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smiling, “ I should like something to remind me in after-days of this morning. It is one I shall never think of but with pleasure, my lady. You look so kind and speak so different to any one I've ever heard, when discovered at this sort of work, that I'm sorry, very sorry, to have set foot upon your grounds."

66 From Mr Branishaw's innumerable descriptions of your success,” replied Blanch, laughing, “I believe you have good cause to rejoice in the trespassing. However,

you generously spared Saint Hubert —as we call the stag, so nearly falling sacrifice to the united intrepidity of yourself and hounds—I consider myself your debtor. What can I offer you ?”

“Do you value the collar on your dog ?” inquired Ned.

“ If I did, I should more readily give it you,” replied Blanch, stooping to unbuckle the silver-mounted strap round Orion's


neck, and placing it in the hands of the poacher.

" Thanks, many thanks,” returned Ned. And now, Ringwood,” continued he,“

you shall wear this.”

" Is your hound much injured ?” asked Blanch, shuddering to see the blood trickling down his stalwart limbs.

“ 'Tis a severe flesh wound,” replied the poacher, “but he's a hardy fellow, and soon forgets such scratches."

" Which is your favourite of the two ?” inquired Blanch.

" I scarcely know," replied Ned, looking fondly at his couple of noble companions,

they are both so good. If there be a lurking favour, however, it is for old Ringwood, here."

“ Are they always associates in your adventures ?" said Blanch.

“ Never ; save in coursing a deer at daybreak now and then," returned the poacher. They would be of little use," continued he, laughing, “ to drive hares into gate nets, dragging stubbles, or bagging longtails at roost.”

“ Your frankness pleases me, returned Blanch, “and, although I could wish you to amend the ways of your unlawful livelihood, yet take with you my best wishes for your safety and well-doing."

With this the lady turned on her heel ; and Ned, acknowledging the expression of her friendly disposition towards him, by many a respectful bend, quitted the spot with a vow—silently breathed, but not a wit the less binding—never to chase deer again in the park of Woodland Rookery.

His way was down a long, narrow, winding lane, on the eastern verge of the wide enclosure, and as he strode along, closely tracked by Ringwood and Dart, the last words of Blanch Sinclair were muttered upon his lips.

“ Amend the ways of my unlawful livelihood !” ejaculated he. 6 What can I do? Plough, dig, sweat, and toil for tenpence a day, as long as my health and strength last, and then be sent to die in a workhouse. No, by heaven! Not if the gibbet was as certain for this work as that end would be to the other. As long as I live, I will live ; not slave and starve for others' luxury. What have I, too, ever known but theft and the life of a vagabond ! My mother a gipsy, and my father? God knows who ! Unlawful livelihood! Yours, sweet mistress, might have been more so if your eyes had first seen daylight under that roof,” and as he spoke he pointed to a hut at the corner of the lane, above the roof of which a thin, straight volume of smoke curled upwards.

It was a rudely-constructed dwelling. The thatched eaves of the roof drooped within some eight feet of the ground, and its walls were made of mud and straw. The door was divided in two equal parts, and at this moment the top division was open while the lower one was closed. Resting on the edge of the portal, with folded arms, was the figure of an old woman. Suspended by that which appeared to be the sinew of some animal, and wound round a finger, was a highly-polished crutch stick, which she dangled on the outside, and kept time to a song she was crooning to herself. A handkerchief, white as the driven snow, was twisted quaintly round her head, and brought close to a pair of thick, frosted brows, shading eyes, black and glowing as a snake's. Her features were long and sharp, and the ravages of time and, perhaps, passion had left indelible stamps there. Wrinkles, carved deeply, lined her face, and her veins seemed bloodless ; so sallow and withered was her flesh. Her toothless gums were sunken, and permitted her fine aquiline nose almost to meet her

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