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Blackwater Park, Hampshire.

JUNE 27.—Six months to look back onsix
long, lonely months, since Laura and I last saw
each other!

How many days have I still to wait? Only
one! To-morrow, the twenty-eighth, the travellers
return to England. I can hardly realise my
own happiness; I can hardly believe that the
next four-and-twenty hours will complete the
last day of separation between Laura and me.

She and her husband have been in Italy all
the winter, and afterwards in the Tyrol. They
come back, accompanied by Count Fosco and
his wife, who propose to settle somewhere in the
neighbourhood of London, and who have engaged
to stay at Blackwater Park for the summer months
before deciding on a place of residence. So long
as Laura returns, no matter who returns with
her. Sir Percival may fill the house from floor
to ceiling, if he likes, on condition that his wife
and I inhabit it together.

Meanwhile, here I am, established at Blackwater
Park; "the ancient and interesting seat"
(as the county history obligingly informs me)
"of Sir Percival Glyde, Bart."—and the future
abiding-place (as I may now venture to add, on
my own account) of plain Marian Halcombe,
spinster, now settled in a snug little sitting-room,
with a cup of tea by her side, and all her earthly
possessions ranged round her in three boxes and
a bag.

I left Limmeridge yesterday; having received
Laura's delightful letter from Paris, the day
before. I had been previously uncertain whether
I was to meet them in London, or in Hampshire;
but this last letter informed me, that Sir Percival
proposed to land at Southampton, and to
travel straight on to his country-house. He has
spent so much money abroad, that he has none
left to defray the expenses of living in London,
for the remainder of the season; and he is
economically resolved to pass the summer and
autumn quietly at Blackwater. Laura has had
more than enough of excitement and change of
scene; and is pleased at the prospect of country
tranquillity and retirement which her husband's
prudence provides for her. As for me, I am
ready to be happy anywhere in her society. We
are all, therefore, well contented in our various
ways, to begin with.

Last night, I slept in London, and was
delayed there so long, to-day, by various calls and
commissions, that I did not reach Blackwater,
this evening, till after dusk.

Judging by my vague impressions of the place,
thus far, it is the exact opposite of Limmeridge.
The house is situated on a dead flat, and seems
to be shut inalmost suffocated, to my north-
country notionsby trees. I have seen nobody,
but the man-servant who opened the door to me,
and the housekeeper, a very civil person who
showed me the way to my own room, and got
me my tea. I have a nice little boudoir and
bedroom, at the end of a long passage on the
first floor. The servants' and some of the spare
rooms are on the second floor; and all the living
rooms are on the ground floor. I have not seen
one of them yet, and I know nothing about the
house, except that one wing of it is said to be
five hundred years old, that it had a moat round
it once, and that it gets its name of Blackwater
from a lake in the park.

Eleven o'clock has just struck, in a ghostly
and solemn manner, from a turret over the
centre of the house, which I saw when I came
in. A large dog has been woke, apparently by
the sound of the bell, and is howling and yawning
drearily, somewhere round a corner. I hear
echoing footsteps in the passages below, and the
iron thumping of bolts and bars at the house
door. The servants are evidently going to bed.
Shall I follow their example?

No: I am not half sleepy enough. Sleepy,
did I say? I feel as if I should never close my
eyes again. The bare anticipation of seeing that
dear face and hearing that well-known voice
to-morrow, keeps me in a perpetual fever of
excitement. If I only had the privileges of a
man, I would order out Sir Percival's best horse
instantly, and tear away on a night-gallop, eastward,
to meet the rising suna long, hard,
heavy, ceaseless gallop of hours and hours, like
the famous highwayman's ride to York. Being,
however, nothing but a woman, condemned to
patience, propriety, and petticoats, for life, I
must respect the housekeeper's opinions, and try
to compose myself in some feeble and feminine

Reading is out of the questionI can't fix
my attention on books. Let me try if I can
write myself into sleepiness and fatigue. My