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state of affairs. Like everyone else employed
by Lady Ludlow, as far as I could learn, he
had an hereditary tie to the Hanbury family.
As long as the Smithsons had been lawyers,
they had been lawyers to the Hanburys;
always coming in on all great family
occasions, and better able to understand the
characters, and connect the links of what had
once been a large and scattered family, than
any individual thereof had ever been.

As long as a man was at the head of the
Hanburys, the lawyers had simply acted as
servants, and had only given their advice
when it was required. But they had assumed
a different position on the memorable occasion
of the mortgage: they had remonstrated
against it. My lady had resented this
remonstrance, and a slight, unspoken coolness
had existed between her and the father of
this Mr. Smithson ever since.

I was very sorry for my lady. Mr. Smithson
was inclined to blame Mr. Horner for
the disorderly state in which he found some
of the outlying farms, and for the deficiencies
in the annual payment of rents. Mr. Smithson
had too much good feeling to put this
blame into words; but my lady's quick
instinct led her to reply to a thought, the
existence of which she perceived; and she
quietly told the truth, and explained how she
had interfered repeatedly to prevent Mr.
Horner from taking certain desirable steps,
which were discordant to her hereditary sense
of right and wrong between landlord and
tenant. She also spoke of the want of ready
money as a misfortune that could be remedied
by more economical personal expenditure on
her own part; by which individual saving it
was possible that a reduction of fifty pounds
a year might have been accomplished. But
as soon as Mr. Smithson touched on larger
economies, such as either affected the welfare
of others, or the honour and standing of the
great House of Hanbury, she was inflexible.
Her establishment consisted of somewhere
about forty servants, of whom nearly as many
as twenty were unable to perform their work
properly, and yet would have been hurt if
they had been dismissed; so they had the
credit of fulfilling duties, while my lady paid
and kept their substitutes. Mr. Smithson
made a calculation, and would have saved
some hundreds a-year by pensioning these
old servants off. But my lady would not
hear of it. Then, again, I know privately
that he urged her to allow some of us to
return to our homes. Bitterly we should
have regretted the separation from Lady
Ludlow; but we would have gone back
gladly, had we known at the time that her
circumstances required it. But she would
not listen to the proposal for a moment.

"If I cannot act justly towards everyone, I
will give up a plan which has been a source
of much satisfaction; at least, I will not
carry it out to such an extent in future. But
to these young ladies, who do me the favour
to live with me at present, I stand pledged.
I cannot go back from my word, Mr.
Smithson. We had better talk no more of
this."

As she spoke, she entered the room where
I lay. She and Mr. Smithson were coming
for some papers contained in the bureau.
They did not know I was there, and Mr.
Smithson started a little when he saw me, as
he must have been aware that I had
overheard something. But my lady did not
change a muscle of her face. All the world
might overhear her kind, just, pure sayings,
and she had no fear of their misconstruction.
She came up to me, and kissed me on the
forehead, and then went to search for the
required papers.

"I rode over the Conington farms yesterday,
my lady. I must say I was quite grieved
to see the condition they are in; all the land
that is not waste is utterly exhausted with
working successive white crops. Not a pinch
of manure laid on the ground for years. I
must say that a greater contrast could never
have been presented than that between
Harding's farm and the next fieldsfences in
perfect order, rotation crops, sheep eating
down the turnips on the waste lands
everything that could be desired."

"Whose farm is that?" asked my lady.

"Why, I am sorry to say, it was on none
of your ladyship's that I saw such good
methods adopted. I hoped it was. I stopped
my horse to inquire. A queer-looking man,
sitting on his horse like a tailor, watching
his men with a couple of the sharpest eyes I
ever saw, and dropping his h's at every word,
answered my question, and told me it was
his. I could not go on asking him who he
was; but I fell into conversation with him,
and I gathered that he had earned some
money in trade in Birmingham, and had
bought the estate (five hundred acres, I think
he said,) on which he was born, and now was
setting himself to cultivate it in downright
earnest, going to Holkham and Woburn, and
half the country over, to get himself up on
the subject."

"It would be Brookes, that dissenting
baker from Birmingham," said my lady, in
her most icy tone. "Mr. Smithson, I am
sorry I have been detaining you so long, but
I think these are the letters you wished
to see."

If her ladyship thought by this speech to
quench Mr. Smithson she was mistaken.
Mr. Smithson just looked at the letters, and
went on with the old subject.

"Now, my lady, it struck me that if you
had such a man to take poor Horner's place,
he would work the rents and the land round
most satisfactorily. I should not despair of
inducing this very man to undertake the
work. I should not mind speaking to him
myself on the subject, for we got capital
friends over a snack of luncheon that he
asked me to share with him."

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