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                     BOOK II.


IT was only two or three days before the
marriage, when Katey found herself alone,
as she had longed to be, to get time to
think over the new life she was about to
enter on. Peter had gone out on business
that is, "up to the Bar'ks;" Polly was
gone to the band, resplendent in spirits
and raiment; a new officer had arrived, who
had signified his approbation and adoration
in the most open manner, and the inconstant
creature was laughing and blushing
over those outrageous compliments which
the bold military chevalier thinks he can pay
to a handsome country-town girl. Katey,
left alone, stole out gently, and, sad at heart,
wandered out at the back of the house, up
over a little stile, which led into green
meadows, part of the demesne of Leadersfort.
Indeed, every patch of grass about
the place belonged to the great family, and,
in a primitive fashion, the natives of the
district strayed over it at pleasure. There
were all manner of soft lanes and paths
through woods, with some deer feeding,
and a stray seat here and there put up,
not by the present dynasty, but by the
honest squire who preceded it. There was
a great tree, one of those noble solitaries of
a demesne which, whatever changes take
place, still preserve their solemn and
eremitical life, looking on with a grand
contempt at the decay or grandeur of those
who assume to be their owners. Under
one of these disdainful old watchers Katey
sat down, very sad, yet glad to be alone
still bewildered, and hardly able to
persuade herself that she was not in a dream;
she who had lived so long, in the dull
round of that little village, a prosy,
uneventful life, and for whom, in these latter
days, events had been hurrying on with
the strangest precipitation. Then, too,
came on the uneasy feeling that the step
she was going to take, sanctioned, as she
believed it was, by the holiest principle of
devotion, might, after all, turn out to be
doubtful, and even wicked. Was she
bound, in the cause of affection to her
family, thus to sacrifice herself, her feelings,
her hopes, her life?—was not that
life a trust given to her, not to be given
away thus carelessly to others?

As she sat and looked across the swelling
meadow of the park, she heard footsteps
approaching, and in a moment saw Mr.
Leader with his steward, or keeper, coming
past her. Greatly confused, she half rose
to go. Mr. Leader, no less "taken back,"
coloured and stopped, and then took off his

As she went away, she heard him calling
after her.

"Don't let me disturb you," he said, in
a hesitating fashion; "it seems you will
soon have nearly as good a right to be here
as I myself. Your people have
determined to carry this through in spite of

Katey hung down her head, overcome
with shame and confusion. There was a
good nature in his manner quite unexpected,
and contrasting strongly with the
contemptuous fashion with which she had
been treated by the rest of the family. She
tried to speak; her lips moved; she sank
down on the seat again in a torrent of

Mr. Leader was beside her in a moment.
"My poor child," he said, "don't!
Compose yourself. Surely I know this is no