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ingly some three yards above his head. His tongue twines restlessly about his jaws in feverish anticipation. He backs some dozen feet, with watchful look still bent upon the berries, and then with a rush springs into the air, and, dashing his horns among the boughs, tears the fruit to the ground, to be devoured at leisure. Rook now calls to rook, and stoops from his lofty branch to prey upon drowsy, crawling things hiding from the day. The wakeful robin hies to his wonted perch and warbles his thrilling song, while the screech owl seeks the hollow, deeply scooped in some old tree, to hide her lidless
from the coming light.
The heavy door under the porch squeaked —nay, almost screeched—upon its rusty hinges, as it was thrown, or rather wheeled, back; for such was its weight that, notwithstanding rivets were clenched to the trunk of an oak which occupied centuries to rear, its
iron clasps would have been torn from their fastenings, but for a supporting roller fixed under its massive pressure.
With a playful gambol a large, red bloodhound bounded into the porch, followed by his mistress, Blanch Sinclair. And where was there one more beautiful and blessed than she? The lady Blanch, as the country folk were wont to call her, had more admirers, surely, than fell to the lot of any, however good and sweetly fair. The rustics vied with each other in evincing their regard for her charms and excellence; and, although no " pleasings of a lute” or serenade were heard within the precincts of her chamber, "times and often” did the village bells ring right merrily by reason of its being known how well she loved to hear, at eventide, their tinkling tongues swelling and sinking in the breeze. Squires, knights of the shire, old, young, rich and poor, were candidates all for her smiles and friendly greetings. The most humble felt the glow of her joyous look; and when she visited their lowly hamlets on missions of charity—which was so often that that day was an exception when a portion of it was not so occupied—many, ay, many, declared “ There was more comfort in a glance at the sweet, good young lady's face, and the hearing her tell of things to benefit 'em, here and hereafter, than all the sermons they ever heard."
At the harvest home, at the Christmas revel, frolic, and fun, and merry-making, Blanch was the talisman that inspired all hearts; and when the scene of affliction bowed them—the consolation.
If ever grace at the heart was portrayed in a footstep, if ever good blood and breeding were palpable, as they always are, in the bearing of “the mould of form,” then Blanch Sinclair's evinced the untutored charms, manipulated by the unrivalled hand and chisel of nature in her happiest mood. Light,
but no languor was in her tread. Proud and springy as a roe, she bent her course over the dewy greensward. With a tall and slender figure, Blanch possessed a face that seemed never to have had a frown upon it. Smiles hung around her lips and sparkled in her hazel eyes, as naturally and constantly as the evergreen bears its leaves throughout the long and varying year. Unsceptical, and even ignorant of the world's deceit and surface, she regarded all things as they appeared, and cared not to study that philosophy which might prove her belief to be in error. Blithe, kind, honest Blanch! will the flowers be always fair in thy path, and the painted butterfly a bright, flitting, merry herald of summer?
A first, pale, thin, fitful gleam of sunshine now burst through the veiling mist, and struck itself into the bosom of a noisy, rippling stream, towards which Blanch was proceeding. As she was passing a knot of thick brushwood, mingled with tall seared grass, a hare sprung from her form, and hastened away. With a bound the dog, who, until now, had been pacing by the side of his mistress in sober gravity, sprung forwards, and making the tone of his deep tongue load the air with music, rushed after the scared and fleeing animal.
“Orion, Orion,” called his mistress. “Orion. Back, sir, back, I say.”
Orion had been a graceless, unmannerly dog, and belied his gentlemanly appearance, had not he obeyed so courteous and inviting an order. To the side of his fair mistress he therefore turned, and, after expressing his contrition for leaving it by humbly crouching at her feet, and pleading forgiveness in the eloquent wagging of his tail, they continued their ramble.
A shout-it sounded like the cheer of a huntsman_startled the lady and her companion. Both looked towards the quarter