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HOMES MADE AND MARRED.

CHAPTER I.

HOPES AND PROSPECTS.

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AMMA, do come and see our beautiful new

swing !” cried a little boy, rushing into his

mother's sitting-room; “Mr. Hill has finished, and he would like to know that you think it is all right."

Mrs. Oakland immediately rose and followed, to inspect the new appliances which had been erected for amusement and exercise, and stood while an intelligent workman described to her the strength and the security of the plans. The lady was quite satisfied, and thanked him warmly for the skill and trouble he had bestowed upon his work.

He was a fine-looking young man, with a well-formed head, a clear, bright eye, and a strong arm, and might have stood as a model of a British workman. His cheek glowed and his heart warmed with the well-earned praise; and if the lady were pleased, so certainly was he.

The young man seemed to hesitate for a moment after receiving thanks for his work, and then, twisting his cap once or twice round on his hand,

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"If you please, ma'am," said he, “if it's not intruding too much, might I beg a few words with you?"

“Certainly, Mr. Hill,” she replied. “Come to the house; we will leave the children to their new swing.”

“I beg pardon, ma'am; but if you'll just walk a little this way, I would rather not go to the house;" and Matthew Hill glanced involuntarily at his working jacket and tool-basket.

The lady, somewhat perplexed, walked with him towards the garden gate.

“I beg pardon, ma'am; but you know Jane?" said the young workman, abruptly.

“Jane, whom? My housemaid ?" said Mrs. Oakland, and a new light broke upon her mind; "oh yes, I have known Jane for several years."

“And you have been very kind to her, ma'am, I know.”

“She is an orphan, and, having no other home, I have overlooked many things that might have deprived her of one with me," said Mrs. Oakland. She felt as if she must at least say so much, fearing that Matthew was thinking of placing his happiness in very precarious keeping.

Matthew's bright face clouded for an instant, but, recovering, he proceeded rapidly :

Well, ma'am, you see Jane and I think of going to housekeeping together, and she seemed against asking you to spare her because she has been so long with you, and feels your house to be her home like. I hope you will not take it amiss that I made bold to speak for her.”

Certainly not, Mr. Hill, I have no right to feel anything but the sincerest wish for your mutual happiness.”

“Many thanks to you, ma'am,” said Hill, gratefully, “and Jane would not think of going until you are suited."

Stay, Matthew," said Mrs. Oakland as he was about to leave the garden, "may I ask you a question about yourself ?”

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