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HESTER! Hester !” shouted Dr. Brown through the bay window of the Corner House, “ Leslie North is coming on Tuesday!”
“Oh!” exclaimed the invalid within, sitting upright for the first time that day, her expression of pain changing into one radiant with delight.
Tell me all about it. Come in ; do come in.” “ The Norths don't go abroad till November,
and Leslie's coming to us for two months ! Can't come in ; everybody's wrong to-day, and expects to be put to rights. Good-bye !" And in another minute the old Scotch doctor of the old English village of Woodleigh Mordaunt, had darted into his Brougham with the activity of youth, and was off on a long professional round.
Hester Morris rang her hand-bell. She never liked to keep good news to herself.
“Oh, Susan !” she exclaimed to the thin, elderly waiting-maid, “who do you think is coming ?"
“Yes, ma'am, I know. Sally, who's been in the sulks for a week, has stepped across all right to say that Miss Leslie's coming on Tuesday; and Flora's hard set at the cookery book, for new dumplings; and Barney's standing on his head in the back-green, for he says Miss Leslie will be sure to appreeshate him—that boy's just a dictionary, ma'am!”
“ Won't she like the new sofa, Susan, and the new shelf of books ? and think of hear
ing Leslie sing again! It's a weary two years since we've had her!”
“ Indeed, ma'am, Sally and Flora and me were just saying that Miss North had better stay altogether, when you and the Doctor are so fond on her. There's Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Yates, and Mr. Whiteford would all be proud if she looked the way they're in ; and there's
young Lord D'Arcy-but maybe he's too grand”
“Nonsense, Susan," replied her mistress in sharper tones than she generally used in reply to the indulged old servant's confused maunderings; adding in an under tone, “ As if anybody could be too grand for our Leslie !"
From that day till the eventful arrival there was an air of joyful expectation in the Corner House and its opposite neighbour ; from drawing-room to kitchen, everything that was said and done had reference in some way or other to “ Tuesday."
Anybody would think that Leslie was a piece of perfection, to hear the way we talk of her,” said Hester to Dr. Brown, laughing ;
“ yet the child is full of faults; and I'm sure I scold her from morning till night. Nobody can say that I spoil Leslie !"
“She takes it so winsomely; it's a pleasure to scold her!” answered Dr. Brown fondly.
“So it is,” said Hester with emphasis.
What a pleasant old dwelling-place is that ivied Corner House of the principal street of Woodleigh Mordaunt! Quaint and charming is its little turret, popularly called the “Roundel," which forms the tiniest of book-rooms. It is seldom used now, for Hester cannot walk up stairs, but Leslie North is
fond of it, and it is again an inhabited room during her visits. On one side, the Corner House looks out on a fine avenue of lime trees—the pride of the village, which shade the picturesque ruins of an old chapel and unused grave-yard of ancient tombs, while beyond stretches a rich smiling country, watered by the quiet river Leigh, and bounded by low swelling hills, which in the dewy mornings and sunset evenings take every shade of lilac, purple, and gold. Fantastic shapes, too, those hills assume when the mist falls on them, or dreamy eyes gaze out in the dim twilight. It used to be so very often long ago, for like many other old houses, the Corner House had worn many different aspects in its day, and had not always been the abode of a solitary invalid. Nobody looked out and dreamed and hoped, and smiled and wept, from those western windows now except Leslie North. Flora, indeed, the fat cook, and Susan the thin house-maid, who had been in the Morris family for twentyseven years, looked out regularly when they aired the rooms; but no tales did the lime trees, and the ruins, and the distant hills, whisper to them. I believe that they were more communicative to Barney, the small Irish boy fresh from a ragged school, whom Miss Morris was training to be a tiger, or “a beast of prey in buttons,” as he confidentially explained to Flora, greatly to her horror and dismay. Yes, Barney sometimes crept up to those pretty windows, and felt himself “ grow