bid him begone, Margaret, and that
I tell you fairly."

"Uncle " (her eyes were filling with hot
indignant tears), "I am of age; you know he
is good and clever; else why have you had
him so often to your house ? I marry him and
not his kinsfolk. He is an orphan. I doubt
if he has any relations that he keeps up with.
He has no brothers nor sisters. I don't care
where he comes from."

"What was his father?" asked Professor
Frazer, coldly.

"I don't know. Why should I go prying
into every particular of his family, and asking
who his father was, and what was the maiden
name of his mother, and when his grandmother
was married?"

"Yet I think I have heard Miss Margaret

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