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watch ; or whether he had looked into a parcel or gone by a forbidden path; why, he can see no moment in the inquiry, and 'tis ten to one, he has already half forgotten and balf bemused himself with subsequent imaginings.

It would be easy to leave them in their native cloudland, where they figure so prettily-pretty like flowers and innocent like dogs. They will come out of their gardens soon enough, and have to go into offices and the witness-box. Spare them yet a while, O conscientious parent! Let them doze among their playthings yet a little ! for who knows what a rough, war-faring existence lies before them in the future?

R. L. S

358

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her. When they parted he held her hand for a moment with a kind serious grasp, as if he had been her father, and said,

“You will send him to me to-morrow, Miss Despard ? I shall expect him to-morrow."

“Oh-Law !" she said, with a little start and recovery. Poor Law had gone out of her mind.

“Poor child !” he said, as he turned towards his house ; but before he had crossed the road he was met by Captain Temple coming the other way. "Was that Miss Despard ? ” asked the old man.

“ Is it she you were saying good-night to? My wife told me she had gone towards the Slopes, and I was on my way to bring her home.”

"I met her there, and I have just brought her home," said the Minor Canon. He could scarcely make out in the dark who his ques

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“ That is all right—that is all right,” said the old Chevalier. is left too much alone, and she should have some one to take care of her. I feel much obliged to you, Mr. Ashford, for I take a great interest in the young lady."

"It isCaptain Temple ? " said Mr. Ashford, peering at the old man with contracted, short-sighted eyes. “I beg your pardon. Yes, Miss Despard is quite safe; she has been talking to me about her brother. What kind of boy is he? I only know he is a big fellow, and not very fond of his work."

Captain Temple shook his head. “What can you expect? It is not the boy's fault; but she is the one I take an interest in. You know I had once a girl of my own ? just such another, Mr. Ashford-just such another. I always think of her when I see this pretty creature. Poor thingshow should they know the evil that is in the world. They think everybody as good as themselves, and when they find out the difference, it breaks their sweet hearts. I can't look at a young girl like that, not knowing what her next step is to bring ber, without tears in my eyes."

The Minor Canon did not make any reply; his heart was touched, but not as Captain Temple's was touched. He looked back at the dim little house, where as yet there were no lights--not thinking of Lottie as an all-believing and innocent victim, but rather as a young Britomart, a helmeted and armed maiden, standing desperate in defence of her little stronghold against powers of evil which she was noways ignorant of. It did not occur to him that these images might be conjoined, and both be true.

"I take a great interest in her,” said old Captain Temple again, “and so does my wife, Mr. Ashford. My wife cannot talk of our loss as I do ; but though she says little, I can see that she keeps her eye Lottie. Poor child! She has no mother, and, for that matter, you father either. She has a claim upon all good people. She

VOL. XXXVIII.-NO. 225.

no

360

Within the Precincts.

CHAPTER XXII.

A CHANCE FOR LAW.

R. ASHFORD took

Lottie home that evening, walking with her to her own door, There was not much said; for, notwithstanding the armour of personal hope and happiness which she had put on, the shock of this personal encounter with her father and the woman who was to be her father's wife, made the girl tremble with secret excitement, in spite of herself. The woman : it was this, the sight and almost touch of

this new, unknown, uncomprehended being brushing past her in the darkness which overwhelmed Lottie. That first contact made the girl sick and faint. She could not talk to Mr. Ashford any more—her voice seemed to die out of her throat, where her heart was fluttering. She could not think even what she had been saying. It was all confused, driven aside into a corner by that sudden apparition. Mr. Ashford, on his side, said little more than Lottie. It seemed to him that he had a sudden insight into all that was happening. He had heard, though without paying much attention, the common gossip about Captain Despard, who was not considered by anybody within the Precincts as a creditable inmate ; but this curious little scene, of which he had been a witness, had placed him at once in the midst of the little drama. He seemed to himself to bave shared in the shock Lottie had received. He walked softly by her side, saying little, full of compassion, but too sympathetic even to express his sympathy. He would not hurt her by seeming to be sorry for

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SHE STOOD AND LISTENED, FEELING ALL HER TROUBLES CALMED.

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