and felt the cool air on my face. I was placed in a chair, and Mr. Derwent looked over my hands and face carefully. "Are you safe'.'" he said, kindly, and then bringing a pail of water, made me bathe my hands and face, and take breath at my leisure.

"It was hot work," he said, " but I hope you won't be the worse for it. You are a first-rate ally. I hope we have left nothing very important behind us." Then he followed my example, and bathed his face. There was nothing, in fact, left for him to do. There were as many people at the pumps as could work, and the house could no longer be entered. "Where are the others ?" I said, as I recovered, looking round for my mother and aunt, and hardly had I spoken when Cicely rushed up to me.

'• I declare, Hester, you take it coolly," she said; " to see you sitting there—and I have been in such danger! Just at the last moment I remembered Mr. Perkins' hat, and dashed in for it, and there it is, a little smoked, but not much the worse, and I shall venture to say you never thought of it. Did you bring out my new boots?"

We could not refrain from a hearty laugh, both Mr. Derwent and I, at Cicely's anxieties, and she looked very indignant.

"Yes, you may laugh, Hester; but, Mr. Derwent, I paid twenty-five shillings for them this morning to such a princely creature in a taxcart, and to think that I did not get one single Sunday's wear out of them! It was exceedingly selfish of you, Hester, not to think of them. I am sure if you had mentioned them to Mr. Derwent he would gladly have put them in his pocket for me."

"I believe," said Mr. Derwent, "we threw a good many boots and shoes out of the window, perhaps yours may be among them."

"I shall go and look," Cicely said, turning away; "there is light enough, at any rate, to find them by."

There was light enough, truly, for now the thatched roof was on fire, and everyone simultaneously stopped

working to look at the blaze. Some one mentioned my name, and some one else said, "tell her mother she is here." So I got up and went in search of mother and aunt, finding them, at last, seated side by side, paralysed with terror, unable to move. I went up to them, and my mother could only pull me down to her, and say, " some one said you were inside, my darling I" when she fainted away.

It was Mr. Derwent who brought me water, and helped me to bring her round, while Aunt Bessie wrung her hands, and talked of her nerves. Mr. Derwent carried my mother to a couch, and laid her on it, and Aunt Bessie followed us, lamenting loudly over her hard fate.

"I knew something was going to happen," she said, piteously. "Last night a coal jumped out of the fire. I am a poor, nervous creature. Mr. Derwent," and there was the slightest possible touch of sarcasm in the voice that answered her, '• So I see, ma'am."

"Ah! it is well for people who can faint, and then get better. Overwrought people never lie down, and go off, and get a fuss made over them. I am sure this is worse than burglars. One might have hid from them in the cellar, but I defy you now to find a cellar to hide in. Dear me, I hope the men in the taxcart did not do this."

Mr. Derwent drew me to one side.

"Miss Everett," he said, "your mother cannot sit here. You must move her away from this sight The nearer the place she can be moved to the better, she cannot bear a long drive." He paused, and I did not rightly understand his drift, so I merely assented.

"My house is so near," he said, "and she can be so quiet thereWill you make use of it? You cannot think how glad I should be,' he added, eagerly.

I thought for a moment of what my father might say, and it was a puzzling case. too, for the last hour had made us like old friends.

"I think we ought to go to Uncle Ben's," I said. He gave a slight shrug of his shoulders, and glanced at Aunt Bessie rocking herself to and fro, and occasionally wiping her eyes with a pocket-handkercliief.

"You will have to act for three people," he said; "you must take them all with you. To-morrow the heaviest part of the charge will go to their own home: you will be therein quietness, which,believe me, you will need after all this ; your father will easily find you, and, above all, the drive will be so short for your mother. At any rate, go and talk to her while I get a horse put in. She must go somewhere."

Mr. Derwent was soon back to say the cobarg was ready, and to second his invitation given through me. Mother looked bewildered at the idea, though Aunt Bessie and Cicely urged her to go to The Beeches. They would like it, they said, and that argument seemed enough for them. Mr. Derwent's, however, told more on mother. •

"You put yourself in my hands, Mrs. Everett," he said, persuasively, "and when Mr. Everett returns, where can I give you up to him so satisfactorily as under my own roof? It will be a mark of your confidence in me; he will know you trusted me, or you would not be there. Unless, indeed," he added, playfully, "you object to make me as proud as I intend to be of the honour you do me."

My mother yielded, and he said something polite to Aunt Bessie and to Cicely which made the latter pronounce him, "a dear, darling fellow," and he handed them all into the coburg. I was last.

"Now, Miss Everett," he said, taking a small key from his pocket, "you are most likely to find the house empty, though I have despatched my maid-servant across the fields to meet you. Can you be trusted to go in and make yourself perfectly at home; you know the house?" I nodded assent. "That key opens a sideboard in the oak parlour, everything else the servant can get you. I cannot go with you now, but remember you are absolute mistress of everything. Order rooms, anything you can get, and I shall give you

great credit if you manage well, for, to tell the truth, the resources of the house are very limited." Then he handed me in after the others, and we drove away.

I had been in the oak parlour at The Beeches often, but never under such strange circumstances as at present. The maid-servant welcomed us, blew up a fire, offered us supper, and then with my assistance got a room ready, to which my mother and aunt retired. Cicely and I agreed to sit up for two reasons. First, we were too excited to sleep: secondly, there was only one other bed-room furnished, and we thought it unfair to monopolise it. So we sat down in the oak parlour, and began to talk it all over. Cicely declared Mr. Derwent was the most charming, most interesting, most heroic creature she had ever seen, and his air and manner very superior to the princely fellow in the tax-cart. Her enthusiasm was just at its height when the subject of it came in, and she did not hesitate to tell him so. He was exceedingly amused, bowed low at her compliments, and hoped

she had found her boots. Then

he came up to me, and taking first one hand, and then the other, examined them both carefully, to see if either was burned. "I was afraid," he said, "you were concealing it from me; are you sure you were not hurt?"

"What would hurt her?" said Cicely; "I can tell you it was a narrow escape I had when I dashed in for Mr. Perkins' hat !' Goodness gracious, what did I do with it? Did any of you see it lately?"

"Yes,' said Mr. Derwent, "the last view I had of it it was like John Brown—' hanging on a sour appletree,' and I suppose it is there still, unless some one has stolen it."

"If he had only had the sense to claim it himself," said Cicely, seating herself in a most elegant attitude on the sofa; "he had less to think of than I had; it would have been safe now, but one ought not to expect too much sense from some people. He deserves to lose it."

"Yes," said Mr. Derwent, slyly, while making up the fire with a fresh. log of wood, "with your boots on your mind you could not be expected to keep his hat for him."

"Once," said Cicely, " I thought of wearing it, but it was so big and heavy I gave up the idea; and then my own sweet little hat—what should I have done with it? So I bid Patty put Mr. Perkins' in some place of safety, and I was quite angry some time after to find it on the pump, so I took it away."

"Patty?" said Mr. Denvent," that is the fresh-faced young woman, your servant, Miss Everett. She is to be here in a short time to attend to you, but just at present she is collecting the scattered portions of your wardrobe we dislodged so unceremoniously."

"Mr. Derwent," I said, " I do not know what to say to you about our intrusion here. We have come turning your house upside down, and giving you such''

He turned round, gave me acomical look, and said, " You would not wish to go to law about it, would you?" And when I laughed, he said, ■' How is Punch? By the way, did you know Punch was singed a, little, not burned, remember?"

"You need not talk of Punch," said Cicely, "just look at your own beard, Mr. Derwent, it is rather the worse for the campaign."

He turned to a mirror, and pretended to be much shocked at his own appearance. "To think of me standing here talking to ladies in such a plight!" he said, laughing, "but as I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, I shall just go back and finish what I was doing. I only came down to see if you ladies had got beds, and to bed you must go, for Miss Everett will be required to reckon things, and give directions, and she ought to rest a little."

It was a relief when Aunt Bessie and Cicely went home, for my mother was totally prostrated by the shock, and I had to send for Dr. Evans to see her. He enjoined great quietness, and with the exception of an hour I spent up at our own ruined house, I did not leave her all day. I dreaded my father's return (he had been telegraphed for),

the shock he would have first and last, and how he would like our being in Mr. Derwent's house. It was & relief at last to see him that evening come up the avenue, walking briskly with Mr. Derwent. The whole neighbourhood, with one exception, had gone to meet him at the railway-station, but that one exception, was the theme of every one's praise, his name in every one's mouth, and when, at the gate of The Beeches the master stood and held out his hand, what could my father do but wring it over and over again, and thank him? When I came out to the door our host delicately drew back, and left us to meet each other alone, and it was not till an hour afterwards (we had been with my mother), that our host came in. My father went up and laid his hand on Mr. Derwent's shoulder.

"Mr. Derwent, we did not deserve all this at your hands."

"My dear sir," said Mr. Derwent. "I never was so proud in all my life as to see you all here, and if Miss Everett will only give us some tea, I believe I shall have nothing left to wish for, unless, indeed," he added, "that Mrs. Everett were here with us instead of in her room."

So father and the brown beard, now, alas! considerably diminished, became friends. Next day was a busy one for us all. I went over with father to see if "a few rooms could be put in order in the ruins, so as we might move home, but we found it as Mr. Derwent had previously assured us, quite impossible. Worse than that, Dr. Evans would not consent to my mother being removed, even to Uncle Ben's house; she was so weak, the shock seemed to have taken away all strength, all nerve from her. So father and the boys fitted up a room for themselves, and did as they best could in it, and mother and I, though father was still reluctant to allow us, remained at The Beeches as Mr. Derwent's guests.

We dropped into a regular systematic plan for each day. Mr. Derwent promised we should be as undisturbed as in our own house. and to this end fitted up an empty Toom near mother's bedroom, where I might sit, or have {my meals if I preferred it, or found it embarrassing to be the only lady down stairs. There I generally breakfasted at first, but Mr. Derwent pleaded hard I should dine with him.

"It is a chance for me to grow civilized," he said, the first day, handing me to the head of the table, and Patty, who now attended, waiting at table, turned away her head, and tried to look unconscious.

Every evening my father came up, generally at tea-time, and while he sat with mother, Mr.Derwenttook me for a walk. We trespassed fearlessly now, and I taught him all the short cuts over the country. Sometimes Bill and Dick came, too, but, on the whole, Mr. Derwent found their society not attractive. It was about this time, I am glad to say, that Bill began to treat me with great respect and civility. The fact was, the day he left for London I had found half a cigar near the stackyard, and he never forgot that I returned it to him privately, saying, ■" Whoever smoked that cigar on Sunday night left a spark in the «tack." It had a wholesome effect on Dick, too, for, I believe, he had more correct information on this subject than ever I had.

Three weeks we have been here, •and I have taken out this neglected journal, and filled it up with the history of the fire and our visit here. It is nearly over. The new roof (not a thatched one) is on, and though my bedroom is unfinished, the ground story is all right again.

Friday Night.—This is to be our last night at The Beeches. Mother is better, and we go home to-morrow. Father and the boys have got two rooms ready for us, and the coburg is to come after breakfast to fetch us home. As I sat in mother's room to-night, I heard Mr. Derwent come in, and I heard his voice ask Patty if I were in or out. Then she came to the bedroom door, and beckoned me out. "I told the master Mrs. Everett was asleep, and he sent me up to watch her, and let you go down." It was Mr. Derwent's tea

time, and I went down into the oak parlour where we generally had meals. Our host was looking out of the window when I came in, and came to meet me.

"Patty says you have had tea with your mother; I intended to be home earlier, but I was detained. Would you mind pouring out my tea for me? I always fancy it is better when you do it." Then he put me in the chair before the teatray, and took one opposite to me, and I handed him his cup as usual. Then silence fell between us; he left his tea cooling, and seemed ruminating about something he saw far off, perhaps out of the window he had been standing in, when I entered. It could not have been to talk to me that he wanted me to come down stairs, for neither of us spoke for a long time. Presently he came back to every-day life again, took up his cup, and drank the tea. I thought I might venture to say something, so I said, " There is a change in the sound of the beech-trees to-day, we are nearer winter." "Yes," he said gravely. "Miss Hester." he added, "Do you like this place?" "Yes," I said, " I think it is the prettiest in all the neighbourhood; I was often here, you know, in the Brookes' time." He did not seem to hear the last part of my remark, but rose and walked to the window. "You do not seem to care about leaving it to-morrow," he said.

"You will have your house in peace then," I said, " when you get rid of two troublesome visitors."

He came over, and put his hand on my shoulder. "You know that is not true, Hester," he said; "you know I shall miss you at every turn, that I shall hate coming home in the evening with no one to speak to, or —or be pleased whether I come or not."

I was so sorry now that I had not waited to have tea with him, being the last evening, but mother seemed to take it for granted I should have mine with her. Mr. Derwent seemed to have forgotten he had eaten nothing.

There was another silence, and he stood still behind my chair.

"Hester," he said, in a minute or two, "you like this place. Could you he induced to come back as mistress of it? Don't—don't say you won't till you think for a little. If you like the place, you might come to like the master of it—in time-- in time —dear Hester. I will wait— but--"

I said nothing; my hand was a prisoner, and I could hear the quick breathing of my friend behind my chair. In a minute or two he said again, '' Don't you think you could be happy here?" and the voice was Bo desponding and so unlike itself, that I summoned up all my strength, and said, in one great sob, "There is nothing I should like so much." Some people might have asked whether I meant the place or the master, but my answer seemed quite satisfactory, for I felt my face taken in two strong hands, and the brown beard in close contact with it. After a little I told him he must be rational, and eat something, or I should go up-stairs to mother's room and leave him; and whether it was the threat, or that, as I supplied his plate, sitting next him, he could not refuse to eat what I gave him, but he made a heartier meal on icy tea and frozen muffins than any one, not as much in love as he was, could have expected. Then I went up to my mother, who was awake, and wished to see Mr. Derwent, and thank him for all his kindness, and having escorted him to the door of her room, left him to tell lus story. Then I went down, and sat on the hall-door steps, and looked round at what was to be my home. A fair and pleasant prospect it looked in the evening sunlight. The shadows of the beech-trees fell across the grass, and grew longer and longer as I sat watching them, thinking it all over Punch, in the lane, the tire, and our visit here. It seemed odd I should be here always, ] oak parlour, after i window the ma home. It was I to be the mistref die of mv:

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master of the Beeches said close to me: "It is all right, darling, umorrow I am to go up and see your father; in fact," he said, sitting down, and drawing me close to him, "I am going up the lane to pat all the Punches on the back. Do Too remember the night Mace frightened you? ,He knows better manners now."

Little did I think when I first looked at that terrible brown beard in church, and heard the tremendous responses out of that huge chest that the day would come when I should sit close by the owner—nay, rest my head against his shoulder, and feel nothing but intense happiness.

A Month Laier.—The next day was Sunday, and Mr. Derwent walked home with us from church. My father and he were now great friends, though the obnoxious fence was still a bone of contention between them, but it was who should have the honour of yielding, not who should hold out longest. Allworthy and M'Intyre, too, imitating their masters, smoked friendly pipes together, arguing over the merits of their respective churches.

We found mother on the sofa in our own sitting-room, and very glad to see the visitor we brought.

"She does not like the change, Derwent," father says. "You have spoiled her for our discomfort here: she finds the noise and confusion intolerable after The Beeches."

"You must send her back," said Mr. Derwent;" with a slight modification in the domestic arrangements we could all be very comfortable until this house is finished."

My father laughed, but did not see the meaning. The gentlemen were walking about after dinner together, when father said :—

•• There is one subject bet*efn us hard for me to touch on, Derwent—my obligations to v.iu."

■• May I make my own t- ruij. Mr. Everett?"

•' Yes, certainly. H
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