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PAGE 4

The Parson’s Daughter Of Oxney Colne
by [?]

“And what do you mean to do with him?” Patience Woolsworthy asked of Miss Le Smyrger when that lady walked over from the Combe to say that her nephew John was to arrive on the following morning.

“Do with him? Why I shall bring him over here to talk to your father.”

“He’ll be too fashionable for that; and papa won’t trouble his head about him if he finds that he doesn’t care for Dartmoor.”

“Then he may fall in love with you, my dear.”

“Well, yes; there’s that resource at any rate, and for your sake I dare say I should be more civil to him than papa. But he’ll soon get tired of making love, and what you’ll do then I cannot imagine.”

That Miss Woolsworthy felt no interest in the coming of the Captain I will not pretend to say. The advent of any stranger with whom she would be called on to associate must be matter of interest to her in that secluded place; and she was not so absolutely unlike other young ladies that the arrival of an unmarried young man would be the same to her as the advent of some patriarchal paterfamilias. In taking that outlook into life of which I have spoken, she had never said to herself that she despised those things from which other girls received the excitement, the joys, and the disappointment of their lives. She had simply given herself to understand that very little of such things would come her way, and that it behoved her to live–to live happily if such might be possible–without experiencing the need of them. She had heard, when there was no thought of any such visit to Oxney Colne, that John Broughton was a handsome, clever man–one who thought much of himself, and was thought much of by others–that there had been some talk of his marrying a great heiress, which marriage, however, had not taken place through unwillingness on his part, and that he was on the whole a man of more mark in the world than the ordinary captain of ordinary regiments.

Captain Broughton came to Oxney Combe, stayed there a fortnight,–the intended period for his projected visit having been fixed at three or four days,–and then went his way. He went his way back to his London haunts, the time of the year then being the close of the Easter holidays; but as he did so he told his aunt that he should assuredly return to her in the autumn.

“And assuredly I shall be happy to see you, John–if you come with a certain purpose. If you have no such purpose, you had better remain away.”

“I shall assuredly come,” the Captain had replied, and then he had gone on his journey.

The summer passed rapidly by, and very little was said between Miss Le Smyrger and Miss Woolsworthy about Captain Broughton. In many respects–nay, I may say, as to all ordinary matters, no two women could well be more intimate with each other than they were,–and more than that, they had the courage each to talk to the other with absolute truth as to things concerning themselves–a courage in which dear friends often fail. But nevertheless, very little was said between them about Captain John Broughton. All that was said may be here repeated.

“John says that he shall return here in August,” Miss Le Smyrger said, as Patience was sitting with her in the parlour at Oxney Combe, on the morning after that gentleman’s departure.

“He told me so himself,” said Patience; and as she spoke her round dark eyes assumed a look of more than ordinary self-will. If Miss Le Smyrger had intended to carry the conversation any further, she changed her mind as she looked at her companion. Then, as I said, the summer ran by, and towards the close of the warm days of July, Miss Le Smyrger, sitting in the same chair in the same room, again took up the conversation.