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IT was not far from ten o'clock when
Joe Dowsett returned from Shipley Magna.
Joe was in some respects an excellent
servant, but he had his failings-- among
which might be reckoned an inability to
resist strong liquor when proffered
gratuitously. During twenty years Joe had
not been known to be drunk at his own
expense. But a visit to the Crown at Shipley
Magna, where he was an old crony and
customer of the head ostler, was pretty
sure to result in Joe's partial intoxication.

On the present occasion he had ridden
to Shipley and back on the old pony, the
sole beast of burthen belonging to the
vicar. And Joe attributed the enormous
amount of time occupied in the journey, to
his own remarkable humanity to the pony.

"Mustn't press him hard, the old beast,"
said Joe, on his return, standing before the
kitchen fire, the heat of which caused his
wet clothes to steam again.

"No fear of you pressing him hard to come
away from the Crown," retorted Joanna.

"I advise you to get to your bed, and take
off them damp things. Else you'll be getting
a fever, or the rheumaticks, or
something. Only," she added, under her
breath, " only we know there's a special
providence for certain folks; and I'm sure
you're one on 'em this night, Joe Dowsett."

"All right, Jo-anna. I feel pretty
comfortable, thank 'ee. No, no; mustn't press
the old pony. The merciful man is merciful
to his boast."

At this moment Catherine came back
from the sitting-room, whither she had
been, .according to orders, to give her
master the tidings of Joe's return.

"Master's fine and vexed," she said, "at
Joe being so late. He said he wanted to
send Joe to fetch home Miss Veronica if he
had come at any reasonable hour. But
now it's too late."

"Why was he unwilling to let her stay
at Mrs. Plew's?" asked Joanna.

"O, I don't know. Miss Veronica has
stayed there before. But the vicar said as
he'd have gone to fetch her hisself, only it's
such a night, and been getting worse and
worse since sundown. I think master feels
lonely after being used to Sir John's company.
And then both the young ladies being
away the first evening and allit's made
him cross. He says he shall go to bed, and
you're to send him up a slice of dry toast
and a glass of negus, with not too much
nutmeg in it."

"Negus ain't a bad thing," observed Joe

"You go to your bed, Joe, for mercy's
sake!" cried the old woman, impatiently.
"Don't stand a steaming there like a
copper on washing day."

"I feel pretty comfortable, Jo-anna. I
see a friend of yours at the Crown this
eveningMr. Paul."

"Paul at the Crown!" exclaimed Catherine.

"Yes, Paul at the Crown. He pretended
not to see me, and skulked through the
tap-room like a rat. Sir John's a gentleman.
I say nothing against Sir John.
But PaulPaul's a sneak."

"Don't you talk nonsense. Paul never
did you no harm," said Joanna. "And
I don't believe you saw him at all