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choly pollard-willows, that stood like stripped, shivering urchins by the river side. Other fields succeeded, yellow with golden grain, or bright with flowering clover (the autumnal crop), coloured with every shade, from the light green of the turnip to the darker verdure of the bean, the various products of the teeming land. The whole was backed by round drowsy masses of trees.

Luke spake not, nor abated his furious course, till the road began to climb a steep ascent. He then drew in the rein, and from the heights of the acclivity surveyed the plain over which he had passed.

It was a rich agricultural district, with little picturesque beauty, but much of true English endearing loveliness to recommend it. Such a quiet, pleasing landscape, in short, as one views, at such a season of the year, from every eminence in every county of our merry isle. The picture was made up of a tract of land, filled with corn ripe for the sickle, or studded with sheaves of the same golden produce, enlivened with green meadows, so deeply luxuriant as to claim the scythe for the second time; each divided from the other by thick hedge-rows, the uniformity of which were broken ever and anon by some towering elm, tall poplar, or wide-branching oak. Many old farm-houses, with their broad barns and crowded haystacks (forming little villages in themselves), ornamented the landscape at different points, and by their substantial look evidenced the fertility of the soil, and the thriving condition of its inhabitants. Some three miles distant might be seen the scattered hamlet of Rookwood; the dark russet thatch of its houses scarcely perceptible amidst the embrowned foliage of the surrounding timber. The site of the village was, however, pointed out by the square tower of the antique church, that crested the summit of the adjoining hill; and although the hall was entirely hidden from view, Luke readily traced out its locality, amidst the depths of the dark grove in which it was embosomed.

It was,

This goodly prospect had other claims to attention in Luke's eyes besides its agricultural or pictorial merit. or he deemed it was, his own. Far as his eye ranged, yea, even beyond the line of vision, the estates of Rookwood extended.

"Do you see that house below us in the valley?" asked Peter of his companion.

"I do," replied Luke; "a snug old house-a model of a farm. Every thing looks comfortable and well-to-do about it. There are a dozen lusty haystacks, or thereabouts; and the great barn, with its roof yellowed like gold, looks built for a granary; and there are stables, kine-houses, orchards, dovecots, and fishponds, and an old circular garden, with wallfruit in abundance. He should be a happy man, and a wealthy one, who dwells therein."

“He dwells therein no longer," returned Peter—“ he died last night."

"How know you that? None are stirring in the house as yet."

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"The owner of that house, Simon Toft," replied Peter, was last night struck by a thunderbolt. He was one of the coffin-bearers at your father's funeral. They are sleeping within the house, you say. 'Tis well. Let them sleep on they will awaken too soon, wake when they may-ha, ha!” "Peace," cried Luke; "you blight every thing—even this smiling landscape you would turn to gloom. Does not this morn awaken a happier train of thoughts within your mind? With me it makes amends for want of sleep-effaces resentment, and banishes every black misgiving. 'Tis a joyous thing, thus to scour the country at earliest dawn; to catch all the spirit and freshness of the morning; to be abroad before the lazy world is half awake; to make the most of brief existence; and to have spent a day of keen enjoyment, almost before the day begins with some. I like to anticipate the rising of the glorious luminary; to watch every line of light changing, as at this moment, from shuddering grey to blushing rose ! See how the heavens are dyed! Who would exchange yon gorgeous spectacle," continued he, pointing towards the east, and again urging his horse to full speed down the hill, endangering the sexton's seat, and threatening to impale him upon the crupper of the saddle" who would exchange that sight, and the exhilarating feeling of this fresh morn, for a couch of eider-down, and a headache in reversion ?"


I for one," returned the sexton, sharply, "would willingly exchange it for that, or any other couch, provided it rid me of this accursed crupper, which galls me sorely. Moderate

your pace, grandson Luke, or I must throw myself off the horse in self-defence."

Luke slackened his charger's pace, in compliance with the sexton's wish.


"Ah! well," continued Peter, restored in a measure to comfort; now I can contemplate the sunrise, which you laud, somewhat at mine ease. 'T is a fine sight, I doubt not, to the eyes of youth; and, to the sanguine soul of him upon whom life itself is dawning, is, I dare say, inspiriting: but when the hey-day of existence is past; when the blood flows sluggishly in the veins; when one has known the desolating storms which the brightest sunrise has preceded, the seared heart refuses to trust its false glitter; and, like the experienced sailor, sees oft in the brightest skies a forecast of the tempest. To such a one, there can be no new dawn of the heart; no sun can gild its cold and cheerless horizon; no breeze can revive pulses that have long since ceased to throb with any chance emotion. I am too old to feel freshness in this nipping air; it chills me more than the damps of night, to which I am accustomed. Night-midnight! is my season of delight. Nature is instinct then with secrets dark and dread. There is a language which he who sleepeth not, but will wake, and watch, may haply learn. Strange organs of speech hath the invisible world-strange language doth it talk-strange communion hold with him who would pry into its mysteries. It talks by bat and owl-by the grave-worm, and by each crawling thing -by the dust of graves, as well as by those that rot therein —but ever doth it discourse by night, and 'specially when the moon is at the full. 'Tis the lore I have then learnt that makes that season dear to me. Like your cat, mine eye expands in darkness-I blink at the sunshine, like your owl."

"Cease this forbidding strain," returned Luke; "it sounds as harshly as your own screech-owl's cry. Let your thoughts take a more sprightly turn, more in unison with my own and the fair aspect of nature."

"Shall I direct them to the gipsies' camp, then?" said Peter, with a sneer. "Do your own thoughts tend thither ? "You are not altogether in the wrong," replied Luke. was thinking of the gipsies' camp, and of one who dwells amongst its tents."

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66 I knew it," replied Peter. "Did you hope to deceive

me, by attributing all your joyousness of heart to the dawn? Your thoughts have been wandering all this while upon one who hath, I will engage, a pair of sloe-black eyes, an olive skin, and yet withal a clear one- black, yet comely, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon a mesh of jetty hair, that hath entangled you in its net-work-ripe lips, and a cunning tongue-one of the plagues of Egypt. Ha, ha!"

"You have guessed shrewdly," replied Luke; not to own that my thoughts were so occupied."

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66 I care

"I was assured of it," replied the sexton. "And what may be the name of her towards whom your imagination was straying?"

"Sibila Perez," replied Luke. "Her father was a Spanish Gitano. She is known amongst her people by her mother's name of Lovel."

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"So beautiful!-but no matter! you shall judge of her charms anon."

"I will take your word for them," returned the sexton ; "and you love her?"


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"You are not married?' asked Peter, hastily.

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but my faith is plighted.” mischief is not then irreparthough not to a gipsy

"Not as yet," replied Luke; "Heaven be praised! The able. I would have you married. girl."

"And whom would you select?"

"One before whom Sybil's beauty would pale as stars at

day's approach."

"There lives not such a one."

"Trust me there does. Eleanor Mowbray is lovely beyond parallel. I was merely speculating upon a possibility, when I wished her yours it is scarcely likely she would cast her eyes upon you."

"I shall not heed her neglect. Graced with my title, I doubt not, were it my pleasure to seek a bride amongst those of gentle blood, I should not find all indifferent to my suit." Possibly not. Yet what might weigh with others would not weigh with her. There are qualities you lack which she has discovered in another."

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"And you would have me abandon my own betrothed love, to beguile from my brother his destined bride? that were to imitate the conduct of my grandsire the terrible Sir Reginald towards his brother Alan."

The sexton answered not, and Luke fancied he could perceive a quivering in the hands that grasped his body for support. There was a brief pause in their conversation.

"And who is Eleanor Mowbray?" asked Luke, breaking the silence.


"Your cousin. On the mother's side a Rookwood. therefore I would urge your union with her. There is a prophecy relating to your house, which seems as though it would be fulfilled in your person and in hers.

When the stray Rook shall perch on the topmost bough,
There shall be clamour and screaming, E trow;
But of right, and of rule, of the ancient nest,

The Rook that with Rook mates shall hold him possest.”

"I place no faith in such fantasies," replied Luke; “and yet the lines bear strangely upon my present situation."

"Their application to yourself and Eleanor Mowbray is unquestionable," replied the sexton.

"It would seem so, indeed," rejoined Luke, and he again sank into abstraction, from which the sexton did not care to arouse him.

The aspect of the country had materially changed since their descent of the hill. In place of the richly-cultivated district which lay on the other side, a broad brown tract of waste land spread out before them, covered with scattered patches of gorse, stunted fern, and low brushwood, presenting an unvaried surface of unbaked turf. The shallow coat of sod was manifested by the stones that clattered under the horse's hoofs as he rapidly traversed the arid soil, clearing with ease to himself, though not without discomfort to the sexton, every gravelly trench, natural chasm, or other inequality of ground that occurred in his course. Clinging to his grandson with the

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