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                    NO NAME.
                    CHAPTER IX.

THREE months passed. During that time,
Frank remained in London; pursuing his new
duties, and writing occasionally to report himself
to Mr. Vanstone, as he had promised.

His letters were not enthusiastic on the
subject of mercantile occupations. He described
himself as being still painfully loose in
his figures. He was also more firmly persuaded
than evernow when it was unfortunately too
latethat he preferred engineering to trade. In
spite of this conviction; in spite of headaches,
caused by sitting on a high stool and stooping
over ledgers in unwholesome air; in spite of
want of society, and hasty breakfasts, and bad
dinners at chop-houses, his attendance at the
office was regular, and his diligence at the desk
unremitting. The head of the department in which
he was working might be referred to, if any
corroboration of this statement was desired. Such
was the general tenour of the letters; and
Frank's correspondent and Frank's father
differed over them, as widely as usual. Mr.
Vanstone accepted them, as proofs of the steady
development of industrious principles in the
writer. Mr. Clare took his own characteristically
opposite view. "These London men," said
the philosopher, "are not to be trifled with by
louts. They have got Frank by the scruff of the
neckhe can't wriggle himself freeand he
makes a merit of yielding to sheer necessity."

The three months' interval of Frank's probation
in London, passed less cheerfully than usual
in the household at Combe-Raven.

As the summer came nearer and nearer,
Mrs. Vanstone's spirits, in spite of her resolute
efforts to control them, became more and more
depressed. "I do my best," she said to Miss
Garth; "I set an example of cheerfulness to my
husband and my childrenbut I dread July."
Norah's secret misgivings on her sister's account
rendered her more than usually serious and
uncommunicative, as the year advanced. Even Mr.
Vanstone, when July drew nearer, lost something
of his elasticity of spirit. He kept up appearances
in his wife's presencebut, on all other
occasions, there was now a perceptible shade of
sadness in his look and manner. Magdalen
was so changed since Frank's departure, that
she helped the general depression, instead of
relieving it. All her movements had grown
languid; all her usual occupations were
pursued with the same weary indifference; she
spent hours alone in her own room; she lost her
interest in being brightly and prettily dressed;
her eyes were heavy, her nerves were irritable,
her complexion was altered visibly for the worse
in one word, she had become an oppression
and a weariness to herself and to all about her.
Stoutly as Miss Garth contended with these
growing domestic difficulties, her own spirits
suffered in the effort. Her memory reverted,
oftener and oftener, to the March morning when
the master and mistress of the house had
departed for London, and when the first serious
change, for many a year past, had stolen over
the family atmosphere. When was that atmosphere
to be clear again? When were the clouds
of change to pass off before the returning
sunshine of past and happier times?

The spring and the early summer wore away.
The dreaded month of July came, with its airless
nights, its cloudless mornings, and its sultry

On the fifteenth of the month an event happened
which took every one but Norah by
surprise. For the second time, without the slightest
apparent reasonfor the second time, without a
word of warning beforehandFrank suddenly
reappeared at his father's cottage!

Mr. Clare's lips opened to hail his son's return,
in the old character of the "bad shilling;" and
closed again without uttering a word. There
was a portentous composure in Frank's manner
which showed that he had other news to
communicate than the news of his dismissal. He
answered his father's sardonic look of inquiry, by
at once explaining that a very important proposal
for his future benefit had been made to him, that
morning, at the office. His first idea had been
to communicate the details in writing; but the
partners had, on reflection, thought that the
necessary decision might be more readily obtained
by a personal interview with his father and his
friends. He had laid aside the pen accordingly;
and had resigned himself to the railway on the

After this preliminary statement, Frank