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POST hour was not breakfast hour in the
village of Glenluce. The postman had to travel
some thirty miles by outside car from the
nearest rather important town, at which the
letters for the mountains arrived early in the
morning. Consequently, people in this
neighbourhood read their despatches from their
friendsor their enemiesover their supper
table, and take their news with them to their
pillows, instead of looking for it beside their
plate in the morning. The post-horn is heard
sounding through the village just as the children
in the cottages are going to bed. They can
hear the first echo of it before they sleep, blowing
down to them from some winding of the
high road, around the hill above the bay and
the village street. To many a little dreaming
ear it has come like the "horns of Elfland
faintly blowing;" while to older watchers, wide
awake and abroad, it has sounded terrible and
significant, as the first blast from a war trumpet.
For I speak of seventy years ago, when all the
heartstrings of Ireland were strained, from east
to west, from north to south, and a fearful
sympathy thrilled its veins.

Autumn evenings are wont to wear out the
remnant of their summer balminess much sooner
in wild Irish bye-ways, haunted by sea breeze
and mountain mist, than they are known to do
in regions more civilised and less moist. Evening
fires blaze on the long-idle hearthstones of
drawing-rooms under the shelter of the
everlasting hills, whilst people sitting close to the
walls of cities are yet lingering by their open
windows, loath to stir. First heralds of the
winter are the roaring of such homely flames.
And so pleasant and genial an under-current of
melody is kept up by the piping and whistling
of the new wood upon the hearth, so fragrant
is the perfume from the long-glowing peat logs,
that our farewell shake hands with the summer
grows less reluctant. We watch her slow
retreat from our gardens and dingles; see the
sad cloak of her departure dropping gradually
over the gay bravery of attire which was her
wearing; we put our feet, which have rambled,
upon the stool before our fender, and wonder
that we can hardly bear to sigh.

The post brought a letter to Mrs. Hazeldean
one evening, when her first autumn fire had
just been kindled in her grate. Mrs. Hazeldean
at her tea-table, with her letter spread before
her, made the centre of a picture such as most
eyes would like to see. It was not in her
pretty drawing-room that she made tea for
herself and husband, albeit, her upper windows
admitted a noble view of the mountains, around
which, on this evening, cold mists were wrapping
winding-sheets. Mrs. Hazeldean's teapot
had made its way into her dining-room. Her
garden lay stretched beyond her window, before
her eyes. Her geraniums, still blooming, clung
together in burning circles, her late roses yet
lingered in sparse blossoms on their trees, and
her ferns, scenting rain in the moist air, lifted
their long delicate plumes and grew green in
the chill dews.

So the warmth of deeply-coloured flowers,
set in the cool greyness of the air, filled the
space of the lower window, while the firelight
took impertinently to itself all the credit for
making brightness in the room. It gambolled
over everything in the ecstacies of this conceit,
books, picture, the curtains, the tea-kettle. It
fell upon the floor in adoration, and kissed
the hem of Mrs. Hazeldean's purple robe. It
played with her litle well-shod foot; but
glanced off the fair foldings of her white muslin
vest, as if it felt the inferiority of its own
warmth when so near the fervent heat of her
most womanly heart. It was restless, as if it
felt that it could not have things all its own way
until the dusk should have quite fallen, and
extinguished the rival brilliance of the flower-beds
without. But in the meantime the new fire that
sent it forth intensified its glowing in the ardour
of its delight, and sang songs to itself loudly
and cheerily. It had resumed its magic empire
within the dwellings of men. It had recovered
its lost influence over human heart and limb.

Mrs. Hazeldean rested her cheek in her hand
as she read. Her head was leaned aside a little;
a head of such rare shape, both for intellect
and womanly beauty that people involuntarily
wondered while they delighted in looking at it.
Ignorant people, who would have stared if you
had told them such was the fact, put faith,