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rambling houses, amidst which their days had been passed, and to expend all their love and admiration on the new inn which flared upon the scarce-finished road, and the sets of red “ lodges, villas,” and “cottages,” which stood in patches on the western outskirts of the town. The builders of the place, of course, spoke much in praise of improvement, and those whose houseproperty stood in the half empty streets on the eastern side of A
had no less to say against innovation. There was little dispute, - meanwhile, on one point: that the town had always suffered from its being in the centre of a fine sporting country. The dwellings of the gentry were, almost without exception, situated at some distance among the moors or the fells. Even the physicians' and lawyers' houses stood by themselves-in gardens or surrounded by walls -in emulation of the mansions and shootingboxes which might be seen from the church tower; so that this church tower, and the blue slates of a few meeting-houses rose from amidst a congrega. tion of tradesmen's dwellings. The large old inu, the Turk’s Head, was alınost the only handsome house of any respectable age. Thetown was thought to suffer much in the estimation of strangers from this deficiency; and the inhabitants became the more sensible of it, the more strangers were brought to cast a passing glance upon the place from the new road, or to make a note of what they saw from the balcony of the modern inn, the Navarino, while waiting for horses.
A party of strangers arrived one day, whose
opinion of the town was of some consequence, as it might determine or prevent their residence in the neighbourhood. They did not stop either at the Turk’s Head or at the Navarino, but only for two minutes to inquire for the steward of Fell. brow Park, who was found to have preceded the party to their destination. News had circulated for some days past of the arrival of a letter from young Mr. Cranston, declaring his intention of coming to throw open the house, and to examine the estate which had been deserted by his father for many years before his death. The steward was desired not to draw a nail from the gates ; and to make no further preparation for the arrival of the heir than having workmen ready to open a way for him into his own court-yard.
Mr. Cranston, the elder, had taken a disgust to this abode, and quitted it on the death of his lady, sixteen years ago. Before he drove away, carrying with him his three little boys and his infant daughter, he superintended the extraordinary ceremony of nailing iron plates over the gates of the court-yard, and took effectual care that no part of the old-fashioned wall which surrounded the house should be left in a state to tempt foot to climb, or eye to look over it. His last charge to his steward had been to see that not a tree was planted or felled, -not so much as a weed pulled up, till further orders. The fish were to be undisturbed in their ponds, and the game in their covers. All the servants left behind were to be sinecurists till a change of policy or of administration should arrive. Till the news of Mr. Cranston's death, all these directions had been complied with, except in as far as certain instances of connivance might be regarded as breach of orders. If a few aged neighbours were seen now and then helping themselves with firewood from the thickets, and a youth might be descried from afar stealing towards the ponds, or the gamekeeper occasionally found certain of his charge fluttering in springes, no notice was taken, and no remorse followed, as it was decided that both ponds and covers remained as much overstocked as the owner could possibly desire. The first change of management took place when the approach of young Mr. Cranston was announced. The steward was grieved at the thought that the heir should see his estate in so desolate a condition, and took the liberty, -not to fell trees,—but to clear away underwood, and weed and new-gravel the walks which led from the entrance of the park to the house. A little mowing of the grass, and trimming of some patches near the house which were once flower-beds,) further improved the aspect of the place, so as to destroy all anticipation of what the family was likely to see within doors.
When the carriages stopped at the park entrance, the steward appeared to pay his respects, and suggest that immediate orders should be sent to one or other of the inns, to provide that accommodation which it was impossible the house should afford. He must venture also to say that the young lady would not find the place fit for her to enter.
It would really be better that she should not proceed this afternoon,
Mr. Cranston had been,-not stretched out at length, for no carriage could thus accommodate his length of limb,--but leaning back, reading, till the last moment. He seemed sorry to be roused, even by his arrival at his own estate, and to be greeted by his own steward.
“ What do you think, Fanny ?" said he to his sister, who was just emerging from a reverie beside him.
Perhaps you had better go back to the inn with Mrs. Day and Maynard till to-morrow."
Mrs. Day, the respectable elderly personage who had never been exactly Fanny's nurse, and was now far from being her governess, ventured to say from her corner of the carriage that she really could not think of Fanny's proceeding to the house till she knew that it had been properly aired. She had been asking, for a week past, what measures had been taken for this end ; and could learn nothing that satisfied her that Fanny could go anywhere to-night but to the inn.
Fanny, meanwhile, had given orders to drive on; and before Mrs. Day had done speaking, the carriage was rolling on the gravel within the gates. If Richard had put away his book, and sat upright in preparation for what was approaching, it was not to be expected that she should turn back, she declared.
The phaeton which her brother James was driving had passed the carriage during the consultation with the steward ; and Wallace, the youngest of the three brothers, might now be seen pointing out certain things that he perceived in the grass, and in the neighbouring coppice. James flourished his whip, and quickened the pace of his steeds. Their mirth communicated itself to Fanny, and she sprang forward with an exclamation of joy when the next turn of the road disclosed a splendid view, bathed in the sunshine of a bright autumnal afternoon. Mrs. Day had never been more out of love with these wild young people, (as she sometimes called them,) than at the present moment. She did not expect that they should remember the place, or her whose death had occasioned their quitting it ; but she really thought that they might show themselves more sensible of what had happened there. Some thought of their parents might be suggested by the scene, which should sober their spirits a little. But she never saw anything like the spirits of these young people. So far from their father having subdued them, it seemed as if he had left them his wildness without his fits of melancholy. Perhaps it was hardly fair to expect that the children of such a parent should be like other people.
The steward, on his grey pony, had trotted past the carriage; and he was now collecting the workmen and their tools in preparation for Mr. Cranston's order to throw open the gates.
“ Come, Richard, you must get out," cried Wallace, who had alighted from the phaeton. “We are only waiting for you."
The knocking began. Mrs. Day could not bear it. Every blow went to her heart. She