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the procession of hunting coats went forth
across the lawn. Until at last Sir Harry
began to "break up," and in spite of a
gallant struggle, friends and neighbours told
each other that "the old man was going
fast." One morning he did go. There
was the grandest funeral known in the
county for a century, and the company
were entertained by the reading of the
will, there being much curiosity as to who
would be "remembered" in legacy shape,
many sporting friends, who had ridden well
to his hounds, and drank most bottles of
his port, feeling they had heavy claims
on him. The estate, being settled, would of
course go to his only near relation. But the
will was, of course, the usual succession of
surprises and disappointment; the sporting
and convivial friends were passed over;
keepers, huntsmen, old butlers, house-
keepers, and the like, were all taken care
of with substantial annuities ; and Leadersfort,
the great estate, with its rental, farms,
rivers, demesne, its herds and flocks, had
been, by a solemn document, "cut off,"
diverted from the Indian brother, and was
left to some obscure people, distantly
related, if related at all, of another name, and
who had never been seen in Tilston.

This event took place a couple of years
or so before the commencement of this
narrative. The surprise, excitement, and
speculation over the county and in the
county town were of the wildest sort. A
new king or queen, a new ministry, were
but of feeble interest compared to this.
These lucky people proved to be some
Smithsons, of London, he, a struggling
barrister, without any ability, and with no
practice, who lived in a suburban house,
comparatively as little as his practice. He
was a small, shy man, in society a "mere
cipher," delighting in the profession, and
sitting all day in court, noting and listening
to cases. To him the Attorney-General
was a more tremendous potentate than the
Emperor of France. His household, and he
himself, were ruled by his second wife, a
very plain lady, who took such a position
among the suburban circle, and was so
ambitious in her designs, as to make people
wonder why she had chosen a poor lawyer
without practice, who was, besides, encumbered
with a grown-up son and daughter.
This odd marriage took place about four
or five years before the death of the squire,
and perplexed speculators, looking back,
thought it not improbable that she had
"played" this marriage, on the chance
of some such splendid card turning up.
And when it came out, to make their good
fortune more unaccountable, that they had
declined an offer of assistance from the
old man, who said bluntly he didn't want
any connexion of his to be in a starving
way, and they had sent back his
remittance, and had hardly ever written
to him, or troubled him in any way, more
far-sighted people began to see in this
an actual reason for the arrangement of
the will. It was a very deep game indeed,
and Lydia Morrisona doctor's daughter,
ugly, dull, and only furnished, like one of
Churchill's heroes,
        With that low cunning which in fools supplies,
        And amply too, the place of being wise,
found on one glorious and ecstatic morning,
when the attorney arrived at her little
house, that her bold play had won. Smithson,
the good-natured, mouse-like little
barrister, was neither discomposed nor excited
by this change of fortune; he was indeed
rather troubled at having to give up
"his circuit," and the pleasant bar mess
and stories, and the sitting in court and
listening to cases. He said to a congratulating
friend that it was a great responsibility,
and that he was afraid of it, but
supposed that Mrs. Smithson would carry
it on very well.

By-and-bye some of the people at Tilston
reported having seen this little shy
and insignificant man hanging about the
noble place in a sort of hesitating way, as
if not quite sure that he was not trespassing.
There was almost a ludicrous want of
harmony between this humble object and the
swelling and spreading demesne, the great
old trees, the fine oak hall and spacious
corridors, which were to have this new
master. The steward, keepers, and other
retainers, with whom he had interviews,
said to each other, "that was a queer shy
little body," and pleasantly foresaw easy
times. The clergyman of the place saw at
once that he could patronise and direct him
with great profit. But no one had seen
Mrs. Smithson as yet.

Certain steps were being taken with all
speed. Pursuant to the testamentary directions,
a royal licence had been obtained,
and it was known that there was no longer a
Mr. and Mrs. Smithson, but Thomas Leader,
Esq., of Leadersfort, and Mrs. Leader.
There was also Cecil Leader, Esq., son
and heir, who had now obtained a
commission in a dragoon regiment, his eager
wish. There was Miss Mary Leader, some
sixteen years of age; and there was Randall
Morrison, Esq., Mrs. Leader's brother, on