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ton. “Poor old Peter, I have not seen him for a long time; I will come into the kitchen, Susan, and look at the birds. Lend me a shilling," he said, turning to his wife ; "it's a long time since I gave the old fellow any thing."

“Nothing like a present of game to make Papa generous,” whispered Lucy; “I wish I could catch a few partridges to present to him.”

“You shall catch something else, Miss Lucy, for your impertinence,” said her father. “Come, do you hear ? Come along with me, and we'll see if we can't get Peter to tell us one of his

yarns."

“Yes, Papa, in one moment, but I do so want to know what Mrs. Asheton has been writing to Margaret about. She is looking as grave over the letter as Molly Tibbs looks at me, when she thinks me uncivil to her cat.”

Margaret laughed at this idea, and, looking up, said

“My note may be read by any one,” and she handed it to her mother. “ But you will be disappointed, I'm afraid, Lucy, if you expect to find much in it. The postscript is specially addressed to you, Papa.” The note was as follows:

Dearest Margaret,

I want particularly to see you to-morrow; come early, if you possibly can. I will send the children to meet you, and they shall leave this about ten o'clock. I am so sorry I must ask you to come without telling you I shall send the pony carriage for you ; but the fact is, Dick is still too lame to use, and Mr. Asheton is obliged to go to King's Nympton, so I am not able to send the other pony, as he must ride it there. I am so sorry, but I hope you will not be very tired. I shall keep you all the longer on the plea of your resting.

Yours most affectionately,

CAROLINE ASHETON. Wilton, September 27.

P.S.--My brother has just sent us a large hamper of game. I know Captain Stourton agrees with me in his appreciation of it, so tell him I hope he will like what I am sending with this note. Kindest remembrances to you all.

“How very cruel of Mrs. Asheton !” said Lucy.

Cruel, my dear?” said her mother. “Why yes, Mamma, if she really has any thing particular to say, it is hard to leave us all in ignorance till Margaret's return; but I dare say she only wants her as a companion while Mr. Asheton is at King's Nympton. You must come back early, Margaret, to relieve our curiosity."

“I shall make no promises, Lucy. Your patience wants a little exercise, I plainly perceive.”

“ Precisely what you would have said to comfort Sisyphus.”

“ Lucy, you are too bad, upon my word.”
Lucy went into the kitchen after her father, and

exercised her powers in amusing old Peter, who listened to her with wondering admiration, and talked in his broadest vernacular.

That evening the sisters had a long and serious talk together over their family affairs. It had struck both of them that their mother had latterly appeared more anxious than she used to be, and to feel it more difficult than ever to manage with their

very small means. Although Margaret and Lucy always endeavoured to be cheerful, especially in the presence of their parents, it was impossible for them not to give way sometimes to feelings of depression and gloomy foreboding.

People who have never known what it is to be obliged constantly to say "no" to things that are not extravagances, but almost necessaries, cannot tell how at times it weighs on the spirits to be constantly striving in every possible way, to limit requirements so as to bring them within the scope of means; nor can any who have not this painful experience know how great are the difficulties that have to be contended with.

CHAPTER III.

“ It is thy pity makes me weep,
My soul was strong before."

HE following morning Margaret set out on her walk to Wilton. Her sister was obliged

to be busy at home, but her mother went part of the way with her, and soon after they parted, Margaret was met by Mrs. Asheton's four merry children, with Miss Hood, their nursery governess. They were all delighted to see Margaret, who was an immense favourite with the children, and who realized Miss Hood's ideal of what a young lady should be.

Mrs. Asheton was prepared for her approach by the joyous shouts of the little boys, who ran on before towards home, calling out,

“ She is come, Margaret is come," at the top of their small voices.

Their mother welcomed her warmly, and led her up stairs to take off her shawl and bonnet, then they returned to the pretty drawing-room, where Mrs. Asheton put her into the most comfortable chair in the room, and told her she must rest there till luncheon was ready, which it would be very shortly.

Margaret was extremely fond of Mrs. Asheton ; they had been great friends ever since the Ashetons came to Wilton. She was sister to Lord Brinkworth, who had a house about two miles from Wilton. Margaret had seen more society at the Rectory than any where else; their circumstances prevented the Stourtons going out much, but whenever any pleasant people were coming to dine or stay at Wilton, Mrs. Asheton always managed if possible to invite Margaret, or one of her sisters, under the plea of wanting some one to help her with her guests; which, however, they well knew was not her chief reason for asking them, by any means.

“You look so young,” began Mrs. Asheton, stroking Margaret's hair, “ that I don't know what to think of it, after all. But you know, dear,” she continued, after a little pause, “that you have several times lately talked to me a good deal, and very openly, about your difficulties and anxieties, and have seemed to like me to understand about them. I have been thinking very much about you all, for you are all very dear to me, but more especially you, Margaret; and I have wished very much I could see my way towards helping you. If by what I am going to say I hurt your feelings in ever so slight a degree, I am sure you will believe me when I say that the pain to myself of knowing that I do so will more than equal that I cause you, and”

But Margaret interrupted her by assuring her

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