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room; its walls were covered with paintings by Gainsborough and Canaletti ; its low ceiling seemed brought down in the summer twilight within touch. This evening (it was summer-time) the three I spoke of were sitting round the table. The mahogany slab shone with its auburn polish, while the good supply of strawberries and port wine conveyed the impression of after-dinner and of ease.

Outside on the lawn two youths were playing; they might be about the same age, and that age fifteen. They were different in appearance. The one, tall and well made, wore a somewhat severe expression on his sallow face ; his dark brown hair fell in more luxuriant quantity than usual over a clear and well-formed brow; while his hazel eye gave to the observer, by its transparent light, the impression of intelligence and quiet thought. His companion was shorter. His laughing blue eye, which played rapidly beneath fair hair slightly curling round his face, betokened perhaps a higher breeding than that of our first friend; while features decidedly well formed, and the rich colour on his cheek confirmed the impression that he claimed a good parentage.

“Eustace, you fool, let us go and get Felix out of the stable, and have a gallop round the fields; they'll never know it, and we shall be back before the jolly fellows yonder bave finished their wine."

“I had rather not," said the other, quickly ; "Mr. Cleffain does not like it, and has distinctly bidden us not to touch Felix without his leave. I know it vexes him. I had rather not."

“Oh, there you go, you're a regular muff; how you would be thrashed at school, wouldn't you just.” So saying, Raymond leaped over the narrow flower border which divided him from the gravel walk, and ran towards


the stable-yard. In a few minutes, the feet of Felix were heard clattering over the flints, and Raymond free and happy in the full enjoyment of a saddleless pony and a lovely summer's evening, was soon sweeping rapidly and merrily round the vast hayfield, where the haycocks and swathes lay out like the camp of a fairy armament beneath the ruddy sunset. Eustace quietly and thoughtfully pursued his way round to the drawing-room window, which lay open to the west, and bad a glorious view of the evening of the summer's day.

Such were the two friends, in the description of whose appearance I have been the more minute, as they will occupy the important position of the heroes of my tale. . We must return to the dining-room. The three gen

tlemen were seated round the table. The one who sat opposite the window was approaching old age. An aquiline nose, a clear blue eye and a high and intelligent forehead did not destroy the impression of threescore years and ten, which a view of his scanty grey hair and furrowed countenance had at first conveyed. He was dressed in a kind of grey woollen great-coat; he stooped slightly, and by his side a stick of simple structure, a sort of willow bough with a small cross handle of black wood on the top, indicated alike his infirmity and quaintness of manners. The frequent clearing of his throat, although a slight trait, was so associated with himself, that those who knew him hardly thought of him without it. His companions who sat on either side of him appeared to be country gentlemen of no ordinary position. One was a man of fifty,-tall, good-looking, and gentlemanly in appearance, who ovalled his mouth to swallow the port at a single draught, and then looked through the window on to the lawn outside, where the blackbirds were hopping and the sounds of evening blended with


no one.

the soft hues of the summer garden. Mr. Beaumont (such was his name) was a man of good fortune, he lived in a house near to Mr. Cleffain's, called the Grove; he was a county magistrate, aimed at county society, was respected by the gentry, feared by the poor, hated by the small tradesmen, cheated by his stewards, and beloved by

He bad one son, Raymond, whom we have already seen with Eustace.

The third member of the party was a quiet-looking man, with a face formed rather on a pensive mould. There was a singular refinement about his manner, and a remarkably melodious intonation in his voice. He seemed more concerned with the strawberries than with the wine, and was looking on the table and passing his finger round and round the green vine leaves which formed the pattern of the dessert set, rather than gazing at blackbirds and evening shadows. Mr. Noel was a man who had retired from the West Indies with tolerable means, and had taken a house in the neighbourhood. He had four sons and one daughter. They were young, ranging from twelve to nineteen, and had been hitherto brought up at home.

Such was the party.

One incident I have to mention, uninteresting enough in itself, and especially so to any reader who considers that all such sublunary matters as money are very unimportant. But as the whole of my tale, title and all, hinges on it, I must mention it.

Mr. Cleffain had a large fortune to leave behind him, a hundred thousand pounds at least, and no children. It must all go to two youths, his nearest relations; the one Raymond Beaumont, whose father was now sitting by Mr. Cleffain's side, the other Eustace. Both were equally related to Mr. Cleffain, and however unfair it may seem, (the old gentleman might do as he would with his own) Mr. Cleffain had lately determined to leave it all to one of his young relations, and so to make him an heir.

“Well, Noel, do you still persist in bringing up your boys at home?” said Mr. Beaumont, turning to that gentleman.

“I have seen no reason yet to alter my course, it has thoroughly answered hitherto, and"

Well, I hope it may answer in the end. I doubt it, upon my word, Noel ; I quite believe yours are excellent, high-principled lads, but you may rely on it, that there is a vacuum filled up by school life, which no other education in the world can supply; a boy can never be a man without it. The public school gives him the world in epitome, all its rules, laws, codes of honour, and temptations; he can never have these at home.”

“I feel to a great degree with you,” said Mr. Noel, “ in the case of some characters, but I cannot think it is safe to use the public school indiscriminately. One of my boys I do think of sending to Eton. I believe his future vocation will justify it, and his character bear it.”

" Then he'll be the best of the set, rely on it he will; he will be the only one worth anything in after life. Only look at that fellow Eustace, what an odd fish he is ; he always seems meditating on some principle of action, philosophising about himself instead of doing things naturally as a boy should. Why, since I've been watching the boys through the window I have noticed his solemn way with Raymond. I declare I'm half afraid of my boy associating with him; only that he has such an exuberant flow of natural spirits and happiness that I think they would bear down anything."

“ Yes, but Eustace has other circumstances, besides not baving been at school, to place him at a disadvantage. Poverty and straitened means alone will account for it to a great degree in his case. He has had small chances,

poor fellow."

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“Well, well, there is something in that; but still I have an idea that if he had gone to school, he would not have remained the victim of those circumstances.”

“ Time will show,” said Mr. Noel, rising; “I must go, as some of these home avocations call me. home education is no holiday for parents; it compels a tolerably regular daily life. Good evening to you. Time, I suppose, will answer all our inquiries.”

The door closed upon him, and Mr. Noel's figure for a moment seemed to blend through the window with the forms and shadows of evening, and he was gone.

Mr. Beaumont and Mr. Cleffain were left alone. The latter had been sitting, as was his wont, through the foregoing conversation, silently gazing through the window, now at the form of the garden in one attitude, and now in another. The boughs of a huge ancestral elm bent forward across the lawn. Beyond it the other elm-trees rose in their stately and single majesty, as if followers of an aged chieftain, around whom they gathered. Here in early spring the rooks built their twiggy camp, and cawed among the leafless boughs. Mr. Cleffain had a singular eye for the beautiful in nature and form, and evidently had for some time past been dwelling in enjoyment on the contemplation of the scene outside, which had made him apparently an indifferent companion to those who had been keeping up the conversation. As Mr. Noel passed the window, he turned in his chair.

Lovely evening, upon my word, I never saw such greys. A little colour there, Beaumont, a little colour against that dark Portugal laurel would light it all up and set it off admirably.” So saying, the old gentleman


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