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“And, by all the saints !” said Fitzgeorge, pressing her hand to his heart, “ if I were peerless among peers, having no equal in wealth and honours of nobility, I would pledge my hand and heart to love, honour, and cherish such a noble-minded girl. In proof whereof,” he continued, " I affix this my hand and seal,” impressing his words with his lips on the glowing cheek of the beauteous Mary.

“A very rude act in deed,” said Mary—“ in the open air, Julius,” she added, by way of qualification. " However, as we are neither of us likely to be rich or peerless, I fancy we may omit the usual covenants by default."

Not so, Mary ; I mean to propose a very heavy liability on both sides, namely, that, notwithstanding any untoward circumstances, or objections that may arise or any change of circumstances whether for good or ill, that may occur to the contracting parties, they hereby bind themselves to become—(shall I insert the obligation, Mary?” said Fitzgeorge. She was silent, but he felt a slight pressure of the hand, which he took for assent, and proceeded)——“ man and wife, within the space of—three months shall it be from this time, Mary?

“ Julius, Julius !” exclaimed the lovely girl ; "you are hurrying on without due consideration of time or circumstance. We must consult my father : you know that he will not oppose unreasonable objections ; but, for heaven's sake! if it be possible, let us clear away some of the mystery which surrounds us ; before we become irrevocably united, we ought both of us to know who or what we are."

“ If our union, my dear girl, is to rest upon that condition, I fear me the delay will be insupportable, at least to me, Of your history, Mary-and I speak it feelingly-I know enough to know that I can have no expectation beyond the possession of the woman I adore : to me you are everything as I see you— lovely, virtuous, amiable, and affectionate. What right have I to look further or expect more? Our love has not been of sudden growth, Mary : it commenced in the spring of life, and has bloomed over three summers of delightful intercourse. We have no secrets, no concealments of our own ; and, if we look forward to some discoveries connected with our parentage, they ought not to influence our actions, let them be as they may; nor should they delay the happiness which is within our grasp."

“ My heart accords with yours, Julius ; you know it, and it would be affectation in me to deny it; but my mind quails under the apprehension of disclosures which might wound your pride, or prejudice you in the estimation of worldly people. How could you bear to have it said that you had married a-God knows who?—the adopted daughter of a stable keeper?—the child, perhaps, of—I dare not utter what I think.” And she clung to him for support, while tears and sobs denoted the agitation of her feelings.

“ Mary, dearest Mary, do not drive me to distraction,” said Fitzgeorge, pressing her trembling form to his own agitated bosom ; “ you know as much of my history as I know myself ; you can have no disclosures to fear that ought to raise a blush upon your cheek-none that can ever taint your pure unblemished and beloved character--none that can ever wound your husband's honest pride, or prejudice his future pursuits in life-none, Mary, none that I may not participate in and feel humbled by comparison."

“ It matters little if he does or not, dear Julius. Such a gift from a stranger, who concealed his name, could only be considered an insult.”

" And if he had avowed himself,” inquired Fitzgeorge, with some alarm, “would that, Mary, have rendered the present more acceptable, or have lessened the indignity ?”

“No-on the contrary ; for if, as I suspect, it came from the royal libertine, I think the insult more offensive.'

“ You are a deal girl, and worthy of all my devotion. But tell me, Mary, what said old Frank to your illustrious conquest.

“ He said what his good, kind, affectionate old heart prompted him to say, but what it would not be proper for me to repeat—at least, in his language-lest I might be guilty of treason.”

“ Let it pass, Mary. The time may come when I shall be justified in resenting this offence, and proving my gratitude to your dear old guardian, who has been a father to you and a kind friend to me.”

" To everybody, Julius; to everybody. Frank Jessop, under a rough coating, has a warm, indulgent, and generous heart ; he is one of the best men that ever breathed ; and if he is not my father by law, I am sure that I am his daughter by love. It distresses me, Julius, and I am sure that it distresses both him and you, to entertain doubts which we have no means of elucidating. Ever since the visit of that mysterious old Crone of Thorpe Glen, I have noticed an unusual dejection in my father's spirits, and a visible alteration in his manner towards both of us ; not that he is less affectionate and kind in conduct and in speech; but occasionally he is more abstracted and reserved, and talks to himself. Yesterday I overheard him say— It cannot be ; the old hag must have invented the tale to impose upon us both ; and yet—' Here he paused for some time, and then, heaving a deep sigh, he said — It were better it should

I'll hie me to the wold, and know the worst.' And this morning he set off for Lincolnshire.”

“ It is strange_very strange. We are the children of mystery, Mary : we live in the world, and among the world, and yet I sometimes doubt if we are of it. That you are an angel, I am sure, said Fitzgeorge, playfully ; “ and that I am some mythological hero in disguise, I feel quite certain. How we either of us became wanderers on this earth is enveloped in deep mystery ; but fate, my dear Mary, which brought us together, evidently intended us for companions ; and some day or other the gods, who alone seem to know our true history, will draw the veil aside, and show us who and what we really are.”

“ But if the discovery should produce any transformation of what we are !” said Mary, somewhat apprehensively. “It might be more agrecable to remain in our present doubtful but happy state.”

“ I have often thought of that,” replied Fitzgeorge : "it might be the source of great misery to one or both of us. If, for instance, Mary, you should prove to be some rich man's heiress, and I should continue to be the poor student I am

Stop there, Julius : I will not allow you to conjure up such an inpossibility, nor will I permit you to hazard the unjust conclusion I think you were arriving at. No, Julius ; if I were a rich mạn's heiress, I would enrich the man I loved before I married him, that I might insure his confidence and secure his regard."

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“And, by all the saints !” said Fitzgeorge, pressing her hand to his heart, “ if I were peerless among peers, having no equal in wealth and honours of nobility, I would pledge my hand and heart to love, honour, and cherish such a noble-minded girl

. In proof whereof,” he continued, “I affix this my hand and seal,” impressing his words with his lips on the glowing cheek of the beauteous Mary.

"A very rude act in deed," said Mary—“ in the open air, Julius," she added, by way of qualification. " Howover, as we are neither of us likely to be rich or peerless, I fancy we may omit the usual covenants by default.”

Not so, Mary ; I mean to propose a very heavy liability on both sides, namely, that, notwithstanding any untoward circumstances, or objections that may arise or any change of circumstances whether for good or ill, that may occur to the contracting parties, they hereby bind themselves to become—(shall I insert the obligation, Mary?” said Fitzgeorge. She was silent, but he felt a slight pressure of the hand, which he took for assent, and proceeded)--"man and wife, within the space of-three months shall it be from this time, Mary?”

“ Julius, Julius !” exclaimed the lovely girl ; "you are hurrying on without due consideration of tinie or circumstance. We must consult my father : you know that he will not oppose unreasonable objections ; but, for heaven's sake! if it be possible, let us clear away some of the mystery which surrounds us ; before we become irrevocably united, we ought both of us to know who or what we are."

“ If our union, my dear girl, is to rest upon that condition, I fear me the delay will be insupportable, at least to me, of your history, Mary-and I speak it feelingly-I know enough to know that I can have no expectation beyond the possession of the woman I adore : to me you are everything as I see you— lovely, virtuous, amiable, and affectionate. What right have I to look further or expect more? Our love has not been of sudden growth, Mary : it commenced in the spring of life, and has bloomed over three summers of delightful intercourse. We have no secrets, no concealments of our own; and, if we look forward to some discoveries connected with our parentage, they ought not to influence our actions, let them be as they may; nor should they delay the happiness which is within our grasp."

“My heart accords with yours, Julius ; you know it, and it would be affectation in me to deny it ; but my mind quails under the apprehension of disclosures which might wound your pride, or prejudice you in the estimation of worldly people. How could you bear to have it said that you had married a—God knows who ?—the adopted daughter of a stable keeper ?—the child, perhaps, of—I dare not utter what I think." And she clung to him for support, while tears and sobs denoted the agitation of her feelings.

" Mary, dearest Mary, do not drive me to distraction,' said Fitzgeorge, pressing her trembling form to his own agitated bosom ; “ you know as much of my history as I know myself ; you can have no disclosures to fear that ought to raise a blush upon your cheek-none that can ever taint your pure unblemished and beloved character---none that can ever wound your husband's honest pride, or prejudice his future pursuits in life-none, Mary, none that I may not participate in and feel humbled by comparison.'

“ It is noble in you, Julius, to lower yourself to the level of my affliction ; but will it, can it, always be thus, when the cold-hearted and the calculating may point the finger of scorn at the unknown bride, the neglected orphan, whose paternity, like that of the Arab, if discovered at all, may be traced to the wanderers of the sandy desert ?”

“ To the noblest blood in the world," exclaimed Fitzgeorge, laughingly—" to the sires of eastern kings, of Moorish heroes, of Chinese emperors, of German dukes, and English sovereigns. For heaven's sake, Mary, do not distress yourself about what the world may say or think of our origin ; if they find the shield an unspotted index of the mind, let them sneer at its simplicity while they envy its purity.”

You treat the subject too lightly, Julius ; it is one of grave importance to both of us : you may be more than you appear to be; and I, although humble, may be less. When my father returns from visiting the Wild Man of the Wold, I am determined to find the Crone of Thorpe Glen, and question her further.

“ The old witch !” said Julius. “ Frank Jessop discoursed with me about her, and wished me to meet her ; but I declined to countenance her impositions. She has picked up some vague reports from village gossips, and would convert them into marketable facts; but heed her not, Mary ; seek her not, as you value your peace of mind. These pretending fortune-tellers are like the hags in • Macbeth'—they promise to the ear, and break it to the heart.'

“ Hold thee, Julius Fitzgeorgc !” screamed forth a harsh, sepulchral voice, that seemed to come from the trunk of an adjoining tree.

It was with difficulty that the young student could prevent the terrorstricken Mary from falling on the green sward ; the surprise had for a moment unnerved his manly frame, and while he clasped the fainting girl in his arms, he felt a thrilling sensation of the blood, as if he had been stung by an adder ; large drops of cold perspiration glistened on his youthful brow. In a moment he saw extended before his eyes the bony hands and spectral form of an unearthly-looking, haggard fiend, whose glaring eyes and wrinkled visage were rendered doubly hideous by the faint blue light of the retiring moon, which fell with flickering effect upon her face and tattered garments, displaying an outline of horrible deformity.

“ Hold thee, rash youth !" the hag shrieked, with piercing cry; “'tis not for thee to denounce the old Firefly. By yon Great Eye of Heaven I swear thou owest thy life, thy love-ay, start not—and it may be thy future destiny to the old witch,' the imposter,' as I overheard thee say but now.

Begone, thou ragged lump of deformity ; begone,” said Fitzgeorge, indignantly. “ Go frighten timid maidens and

young

children with thy mystical revelations—I'll none of them.”

“ 'Twere bad as blaspheming in thee, young sir, to let thy tongue run riot thus against old Barbara.”

“Barbara !” ejaculated Mary, recovering from her terror, but still clinging to her lover for support ; “surely I have heard that name before? Oh, Julius, do not be harsh with the poor old soul. It is, it must be, the Crone of Thorpe Glen !"

“Ha! ha! ha!" responded Julius Fitzgeorge ; but the attempt to raise a derisional laugh at the old crone was a failure ; it wanted the rich hilarity of tone which distinguishes heartfelt mirth ; it was rather a croaking, sarcastic, ironical ebullition of a disturbed spirit, than the merry chuckle of good humour ; and the shrewd old crone knew it to be so. “ And you are Queen Barbara,” continued Fitzgeorge,

“ the renowned hag of Bagley Wood ? I pray your majesty's pardon for lack of homage. I ought to have recognised you by oral tradition ; although this is the first time, as I think, that we have ever met."

“I think not, was the stern reply. “ Loose that lovely girl from your embrace, and lend me your ear, but for a minute, while I quicken your memory.'

“ Nay,” said Fitzgeorge ; "an thou hast aught to say that may concern me, say on in the presence of this lady, whose fate is irrevocably linked with mine.”

“Be it so,” replied the ancient woman. A few steps hence there is a resting-place-let us there ; and, if you fear not to come in contact with old Barbara, you shall hear more than you will wish to forget.”

The waning moon was sinking into mist, but still a spangled host of bright-eyed stars illumed the lofty horizon. The bell clock of the old church had tolled the hour of nine, when the two lovers seated themselves beside old Barbara, on a bench in Christ Church meadows, fearful and full of anxious expectation.

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Of all the laws, the maintenance or abolition of which now engages the attention of the public, the game laws are the most clamorously attacked, the most badly defended, and the least understood.

There is something repulsive in the very title of “ An Article on the Game Laws." This arises from several causes ; first, those who discuss the question are either lawyers, who consider nothing but the law of the case-sportsmen, who know nothing of the legal, who care nothing for the social and moral, effects of these laws or humanity-mongers, who are ignorant of everything relating to the subject, except that so many thousands of the peasantry are yearly sent to the treadmill for offences against the game laws. Therefore it is that the views of writers on this question generally consist of merely professional learning, of gross onesided exaggeration, or sheer rank nonsense. Omitting the little bit of Blackstone, the allusion to the forest laws, and the dictum of Chief Justice Best, with which game law arguments nearly always commence; promising to eschew all references to the feudal system, “ suzerain, &c., &c., and to appeal to no statute save that written in every English heart—the eternal law of justice—we will endeavour briefly to discuss some of the common arguments we hear in society for and against these laws. It is a very favourite subject for the declamation and invective of well-meaning, unthinking people, that owners of extensive estates

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