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THE place is London, the street Ormond Street, and the immediate scene is a room in one of the smallest of the houses. The furniture, as well as the dresses of those who occupy it, indicate a struggle with circumstances. Seated at a table is a lady with an open letter in her hand; her age may be about forty; her face has the expression of long suffering, and just now it is paler than usual. Her two daughters are watching as she reads. The sisters are sure the letter contains something of deep interest, and they wait in earnest expectation to hear what it is.

When she had finished reading, Mrs. Maitland paused, she glanced at her daughters, and then read the letter aloud:

"Manor-house, Glenwood,

"MY GOOD MADAM,-After the cessation of intercourse for so many years, taking likewise into consideration the little intercourse there had been before that cessation, it may be matter of surprise that I should write to you at this present time. But I do not forget the degree of consanguinity in which you stand to myself, you being the great niece of my half sister; and I wish you to take into your consideration a proposal which I doubt not will be as gladly received by


you as it is kindly intended by me. You have two daughters, and it is about one of these that I write to you. My dear wife's state of health is very precarious, and it is not fitting that she should be left alone, as she is at times necessitated to be, when I am called to the discharge of my magisterial duties. Now I am wishful that she should be provided with an eligible companion, and it seems to me that in no way could I do more to benefit you, while at the same time in accordance with my own wishes, than to offer such a position to one of your daughters. As I have not seen either of them, it is a matter of no choice to me as to which one it may best please you to send, therefore the decision must depend on you. Whatever may be the expense of suitable equipment shall be by me defrayed. Waiting your answer, and with goodwill to you, as well as to those whom this letter may concern,

"I am, my good Madam,

“Your well-wisher,


The voice of the mother faltered as she read, and again she glanced at her daughters; then folded up the letter, but did not speak.

"Mother!" said the elder of the girls.

"Mother!" said the younger sister.

The words were the same, but the tones how greatly different! The first expressed eager entreaty; it said as distinctly as tone could say, "Let me go!" The second was tender apprehensiveness" Do not send me from you!” They were tones indicative of the character of each; Mrs. Maitland understood them, for the mother was strong in her heart. Again there was a pause. Helen, the elder sister,

was the first to speak.

"Oh, mother, how delighted I am! Mother dear, do Бау that you will send me !"

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The gathering tears began to stream as Mrs. Maitland regarded her with reproachful tenderness.


“And would you be so glad to leave us, Helen-to go so away from Edith and from me?"

"But I'm sure it would be wrong to throw away an offer such as this. I should not love you nor Edith the less because of being away from you; besides, I daresay I might come home sometimes-not but that this home would seem duller than ever then. Why do you cry, mother? I'm sure there is nothing to cry about in such joyful news as this is. And as to Edith going-"

"Edith would never wish to leave her mother," interrupted Mrs. Maitland; "it would be a hard trial to part with either of you; but if"

"If!-oh, mother! I don't think that such an offer admits of an 'if.''

"It grieves me to hear you talk so lightly of a separation that would probably be a very long one; but, Helen, if you and Edith were known to Mr. Kingley, which do you think he would wish me to send ?"

"Dear mother," said Edith, "you know that I could never go away from you; and were it possible that I could wish to do so, is not Helen the oldest?"


Yes," said Helen; "and is not that claim enough without any other? I'm sure it's only right that—”

There was a loud knock at the house-door. Helen started; she became red and pale in an instant with the effort to suppress her rising passion, but the passion was suppressed, and when "Miss Horton" was announced, she welcomed her with a placid smile.

Miss Horton was some years past the meridian of life; her figure was short, erect, and precise; her manner decisive and abrupt. She entered as one having authority, and, casting around a rapid glance of inquiry, darted on to a chair. "Anything amiss?"

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