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boarder in Mr. Ashurst's house, and Hiram
Brooks, the blacksmith and minister of the
Independent Chapel, who was at never-
ending war with all the members of the
Establishment, made a special exception in
Mrs. Ashurst's favour, and doffed his greasy
leathern cap to her as she passed the forge.

And his pretty little wife brought him
good fortune, as well as domestic happiness.
James Ashurst delighted to think so. His
popularity in the village, and in the surrounding
country was on the increase; the
number of scholars on the foundership had
reached its authorised limit (a source of
great gratification, though of no pecuniary
profit, to the head master); and Master
Peacock had now two or three fellow-
boarders, each of whom paid a fine annual
sum. The governors thought better of
their head master now, and the old rector
had lived long enough to see his recommendation
thoroughly accepted, and his
prophecy, as regarded the improved status
of the school, duly fulfilled. Popular, successful
in his little way, and happy in his
domestic relations, James Ashurst had but
one want. His wife was childless, and this
was to him a source of discomfort, always
felt and occasionally expressed. He was
just the man who would have doated on a
child, would have suffered himself to have
been pleasantly befooled by its gambols,
and have worshipped it in every phase of
its tyranny. But it was not to be, he supposed;
that was to be the one black drop
in his draught of happiness: and then,
he had been married for five or six
years, Mrs. Ashurst brought him a little
daughter. His hopes were accomplished,
but he nearly lost his wife in their accomplishment;
while he dandled the newly
born treasure in his arms, Mrs. Ashurst's
life was despaired of, and when the chubby
baby had grown up into a strong child, and
from that sphere of life had softened down
into a peaceful girl, her mother, always
slight and delicate, had become a constant
invalid, whose ill health caused her husband
the greatest anxiety, and almost did away
with the delight he had in anticipating
every wish of his darling little Marian.

James Ashurst had longed for a child,
and he loved his little daughter dearly
when she came, but even then his wife held
the deepest and most sacred place in his
heart, and as he marked her faded cheek
and lustreless eye, he felt a pang of remorse,
and accused himself of having set
himself up against the just judgment of
Providence, and of having now received the
due reward of his repining. For one who
thought his darling must be restored to
health, no sacrifice could be too great to
accomplish that result; and the Helmingham
people, who loved Mrs. Ashurst
dearly, but who in their direst straits were
never accustomed to look for any other
advice than that which could be afforded
them by Dr. Osborne, or his village opponent,
Mr. Sharood, were struck with admiration
when Dr. Langton, the great
county physician, the oracle of Brocksopp,
was called into consultation. Dr. Langton
was a very little man, noted almost as
much for his reticence as for his skill. He
never wasted a word. After a careful examination
of Mrs. Ashurst he pronounced
it to be a tiresome case, and prescribed a
four months' residence at the baths of Ems,
as the likely treatment to effect a mitigation,
if not a cure. Dr. Osborne, after the
great man's departure, laughed aloud in
his bluff way at the idea of a country
schoolmaster sending his wife to Ems.
"Langton is so much in the habit of going
about among the country families, and
these novi homines of manufacturers who
stink of brass, as they say in these parts,
that he forgets there is such a thing as
having to look carefully at ways and
means, my dear Ashurst, and make both
dovetail! Baths of Ems, indeed! I'm
afraid you've thrown away your ten
guineas, my good friend, if that's all
you've got out of Langton!" But Dr.
Osborne's smile was suddenly checked
when Mr. Ashurst said very quietly that
as his wife's health was dearer to him than
anything on earth, and that as there was no
sacrifice which he would not make to accomplish
its restoration, he should find
means of sending her to Germany, and of
keeping her there until it was seen what
effect the change had on her.

And he did it! For two successive
summers Mrs. Ashurst went to Ems with
the old nurse who had brought her up, and
accompanied her from her pretty river-side
home to Helmingham; and at the end of
the second season she returned comparatively
well and strong. But she needed all
her strength and health when she looked
at her husband when he came to meet her
in London, and found him thin, changed,
round-shouldered, and hollow-eyed, the
very shadow of his former self. James
Ashurst had carried through his plans as
regarded his wife at enormous sacrifice. He
had no ready money to meet the sudden
call upon his purse which such an expedition