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inake a pet of him, and come often and tell me how you get

I think I must go back now; I am stiffer than I thought I was.”

The boys bade him good-morning; Tom shook hands with him, which Martin did not offer to do, but looked on with mingled surprise and awe, and away they ran together. Before they had gone far they stopped to peep into the basket, and after a delightful inspection of the leveret, looked back towards the spot where they had left Mr. Strafford. He was standing still, leaning upon a spud which he had brought with him, and gazing at them. Tom waved his hand to him, and the old man returned the salute.

“ Tame it !” little Martin cried; “I should think you will! You could tame anything; you could tame a lion ; you could tame a bear; you could tame a deaf adder; you have tamed old Strafford. How did you do it, Tom ? How did you do it?

“I don't know," Tom replied. “He changed all of a sudden. He was going to put me in prison for poaching; he was as fierce and savage as any man could be; and then he wanted to give me cake and fruit, and all sorts of things ;” and he related all his adventures at length to his friend, repeating his former remark in conclusion : “He changed all on a sudden, but I am sure I don't know why.”

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CHAPTER XXXIV.

LEAP-YEAR.

M

0, sir, you are old;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine; you should be ruled and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself.

Shakespeare.
R. STRAFFORD, returning by slow and painful steps to his

dreary home, was met at the door by his housekeeper, Mrs. Daunt, who was known among the neighbours by the name of Weeping Mary, who, in a dismal voice, entreated him to make haste, for his dinner was really and would be good for nothing if he did not sit down to it at once, and it would be a shame and a pity, she said, for such good victuals to be wasted; it was enough to make anybody cry to see anything wasted; such were her feelings, as the squire well knew. Mr. Strafford made no reply, but pointed to his coat, torn and dirty from his conflict with the dog, and she helped him to change it, while the girl Betsy brought in the dish provided for his refection. Mr. Strafford glanced at his hands as if he would have liked to wash them, but as Mary was urgent for him to set to, and took off the covers at once, he waived the question of cleanliness, as he had often done before, and took his place at the table. He said no grace before meat. He had discontinued that practice long ago. What would be the use of saying grace for himself alone? He could think it as well or better. If the choice must needs lie between utterance and intention, the latter ought certainly to be preferred; but Mr. Strafford having ceased to repeat his grace, had also given up thinking about it, and had

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almost forgotten by this time that he had ever made use of either alternative.

“I cannot eat to-day,” he said, after trying a few mouthfuls. I have had a severe shake. That dog must be sent away.”

“ The dog!" said Mrs. Daunt. "Ah, poor thing! it was not his fault; he can't abide strangers. He keeps all the beggars off; not a tramp dares venture near the house when Ruffian shows himself. There's nothing for them here if they were to come; but he saves me the trouble of telling them so.”

“I'll have him removed,” said Mr. Strafford; "he gets too savage.”

“He is no worse than he was, Mr. Strafford. I should not blame the dog if I was you. If you bring strangers here, it's only natural that he should fly out upon them. He thinks it is his duty. What boy was that, and where did you pick him

up ?

Mrs. Daunt was on very easy terms with her master, and spoke her mind freely on all occasions, sympathising with him, outwardly, at least, in most things, and accommodating her humour to his-generally a very dismal humour. He put up with a great deal from her, believing that she was very careful of his interests, and feeling himself dependent upon her for his comforts and economies. She was surprised, therefore, when Mr. Strafford turned upon her angrily, and, in answer to inquiries about the boy, told her to “hold her tongue."

“It is for your sake I spoke, Mr. Strafford," she answered, in a whining tone. "I don't like to see you imposed upon by anybody, and children are so deceitful.”

Mr. Strafford shook his head impatiently.

“I did not think you was one to be imposed upon,” Mrs. Daunt continued : “especially by a bold-faced child like that. I heard him talking to you as if you had been an old beggarman.”

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