Chapter 58433214

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Chapter NumberIII.-CONTINUED
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Full Date1886-01-08
Page Number0
Word Count1079
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)
Trove TitleMildred Austin's Two Christmas Eves
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MILDRED AUSTIN'S TWO CHRISTMAS EVES. BY L. LL POLL&RD, AUTHOR OF "CLARA," ETC. CHAPTER IIL--CONTINUED. BUT she speedily recovered her natu ral ease of manner, and greeted her l guest with a smile. "I suppose I mast introduce myself?" I said Miss Beresford, holding out her hand. "And no doubt you are sur prised to see me so late, but I bring a message from mamma. Do you sup. pose I have coma to offer myself as a s pupil ?" she asked, with a laugh. t "Hardly, I should think, for report ] says you have only just returned from i a London finishing school." "Ah, yes, my days of lessons and essays are over, but I don't think I re gret it much-it is so nice to be able to go where you please, and study or not, I as you like, though mamma says I t must work hard at languages and ° music; even though I have come home I for good. Mamma sent me to tell you b of two pupils who are coming to you if a you will have them." I 's Indeed, I shall be very glad to re- c ceive them. There are many vacancies . in Hadleigh House that I would fain d see filled. How old are the young a ladies ?" d " Oh, Miss Austin, I must not tell you a word about them, that was mamma's especial charge to me. She said it was far better you should come t and see them yourself, and she sent her a love, and hopes you will come to as family dinner to-morrow, when she a will introduce your pupils to you." " I am much obliged to your mamma, r and gladly accept her kind invitation." e " Will you come at five oclock, please. We do not dine until six, but mamma thought it would be nice for you to have a little time with your pupils before dinner. It will be Christ mas Eve, you know. " Yes, and only just now I was la menting that I had to spend my Christ mastide alone," said Mildred with a smile. "I think you will like your pupils that are to be. Dolly is a sweet child, just like a fairy, and Blanche, though not quite so pretty, is even nicer, I think. But there I I am disobeying orders; mamma told me not to say one word about them. Good-bye Miss Austin. I wish you a very happy Christmas, and don't forget five o'clock to-morrow," nodding and smiling, and taking all the brightness away with her. When the squire's daughter was gone, Mildred poked the fire into a blaze, gathered up her papers, burnt the scraps, locked the bills in her desk, and t while she performed these little duties she rebuked herself for want of faith in God, lack of trust in His promises. "I wonder how much experience I a must pass through," she mused, "' ere I f can have that blessed confidence I ought to feel ? My God has never a failed me yet, and still I murmur at I every rough step on the way, at every shadow through .which I cannot see the I light. It must be that I think more of f myself and of my petty cares than I do I of making my work and service worthy r of Him." 1 The next day Mildred made prepara tions for going to dinner at the hall. She had grown out of the habit of visiting of late ; life had been too sober and stern to admit of much recreation, ;iud she had grown also out of the habit of making herself look as attrac tive as might be. Pehaps those dark, unlovely dresses -sombre brown and melancholy olive -made in the severest fashion, without flounces or ornament, might have been useful in impressing Mademoiselle Madalein, the vivacious French gover ness, or Friiolein Natalie, the dreamy German teacher, or even the scholars themselves, with a due sense of the gravity, the earnestness of the principal. But on the occasion Mildrid resolute. ly put aside her sombre attire, and drew I out of her wardrobe a pretty ruby cashmere, with satin trimmings an ad soft lace ruffiles and frills. She put on I a set of gold ornaments that had not I seen the light for a long time, and dressed her hair in modern mode. I When she looked in her mirror with a critical glance, wondering whether or not the governess was too fine, she had I a feeling of satisfaction with regard to the result. The cares and worries of her position had not left indelible fur rows on her brow; it was as smooth at twenty-eight years of age as it had been at eighteen. She must not be accused of vanity in wishing to look her best. All girls and women should strive to do so as far as dressing becomingly and neatly admits. But wasnriot Mildred going to partake of the hospitalities of Hadleigh Hall? and as a guest it behoved her to make her appearance in keeping with the people she was likely to meet there. The hall was about a mile from the town. It was a large, warm, red-brick house, with a high walled garden be hind, and beyond that a fine orchard stored with fruit trees. In front and either sides were shrubberies and con servatories, and a large, well-kept lawn separated the demense from the high road. As Mildred set out for her walk the son was going down bhphiod the hills, tiriting the clouds with crimson and gold, With the rapid changes of cli mate so usual during our English winter, the sleet had been turned to frost in the night, and at noon soft, fleecy snow showers had sprinkled the fields and hedges with a covering pure and white as a bridal robe. Such a fresh, invigorating breeze swept down from the hills, making Mildred's spirits grow lighter as she walked on, and touching her cheeks with carmine. She was going to enjoy her Christ mastide after all, for the hospitality of Badleigh Hall was known throughout the country-side. The squire was liberal and generous, bountiful to the poor, and courteous to all; and the genial mistress of the house bore a high repute for cordiality of manner aud true kindness of heart,