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so strong a hold had the idea of impending evil taken of his mind.
But this evening, so soon as he could succeed in approaching the counter of the post-office, a counter that served as well for the dispensation of "bitters" and tobacco as of letters, he received a letter in the handwriting of his sister. It was closely written, and carefully crossed, yet there stood Mr. Hay,-elbowed and shoved,-amid all the din of spelling out newspapers, higgling about postage, and anxious but ineffectual efforts to get letters without paying for them, until he had read it quite through, by the dim rays of one greasy lamp which shed its oil and a modicum of light from a beam over his head.
This done, he mounted Hourglass again, and striking off at a brisk trot, in the teeth of a sleety shower, he stinted not nor staid till he drew bridle at his own door. It is not difficult to guess the purport of Mrs. Tennett's letter. She was about to return her fair charge to her father, with some
fears that the invitation so kindly intended had not been productive of unmixed good.
A bright fire and a circle of inquiring faces met Mr. Hay's eye as he entered the parlour.
Any news from Caroline, father?" said several voices.
"Yes, a letter from your aunt," said Mr. Hay, less cheerily than usual.
"What is the matter, father? Isn't she well?"
"Oh, yes, quite well. She is coming home."
Much joy was expressed by the young folks, and Mrs. Hay, though she shared her husband's anxiety, could think of nothing now but the happiness of once more embracing the long-absent object of so much care. Seymour, who, though no longer an inmate, was a frequent guest at Mr. Hay's, and who now sat by Mrs. Hay's work-table helping one of the little girls on a "hard" sum she had brought home from school, began to ask himself seriously whether he felt pleased or otherwise at the expected
return of a young lady who had shown him. so little favour in his chrysalis state, and who was now probably
"Grown ten times perter than before."
Before he had time even to debate the question, much less to decide it, a carriage drove up to the door, there was a slight bustle in the hall, and the object of the thoughts of all present entered the room, radiant in beauty, all smiles and tears, and almost overcome with the joy of seeing once more the beloved home and its circle of happy faces. She was followed by a Quaker lady and gentleman, whom she introduced as friends of her aunt, who had placed her under their care. Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Caroline called them; they would have given themselves out in plainer style.
The warm greetings were made, and Miss Hay's fashionable curtsey to Mr. Bullitt accomplished, with scarce a suspicion on her part that the handsome young man before her could be the yawning hero of the snapping-turtle. The Friends (exceedingly polite
and well-bred people, by the by) received due welcome on the part of Mr. and Mrs. Hay, and were much urged to remain for the night.
"We must decline your kindness,” said Mr. Thurston, with but little of the formality supposed, by those who do not know them, to belong to the members of his society; "my wife has set her heart on seeing her sister to-night, if it may be. I think Joseph Ellingham's is but a few miles beyond this?"
Ellingham's!" repeated more than one voice, as if unconsciously, while each looked to each as if in perplexity.
Mr. Thurston noticed at once the change in the countenances of all around him.
"You have heard evil of Joseph or his family, I fear," said he hesitatingly, and with some emotion.
"The road is very bad," said Mr. Hay, "and the night stormy, - wouldn't it be better to wait till morning?"
"If it be only the road and the storm," said Mr. Thurston,-"our driver is well ac
quainted with your roads, and if there is no other difficulty, but I fear from thy aspect, Friend Hay, that there may be."
"There is," said Mr. Hay, kindly, taking Mr. Thurston's hand; "there is, my good friend. Our neighbour Mr. Ellingham has met with a great loss,-the greatest,-he is a lonely man."
"My sister!" said or rather sighed Mrs. Thurston as she sank back, covering her face with her hands and weeping abundantly, but in silence, while her husband's sympathies, though evidently much excited, were repressed as by a powerful effort.
"And when was this?" said Mr. Thurston, after a long pause, during which nothing was heard but the stifled sobbing of his wife.
"Three weeks since," was the reply.
"And how? Thou hast heard, of course." "By a dreadful accident by fire," said Mr. Hay, in a whisper.
By fire! Alas, alas!" said the poor lady, whose watchful grief had caught the sound; and now no longer able to exercise