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She was to go to the Hunt Ball after all; not because he wished it, but because other people had taken her affairs in hand, and decided that she should go. Dr. and Mrs. Baynham had decided for her. Mrs. Vansittart Crowther had decided for her, and had sent her a ticket with her love by that very footman whose appearance when he opened the door always crushed her, and who had given her a frightful shock when she danced into the kitchen to speak to Tabitha, and found him meekly sitting on a Windsor chair, with his knees drawn up nearly to his chin. Lastly, Tabitha had decided; and Tabitha's opinion went for more than that of anybody else.The fly drew up at the little wooden gate between high hedges of escalonia, with glossy leaves and bright red blossom. A slender figure in a white gown was visible on the threshold, as Disney sprang out of the fly, and while the flyman was lifting down the luggage, that airy form flitted across the lawn, and Colonel Disney's wife was standing shyly within the open gate, almost as if she had come out to receive a stranger.
Not that the doctor was at all reticent in regard to the main facts of his outward life. In a desultory way he had furnished Bergan with a sufficiently distinct outline sketch of his somewhat eventful career, up to the present moment,a career which, for shifts and turns, outdid that of Gil Blas. According to this, he was born in New Orleans, the posthumous son of a French refugee, by an American wife. When he was twelve years old, his mother had presented him with a stepfather. The gift proved so little to his taste that, two years later, he ran away from the pair, and flung himself into that El Dorado of boyish imaginationlife at sea. In one capacity or another, during the next twelve years, he not only contrived to visit most of the countries of Europe, but also by dint of natural aptitude for study, to pick up a language or two, and to acquaint himself with the essential part of a college curriculum. It now occurred to him to return to New Orleans, and claim the modest patrimony awaiting him there, in the hands of his father's executors. He found that his stepfather had been dead for three or four years, and his mother, after having exhausted her own scanty resources, was sinking, with her two children, into the dreary depths of poverty. It cost her some effort to recognize the slender stripling of her memory in the brown, bearded, broad-shouldered man, who now presented himself before her as her son. However, his identity was satisfactorily established, both by certain indisputable personal marks, and by the presumptive evidence of his willingness to assume the burden of her support.
A pertinent question, Richard Causton! Showing the good results, too, of your period of forced abstinence from strong drink, and your lonely watch over the sick-bedwellnigh the death-bedof Bergan Arling. Up to this point, we have deemed your case hopeless; now, truly, we think better of it. To recognize one's folly is the first step toward breaking from its bondage. To have learned that the fruits of righteousness do not ripen on the tree of worldly wisdom, is, perhaps, to feel the first faint hunger for the saving fruitage of the tree of life. There may be the making of a mana contrite, humbled, subdued, scarred, but free manin you yet!
"Not to-night, Tabbie," she said; and Tabitha saw in this refusal only the coquetry of a lovely woman, who wanted to show the great ladies and squire's wives how poor and common diamonds are by the side of youth and beauty.