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henceforth it must be his part to watch over her grey hairs. It was extremely possible that Miss Dalton might have modified her bequest, so as to meet the chance of her aunt surviving her. The reverse, however, was also possible; and, at all events, there could be no doubt it was his business to be at Grypherwast.

He had no wish, however, to intrude himself upon the hospitality of a house which had already, in all probability, passed from the Daltons, so he took care to arrange it so that he should arrive at Grypherwast just in time to be present at the funeral.

As he was riding thither by himself from the coast, he overtook a party of gentlemen who were going in the same direction, upon the same errand. His person was well known to them all, and he had some little acquaintance with one of them. This person introduced him to the others, and they continued to ride in company, although for some time there was very little of conversation.

Mr Dalton, who had heard them all talking to

gether very earnestly but a few moments before, could not but attribute this sudden pause to his own appearance; and, after a little time, he drew the gentleman with whom he had been previously acquainted, to one side of the road, and hinted to him, in a whisper, that he understood and regretted the nature and cause of this interruption, adding, that it was entirely unnecessary, as it must be well known to him, and to every body, that he had long ago made up his mind as to what Miss Dalton's will was likely to be.

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My good friend," Squire Dawkins whispered in reply, "you are so far quite right in your guess, do ye see; but if the truth must come out, why, we were just laying our heads together about some little matters; and, let me tell ye in your ear, things have peeped out within these two or three days, that have excited a good deal of surprise here, and perhaps you are more interested in them than you are aware; but, to be sure, 'tis always the safe plan to expect the worst."

"Indeed-indeed, sir," said the Vicar, "I fear you will not understand me.. I assure you, once

for all, that I have no more expectation of being my cousin's heir than yourself."

"Thereafter as it may be," quoth Mr Dawkins; "but let me tell you, Mr Dalton, that there's ne'er a gentleman of this country that will not be very heartily pleased, if you find yourself mistaken. But, not to go about the bush, Mr Dalton, Sir Charles Catline has been in very ill temper this week past, and more especially ever since the poor lady was given over by the doctors, he has been not like the same man. 'Tis even so, I assure ye, sir. Why, I met him myself but yesterday, close to his own house at Pyesworth, and, by Jupiter, his face was as black then as his hatband is just now."

"Sir Charles, no doubt, loved his sister. Why should we be surprised at that ?"

"Aha!” whispered Dawkins, even in a lower note than before-" Aha! my good friend, that glove won't fit. Nay, nay, Mr Dalton, 'tis perhaps cruel in me to say so much as I have done; but the fact of the matter is, that it is universally suspected here among the neighbours, that there is something in the will by no means to Sir Charles's mind."

"Then 'tis certain that there is a will?”

"Ay, ay-no question of that; but, between ourselves, it was not Sir Charles Catline's attorney that wrote it, and that's just one of the things that people hereabouts have taken notice of. But what signifies talking, Mr Dalton? If things be as they ought to be, depend on't 'twill be a great pleasure to us all. Catline's a very good fellow, and a very obliging neighbour, that I shall say for him; but my own forefathers have been here these two or three hundred years bygone, and hang it, it may be all folly to say so, but when I hear of an old family quitting the country, why, I can't help thinking 'tis the loss of an old friend."

Squire Dawkins was talking away in this style with the Vicar, when they were interrupted by the arrival of another company of gentlemen, likewise in black, some of whom remarked, that they were perhaps rather late, and that it might be well to get on more rapidly. This motion, which was extremely agreeable to Mr Dalton, was followed by all present; and they advanced to Grypherwast at a trot too brisk to permit much conversation of any kind, and quite incompatible

with anything like the whispers of a confidential communication.

The Vicar and his companions, on reaching the Hall, were ushered at once into the great drawing-room, which was crowded with very nearly the same assemblage that had been called together some eight months before, by the obsequies of Miss Dalton's father. They had scarcely entered the apartment ere a sort of murmur seemed to pass round the different groupes by which its floor was occupied. The Vicar had no time given him for guessing as to the meaning of this buzz, which, however, he could not doubt was connected with his own appearance. He had not stood there a couple of minutes ere an old grey-headed Baronet, who had been a very intimate friend of the late Squire Dalton, came up and whispered in his ear, shaking him at the same time most potently by the hand, and closing his left eye in a very significant fashion—" Wish ye joy, cousin, wish ye joy, from my heart." Having done this, the knight turned on his heel, and resumed with great composure the aspect and attitude of that decorum which became a man of his consequence

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