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CHAPTER III.

Brambleton Rectory.

THERE was

a monotonous routine about the life at the Rectory. Family prayers, from which none dared be absent, at 8.30, followed immediately by breakfast. Then the Rector visited his stables and kennels, went the round of the garden and generally arranged the day's work in these quarters. He then usually shut himself up in his study till lunch time to write letters and attend to business. After lunch he read the day's papers and smoked one pipe. In the afternoon he either rode or walked, as a rule combining business and pleasure.

He was an energetic, active man; from 10 a.m. till 7 p.m., which was the Rectory dinner hour both Summer and Winter, he was rarely if ever idle, but he made a strict rule that after 7 p.m. he would do no work of any kind, nor attend to any business. His wife had died a few months after his eldest daughter Margaret left school. She being very capable and homely, had quickly learned her household duties. Indeed, she soon became quite an old-fashioned housekeeper, superintending everything herself. For some years she had her hands pretty full trying to fill her mother's place to her younger sisters, but now that Marjory the youngest, was 18, she had the more leisure to devote to household and parochial work, her spare time being occupied in reading standard works and knitting garments for the deep-sea fishermen. Though only 32, the responsibilities and the narrowness of her life made her appear much older, most strangers took her to be at least 40. Very worthy and very well intentioned, but prim and strict, Margaret was utterly wanting in sympathy to her two youngest sisters. Ella who was four years her junior, and Kate, who was still two years younger, had never given her any trouble. Always amenable to her advice and guidance, realising more than the younger ones the difficulties of her position, they assisted her and their father, taking their share under her guidance both in household and parochial work. Ella excelled as a needlewoman, played the organ in church and managed the choir. An hour daily she devoted to organ practice, and many hours to mending and other work. She also superintended the needlework at the village school once every week. Kate was the business woman of the family. She had charge of the village library, and all clubs such as clothing, coal, etc. She was also her father's companion in all his walks and his right hand in all business matters. But it had been a very different matter with Molly and Marjory, specially with the latter. They were both headstrong and high spirited, and sadly missed the tact and sympathy of a mother's love. Molly who was only 28 had a great idea of improving herself, and spent much time in writing essays, working out problems, and answering abstruse queries for a society to which she belonged. All this did not meet with Margaret's approval, as she said Molly stuffed her head full of learning she would have been better without. Molly tried in vain to persuade Marjory to become a member, but she only cared for natural history

was

no

and painting. She declared she had no wish to improve herself in other subjects, or become a blue-stocking like Molly. This

a bit unjust, as her worst enemies could not honestly call Molly a bluestocking. She was a most womanly woman, and very thorough in all she undertook. There was no need for her or Marjory to help either in household or parochial work, as there was

more than

than the three elders could manage easily, and it only led to unnecessary

friction with Margaret. Molly and Marjory, though there was really five years difference in their ages, seemed near together and had always backed each other up.

If ever Marjory sought help or advice from anyone, it was to Molly she would go, and she for her part had often shielded Molly from her father's wrath, she being his spoilt

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