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TALE OF CHRISTMAS-TIDE.
Miss RAYMOND, wrapped up in discern in a momentary inspection her furs, tried to peer out of the of another's physiognomy? first-class carriage she had to her- only for a moment could any one, self; but all was darkness and had he been so privileged, have gloom without, and it was also had the opportunity of arriving at intensely cold, and with a little conclusions ; for with a hasty gesshiver she resigned herself to the ture the girl drew her mantle alsituation. Just such a Christmas most up to her eyes, and audibly Eve as one would enjoy in a well- giving vent to her impatience, lighted house, with warm fires murmured to herself, “How slow blazing in every hearth, and the we are going, and what a night it sound of cheerful voices surging is! However, we must be near up in whatever room you might Draycombe now.” enter. Rather a contrast flying The train was an express, and through the air in such bitter for over half an hour had stopped weather, the silence unbroken ex- nowhere. It was considerably cept by the rush of the wheels; past its time, but now the station and these at last seemed to revolve was approached, and the pace was more quietly, while the pace slack- sensibly moderating. Miss Rayened perceptibly,
mond started up, oblivious of the The young lady ensconced in cold, and busied herself in getting the further end of the carriage her things together; and as there drew her furs closer round her as was a sudden stoppage, she let she did so tilting up her hat, and down the window. for the moment uncovering her It was snowing hard, and the face, showing fair golden hair storm had evidently been going swept back from a low white fore- on for some time, for on either head, and eyes brown and full of side of the rails there was one esprit,-in truth, a very sweet great white expanse.
Further up true woman's face, graced also the line some conversation with a mouth that, in its delicate going on, and leaning out of the curves, would have entranced any window, she caught sight of the modern Greuze who might be in station not a hundred yards away. search of female loveliness. And From what was said, she gathered the eyes too, told, if a hasty glance that the line was hereabouts so at them could declare anything, of blocked by a drift ihat there would a sweet, frank, kindly nature, with be delay till the snow could be just such a mere touch of coquetry cleared, and thanking her good forthat would never venture over the tune that had brought her so close bare boundary of flirtation. It to the end of her journey, she rewas the face of one to whom the fastened the window and patiently little ones would fly for comfort waited. After a short interval the and consolation; and, if it told its train dragged slowly on to the stastory truly, of one who, if she put tion, where descending, she quickly her trust at all, would do so with collected her belongings, and asked all her heart. But what can you the porter whether any carriage
was in waiting from the Hall-Mr The new-comer, swathed up to Beaufort's.
his mouth in a heavy overcoat “No, miss, nothing have come heavily topped with snow, started yet ; perhaps it's been delayed by back when he found a lady in posthe snow."
session, and made a movement as " Has the snow been falling if to retreat ; but as Miss Raylong ?" she inquired, as she moved mond did not look very fierce or into the cheerless little waiting- hard-hearted, and indeed was clearroom, where there was a miser- ly a very pretty girl, and it seemed able fire trying to keep alight. like a case of beauty in distress,
6. Well, miss, it's been goin' on he took his courage in both hands for the last two hours, and it and advanced into the room. don't look as if it were a-goin' to " Pardon me for coming in so
suddenly. I trust I am not in“ Can I get a fly here?”
truding.' Indeed, Miss, I fear you can't ; Now Miss Raymond was what but I'll see the station-master." every right-minded and properly
This official, who presently came educated girl is – self-possessed. up, was, however, not able to help Before her stood a good-looking, her in any way. It appeared no soldierly figure, the face ornaconveyance of any kind plied to mented solely by a heavy mousand from the station, nor was there tache-the coat thrown back, setanything but a farmer's cart in the ting forth the lines of a powerful village, and that lay a mile and form which, garbed in its then a. half distant.
fashion, seemed even taller than “ No, miss, I think you had it really was. better stay here. Mr Beaufort's "No, I assure you not.” carriage is sure to come ; it's just “I fear," he hesitatingly said, been delayed a bit.”
" that you have been disappointed He then made her an offer to in getting away ?” come into his own quarters, and “Yes," she responded, “that is wait there till the carriage might just my case. Perhaps you are appear ; but Miss Raymond, thank- going to the same house ? Mrs ing him much, said she would do Beaufort promised to send for very well in the waiting-room, and me." she retired thereto—and placing “No; it is not my good fortune her smaller belongings on the table, to have to go there to-night. But closed the door, and drawing a I know the Beauforts very well. chair up to the fire, sat there en- They are great friends of mine. I joying the blaze which a vigorous cannot understand why their carapplication of the poker had drawn riage has not come.” forth.
1 Probably the snow 6. This is truly cheerful,” she “ Yes, of course, that must be remarked. “I suppose I ought it! How stupid of me. I_my not to blame the Beauforts, but place is the Heronry-telegraphed it's an unpleasant position ; and if this afternoon to send the dog-cart this trap of theirs does not turn for me, and I suppose it's been deup, what on earth I am to do I layed on the road.” don't know."
“Won't you sit down?”—makHer reflections were here broken ing room for him at the fire; “ you in upon by the opening of the must be very cold.” door.
" Thanks, I will. I was half
frozen out there. A gun-case has thetic.
" I wish I could do anygone astray, and I
was poking thing." about the station."
"And if nothing can be done, “I hope you found it."
and we are left here like two babes • Thanks, no; I suppose it's gone in the wood," she went on in a on. But really before this capital tone that tried to be light, and yet fire, I feel inclined to laugh at in her voice there were tears. troubles."
" Then, Miss Raymond, there's “ Yes—is it not nice?" she as- only one thing to do," he promptly sented. “I wonder how long we answered. shall be here?"
"And that is _?" “ I hope for age—hm! I mean, “ You encamp here. I'll rig up he confusedly corrected himself, things all around the windows, and 56 we shall soon get away.”
I'll bivouac outside.” “It's very good of you to say so," “On such a night! I could not replied Miss Raymond, who, as he dream of it. No, really," as he had spoken, had turned her face persisted. " The station - master aside with an amused smile on it; offered me an asylum, and if the “ but suppose no relief comes !” worst comes to the worst, I'll go
“ Upon my word, in that case" to him, and leave you in posses-he stopped.
sion here." “ Yes, in that case ?” persisted Just then the door was opened, his questioner.
and the porter appearing, anWell, Miss
nounced that he saw a trap coming My name is Raymond." up the road, but it was as yet, a “ Thank you, Miss Raymond. long way off. Let me introduce myself — Jack The two fellow-passengers went Woolcombe. I perhaps ought to outside. The snow had now ceased, say Captain Woolcombe; but you and a dull
was shining, see,” laughing apologetically, “ all showing one vast area of white as the fellows call me Jack."
far as the eye could reach. Some "6 All the fellows?”
distance up the road two lights “I mean all the fellows in the were seen advancing slowly. regiment the Rutland Hus- " I'm sorry to say, Miss Raysars."
mond,” said Wolcombe, “that that 6. Yes.
But, Captain Wool- is the wrong direction for the Beaucombe, to return to what you were fort's carriage, and I am afraid it saying, please tell me what I am is my cart; and he was right, for to do,”—and here, unwittingly, she presently the man driving came up held out her pretty little hands, as to Captain Woolcombe, and, touchif to give emphasis to the question; ing his hat, explained that he had for, indeed, the poor child was not had the greatest difficulty in forctaking her enforced stay with any- ing his way on at all, and had thing like the equanimity of her almost given up the idea of making companion. “Suppose this wretch- further progress, when the snow ed storm goes on, and no carriage stopped falling, and the moon comes! I've tried to get a convey- coming out, gave him hope, he ance from the village, which they might be able to push along. say is a mile and a-half off.”
And now, what was to become “ Really,''said Woolcombe, quite of the lady? distressed, " I feel for you awfully,' Miss Raymond, of course, could and he did indeed look very sympa- only resign herself to the situation,
and return to her asylum in the "You are awfully good," he station, and there she was found warmly said, “and indeed I was by Woolcombe.
going to propose to drive you to “I suppose," she said rising the Beauforts'. May I?"
" and extending to him her hand, " But this is immensely out of "we must now say good night. I your way.” hope you will speedily reach your " Not a bit. See, Miss Raymond, home."
it's past twelve now, and it's high “Pray, do not think I take a time you were fast asleep. Now great liberty,” he rejoined; “but let me decide for you. Here you just now said you would take James !” calling to his servant, any conveyance from the village. “put this lady's things with mine Why not take mine? I am quite in the cart. The boxes can be sent sure something must have hap- to-morrow, Miss Raymond. Now pened to the Beauforts' carriage. let me help you up. Yes, in front Mine, you see, is a light dog-cart, please. We can defy the cold with and so would travel easily." all these rugs. Now, James, let her
“ But I certainly am not going to head go. Poor Bess! she must be take your cart and leave you here.” as glad as we are to get home.”
Progress of course was slow, but mond. But you know I am certain it was sure, and at any rate, pro- what I did mean. Don't you?” gress it was, and that was some- “ Perhaps I do, she half shyly thing
assented. "I wish you would smoke, Cap- “Are you sure you are quite tain Woolcombe. I am sure you warm?" as he tucked the plaids would like to do so."
closer round her. “May I really ? Sure you don't “Quite sure, thanks. Is it far mind?"
“I like it. Let me hold the “Well, about a mile, or a little reins."
less. Curious,” he went on, “our “ How curious it is," he said both travelling and being belated presently, “our thus meeting! It on Christmas eve. It's like those seems like a sort of fate."
stories in the Christmas books." “ Doesn't it?” She laughed. “A " The real truth is," said Miss very lucky fate for me. You are Raymond, “I ought to have been my guardian angel.”
at the Beauforts' yesterday, but "I wish I-bm-I mean it's just when starting from home I been very fortunate for me." was detained." “ Now you know I ought to " That is my case.
I had half take that as a most unkind speech?” promised Cicely, that is my sister,
“ No—'pon my honour, you to be with her on the Tuesday.” can't think that, he said, in a " Then she has been expecting grieved tone.
“Oh,yes, I can," she lightly made “Oh, Cicely and I understand reply. “You were really glad each other. My younger brother that this misfortune overtook me. Trevor is to be at the Beauforts'
“ Never,” he protested; “you soon, and so you'll know him. He must not imagine that, Miss Ray- is in the Rifle Brigade,” continued
was no room.
he, growing communicative, “and with the Beauforts, and curtly ina dear good fellow, though I say formed the pair at the door that it that shouldn't. I hope Cicely she couldn't stay with the Beauwill soon know you."
fort's—“'cos why? 'cos they wasn't “It will be a great pleasure to there.” They managed to drag out me," began Miss Raymond. of him that three days ago there
Every one likes Cicely. But had been something very wrong as to her expecting me, you see I with the drains, and the entire was staying down in Surrey, and household had decamped to the could not be sure of the day. I Manor House, the Hall being now had made a half promise to try entirely in the hands of the and be back by Christmas Eve. builders, the speaker having been Holloa ! it's begun to snow again.” left in charge as caretaker. And this was the case.
It is " But is there no room where true the flakes were few and far this young lady can stay for the between as yet, but it was clearly night ? ” demanded Woolcombe. expedient to lose no time on the "No," he shortly replied, there road.
The whole house "I tell you what' Ill do, Miss was upside down. Raymond. When we get to the "And how far off is the Manor Beauforts', and we are already well House?" inquired Miss Raymond. up their avenue--you ought to see “It's a good four mile at least.' the lights of the house from here "What is to be done?” asked the -I'll ask them to put me up for girl, in great perplexity. the night."
not this old man get me something “ Yes; I think you had better.” to take me there?
"I'll go no farther to-night. “ No, Miss Raymond. It's hopeWell, here we Why, the less to expect anything of the sort. house is shut up!"
You must still place yourself under They had now come close to a my guidance. We will see how great structure, but no signs of soon we can get there." life were to be seen anywhere. "Oh, Captain Woolcombe! I
“This is most strange !” said am so distressed. I never meant Woolcombe. “Not very polite, to make myself such a burden, either, to ask you to their house but what can I do?" and leave no one to welcome you “ Believe me, Miss Raymond, it when you come.”
will be a real pleasure to me, and “ But are you sure this is the indeed it is my positive duty to house ?"
see you safely home.
Pray, say «« There's no doubt about that.
no more. Now, James, turn the James, ring the bell, will you." mare's head.”
The servant rang and rang, and "I beg your pardon, sir. The at last, after what seemed an inter- four-mile road goes by Shelvers minable delay, a faint noise was Dip, and with this fall and the heard, and finally, after various wind there has been, the snow must chains and bolts had been with have drifted fifteen feet there." drawn, the door was opened by an “And the longer road-I forold man, who was in an extremely get the distance ? " bad temper, and was very hard of “ It's eight miles, sir, and I hearing. He was quite unmoved doubt if that's much better." by the information that the lady "A nice look -out, certainly. in the dog-cart had come to stay Well, we can't encamp for the