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AT Shipley-in-the-Wold, people dined at
two o'clock and took tea at six or seven.
"Tea-time" was the vicar's favourite hour
of the twenty-four, especially in the winter
season. The work of the day was over. The
fire blazed up companionably, and filled the
pauses of conversation with light and
warmth. And if a forlorn wind went moaning
without upon the "glooming flats," its
voice only heightened, by imagined contrast,
the comforts of the ingle nook.

The family sitting-roomnamed in
Daneshire parlance, the parlourwas no exception
to the assertion that Shipley vicarage
was an ugly house. Yet even here the
magic of the leaping flame and glowing
coals worked wonders. It sent flickering
shadows to play over the bare ceiling;
it made the glass panes of a tall book-case
sparkle with flashing rubies; it found out
every gleam of gilding on the tarnished
bindings of the well-worn books; it
mellowed the hue of the faded crimson window-
curtains, subdued the staring pattern of
the wall-paper, and made the old-fashioned
chintz covering on the furniture seem rich
and harmonious as an Indian carpet.

"Give me another cup of tea, Veronica,"
said the vicar, sitting in the parlour on a
drear March evening.

His daughter and his ward were both
with him. On each of the three faces there
was, for once, a look of cheerfulness. That
morning their guest had been pronounced
out of danger. The shadow which had
darkened the house was passing away.

"Give me another cup of tea," said the
vicar once more, rubbing his hands
together. And then he pursued the discourse
which his demand had interrupted. " Yes;
and I assure you I am very much pleased
with Sir John altogether. Nothing could
be better chosen than his manner of
expressing himself."

"What did he say, papa?"

"Oh, well! I cannot recollect word for
word. Thanks, of course, and gratitude,
andand so on. But not over-done. Very
earnest and gentlemanlike. He appears to
be a man of the world, yet not exactly
worldly. He has, in short, I should say, a
great deal of savoir vivre."

"Savoir vivre!" repeated Maud,
musingly. " That would be an art to learn;
how to live!"

"The quintessence of all arts, Maudie."

"Yes; and it would includewould it
not?—how to die; if one did but consider

"Maud!" cried Veronica, with a little
shudder, " I do beg of you not to be solemn.
Don't talk of such things. It makes me
cold. You are worse than a north-east
wind blowing over the snow-drifts."

Veronica inherited from her mother a
more than childish horror of death. The
slightest allusion to it sufficed to cloud her
bright face and make her irritable.

"Well," answered Maud, quietly. " Sir
John Gale is not going to die just yet, they
say, so there is no need to be solemn, as you
call it. It is to be hoped he will give up
hunting, or learn to get a better seat on
horseback. Joe Dowsett says that that
hunter of his is as gentle as a lamb, and
has such a mouth that a baby might ride
him. And yet Sir John could not contrive
to stick on his back."

"That's not quite fair, Maud," observed