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gives me only the rather vague information
that he is somebody she knows. I do my
best to save her, and to persuade her to be
an old maid like my aunt, who often harangues
her on the advantages of single blessedness,
and, indeed, takes advantage of every opportunity
to warn her against the well-known
miseries of marriage and deceitfulness of men ;
but Lucy only laughs and says, " yes, miss,"
and " certainly, miss ;" and once she said
" she did not think all men could be so very
hopstreperous," which I am afraid is a bad
sign. It was not, therefore, without anxiety
that we sent her, although under proper
chaperonage, to the evening's lecture.

No one who walked through our very little
town that evening had ever before seen it in
such a disturbed condition. Mr. King, the
butcher and shoemaker, had put two candles
in his window, and Miss Pink, the bonnet
and apple-shopour Howell and Jamesthe
same. We overtook a crowd of four people
and no less than one spring-van from Ryton,
our post-town; and in the schoolroom we
found every seat, except those reserved for
ourselves, occupied. The children and the
Ryton shopkeepers and nursery-gardeners
were ranged on benches; and in front of
them were the village gentry, seated on
chairs more or less provided with backs and
weak in the legs. There was something
quite awful in the artificially-produced darkness
of the room, and the subdued murmur
of whispered conversation, and the certainty
that Lady Harrow and her party were sitting
in all their grandeur somewhere in the gloom.
A large sheet was stretched across the
further end of the room, from floor to ceiling,
bearing decorations of honour for long service,
in the shape of every variety of darn; and
on this Mr. Long directed us to fix our
expectant gaze. Just as we were beginning to
grow a little tired of that amusement, we
heard a faint clapping of hands from the
back benches, and on looking again more
attentively at the sheet, we perceived a pale
shadow upon it, which Mr. Dulby was kind
enough to tell us was intended to represent
the earth, adding the information that its shape
is circular. He then proceeded to prove this
assertion, which he did in such an ingenious way
as made me feel more than doubtful whether
the earth really is round after all; indeed,
when he ceased speaking, my impression was
that the earth is certainly square. Then
came the moon, which Mr. Dulby said he had
every reason to believe was inhabited; and
then appeared the sun, with the planets
circling round it in a rather unsteady manner
like a ghost on the stage or a lame person in
private life. Hereupon, Mr. Dulby requested
us to observe the skill with which those
heavenly bodies avoid knocking their heads
together, observing in this respect, he said, a
sort of "courtly a ticket" — probably meaning
etiquette. This allusion to high life was
received with great favour: a murmur of
applause arose. Then came the ecclesiastical
architecture, in the shape of a very faint
vanishing view of the temple of Jerusalem ;
and this ended the business part of the show.
Then we saw visions of old gentlemen with
red noses, having their gouty toes trodden on
by their worthless grandchildren, and others
supposed to be comical figures, which called
forth bursts of laughter from the younger
part of the audience. At this vulgar stage
of the proceedings, the occupants of the
chairs arose and prepared to depart. Only
those people who were indifferent to public
opinion remained after that. We were not of
the number, and so came away at once.
Lucy was thus left to her own devices ;
and as I quitted the room I thought
I saw a gold hat-band close to her bonnet,
glimmering in the light of the two tallow
candles Mr. Long had lighted for the accomodation
of Lady Harrow. My aunt was very
nervous, and stood in the passage with her
watch in her hand until Lucy came in, and I
am almost sure I saw another shadow besides
that of her chaperon gliding away from our
door when I closed it. I am afraid it was
injudicious to let her go. I do hope we may not
soon be obliged to look out for a new maid
and yet I fear. However, Lucy waited upon
us very collectedly and with an unconscious
face that same evening at tea (for we gave a
party in honour of the occasion), so perhaps
it is only a false alarm, after all. That party
brought forth some very important results.
Mr. Tomkins and Mr. Carter, finding that the
lecture had started a new subject of conversation,
and that their dispute was no longer
an object of interest and attention, made
themselves remarkable in another way by
shaking hands and swearing eternal friendship
over our hot supper ; and Miss Brooks
and my aunt shed a few tears of reconciliation
privately in a corner, where Miss Brooks
was putting on a shawl. Mrs. Blythe and
Miss Carter also patched up a peace (but, I fear,
a hollow one) on the canary question ; and
when they left, the whole party voted my aunt
and me, dear comfortable creatures. Indeed,
Miss Carter, who has a serious turn, and is
fond of a little something warm to drink,
began to talk about the sinfulness of human
nature ; and, in short, they all went away in
the highest spirits, declaring that they had
never spent such an instructive and pleasant
evening in all their life before.


THE following account of a tragedy which
is now filling with consternation many
persons resident in the neighbourhood of Clump
Lodge, Brixton, and which has caused despair
among the friends of the afflicted parties,
will probably occasion great distress, and in
that hope I request its publication. The
subject of my communication, sir, is no less than
the starvation of an alderman, with his entire