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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 260 pages of information about Scenes and Characters.
future meetings.  The next day Maurice and Reginald came home from school, bringing a better character for diligence than usual, on which they founded hopes that the holidays would be left to their own disposal.  They were by no means pleased with the arrangement made with Mr. Stevens and most unwillingly did they undertake the expedition to Stony Bridge, performing the journey in a very unsociable manner.  Maurice was no horseman, and chose to jog on foot through three miles of lane, while Reginald’s pony cantered merrily along, its master’s head being intent upon the various winter sports in which William and Lord Rotherwood allowed him to share.  Little did Maurice care for such diversions; he was, as Adeline said, studying another ‘apology.’  This time it was phrenology, for which the cropped heads of Lilias and Jane afforded unusual facility.  There was, however, but a limited supply of heads willing to be fingered, and Maurice returned to the most abiding of his tastes, and in an empty room at the Old Court laboured assiduously to find the secret of perpetual motion.

A few days before Christmas Rachel Harvey again took leave of Beechcroft, with a promise that she would make them another visit when Eleanor came home.  Before she went she gave Emily a useful caution, telling her it was not right to trust her keys out of her own possession.  It was what Miss Mohun never would have done, she had never once committed them even to Rachel.

‘With due deference to Eleanor,’ said Emily, with her winning smile, ‘we must allow that that was being over cautious.’

Rachel smiled, but her lecture was not averted by the compliment.

’It might have been very well since you have known me, Miss Emily, but I do not know what would have come of it, if I had been too much trusted when I was a giddy young thing like Esther; that girl comes of a bad lot, and if anything is to be made of her, it is by keeping temptation out of her way, and not letting her be with that mother of hers.’

Rachel had rather injured the effect of her advice by behaving too like a mistress during her visit; Emily had more than once wished that all servants were not privileged people, and she was more offended than convinced by the remonstrance.

CHAPTER XIV—­CHRISTMAS

   ’Slee, sla, slud,
   Stuck in the mud,
O! it is pretty to wade through a flood,
   Come, wheel round,
   The dirt we have found,
Would he an estate at a farthing a pound.’

Lily’s illness interrupted her teaching at the village school for many weeks, and she was in no great haste to resume it.  Alethea Weston seemed to enjoy doing all that was required, and Lily left it in her hands, glad to shut her eyes as much as possible to the disheartening state the parish had been in ever since her former indiscretion.

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