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IT was hot, burning hot, hot enough for
Bengal, a few weeks ago, when a party of us
were sitting in the shade of a clump of trees
beside the brook that rattles down from the
lake with the unpronounceable name, on the
big hills behind Tremadoc. Some of our
party (they were from town, and lately
arrived) had been haymaking in the field,
which is not quite as steep as the roof of St.
Paul's, but steep enough to tempt a roll or
two in the fresh, sweet hay; two had been
fishing in the lake; while a trio, lazy and
romantic, had just been reading, with occasional
intervals of discussion, during which, it
was wonderful the number of bottles of porter
they had managed to empty, out of the three
dozen put to cool in the hollow of the brook
bank for the amateur haymakers. By a
universal vote, we had lunched under the
trees on all manner of comestibles, including a
wonderful salad of cold turbot, for want of a
lobster. We were very happy and very warm,
except the idlers. After luncheon, some went
to sleep; I am afraid some smoked; but no one
scolded, and no one argued. As the evening
crept on, the tide went down in the bay, and
for miles there was nothing to be seen but
a desert of yellow sandreal yellow sand,
where Ariel's friends might have danced with
pleasure. We watched the sea receding, and
receding, until only a dim white waggling line
on the horizon told us where the waters of
Port Madoc were to come from, at the turn
of the tide.

Everybody seemed deliciously lazy; no one
could be called, or coaxed into haymaking
again. To half of us, open-air work was
something new; to the other half, the rattle
of new arrivals from town was wonderfully
refreshing, after the vegetation of a Welsh
village. So, gossiping, with a little singing,
a little story-telling, and, I am afraid, a little
flirting, the day wore out, the moon rose up,
and presently, up a hundred channels, before
unseen, the sea began to flow back, and
sparkle below us as we sat on the turf, on the
hillside, beside the rustling torrent.

At length the conversation turned on rides
across the sands, on the shores of the Solway,
and the perils of Morecombe Bay. One quoted
the adventure in "Redgauntlet," another of Sir
Arthur Wardour and Lovell in the "Antiquary";
a third, the story of the narrow escape
of Madame D'Arblay, near Ilfracombe;
but we were all piqued with the acutest
curiosity, when Alfred Aubrey, the matter-of-fact
man, with a romantic name, said, between
the whiffs of a genuine Manilla,

"I once had a narrow escape myself,
crossing the Dee, on just such a night as this,
only there was no moon; and I can assure
you that galloping a race with time and
tide is no joke."

"Come," cried Carry Darling, the self-elected
dictatress of our al fresco parliament,
"that will do; you have been talking nothing
these three days but fishing and politics; put
down your filthy tobacco, and tell us that
for you owe us a story." So Aubrey, knowing
that he had a Napoleon in petticoats to deal
with, began, with fewer excuses than customary
in such cases, as follows:—

About twenty years ago, after a fatiguing
London season, I was stopping at the decayed
port and bathing village of Parkgate, on the
Dee, opposite the equally decayed town and
castle of Flint. It was a curious place to
choose for amusement, for it had, and has, no
recommendation except brackish water, pleasant
scenery at high water, and excessive dulness.
But, to own the truth, I was in love,
desperately in love, with one of the most charming,
provoking little sylphs in the world who,
after driving me half crazy in London, was
staying on a visit with an uncle, a Welsh
parson, at dreary Parkgate. Not that it was
dreary to me when Laura was amiable; on
the contrary, I wrote to my friends and
described it as one of the most delightful
watering-places in England and, by so doing,
lost for ever the good graces and legacy of my
Aunt Grumph, who travelled all the way from
Brighton on my description, and only stayed
long enough to change horses. One sight of
the one street of tumble-down houses, in face
of a couple of miles of sand and shingle at
low water, was enough. She never spoke to
me again, except to express her extreme contempt
for my opinion.

Our chief amusement was riding on the
sand, and sometimes crossing to Flint at low
water. You know, of course, that formerly
the Dee was a great commercial river, with
important ports at Chester, Parkgate, and