110 TYLNEY HALL. " Sir Mark, are you serious or in joke ? " inquired the magistrate. "" Either, at your pleasure," returned the Baronet, as- suming however a gravity of tone and look that indicated he was in earnest. The moment had come to speak, but he was puzzled how to begin. He fidgeted in his chair, filled a glass of claret, and gulped it down, then gave a loud hem, and then three very bad coughs. It's no use beating round the bush," he exclaimed at last, " when the game's a-foot ! I think, friend Rivers, our ideas and wishes are packing well together ; and if you are as agreeable as I am to the match between Ringwood and Grace, all I can say is, I will back son against daughter with you, guinea for guinea ; and the dearest " desire of my heart will be fulfilled to boot !
TYLNEY HALL. Ill ation of the two fathers, the unconscious Grace was sitting in the very next room, " In maiden meditation, fancy free ;" thinking no more of courtship, marriage, and Ringwood, than of squibs, crackers, and Guy Faux. Her lively spirits, her sweet temper, her natural good taste, and artless manners, had advanced her hourly in the opinion of Mrs. Hamilton ; till at last, after a long kind look at her fair young face and graceful figure, that lady addressed her, in a tone of tenderness that thrilled through her very soul, as " her dear Miss Rivers." " If I may beg a favour, my dear madam/' she replied, " pray oblige me by following the precedent of Sir Mark, and callingme only by my Christian name, Grace, plain Grace." " Well then, Grace, my dear Grace, did you ever place a hollow sea-shell to your ear, and notice sighing its perpetual for the waters that " ought to fill it ? Grace signified that she had often done so on the coast. " Come hither, then, and tell me truly, did that young heart of yours never feel a craving, an indescribable craving, as if there was some aching void in it that required " filling up ? The question suffused the face and neck of Grace with a deep blush ; but it lasted only for an instant, and vanished again ere she had pronounced the first word of her answer. " Indeed, my dear madam, I have felt it often always at the sound of one word, and at the sight of one action ;" and she concluded the sentence with a sigh. " I know well what you mean," said Mrs. Hamilton, pressing her own hands to her bosom. " I feel it here at this moment here, where I have felt it for years. Alone, or in society in joy or in sorrow, in sickness, in health, here it is the same intense yearning, everlastingly crying out in its agony, give ! give ! Tell me, my dear Grace, tell me, is it not even thus that your overcharged heart has " pined for a mother ? " Oh, God knows it," cried Grace, clasping her hands, and with difficulty suppressing the tears that were rushing upwards to her eyes ; c: my heart has throbbed almost to bursting, at the sight of caresses which I never oh never knew ! never can know !"