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OR,

OUR HEARTH AND HOMESTEAD.

BY

JOHN MILLS,

AUTHOR OF “THE OLD ENGLISH GENTLEMAN,” “THE STAGE COACH,

OR THE ROAD OF LIFE," " THE ENGLISH FIRÉSIDE,"

" THE SPORTSMAN'S LIBRARY,” &c. &c.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

MODT

VOL. II.

AUSTIC
Luna

LONDON:
T. C. NEWBY, MORTIMER STREET.

1845.

THE OLD HALL;

OR,

OUR HEARTH AND HOMESTEAD.

CHAPTER I.

“ As we do turn our backs
From our companion thrown into his grave,
So his familiars to his buried fortunes
Slink all away."

The day following John Hardy's singular nocturnal adventure at the Lion had scarcely began to peep, when an old and heavy post-chaise was seen rumbling up the long avenue, flanked by stalwart oaks, leading to the Range, with Blossom, the squabby cob, tied by the reins to

VOL. II.

the rear. For the purpose of obtaining assistance on his way, Blossom threw the entire weight of his body on the bridle, and thus permitted himself to be dragged, with as little exertion as possible on his own part, towards his journey's end. Upon the antiquated carriage stopping at the porch, the face of John Hardy emerged from the dropped window; and ere the deep-toned bell, which the post-boy-his venerable appearance betokening the sere and yellow leaf of life-tugged as a summons to their arrival, ceased to swell through every nook and corner of the house, that active little man had escaped from the confinement of the carriage, and was offering his assistance to the safe descent of his companion, the eccentric and volatile hero in the scenes of the preceding night.

A neat box this,” said he, taking John's hand, and glancing at the gray and time-worn walls of the old mansion, “very.”

“Ah, sir,” replied John, rubbing his hands with glee, “it's none of the lath, white-wash, and plaster kind, but as solid as good oak beams and bricks can make it. Egad! the wind must be a burly one to cause a rafter even to creak.” John Hardy's attention was now turned to the releasing of Blossom, which would have been easily effected, had that wilful animal rendered the slight assistance required, by leaning a little forward to relieve the strain on the bridle ; but this he resolutely refused to do.

“ Come, Blossom, my pretty fellow,” said his master, coaxingly; "come, move a step nearer, so that I may untie the knot."

It is impossible to give the reason, any more than it is the accounting for many equally strange and obstinate determinations and practices on the part of the nobler animal man, for Blossom's perverseness; but there he remained, deaf to all entreaty, stretching himself backwards, and throwing every ounce of the specific gravity of his body into the reins which bound him to the back part of the post chaise. “Dear me !” exclaimed John Hardy, “what

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