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PART I.

SUMMER TIDE.

The lapse of Time and rivers is the same ;
Both speed their journey with a restless stream ;
The silent pace with which they steal away
No wealth can bribe--no prayers persuade to stay :
Alike irrevocable both when past,
And a wide ocean swallows both at last."

COWPER.

On the Banks of the Ouse.

.

CHAPTER I.

COLTSWOOD MANOR.

“Cruel is all he does ;
'Tis quenchless thirst of ruinous ebriety
That prompts his every action, and embrutes the man.”

CowPER.

A LOUD discordant voice broke the delicious calm of the summer evening as the Master of Coltswood Manor reined in his hard-ridden horse under the old stone gateway of the stable-yard, and shouted to the groom, who came toddling over the paved quadrangle as fast as his short, bandy legs would carry him.

"Why weren't you on the watch, you lazy old fool ? Keeping me here, waiting your pleasure !" And the reins were flung to the groom, while with a volley of oaths Mr. Rollestone let himself down from his big-boned horse, and turned towards the front of the house.

It did not escape Giles's notice that his master staggered as he passed out of sight. He seldom returned sober from a ride, and Giles was well used to this condition of things.

“He's been riding thee pretty hard, my girl," Giles said, as he led the mare to the stable. “He's been a-riding hard-and drinking hard. Aye-well, it's the way of the world, Minx, my girl, and we ought to know it by this time."

Then Giles disappeared within the stable-door, where he took the saddle off Minx's back and rubbed her down carefully before he consigned her to her stall-next to Black Jim-a high-bred hunter, who put his nose over the partition and gave a short neigh of welcome.

Then there was silence again. An old fountain still sent up a crystal shower from the rugged stone basin, which fell over a broken figure of some waternymph, of which but little form or shape was left.

Spot, the faithful hound, who had had a hard run that day, raised himself on his large paws on the rugged stone edge of the basin, and refreshed himself with a prolonged draught of water. A flock of pigeons were cooing on the dove-cot, and pluming their feathers in the bright, western sunshine which illuminated the old buildings of the quadrangle.

Everything was wrapt in the golden calm of the still, summer evening, and the arrival of the master and his angry tones had, by breaking the charm for a time, made the quiet, when it reigned again, greater by force of contrast.

Coltswood Manor was an irregular and picturesque house. The centre was of red brick of the date of Queen Anne. The gables were pointed and clothed with ivy, where innumerable sparrows chattered and held consultations with the swallows which frequented the overhanging eaves in the early summer.

The house was entered by a quaint porch, on which several devices were carved, and it led into a hall of no mean dimensions, where, summer and winter, logs were always burning on the open hearth. The walls were ornamented with stags' heads and foxes' brushes and other sporting trophies. Two large oak-chairs were placed at either end of a solid oak-table, where this evening a cloth, not remarkable for snowy purity, was spread, and a large loaf of home-made bread on a wooden trencher showed that meals were taken here.

As the master entered the hall by the porch he sank down on one of the large chairs, and thundered with a horn-handled knife upon the table.

The noise brought a young man from a door by the side of the fireplace, and he said :

“Are you ready for supper, father?”

“Ready; yes ! I should think I was. Look sharp and tell those lazy hounds to serve up.

And hallo, Cuthbert !—fetch up two bottles of the old port, and let us have a good bout, for I've something a bit pleasant to tell you."

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