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trip. I look at the weathercock, and fancy N. says “ go down to North Wales, to Llangerinioc, and see your old friend Jones,” but S. whispers softly “try Sussex, and see Smith.” W. puts Devon or Dorset into my head, and E. rudely hints "you promised to go into Essex." What am I to do? I cannot oblige them all, and the chances are that I go nowhere, but waste the week at home in forming plans for the next holiday that may offer. About two years ago I found myself in this dilemma.

I had plenty of invitations, but knew not which to accept. “ Do as we do, pa, when we quarrel about who is to be for," said my eldest son, “ cast lots for it.”

I took his advice. I wrote the names of my inviters on little bits of card, shook them up in a hat, and extracted one of them. I found written thereon Jonathan Sternpost, Esq., Mount Whistling, Somerset, and on my road to his residence I found myself in less than one hour after fate or fortune had put an end to my vacillation.

CHAP. II.

JONATHAN STERN Post and I had been very intimate in our earlier days. Our acquaintance commenced at school by fighting one of the severest battles in which two boys were ever engaged. We fought until we could neither of us fight any longer, so we put off the deciding of the battle until the next day, but without any satisfactory result. Neither would give in. On the third and last day of our engagement I received an unfortunate blow just under my left ear, which deprived me of all sensation, and I could not "come to time.” Steropost was declared conqueror, and put to bed, where he was laid up for a week, while I, having recovered what little sense I was possessed of, was playing about the school-grounds in less than ten minutes after my knock down. We were great friends ever after- for each was afraid to offend the other.

During our college career we lost sight of one another, except for a few weeks in the long vacation ; for he went to Cambridge—I to Oxford. After we had taken our degrees we were as thick as ever, and, as he used to call it, “ did a bit of continent" together-that is, we went to France, Belgium, and Germany in couples, soon after the peace was established.

I had often spent a few days with him at Mount Whistling in our schoolboy days, but my professional duties had prevented my visiting him since he became whole and sole proprietor and lord of that lovely and extensive manor. On his annual visit to me I had promised to go down and see him “in return" for some years, and I was really glad when, by fortune's decision, I found myself on the road to his house.

Many years had elapsed since I had travelled that road, and every thing was as new to me as if I had never seen it before. The day, too, on which I travelled was one of those splendid days which sometimes kindly visit our island in the month of October. The leaves were just resuming their autumnal tint, casting off their greenness as if they jollily cried out, “ motley's your only wear," before they, in their old age, fell into “the sere and yellow leaf," and were “done brownere they toppled from their parent boughs. The sun shone in cloudless splendour, the harvest was all gathered in, and the rustics were busily engaged in housing the product of their orchards. The frequent bang, bang! from stubble, turnip-field, and covert, showed that the sportsman was not idle.

I was full of spirits, for I had earned my holiday, and was going to visit an old and valued friend. I talked with every body, laughed at every thing that was said, for nothing grave could be said on so bright a day, and found myself whistling a second to every little bird that warbled forth his thanks to the glad sun for shining on him with so bright a beam.

There was, too, something to me very exhilarating in rattling along a macadamized road in a well-appointed four-horse coach. All that is over-past-gone.

Railroads—but this is a melancholy subject, so I will drop it

. Pace is every thing now, and yet we used to be told that “it was the pace that killed ;” but that was only horses I suppose.

* What time can it be done in ?" is the only question now asked. So it is that we have railroad treaties of peace-bang goes a cannon, down goes the enemy's flag. “Five towns, two islands, four millions ready money? Yes.” Peace is ratified. Courtships, too, are now done by steam.

“Allow me to introduce Mr. Pippin to Miss Crab.” “How do you do? Single, eh? Have me?" All is settled. The next morning Miss Crab is ingrafted on Mr. Pippin. But I am digressing.

Well, when I arrived at the corner of the road where I was to quit the coach, my friend met me in his carriage. His eyes beamed with pleasure when he saw me, and his jovial face shone as resplendently as if it had challenged the setting sun to show tints with it. After a prolonged shaking of hands, and due inquirings after each other's families, we sent the carriage on, and resolved to

Climb the hill together, as we had done in our boyhood. We were but little changed, for we were both in manhood's prime; but the place was greatly changed, and, strange to say, improved by the change, which I had deemed impossible, so lovely had I thought it before. By judiciously cutting down there, and planting here-opening a prospect in one place, and shutting out some less deserving object in another-pulling down a cottage on this side of the road, and building a new one on that, Jonathan had indeed shown that in what I had pronounced perfection there was something more perfect. I could have stood for hours gazing about me had pot my wish to gaze been checked by a hint that the John Dory would be over-done if I tarried much longer.

I hurried on, and passing through a plantation of noble beech-trees, filled with pheasants as tame as barn-door fowls-for a gun was never permitted to be fired at or near to them, I came within view of the house. I was amazed, and thought I had taken a wrong turn and was going to the wrong house. Was this the long, the straight-fronted, dull-looking, old English mansion I had been used to visit? No. It was a handsome building in the Elizabethan style, looking like a place

of other days, but cheerful, bright, and sunny. What had been a wilderness of shrubs, which shut out the view alike of the house and from the house was gone, and in its place a neatly-mown lawn, sprinkled here and there with trees and evergreens, adorning and not obscuring the prospect.

“How do you like the alteration ?" said Sternpost. “I wrote to you all about it. Does the reality come up to my description ?"

I blushed and stammered out something, for I then recollected that he had, as I thought, bored me to death by detailing, in every letter he wrote to me, the trouble to which he was put in getting Memel timber, ashler, model chimney-pots, gable-ends, Gothic spoutings, and all sorts of requisites necessary for turning an ugly old building into something fit to be looked at and inhabited. I had been used to throw the uninteresting twaddle into the fire, and all my recollections of his alterations and improvements departed with the flames that consumed the description of them.

He of course went off on his favourite topic, and ere he had got out of the cellars to the basement story in his story, I was obliged to hint at the possible annihilation of the John Dory if such explanations were not deferred until the following morning.

“My dear fellow-I-only just let me--"

No," said I, “not now—to-morrow or next day-for I am going to stay a week, and there is an angel with two little cherubs at her side, who must be Mrs. Sternpost (I almost repented of calling any body with so odd a name as Sternpost an angel--it sounded so oddly), so come and introduce me.

My hint was taken, and in a few seconds my hand was also taken and shaken heartily by an exceedingly pretty lady-like person, to whom I was introduced as the wife of my friend. She really shook me by the hand as if she meant to say, “ My husband's friend is welcome.” It was not a mere extended finger and a dropping courtesy she gave me, which might imply, “what a bore—an old schoolfellow-but I must be civil-he won't stay long," but a real friendly stop-as-long-as-youlike shake. Had it not been, I should have taken up my beaver and departed, for there is nothing in this short life which I hold in such utter detestation as an uncordial welcoine, and a half-shake of the hand. The extended finger of pretended friendship is much more loathsome to me than the extended finger of scorn. The latter you can throw from you as a noisome, venemous reptile; the former you must take, though your blood curdles at the touch. Faugh! I think I feel it now.

The dinner was excellently cooked, the Dory, or doré, if my reader is fastidious, was in high perfection, nor did it eat the less deliciously that the parson of the parish, the only guest save my unworthy self, partook of it. A leg of mutton followed, and was displaced by a couple of fat and well-kept wild ducks.

“ The dinner was plain enough,” some gourmand will say, and justly, but my friend Jonathan knew my taste, bad as that taste may be, and kindly gratified it. I am not particular in ny solids so that they be the best of their kind, and well served. In Auids I own I am somewhat choice, and though I absorb but little, that little must be of the choicest kind. Jonathan's champagne, burgundy, and

pure Lafitte, were unobjectionable, and the little tankard of Campbelltown toddy that finished the evening was just strong enough to ensure good digestion by tempering the coolness of the claret without heating the system, or spoiling the matutinal meal.

On the following morning I rose with the sun, and ran through the plantations to the bottom of the hill. There flowed a bright, clear stream, bounding and leaping over its rocky bed at every turn, as if in haste to unite its waters with the waves of the mighty Severn. I plunged in, had a delightful swim, and regained the house just as my friend, who had been round his farm-for he was his own bailiff-was sitting down to breakfast with his family.

The meal over, the letter-bag inspected, and the newspaper skimmed over to get the cream of the news, I told Sternpost I was ready to be victimized and dragged through every room in the house to see all his alterations, and to visit every new farm-building, cottage, and plantation on the estate. He smiled with delight, and then put on that very important and peculiar look which every man who is his own architect thinks it necessary to put on when he is about to point out the results of his wonderful talents in transmuting uncomfortables into comfortables-inconveniences into conveniences.

I will not weary my readers by describing to them all I saw in the house and about the grounds in a five-hours' ramble, but beg of them to accompany me to ihe top of the hill behind the mansion through a grove of magnificent beech-trees.

The sun was shining brightly, and the cool shade afforded by the trees was so agreeable after our ramble over stubbles and fallow-fields, that we sauntered along rather than walked. My friend led the way, and talked of olden tinies, of “the days when we were young, he made me forget that I was toiling up a high hill to see a fine view. When, however, we gained the summit, and left the covert for an extensive terrace of green sward, such a prospect burst upon our view that I ceased to listen that I might gaze.

Below us, at the base of the hill, flowed the Severn, hastening on its course into the Bristol channel. To the right lay the city of Gloucester, with the towers of its fine cathedral and the noble canal by means of which large and well-loaded merchant-vessels reach its wharfs. Across the Severn we could see the romantic little town of Chepstow, and the ruins of its ancient castle; the winding tortuous Wye, hurrying into the Severn below the lofty rocks of the Windeliff. Beyond lay Monmouth, and in the background of the glorious picture were the Welsh mountains, covered with early snow, and amongst which the Sugar-loaf stood conspicuous. The filling up of this outline of so glorious a picture I must leave to the imagination of my readers.

“How is it," I inquired, “ that I have no recollection of having seen this beautiful view on my previous visits to Mount Whistling ?" “ It was not then to be seen,” replied Sternpost.

" What is now a turf-covered terrace was a part of the wood which we have just left. By cutting down some hall-hundred trees, and clearing away the underwood of hazels and maples, which grew in this spot more luxuriantly than elsewhere, I have succeeded in gaining a prospect of that which was before shut out from the view of man, unless he was willing to do

” until what I had often done, climb to the top of the tallest beech that stood here."

“It must have grieved you,” I continued, “to lay the axe to the root of the fine old trees that stood here for ages."

" It did grieve me deeply,” said Sternpost, “ for I love an old tree as much as I love an old church. But I do not regret the removal of those that stood here, now that I have gained this lovely view in exchange for them. Here we pass much of our time in the summer months; and if you will walk along the terrace I will show you our summer dining-room."

I followed him for about a hundred yards, and found just within the covert, but commanding the entire prospect, a rustic arbour. It was built of the rugged and bark-covered branches of the oak, lined with mosses of varied hues, and roofed with reeds. Its shape was octagonal, and on seven of its sides were benches of polished pollard oak surrounding a table, the top of which was curiously inlaid with specimens of every description of wood which grew on the estate.

“This," said my friend, “is my summer dining-room, and behind it, but quite out of sight, is my kitchen and my cellar. Here I have had many happy parties, for none but my friends are invited here-my acquaintances dine below at the house. The table, as you see, will accommodate but seven, and from its shape prevents that going off in couples, which spoils a general conversation.”

He touched a bell as he concluded, and in a few seconds his butler appeared, bearing a tray covered with the requisites for a luncheon.

I was so much surprised the whole affair seemed so much like the effect of magic—that I could hardly believe the viands before me to be real. I expected to see them vanish again as I had seen many a splendid entertainment on the stage vanish from the hungry eyes of the clown and pantaloon at the magic touch of the wand of harlequin. I, however, did eat a real sandwich, and drink a glass of real Rudesheimer as I sat enjoying the prospect before us.

We had not sat long before the sound of the bell reached us. It's tones were not loud, but deep and melodious, consonant with the scene around us. I looked inquiringly at my friend.

“That bell,” said he, “ reminds me that I have yet something to show you which I think will please you even more than this view and its adjuncts. So, if you have refreshed your body, let us proceed a little further, and I will supply you with a little food for the mind.”

We went to the end of the terrace, and turning a little to the right through a part of the same wood in which the arbour stood, came out upon a sort of wild common. The upper part of it was thickly planted with fir-trees of every species, and many kinds of evergreens. In the midst of these stood one of the neatest Gothic buildings I have

It formed three sides of a square. In the centre was a house rather higher than the surrounding buildings, and on one side of it was a chapel, from the lantern of which the bell we had heard in the arbour was still booming over the woods. On the other was a hall. The two sides of the square consisted of six small cottages—three on either side. The space between them was laid out in flower-gardens, well stocked, and kept with exceeding care. Two small lodges stood

ever seen.

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