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accustomed seat, " you know, doubtless, of the
great misfortune that has overtaken us all.
Believe me that you have my sincerest
sympathies."

"Indeed we are aware of that, dearest Mr.
Hoblush," said Miss Jemima, looking at me
with tenderness; " and I can assure you that it
lightens our sorrows much to have one that
can so feel with us. You are our only support
now."

"I am sorry to say," I answered, " that
circumstances of a rather peculiar character,
will necessitate my absence from this part
of the country. The emoluments of this
parish are a disgrace to a Christian
country. No gentleman could continue with
decency in such an office. It was monstrous."
I said this with some heat.

"You will not stay long," Miss Jemima
said, more tenderly than before. " How I
shall long for the day of your return."

"Have I not conveyed my meaning ? " I
answered, coldly. " I fear I do not carry you
with me," using here a popular legal phrase.

"Carry me with you," she said, in ecstasy.
"O, not as yet, dear Alfred. Afterwards,
afterwards," she added, with a meaning look,
"I will go with you all the wide world
over!"

"My travelling arrangements," I said
(observe how changed was now the nature of
the man Hoblush, when he could speak thus),
"my travelling arrangements will, I fear,
preclude such a plan. I would recommend
you to remain in this sequestered retreat
in preference to any spot the wide world
over. It is admirably suited to your means,
and here you will suitably journey down into
the vale of years, deserving the respect of all
who know you! Believe me you have mine.
I shall never forget the agreeable hours
passed in thisin that chair." Here I took
my hat and rose to go.

She gave a sort of shriek, and rushed to
the door.

"What do you mean? how dare you?
You must wait, you shall wait."

I tried to get past her to the stairs, for I
felt unequal to a scene.

"Time presses," I said, " and my bark
waits. I speak figuratively, of course."

"Here, sister, sister! " she called out,
"come down quick. You shall speak to her,
sir! You shall account to her for this."

Which was precisely what I desired to
avoid. I trembled at the bare notion of
meeting that infuriated woman; and so
descrying an opening between Miss Jemima
and the stairs, I slipped quietly by, muttering
something about calling again. A terrible
voice sounded in my ears, coming from over
the banisters. " Come back! " it said in
hoarse, thundering accents; " come back!
Do you hear?"

My heart sank within me, my eyes
became dim; and a sense as of something
awful being at hand stole upon me. As
the rattlesnake fascinates its victim, so I, by
some irresistible impulse, was drawn back
upstairs by those terrible sounds, " Come
back, sir! " repeated slowly and with
menace; until, being fairly in the drawing-
room once more, she placed her back to the
door, and with her face close to mine, hissed
out the word " Monster! " I thought she was
going to strike me, and put my hand to
shield my face.

"Don't," I said, in feeble tones, " it is
unwomanly."

"Ugh! " was her reply. Its tone was at
once savage and contemptuous.

It were bootless to describe the distressing
scene that followed. Suffice it to say that
for the sake of public decency and quietness,
I promised to fulfil what she called my
engagement to her sister. As this was
extorted under the influence of terror and
violence, I considered it would not be binding
on me. But, that same evening a better
notion occurred to me. As the shades of
night fell, it matured, and took tangible
shape. Hoblush, than whom, that night
there was not a more wretched being in
this world: Hoblush, the miserable, the
forlorn, the trepanned, the bamboozled, the
victim of unlawful terrorism: conceived this
desperate idea. There was a night-mail just
starting, and he thought wistfully of the
night-mail. He was unpacked,— what of
that? Perish worldly goods in such a cause!
Wrapping his cloak about him, the Reverend
Alfred Hoblush went forth into the darkness
unrecognised, unthought oftook a seat
in the night-mail, and was taken away into
the broad world, where the disappointed
spinster, and the parishioners of Duckings-cum-Shampoo,
shall look for him in vain.

† See page 113 of the eighteenth volume.

On the Seventh of December will be published, price
Threepence, stamped Fourpence,
A HOUSE TO LET,
FORMING
THE CHRISTMAS NUMBER
Of HOUSEHOLD WORDS; and containg Thirty-six
Pages, or the amount of One regular Number and a Half.
On the Eleventh of December, neatly bound in cloth,
price Five Shillings and Sixpence,
THE EIGHTEENTH YOLUME
OF
HOUSEHOLD WORDS.
Containing from No. 430, for June the Nineteenth
to No 453, for November the Twenty-seventh,
Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-eight (both inclusive);
together with the Extra Christmas Number, and an
Index.

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