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MY FRENCH MASTER.
IN TWO CHAPTERS.—CHAPTER THE FIRST.

My father's house was in the country, seven
miles away from the nearest town. He had
been an officer in the navy; but, as he had
met with some accident that would disable him
from ever serving again, he gave up his
commission and his half-pay. He had a small
private fortune, and my mother had not been
penniless; so he purchased a house and ten or
twelve acres of land, and set himself up as an
amateur farmer on a very small scale. My
mother rejoiced over the very small scale of
his operations; and when my father regretted,
as he did very often, that no more land was to
be purchased in the neighbourhood, I could
see her setting herself a sum in her head, "If
on twelve acres he manages to lose a hundred
pounds a year, what would be our loss on a
hundred and fifty?" But when my father was
pushed hard on the subject of the money he
spent in his sailor-like farming, he had one
constant retreat:

"Think of the health and the pleasure we
all of us take in the cultivation of the fields
around us! It is something for us to do and
to look forward to every day." And this was
so true that as long as my father confined
himself to these arguments, my mother left him
unmolested: but to strangers he was still apt
to enlarge on the returns his farm brought
him in; and he had often to pull up in his
statements when he caught the warning
glance of my mother's eye, showing him that
she was not so much absorbed in her own
conversation as to be deaf to his voice. But
as for the happiness that arose out of our
mode of lifethat was not to be calculated
by tens or hundreds of pounds. There were
only two of us, my sister and myself; and my
mother undertook the greater part of our
education. We helped her in her household
cares during part of the morning; then came
an old-fashioned routine of lessons, such as
she herself had learnt when a girl:
Goldsmith's "History of England," Rollin's
"Ancient History," Lindley Murray's Grammar,
and plenty of sewing and stitching.

My mother used sometimes to sigh, and
wish that she could buy us a piano, and teach
us what little music she knew; but many of
my dear father's habits were expensiveat least
for a person possessed of no larger an income
than he had. Besides the quiet and
unsuspected drain of his agricultural pursuits, he
was of a social turn; enjoying the dinners to
which he was invited by his more affluent
neighbours; and especially delighted in
returning them the compliment, and giving
them choice little entertainments, which would
have been yet more frequent in their recurrence
than they were, if it had not been for my
mother's prudence. But we never were able
to purchase the piano; it required a greater
outlay of ready money than we ever possessed.
I dare say we should have grown up ignorant
of any language but our own, if it had not
been for my father's social habits, which led
to our learning French in a very unexpected
manner. He and my mother went to dine
with General Ashburton, one of the forest-
rangers; and there they met with an emigrant
gentleman, a Monsieur de Chalabre, who had
escaped in a wonderful manner, and at terrible
peril to his life; and was, consequently, in
our small forest-circle, a great lion, and a
worthy cause of a series of dinner parties.
His first entertainer, General Ashburton, had
known him in France, under very different
circumstances; and he was not prepared
for the quiet and dignified request made
by his guest, one afternoon after M. de
Chalabre had been about a fortnight in the
forest, that the General would recommend him
as a French teacher, if he could
conscientiously do so.

To the General's remonstrances M. de
Chalabre smilingly replied, by an assurance
that his assumption of his new occupation
could only be for a short time; that the good
cause wouldmust triumph. It was before
the fatal January twenty-first, seventeen
hundred and ninety-three; and then, still smiling,
he strengthened his position by quoting
innumerable instances out of the classics, of heroes
and patriots, generals and commanders, who
had been reduced by Fortune's frolics to adopt
some occupation far below their original one.
He closed his speech with informing the
General that, relying upon his kindness in
acting as referee, he had taken lodgings for a
few months at a small farm which was in the
centre of our forest-circle of acquaintances.
The General was too thoroughly a gentleman
to say anything more than that he should be

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