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A Child of the Glens by Edward Newenham Hoare

The dinner at Burnham was pleasant enough


Having returned to his hotel, the clergyman made some brief notes of the story that had thus providentially been brought to light. He did not know whether to feel pleasure or disappointment. He was glad to have the mystery cleared up; glad, too, to find that Elsie had had so sweet a mother, and was likely to have such kind and liberal friends. Yet he could not but feel sorry for the collapse that was awaiting Jim's castle in the air. It would be a bitter trial for him, and he knew not how Jim would bear it. Mr. Smith was somewhat puzzled, moreover, what to do himself. He had promised to write to the expectant Jim; but now he could not bring himself to do so. His own holiday would not expire for a fortnight, and he was naturally reluctant to return home sooner than was necessary. While debating what was best to be done, a telegram was put into his hand. It was from the irrepressible and anxious Jim. "Please telegraph results obtained immediately. Reply paid for." "The fool!" muttered Mr. Smith; and, yielding to a sudden irritation, he filled up the reply for which the boy was waiting:

"All clear enough, but quite unsatisfactory as far as you are concerned."

It was a cruel blow, and no sooner was it dealt than he was sorry for it. He resolved to write to the poor lad, and, finding an invitation to dine at Burnham Park, which had first to be accepted, he sat down, well pleased with himself and all the world. The letter to Jim was kindly. The whole truth was not told, but it was announced that Jim and Elsie were no connections of the Waterham family. All else was reserved for verbal explanation.

The dinner at Burnham was pleasant enough. The earl was affable, and after dinner had several reminiscences of that "clever dog Damer" to tell, which did not raise his character in the clergyman's estimation. When about to leave, Lady Eleanor handed him a note for Elsie, adding--

"I do wish so she would come over and see us! Of course I should gladly pay all her expenses."

The Rev. Cooper Smith left Leeds next morning quite satisfied with himself, and, having written a long letter to Hendrick, giving a general idea of his discoveries, he went on his tour with a light heart.

CHAPTER X.

Poor Jim! his pride had indeed met with a fall. The rector's letter was soothing enough, but the winged messenger which he himself had demanded had arrived full twenty-four hours earlier. Full of the most ridiculous dreams, that he would have been ashamed to put in words even to himself, the young man tore open the brown cover. One glance at the cruelly brief, well-written announcement, and all the top-heavy aerial erection his vanity had heaped up lay shattered around him. Poor boy! shall we not pity him? From very childhood, though so silent and undemonstrative, he had fed himself with extravagant visions and wild speculations. All this had been merely an amusement, though an unhealthy one. The dreamer had scarcely entertained the idea of his dreams possibly proving true. But the train was laid for a future explosion--the imagination was diseased, and so when the watchmaker's letter came, all the shadowy fancies of the past seemed to be suddenly transformed into substantial realities. He fancied ho had always _known_ that which hitherto he had only amused himself by fancying.


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