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The most striking spectacle presented to a
stranger by the shores of Suffolk, is the
extraordinary defencelessness of the land against the
encroachments of the sea.

At Aldborough, as elsewhere on this coast,
local traditions are, for the most part, traditions
which have been literally drowned. The site
of the old town, once a populous and thriving
port, has almost entirely disappeared in the sea.
The German Ocean has swallowed up streets,
market-places, jetties, and public walks; and the
merciless waters, consummating their work of
devastation, closed, no longer than eighty years
since, over the salt-master's cottage at
Aldborough, now famous in memory only, as the
birthplace of the poet CRABBE.

Thrust back year after year by the advancing
waves, the inhabitants have receded, in the
present century, to the last morsel of land which is
firm enough to be built ona strip of ground
hemmed in between a marsh on one side and the
sea on the other. Heretrusting for their future
security to certain sand-hills which the capricious
waves have thrown up to encourage themthe
people of Aldborough have boldly established
their quaint little watering-place. The first
fragment of their earthly possessions, is a low natural
dyke of shingle, surmounted by a public path
which runs parallel with the sea. Bordering this
path in a broken, uneven line, are the villa
residences of modern Aldboroughfanciful little
houses, standing mostly in their own gardens,
and possessing here and there, as horticultural
ornaments, staring figure-heads of ships, doing
duty for statues among the flowers. Viewed
from the low level on which these villas stand,
the sea, in certain conditions of the atmosphere,
appears to be higher than the land: coasting
vessels gliding by, assume gigantic proportions,
and look alarmingly near the windows.
Inter-mixed with the houses of the better sort, are
buildings of other forms and periods. In one
direction, the tiny Gothic town-hall of old
Aldboroughonce the centre of the vanished port
and boroughnow stands fronting the modern
villas close on the margin of the sea. At another
point, a wooden tower of observation, crowned
by the figure-head of a wrecked Russian vessel,
rises high above the neighbouring houses; and
discloses through its scuttle-window, grave men
in dark clothing, seated on the topmost story,
perpetually on the watchthe pilots of
Aldborough looking out from their tower, for
ships in want of help. Behind the row of
buildings thus curiously intermingled, runs the
one straggling street of the town, with its
sturdy pilots' cottages, its mouldering marine
storehouses, and its composite shops. Towards
the northern end, this street is bounded by the
one eminence visible over all the marshy flat
a low wooded hill on which the church is built.
At its opposite extremity, the street leads to a
deserted martello tower, and to the forlorn
outlying suburb of Slaughden, between the river
Alde and the sea. Such are the main
characteristics of this curious little outpost on the
shores of England, as it appears at the present time.

On a hot and cloudy July afternoon, and on
the second day which had elapsed since he had
written to Magdalen, Captain Wragge sauntered
through the gate of North Shingles Villa, to
meet the arrival of the coach, which then
connected Aldborough with the Eastern Counties
Railway. He reached the principal inn as the
coach drove up; and was ready at the door to
receive Magdalen and Mrs. Wragge, on their
leaving the vehicle.

The captain's reception of his wife was not
characterised by an instant's unnecessary waste
of time. He looked distrustfully at her shoes
raised himself on tiptoeset her bonnet straight
for her with a sharp tugsaid, in a loud whisper,
"Hold your tongue"—and left her, for the time
being, without further notice. His welcome to
Magdalen, beginning with the usual flow of
words, stopped suddenly in the middle of the
first sentence. Captain Wragge's eye was a
sharp one; and it instantly showed him
something in the look and manner of his old pupil
which denoted a serious change.

There was a settled composure on her face
which, except when she spoke, made it look as
still and cold as marble. Her voice was softer and
more equable, her eyes were steadier, her step was
slower than of old. When she smiled, the smile