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“ Would it not be as well that he were at Tregona just now?”.

"I think not,” rejoined Alice, “though I am unwilling to acknowledge it."

“ Ah ! how so?" said the mivister with a look of surprise.

“Why,” said Alice, with some little hesitation, “ Gerald possesses, as you may well remember, a sensitive disposition not wholly free from pride, and as be cannot bring himself to approve of his father's late proceedings against Sir Algernon, he feels himself in an awkward position when that unfortuoate business is brought forward, particularly when done so in a tone of exultation."

" True,” said Mr. Treverbyn, “I can easily enter into the feelings of a man, who, unable to approve of certain proceedings is restrained from stating his objections from a sense of duty to his parent, whose actions he well kuows are backed by conscience and the law. Still, if I am permitted to give expression to my thoughts, I would say that his presence at home might on many occasions be of service in checking the impetuosity of his younger brother, who is often led to do those things which in his calmer moments he might see cause to regret. It is for this reason and from no selfish motives of my own that I am anxious his discreet counsels should be less often missing."

“ Nay," replied Alice, “it is to you, Mr. Treverbyn, that Gerald looks forward to impart good advice to his home circle during bis absence; he knows the extent of your influence, and places his reliance on its good results."

“Your brother gives me credit for more, I fear, than I possess. As far as lies in my power, I hope to be ever ready to lend my humble endeavours towards the promotion of peace and sociability amongst those who reside around me.

But at the present moment I am inclined to think that the friendly suggestions of an elder brother would tend to insure more favorable effects than the grave admonitions of a clerical monitor, however well intended. At all events, there is one point in which we have no difficulty in coinciding, and that is the pleasure bis safe return will afford us.”

“In that we certainly agree,” said Alice, smiling, and may I be allowed to add my hopes, that these frequent departures of my truant brother will not deter the Rev. Mr. Treverbyn from affording those left at brome as much of his society as if his old college friend were amongst them; as he ought to know that Gerald was not the only person who knew how to give him a special welcome at Tregona.” On saying which Alice gave bim a playfal obeisance, and vanished through a side wicket which led from the avenue to the garden. And so quickly did she disappear, that Mr. Treverbyn had no time to reply, but he was anything but displeased at what he had beard; and as he stood for a moment gazing at the closed wicket, certain pleasant castles in the air flitted across his imagination, contributing to raise bim up in his own estimation and induce bim to come to the deiermination of not losing sight of an invitation so flattering in every way to

bis vanity.

On reaching home, Alice found all in confusion. Her father had re

ceived intelligence that his friend, Master Merris, had been attacked on the highways, robbed, and grievously wounded. That he was lying without signs of recovery at a small inn on the road side. Mr. Marsdale, who had been instrumental in inducing his friend to undertake the above journey, was distressed beyond description at its appalling results, and insisted upon setting off instantly to the bedside of bis old ally, leaving orders that everything should be prepared for his accommodation, should he find it possible to liave bim removed.

CHAPTER XXII.:

NATURAL CONCLUSIONS. All those who, at the period of our narrative, had not conformed to the newly-established creed of the country, lived in a constant state of anxiety, lest their non-observance of the statutes should be discovered. Even after indictment, for simple “non-conformity,” there were other degrees of criminality in the exercise of the forbidden faith, which were considered of such enormity as to draw down upon the offender's head the forfeit of his life. That of entertaining or harbouring any of his own ecclesiastics, who, after receiving a foreign education, returned to their native country, was one of these; such an act was considered by the law ireasonable, and punished accordingly.

Notwithstanding so awful a retribution, the risk was not unfrequently attempted by those families who adhered to the old creed. That of Sir Algernon Trevillers had done so, and was at this moment entertaining a brother of the order of Jesuits under his own roof, where, in the greatest secrecy, he was imparting the benefits of his ministry to his beloved family and their dependents.

Under the above circumstances, it was no great matter of surprise that the least incident differing from the usual routine about the neighbourhood of the Priory, should create uneasiness within its anxious circle. Such was the case when they were informed that a stranger had been observed loitering, more than once, in the immediate vicinity of Sir Algernon's dwelling; and on one occasion had been seen to enter and remain for a considerable time in the cot of one of his labourers. This circumstance, insignificant in itself, became a matter worthy of notice to the cautious inmates of the Priory; and it was suggested by Mistress Anne Trevillers that no time should be lost in ascertaining, if possible, the object of this intruder's seeming "espionage."

The asperity shown by Humphrey towards Sir Algernon, since the defeat of his father's suit, gave reason to fear that he still meditated further annoyance, and was seeking information to enable him to do so. Impressed with this idea, Mistress Trevillers and her neice Urcella proceeded imme. diately to make what discoveries they could at the above-mentioned cottage, situated at no great distance from the gates of the Priory.

As they pursued their way towards the spot, the conversation turned,

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naturally, upon their redoubtable neighbour and his two sons.

"Of the latter," said Mistress Trevillers, “ I am inclined to think the youngest is the least objectionable of the two. An open fve is always less to be feared tban a hidden one."

"No one can deny that,” said her niece, “but may you not, dearest aunt, be under some misapprehension respecting the real sentiments of the eldest? As for myself, I cannot charge Gerald Marsdale with hypocrisy without more substantial proof. : I will, however, not deny that a somewhat perplexing cloud hangs over bis conduct with regard to the sessions ; bat his previous assurances to me were of so friendly a nature, and marked with so much deference towards the well-being of my dear father and ourselves that I feel it impossible they could have emanated from a treacherous beart."

“I would gladly join in the favorable opinion you have formed of this young man," said Mistress Trevillers, “ had not circumstances como to light of so very suspicious a complexion as to preclude me from doing so. What can be said in justification of his haviog delivered over your luckless Rosary to a justice of the peace, an act which might have occasioned the penalty of præmunire to have fallen on your poor father's head; and which misfortune was only averted by the failure in proving its owner, or from whence it originally came. Had this young man detained the Rosary in his own custody till some opportunity presented itself of placing it into safe hands, he would then have given us a proof of his sincere wish to befriend us, and my opinion of bim would then have been such as you could have wished dear Urcella.” This latter sentence was said with a significant look and smile.

Urcella was silent; she knew not how to explain away this unaccountable inconsistency of Gerald Marsdale. The fact spoke for itself, and she could do no more than ponder over the anomaly in a spirit of disappointment.

Having reached the cottage, they were welcomed in by an honestlooking, elderly man, who brought forward two oaken stools for their accommodation. Mistress Trevillers lost no time in commencing her inquiries respecting the stranger who had been with him on the preceding day.

** True enough," commenced the cottager, “my humble roof was honoured with the presence of one I had never seen before last evening."

"Was this stranger young, or advanced in years; of what cla:s did lie appear to belong? I have important reasons for asking these questions," said Mistress Trevillers, “ therefore, I trust you will answer me correctly."

Certainly,” replied the old man, “I have no reason to do otherwise; on the contrary, I feel too glad to have an opportunity of showing my readiness to obey any member of my respected master's family. The stranger did not belong to the poor class; his appearance and manner told quite a contrary tale; he was young, and his voice sweet-toned.”

“ And knew you not who he was ?” said Urcella.

“No, I did not; I only thought it probable it was a son of Mr. Marsdale. In truth, I'addressed liim as such, and receiving no correction, I concluded I was right.”

And what brought him to your cottage ?" continued the inquirer.

“ That is what I could not make ont, unless it was owing to a strange curiosity to become acquainted with all that was going on at the Priory.”

“ At the Priory?" reiterated Mistress Trevillers, looking anxiously at the speaker.

“Yes,” replied the old man, “every question he made me had reference to that place, and its owner. I was surprised at his wish to learn what so little concerned him, and felt unwilling to answer his many queries. I also declined accepting a gratuity which he offered me, as it was accom panied with words which seemed to command my silence, and this I could not understand, having said no more than the truth, and that required no remuneration." “What were the interrogatories he put to you?

a ?” “Ile inquired whether any changes had taken place in the household of late-Whether my master had given any signs of his being likely to conform to the state religion, since his conviction at the sessions -Whether his daughter had any intimacies in the neighbourhood; Who mostly fre. quented the Priory— When, it was thought, Sir Algernon would leave the place for foreign parts, and such like."

“Who could it have been?” said Urcella, thoughtfully; “I can attribute such espionage to no other than to Humphrey Marsdale, who, with some sinister plan in view, is endeavouring to make himself acquainted with our familiar movements."

“No, my good lady,” said the old man, quickly, “it was not Mr. Humphrey Marsdale; his person is well known to me; I frequently saw him during the time this strip of land on which my cottage stands was under dispute, he was frequently here at that time, and I had occasion to speak to him often."

“ What was his general appearance? What the colour of his garb?"

“My sight is somewhat imperfect,” said the old man, “but from what I was able to observe, I should say, his appearance was all in his favor. His hair was of a lightish brown, his doublet of a dark green colour, with a cloak of the same, a leathern belt fastened in the centre by a clasp of silver.”

At this description the eyes of Urcella met those of her aunt; and though it only detailed what was the general costume of the young men of the day, still, it tallied so completely with that worn by Gerald, when seen by Urcella at the house of Mrs. Trenchard, that very little doubt remaived who the prying individual could be ; and this doubt was further removed on the production of a silken kerchief which the interrogator had left behind, and upon which was seen the letter “G,"traced in golden threads at its edge.

· Gerald having only lately returned from abroad, this incident decided the matter at once—and both parties left the cottage under the same impression. Mistress Trevillers, who had for some time entertained suspicions respecting the sincerity of Gerald Marsdale's friendly professions, only required some such proof as the above to justify the opinion she had formed

of him. As for Urcella, she was taken by surprise ; at first she knew not what to believe, but after a little reflection, she could not but own, however reluctantly, that her eyes were at length opened, and that she could no longer raise her voice in favor of one so unworthy of her approbation. How could she ever again place any confidence in Gerald, after the affair of the Rosary ? Everything told against him. She had been completely misled by his frank manner and open countenance; and, in future, must yield to the better penetration of her aunt. With this resolution she endeavoured to charge the subject of conversation, and at once extinguish the recollection of a discovery so distasteful to her feelings. This was, however, not so easily done, the subject returned to her mind again, and again. How blindly, thought she, have I been deceiving myself, with

Gerald's fair words ! so full of kindness and consideration, and yet so hollow! How foolishly did I think that I had found in the enemy's camp a friend, who would assist us, by his influence with his parent, in case of need, and protect us from that threatening storm which, at any day, might burst over our heads; but, alas ! what have my hopes turned out but a fallacy ? and the safe haven which my poor imagination had conjured up-a mere phantom!

this young

CHAPTER XXIII.

AN UNEXPECTED INCIDENT. The injury inflicted on the preceptor did not prove to be of so serious a na. ture, as was at first apprehended. Skill and care brought him round by degrees, till he was once more enabled to resume his easy post at Tregona. A diligent search had been made for his savage assailant, but without success; no information could be gained as to the direction of his flight, notwithstanding the untiring exertions made for the purpose. At length, all further hopes of his capture were given up, and the subject, like every other peculiar event, had its day and was then forgotten, Gerald was still absent; and Mr. Marsdale having retired to his study, Alice took the opportunity of paying old Mrs. Trenchard a visit, and making inquiries respecting the missing Urcella, and the result of the little commission she had given her.

6. Tell me all that passed,” said the young girl, “ I trust my fears are not realised that Sir Algernon's daughter is indisposed or that she has forsaken me."

“ Mistress Urcella is, thank God, in good health, and most thankful for the many expressions of affection you sent to her; she is fully convinced that you had nanght to do with the harsh measures carried out against ber beloved father, and bids me assure you, tbat should any further oppression from the same quarter visit her house, she should ever regard her sweet Mistress Alice as exempt from the slightest participation therein.”

" And did she say all this?” said the pleased and affectionate girl.

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