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"They won't give me my brothmy broth."
"It's coming, granny," called out the shrill voice of the girl sitting before the fire, quickening her motions.
"Here's the Squire come to see you, dame, and he wishes you a happy Christmas," said Dr Tatham.
"Is it indeed?" enquired Mr Aubrey, with a sort of mechanical smile. Dr Tatham saw that he was in a very serious humour.
"She's alarmed you, I protest!— I protest she has!" exclaimed the Doctor, with a smile, as they walked along. Now he knew the disposition and character of Aubrey intimately; and was well aware of a certain tendency he had to superstition.
"What! the Squire? Alive yet? Ah, well-a-day! well-a-day!" said she, in a feeble, mournful tone, slowly rubbing together her long, skinny, wrinkled hands, on the backs of which the veins stood out like knotted whipcord. tell She repeated the last words several times, in a truly doleful tone, gently shaking her head.
"Granny's been very sad, sir, today, and cried two or three times," said the little girl, stirring about the hot broth.
"Poor Squire! doth he not look sad?" enquired the old woman. "Why should I, dame? What have I to fear?" said Mr Aubrey.
"Merry in the hall! all, merry! merry! But no one has heard it but old blind Bess. Where's the Squire ? she added, suddenly turning her face full towards where they were standing -and it seemed whitened with emotion. Her staring eyes were settled on Mr Aubrey's face, as if she were reading his very soul.
"Here I am, dame," said he, with a great deal of curiosity, to say the least of it.
"Give me your hand, Squire," said she, stretching out her left arm, and working about her talon-like fingers, as if in eagerness to grasp Mr Aubrey's hand, which he gave her.
"Never fear! never, never! Happy in the hall! I see all! How long". "Why, dame, this is truly a very pleasant grecting of yours," interposed Dr Tatham, with a smile.
"Short and bitter! long and sweet! Put your trust in God, Squire." "I hope I do, granny," replied Mr Aubrey seriously.
"I see! I hear!-my broth! my broth-where is it?"
"Here it is, granny," said the girl. "Good-day, dame," said Mr Aubrey, gently disengaging his hand from hers; and before they had left the cottage she began to swallow very greedily the broth with which the little girl fed her.
"This is the sort of way in which this old superannuated creature has frightened one or two of"
"My dear Doctor, I assure you that you are mistaken-I am indeed not alarmed-but at the same time I will you something not a little singu、 lar. Would you believe that a month or two ago, when in town, I dreamed that I heard some one uttering the very words this old woman has just been uttering!"
"Ah! ha, ha!" laughed the Doctor; and, after a second or two's pause, Aubrey, as if ashamed of what he had said, echoed the laugh, and their conversation passed on to political topics, which kept them engaged for the remainder of their walk, Mr Aubrey quitting his companion at the door of the vicarage, to be rejoined by him at five o'clock, the dinner hour at the hall. As Mr Aubrey walked along the park, the shades of evening casting a deepening gloom around him, his thoughts involuntarily recurred to the cottage of old blind Bess, and he felt vague apprehensions flitting with darkening shade across his mind. Though he was hardly weak enough to attach any definite meaning or importance to the gibberish he had heard, it still had left an unpleasant impression, and he was vexed at feeling a wish that the incident--trifling as he was willing to believe it-should not be mentioned by Dr Tatham at the hall; and still more, on recollect、 ing that he had purposely abstained from requesting the good Doctor not to do so. All this implied that the matter had occupied his thoughts to a greater extent than he secretly relished. On reaching, however, the hall door, this brief pressure on his feelings quickly ceased; for on entering he saw Mrs Aubrey, his sister, and his two children at high romps together in the hall, and he heartily joined in them.
By five o'clock the little party were seated at the cheerful dinner-table, covered with the glittering old family plate, and that kind of fare, at once substantial and luxurious, which be
than he was? As soon as the ladies had withdrawn, together with little Aubrey, the Doctor and Mr Aubrey drew their chairs before the fire, and enjoyed a long hour's pleasant chat on matters domestic and political. As to the latter, the parson and the Squire were stout Tories; and a speech which Aubrey had lately delivered in the House, on the Catholic claims, raised him to a pitch of eminence in the parson's estimation, when he had very few men in the country to keep him company. The Doctor here got on very fast indeed; and was just assuring the Squire that he saw dark days in store for Old Eng land from the machinations of the Papists; and that, for his part, he should rejoice to "seal his testimony with his blood," and would go to the stake not only without flinching, but rejoicing-(all which I verily believe he verily believed he would have done,)--and coveting the crown of martyrdom, when Aubrey caught the sounds of his sister playing on the organ, a noble instrument, which a year or two before, at her urgent request, he had purchased and placed in the drawing-room, whither he and the Doctor at once repaired. 'Twas a spacious and lofty room, well calculated for the splendid instrument which occupied the large recess fronting the door. Miss Aubrey was playing Handel, and with an exquisite perception of his matchless power and beauty. Hark! did you ever hear the grand yet simple recitative she is now commencing?
fitted the occasion. Old Mrs Aubrey, in her simple white turban and black velvet dress, presided with a kind of dignified cheerfulness which was delightful to see. Kate had contrived to make herself look more lovely even than usual, wearing a dress of dark blue satin, tastefully trimmed with blonde, and which exquisitely comported with her lovely complexion. Oh that Delamere had been sitting opposite to, or beside her! The more matured proportions of her blooming sister-inlaw appeared to infinite advantage in a rich green velvet dress, while a superb diamond glistened with subdued lustre in her beautiful bosom. She wore no ornaments in her dark hair, which was, as indeed might be said of Kate, "when unadorned, adorned the most." The greyheaded old butler, as brisk as his choicest champagne, with which he perpetually bustled round the table, and the three steadylooking old family servants, going about their business with quiet celerity-the delicious air of antique elegance around them,-this was a Christmas dinner after one's own heart!-Oh the merry and dear old Yatton! And as if there were not loveliness enough already in the room, behold the door suddenly pushed open as soon as the dinner is over, and run up to his gay and laughing mother, her little son, his ample snowy collar resting gracefully on his crimson velvet dress. 'Tis her hope and pride her first-born-the little squire; but where is his sister?-where is Agnes? 'Tis even as Charles says-she fell asleep in the very act of being dressed, and they were obliged to put her to bed; so Charles is alone in his glory. hold, there came wise men from the East, You may well fold your delicate white arm around him, mamma.
His little gold cup is nearly filled to join in the first toast: are you all ready? The worthy Doctor has poured Mrs Aubrey's glass, and Kate's glass, full up to the brim :-" Our next Christmas!"
Yes, your next Christmas! The vigilant eye of Dr Tatham alone perceived a faint change of colour in Mr Aubrey's cheek as the words were uttered; and his eye wandered for an instant, as if tracing across the room the image of old blind Bess; but 'twas gone in a moment-Aubrey was soon in much higher spirits than usual. Well he might be. How could man be placed in happier circumstances
"In the days of Herod the king, be
"Saying-Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him."
The Doctor officiated as chaplain that evening. The room was almost filled with servants, many of whose looks very plainly showed the merry doings that had been going on in the servants' hall; some of them could scarce keep their eyes open; one or two sat winking at each other, and so forth. Under the circumstances, therefore, the Doctor, with much judgment, read very short prayers, and immediately after took his departure.
The next morning, which proved as fine as the preceding, Mr Aubrey was
detained in with his letters, and one or two other little matters of business in his library, till luncheon time. "What say you, Kate, to a ride round the estate?" said he, on taking his seat. Miss Aubrey was delighted; and forthwith the horses were ordered to be got ready as soon as possible.
"You must not mind a little rough riding, Kate, for we've got to go over some ugly places. I'm going to meet Waters at the end of the avenue, about that old sycamore-we must have it down at last."
"Oh no, Charles, no; I thought we had settled that last year."
"Pho! if it had not been for you, Kate, it would have been down two years ago at least. Its hour is come at last; 'tis indeed, so no pouting! It is injuring the other trees; and, besides, it spoils the prospect from the back of the house."
"'Tis only Waters that puts all these things into your head, Charles, and I shall let him know my opinion on the subject when I see him! Mamma, haven't you a word to say for the old".
But Mr Aubrey, not deeming it discreet to await the new force which was being brought against him, started off to go round and see a newly-purchased horse, just brought to the stables.
Kate, who really became every thing, looked charming in her blue riding-habit, sitting on her horse with infinite ease and grace. a capital horsewoman. The exercise soon brought a rich bloom upon her cheek; and as she cantered along the road by the side of her brother, no one that met them but must have been struck with her beauty. Just as they had dropped into an easy walk
"Charles," said she, observing two horsemen approaching them, "who can these be? Did you-did you ever see such figures? And how they ride!" "Why, certainly," replied her brother, smiling, "they look like a couple of Cockneys."
"Good gracious, what puppies!" exclaimed Miss Aubrey, lowering her voice as they neared the persons she spoke of.
"They are a most extraordinary couple. Who can they be?" said Mr Aubrey, a smile forcing itself into his features. One of them was dressed in a light blue surtout, with the tip of a white pocket-handker
chief seen peeping out of a pocket in the front of it. His hat, with scarce any brim to it, was stuck aslant on the top of a bushy head of hair. His shirt-collars were turned down completely over his stock, displaying a great quantity of dirt-coloured hair under his chin; while a pair of moustaches, of the same colour, were sprouting upon his lip. A quizzingglass was stuck in his right eye, and in his hand he carried a whip with a shining silver head. The other was nearly as much distinguished by the elegance of his appearance. He had
a glossy hat, a purple-coloured velvet waistcoat, two pins connected by little chains in his stock, a bottlegreen surtout, sky-blue trousers. In short, who should these be but our old friends Titmouse and Snap? Whoever they might be, it was plain that they were perfect novices on horseback, and their horses had every appearance of having been much fretted and worried by their riders. To the surprise of Mr Aubrey and his sister, these two personages attempted to rein in, as they neared, with the evident intention of speaking to them.
"Pray-a-sir, will you, sir, tell us," commenced Titmouse, with a desperate attempt to appear at his ease, as he tried to make his horse stand still for a moment-" isn't there a place called called "- here his horse, whose sides were constantly being galled by the spurs of its unconscious rider, began to back a little, then to go on one side, and, in Titmouse's fright, his glass dropped from his eye, and he seized hold of the pummel. Nevertheless, to show the lady how completely he was at his ease all the while, he levelled a great many oaths and curses at the eyes and soul of his wayward brute ; who, however, not in the least moved by them, but infinitely disliking the spurs of its rider and the twisting round of its mouth by the reins, seemed more and more inclined for mischief, and backed close up to the edge of the ditch.
"I'm afraid, sir, you are not much accustomed to riding. Will you permit me".
"Oh, yes-ye-ye-s, sir, I am uncommon-whee-o-uy! wh-uoy!"— (then a fresh volley of oaths.) dear-what-what is he going to do! Snap! Snap! 'Twas, however, quite
in vain to call on that gentleman for assistance; for he had grown as pale as death, on finding that his own brute seemed strongly disposed to follow the example of the other, being particularly inclined to rear up on its hind-legs. The very first motion of the sort brought Snap's heart (not large enough, perhaps, to choke him) into his mouth. Titmouse's beast suddenly inclined the contrary way; and throwing its hind feet into the air, sent its terrified rider flying, heads over heels, into the very middle of the hedge, from which he dropped into the wet ditch. Both Mr Aubrey and his groom dismounted, and secured the horse, who, having got rid of its ridiculous rider, stood quietly enough. Titmouse proved to be more frightened than hurt. His hat was crushed flat on his head, and half the left side of his face covered with mud-as, indeed, were his clothes all the way down. The groom (almost splitting with laughter) helped him on again; and as Mr and Miss Aubrey were setting off" I think, sir," said he, politely, you were enquiring for some place?"
Yes, sir," quoth Snap. "Isn't there a place called Ya-Yat-Yat (be quiet, you brute,)-Yatton
"Yes, sir-straight on." Miss Aubrey hastily threw her veil over her face, to conceal her laughter, spurred her horse, and she and her brother were soon out of sight of the strangers.
"I say, Snap," quoth Titmouse, when they had got a little composed, "see that lovely gal?"
“Fine girl-devilish fine!" replied Snap.
"I'm blessed if I don't think-'pon my life, I believe we've met before."
"Didn't seem to know you." "Ah! I don't know-how uncommon infernal unfortunate to happen just at the moment when"- Tit mouse became silent; for all of a sudden he recollected when and where, and under what circumstances he had seen Miss Aubrey before, and which his vanity would not allow of his telling Snap. She had once accompanied her sister-in-law to Messrs Dowlas, Tag rag, and Company's, for some smal matter. Titmouse had helped her, and his absurdity of manner provoked a smile, which Titmouse a little mis
construed; so that when, a Sunday or two afterwards, he met her in the Park, the little fool had the presumption to nod to her-she having not the slightest notion who he was--and of course not, on the present occasion, having the least recollection of him. The reader will remember that this little incident made a deep impression on the mind of Mr Titmouse.*
The coincidence was really not a little singular. To return to Mr Aubrey and his sister. After riding a mile or two further up the road, they leaped over a very low mound or fence, which formed the extreme boundary of that part of the estate, and having passed through a couple of fields, they entered the lower extremity of that fine avenue of elms, at the higher end of which stood Kate's favourite tree, and also Waters and his under-bailiff who looked to her like a couple of executioners, only awaiting the fiat of her brother. The sun shone brightly upon the doomed sycamore" the axe was laid at its root.' As they rode up the avenue, Kate begged very hard for mercy; but for once her brother seemed obdurate -the tree, he said, must come down.
"Remember, Charles," said she, passionately, as they drew up," how we've all of us romped and sported under it! Poor papa also
"See, Kate, how rotten it is," said her brother; and riding close to it, with his whip he snapped off two or three of its feeble silvery-grey branches— "its high time for it to come down."
"It fills the grass all round with little branches, sir, whenever there's the least breath of wind," said Waters.
"It won't hardly hold a crow's weight on the topmost branches, sir," said the under-bailiff.
"Had it any leaves last summer?" enquired Mr Aubrey.
"I don't think," said Waters, "it had a hundred all over it."
Really, Kate, 'tis such a melancholy, unsightly object, when seen from any part of the quadrangle,"turning round on his horse to look at the rear of the hall, which was at about eighty yards' distance. looks such an old withered thing amongst the fresh green trees around it 'tis quite a painful contrast.' Kate had gently urged on her horse while her brother was speaking, till
* See No. CCLXXXVIII, p. 506, (October.)
"Dearest Kate," said he, with emotion, affectionately grasping her little hand, "you have triumphed! The old tree shall never be cut down in my time! Waters, let the tree stand; if any thing be done to it, let the greatest care be taken of it." Miss Aubrey turned her head aside to conceal her emotion. Had they been alone, she would have flung her arms round her brother's neck.
"If I were to speak my mind," said Waters, seeing the turn things were taking, "I should say with our young lady, the old tree's quite a kind of ornament in this here situation, and it sets off the rest." [It was he who had been worrying Mr Aubrey for these last three years to have it cut down.] "Well," replied MrAubrey, "however that may be, let me hear no more of cutting it down. Ah! what does old Jolter want here?" said he, observing an old tenant of that name, almost bent double with age, hobbling towards them. He was wrapped up in a thick blue coat, and his hair was long and white.
"I don't know, sir-I'll go and see," said Waters.
"What's the matter, Jolter?" he enquired, stepping forward to meet him. "Nothing much, sir," replied the old man, taking off his hat and bowing very low towards Mr and Miss Aubrey.
Put your hat on, my old friend," said Mr Aubrey.
"I only come to bring you this bit of paper, sir, if you please," said the old man, addressing Waters. "You said, a while ago, as how I was always to bring you papers that were left with me; and this"-taking one out of his pocket,-" was left with me only about an hour ago. It's seemingly a lawyer's paper, and was left by an uncommon gay young chap. He asked me my name, and then he looked at the paper, and read it all over, but I couldn't make any thing of it."
"What is it?" enquired Mr Aubrey, as Waters cast his eye over a sheet of paper, partly printed and partly written.
"Well, if he chooses to spend his money in that way, I can't help it. Let me look at the paper." He did
"Yes, it seems the same kind of thing as before. Well," handing it back, "send it to Mr Parkinson, and tell him to look to it; and at all events, take care that old Jolter comes to no trouble by the business. How's the old wife, Jacob?"
"She's dreadful bad with rheumatis, sir; but the stuff that Madam sends her does her a woundy deal of good, sir, in her inside."
"Well, we must try if we can't send you some more; and, harkee, if the goodwife doesn't get better soon, come up to the hall, and we'll have the doctor call on her. Now, Kate, let us away homeward." And they were soon out of sight.
I do not intend to deal so unceremoniously or summarily as Mr Aubrey did with the document which had been brought to his notice by Jolter, then handed over to Waters, and by him, according to orders, transmitted the next day to Mr Parkinson, Mr Aubrey's attorney. It was what is called a " DECLARATION IN EJECTMENT;" touching which, in order to throw a ray or two of light upon a document which will make no small figure in this history, I have been to a very renowned sergeant-atlaw, and have gained a little information on the point.
If Jones claims a debt, or goods, or damages from Smith, one would think that, if he went to law, the action would be "Jones versus Smith;' and so it is. But behold, if it be LAND which is claimed by Jones from Smith, the style and name of the cause stands thus:-"Doe, on the demise of Jones, versus Roe." Instead, therefore, of Jones and Smith fighting out the matter in their own proper names, they set up a couple of puppets, (called John Doe and Richard Roe,) who fall upon one another in a very quaint fashion, after the manner of Punch and Judy. John Doe pretends to be the real plaintiff, and Richard Roe the real defendant. John Doe says that the land which Richard Roe has is his, (the said John Doe's,) because Smith (the real plaintiff) gave him a lease of it; and Smith is then called "the lessor of the plain