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A Perilous Secret eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about A Perilous Secret.

“However,” said he, “we might suggest that he does all the repairs and draining, and that you find the materials; and also that he insures all the farm buildings.  But you can hardly stand out for the insurance if he objects.  There’s no harm trying.  Stay! here is one clause that is unusual:  the tenant is to have the right to bore for water, or to penetrate the surface of the soil, and take out gravel or chalk or minerals, if any.  I don’t like that clause.  He might quarry, and cut the farm in pieces.  Ah, there’s a proviso, that any damage to the surface or the agricultural value shall be fully compensated, the amount of such injury to be settled by the landlord’s valuer or surveyor.  Oh, come, if you can charge your own price, that can’t kill you.”

In short, the draft was approved, subject to certain corrections.  These were accepted.  The lease was engrossed in duplicate, and in due course signed and delivered.  The old tenant left, abusing the Cliffords, and saying it was unfair to bring in a stranger, for he would have given all the money.

Bartley took possession.

Walter welcomed Hope very warmly, and often came to see him.  He took a great interest in Hope’s theories of farming, and often came to the farm for lessons.  But that interest was very much increased by the opportunities it gave him of seeing and talking to sweet Mary Bartley.  Not that he was forward or indiscreet.  She was not yet sixteen, and he tried to remember she was a child.

Unfortunately for that theory she looked a ripe woman, and this very Walter made her more and more womanly.  Whenever Walter was near she had new timidity, new blushes, fewer gushes, less impetuosity, more reserve.  Sweet innocent!  She was set by Nature to catch the man by the surest way, though she had no such design.

Oh, it was a pretty, subtle piece of nature, and each sex played its part.  Bold advances of the man, with internal fear to offend, mock retreats of the girl, with internal throbs of complacency, and life invested with a new and growing charm to both.  Leaving this pretty little pastime to glide along the flowery path that beautifies young lives to its inevitable climax, we go to a matter more prosaic, yet one that proved a source of strange and stormy events.

Hope had hardly started the farm when Bartley sent him off to Belgium—­TO STUDY COAL MINES.

CHAPTER VII.

THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE.

Mr. Hope left his powerful opera-glass with Mary Bartley.  One day that Walter called she was looking through it at the landscape, and handed it to him.  He admired its power.  Mary told him it had saved her life once.

“Oh,” said he, “how could that be?”

Then she told him how Hope had seen her drowning, a mile off, with it, and ridden a bare-backed steed to her rescue.

“God bless him!” cried Walter.  “He is our best friend.  Might I borrow this famous glass?”

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