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There are still some old country towns
which the railways, with all their laborious
and eccentric meanderings, have never
toucheddry and thirsty spots, which the
new and fruitful streams of traffic have
not irrigated. Tilston was one of these
unlucky places, long since left behind,
hobbling on in its old-fashioned clothes, wheezing
asthmatically, yet bearing itself as if it
were as fresh, brisk, well-shaped, and well-
dressed as the great city itself. But this
rural conceit was as pardonable as an old
man's belief in the pastthat is, in what is
his past. It was delightfully unconscious
that it was "failing," that its blood, flesh,
strength, bone even, was being drawn
away to Westcope, the young and flourishing
giant some ten miles away, which
throbbed with manufacture, glowed with
the hot blood of labour, the fires of
furnaces, and positively radiated off the centre
of a metallic cobweb of railways. Yet
Tilston had attractions of its own. It lay
in a rich district, well furnished, which
nature, as a manufacturing gentleman from
Westcope remarked, had cushioned and
upholstered in her very best green terry.
Who does not know that pattern of a
place, seen a good way off;  its patches
of white playing hide and seek with us
among the trees; the supporting hills on
each side, whose shoulders lean forward
as though they were whispering; the fine,
broad river, crossed by a handsome bridge,
of which the Tilston folk were vastly proud,
though it had been built for them by the
county; the old-fashioned heavy mill,
white-washed, not of new flaming brick,
Shenstones' flour-millanother pride of the
placeinto which the Tilt kept pouring day
and night long with a sullen roar; then the
long straggling street, which began like a
village, thickened into a sort of town,
present to the provincial eye in the glories of
the assembly rooms, in the Leader Arms,
and the rival Bull; the three-horse coach,
which arrived daily at the former house; to
say nothing of M'Intyre and Co.'s mart,
and St. Martin's Church.

The Leader Arms was, of course, the
old feudal shape of homage to a potentate
of the district; indeed, thus easily may be
learned, without questioning, who is the
grand duke, as it were, to whom the                                     surrounding territory belongs.The late Chief
was a "Sir Harry," as he was always spoken
of, whose place, Leadersfort, was some three
or four miles away, and whose escutcheon
supporters, two pioneers, flourishing, one
an axe, the other a logand motto,
"Vestigia nulla retrorsum" hung, like a large
school slate, over the door of the inn.

Occasionally, this elderly settlement raised
itself, as some dim light came into its eyes
as when there was a "bachelors' ball" at
the assembly rooms, or the sessions were
onand the gentry came and gathered at a
sort of impalpable society known as the
club, taking lunch on the first floor of the
Leader Arms, sacredly kept apart for them.
Time had been when the assizes were held at
Tilston. There was the old "court house,"
for evidence; but Westcope, with indecent
eagerness, had carried away the assizes.
Sometimes the hunt came near, and a few
riders in scarlet were for a short time seen
about the door of the Leader Arms. There
was a little theatre, in a dreadfully mouldy
way, which seemed, like so many of its
brethren, to be built at a conflux of drainage,
so mysterious and special were the odours