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· CLOUDS AND SUNSHINE.

CHAPTER I.

Oh, where doth human beauty dwell without one taint of earth?
'Tis on the cheek of infancy-still pure as at its birth—
Before the lip hath learned to feign a joy unfelt within,
Before the eye hath shed one tear of penitence for sin.”

F. BAYLEY.

Edith Trevor was the only daughter of Lord and Lady Grey. It had been some matter of regret to her father, at her birth, that instead of a son and heir to his vast possessions, the little stranger was a girl! But it was impossible to witness his young wife's joy, in her newly-acquired treasure, and cast the blight of disappointment on her happiness ; besides, there were years, he hoped, before him. Little Edith became the object of her mother's unremitting attention. Morning and evening Lady Grey punctually visited the nursery ; and to her Edith first lisped her infant prayer her constant companion, and a remarkably intelligent little being, at five years of age she knew as much as many do at seven. To her, the greatest delight were the mornings spent in her mother's boudoir, where, after a long and happy ramble with her nurse,

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in the park and woods of her father's noble domain (Gainsborough Castle), seated in a little chair which Lady Grey had herself embroidered, she was accustomed to begin her infant studies ; “line upon line,” that sweet and favourite illustration of Scripture for children, forming the principal part, assisted by the magnificent large Bible, with its beautiful pictures and still more enchanting binding, to her childish eyes, which lay usually upon a small table beside Lady Grey's sofa. Then followed spelling and poetry, interrupted only by the thousand questions little Edith loved to 'ask of her “ dear mamma.". In the afternoon, she usually accompanied Lady Grey in her pretty low phæton, with its beautiful snow-white ponies, seldom returning to the Castle without a visit to some one or more of her mother's pensioners; for Lady Grey's delight was in doing good, and visiting the poor and needy of the neighbourhood. Much of her leisure she devoted to an Infant School of her own, upon the property; and her little girl frequently gained permission to accompany her in these almost daily visits. Deservedly beloved by all, none could be more zealous than Lady Grey in the dissemination of pure gospel truth ; and many a time she might be seen in the humble cottage of the poorest, by the bedside of the sick and dying, dressed in her coarse straw bonnet and camlet cloak, God's word in her hand, as it was in her heart, reading, and speaking words of peace and comfort, where they

were needed. Lord Grey could not but admire her practical piety; and he would often laughingly observe, “You certainly ought to have married a parson,” adding, “ what a capital curate you would have made Livingstone, my dear Edith !"

Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone were very constant visitors at Gainsborough Castle, the parsonage-house being situated on the very confines of the park. Mr. Livingstone had been at college with Lord Grey, who contracted for him there a very sincere friendship ; and, soon after the termination of his career at Cambridge, where he obtained high honours, Lord Grey presented him with the living of Gainsborough. He had married, some few years before his patron, an amiable young lady, with whom he had become acquainted whilst at college ; and, at the time my story begins, their family consisted of a boy and girl, the special favourites of little Edith, to whom few pleasures equalled that of having little Cecil and Minnie Livingstone to spend the day, with her, at the Castle.

One morning, Edith had completed her lessons better and earlier than usual; she had taken her usual seat by her mother's side, and was relating to her how she and nurse had met Mrs. Livingstone, with John and Minnie, in their walk across the Park, and what a charming run they had had together, when the servant entered, and presenting a card to Lady Grey, had been desired to say, that a lady in a carriage, was at the door, and if it

was too early an hour for Lady Grey to receive her, she would endeavour to call again, being in the neighbourhood.

“Mrs. Vernon!” exclaimed Lady Grey, with great and joyous surprise, “ Oh, pray request Mrs. Vernon to walk in. Isabella, one of my oldest, and earliest friends, and of dear Aunt Catherine's too ! How singular,” she continued to herself, " that she should be in this part of the country, and I did not know it."

“How glad I am to see you, my dear Lady Grey!" said Mrs. Vernon, as the servant announced her ; “I could not find myself so near you without hazarding even this most unseasonable hour for calling."

“ It is a pleasure, and a most unexpected one indeed,” returned Lady Grey, affectionately embracing her friend; "it would have been unpardonable had you done otherwise. But tell me, my dear Isabella, where are you staying? And what brought you to this neighbourhood? Who have we here? Who is this ?” and she extended her hand as she spoke, to a little girl, whose remarkable beauty and apparent intelligence attracted her attention. : “No less than my child, and an only girl," re

turned Mrs. Vernon. “Mildred has often heard me speak of you dear Edith. Does it not appear ages since we met? But I must answer your inquiry, how I came to be in your part of the world, where, however, we only stay till to morrow, and have only

been just three days with a brother of Mr. Vernon's. His father has been dangerously ill, and very anxious to see my husband, on our way to Ivy Tower, near Bridgenorth, where my father-in-law resides; we were not sorry to make the Wilderness a pied à terre for a day or so; had I known how near my brotherin-law's place was to Gainsborough, I should certainly have written a little word d'avance to you, dear Edith; but conceive, it was only at breakfast this morning, I heard you were but a morning's drive.”

“Rather more, my dear creature, than a morning's drive,” rejoined Lady Grey, “it is full, if not more than, sixteen miles from this to the Wilderness. Just now I am unequal to long drives, and this is the reason I have not called there since my return home from our visit to Aunt Catherine."

“Oh, tell me, how is dear Lady Catherine ?” said Mrs, Vernon, interrupting her friend; “ how long it is since I have seen her!”

“We left her in her usual good health, I am rejoiced to say—the same active gardener as ever ; I had a letter from her a day or two ago, begging us to send her some choice cuttings; do you not remember-I think I may call it—her passion for flowers ? How happy it would make her, my dear Isabella, to see you at the Grange! Do you recollect the dear old place ? "

“Do I not, indeed!" said Mrs. Vernon, and a sigh escaped her as she spoke. Those were happy, happy

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