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HIS SERENE HIGHNESS

HIS SERENE HIGHNESS

ON

CHAPTER I

SONG BY A SINGLE GENTLEMAN

N midsummer day 1715, Mr. Christopher Hope, of Piddenhoe, was jilted. He continued to live. On Tuesday in Whit-week 1716, he stood godfather to the lady's first baby. This was thought a proof of poor spirit. But he had a disconcerting pair of eyes, and no one told him so except his aunt who had ruled the county for two generations.

She said with an oath or so: "Christopher! I used to think the wench a fool. She was right."

"Very right, ma'am. The infant is beautiful."

"No infant is beautiful unless you are its mother. Do you want to be a woman, sir?"

"These regrets are vain," said Mr. Hope, and then went the grand tour with his chaplain. An odd thing. He was old for it.

He had fought, not without credit, under Marlborough. He had been something for Marlborough on the staff of Prince Eugène. He was a formed man; he had seen the world, Flanders, High Germany and Low Italy. In all reason it was time that he settled, opened his house, begat children. For he had great possessions, and even if a man respects himself so little that he will take no thought to hand on his countenance to posterity, to be sure he should respect his estate and make an heir for it. It was the opin

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