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bumper, seldom, if ever, was there seen a finer “old English gentleman.” His hair, thinly sprinkled upon his brow, was so white that the slight shake of powder blended with it, in no way heightened its bleached hue; and the scrupulous care with which the small pigtail gathered into shape, and evenly bound with black riband, formed the very beau-ideal of one of those now obsolete appurtenances to a man of fashion. The cambric neckcloth, too, was folded and tied without a wrinkle ; and, if it bore a somewhat stiff appearance, and of necessity led the observer to think of the consistency of starch, still its very formality gave an air which a flabby, ill-conditional cravat never yet had coupled with it. Then there was the long buff waistcoat, of almost interminable length, and the wide-skirted blue coat, with buttons of the very brightest polish, and the drab “ shorts," which, when the gaiter was off, exhibited the very model, of calf and ankle encased in fine ribbed-silk stockings. Such was
the costume of the Squire of the Range, and such had been—if those rows of chubby-faced portraits in the corridor were authentic evidence -the outward semblance of many a former proprietor. It is true, that by far the greater number of them were in more antique costumes. Flowing wigs, lace, ruffles, velvet, long waists, short waists, there were in abundance; but the fresher paintings in the collection were so much like the present occupier, that they would have passed exceedingly well for pictures taken of him at various stages of his life.
And what an old place the Range was! Great gable ends jutted out here and there, bound and laid in with oak; and irons bars were screwed and riveted together, at equal distances, throughout the massive walls, as if in defiance of the crumbling hand of time, and the ravages of tempests and the storms of
A dried fosse surrounded the building, on the banks of which many a garden flower grew, and tall elms now towered from the very bed ; convincing proof that it must have been a long time ago since it had been applied for the purposes of defence, although the barbed head of an arrow deeply buried in the oaken sill of a casement, and which now presented a convenient ledge for a swallow to build her nest upon, gave token of the troublesome times which had passed since the erection of the ancient house. In the centre was a stone porch, and from a deep groove cut in the coping-stone, and the rusty sockets of a shot-bolt, it was clear that a portcullis had once been suspended above it as further means of protection. Thick, sturdy limbs of ivy clung in every direction about the walls and stretched themselves far and wide, even to the roof and about the tall and crooked chimneys, which were so twined and twisted in their form that even the smoke appeared to struggle with difficulty through them. But it did come in great, thick, black masses; for it would, indeed, have been a subject for wonderment if the chimneys of the Range ceased to disgorge their sooty
vomit when winter drew friends together at its fireside. Then, surrounding the mossy and gray building, giant oaks reared and stretched their stalwart limbs; and if a few of the trunks of capacious girth had been scooped by age and now afforded hollow homes for a few cozy owls to pass their leisure hours in, yet they bore as fresh and as green leaves, and flapped and fanned them in the summer wind as cheerily, and defied the angry winter blast as bravely, as their more sound and solid companions. Clumps, too, of thick dark firs were dotted here and there about the broad and extensive park adjoining; and the ringdove cooed at morn and eve among the branches without disturbing the antlered stag crouched in his lair at the roots.
As had been his custom at each succeeding Christmas, the Squire assembled his friends, neighbours, tenants, servants, and dependants together in the great hall, and they were now in the very zenith of their revel. The nightand a bright moonlight and frosty one it was
had been well dipped into, and yet the laugh was as loud and the joke as spirited as at a much earlier hour. On went the dance and round passed the glass, and the
the dusty cobwebbed rafters until they rang again.
“That's right, my lads and lasses,” cried the Squire, as he sat in a quaintly-carved arm chair, a delighted spectator of the scene.
- That's right,” he repeated; and seeing the hilarity of the company increase with the cheer, he rubbed his hands together briskly, and drained a bumper with a silent hope that every one present might be there when Christmas came again.
“Come, come, Harry Lawrence,” said a companion, close to the Squire's right hand, and giving him a friendly nudge with his elbow, “what a boy you are, to toss off a glass by yourself, to be sure. If at a loss, could'nt ye have hob-an'-nobbed with me?"
And then the Squire tried to assume a particularly knowing look, and chuckled an inward laugh to himself, and after two or three very