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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

The post chaise drove up to the principal hotel at Yeovil


is a large place, isn't it?" she asked.

"Yes; why do you ask?"

She looked at her mother, who smiled.

"The fact is, Nat, Myra has been endeavouring to persuade her father and me that it would be a nice plan for us to go down there with you and to form the acquaintance of your parents. Of course we should stay at an hotel. We are in no particular hurry to go up to London; and as while you are away we shall naturally wish to see as much as we can of your people, this would make a very good beginning. And perhaps some of them will come back to London with us when you join your ship."

"I think it would be a first-rate plan, madame, the best thing possible. Of course I want my father and mother and the girls to see Myra."

"When will you start?"

"To-morrow morning. Of course we shall go by post. It will be a very cross-country journey by coach, and many of these country roads are desperately bad. It is only about the same distance that it is to London, but the roads are not so good, so I propose that we make a short journey to-morrow to Salisbury, and then, starting early, go through to Yeovil. We shall be there in good time in the afternoon. I shall only be taking a very small amount of kit, so that we ought to be able to stow three large trunks, which will, I suppose, be enough

for you. Of course we could send some on by a waggon, but there is no saying when they would get there, and as likely as not they would not arrive until just as we are leaving there; of course Dinah will go on the box."

At four o'clock, two days later, the post-chaise drove up to the principal hotel at Yeovil. Rooms were at once obtained for the Duchesnes, and Nat hired a light trap to drive him out to his father's rectory, some three miles out of the town. As he drove up to the house, three girls, from sixteen to two-and three-and-twenty, ran out, followed a moment later by his father and mother. For a few minutes there was but little coherent talk. His sisters could scarcely believe that this tall young officer was the lad they had last seen, and even his father and mother agreed that they would scarce have recognized him.

"I don't think the girls quite recognize me now," he laughed. "They kissed me in a very feeble sort of way, as if they were not at all sure that it was quite right. Indeed, I was not quite sure myself that it was the proper thing for me to salute three strange young ladies."

"What nonsense you talk, Nat," his eldest sister Mary said. "I thought by this time, now you are a lieutenant, you would have become quite stiff, and would expect a good deal of deference to be paid to you."

"I can't say that you have been a good correspondent, Nat," his mother said. "You wrote very seldom, and then said very little of what you had been doing."

"Well, mother, there are not many post-offices in Hayti, and I should not have cared to trust any letters to them if there had been. There is the advantage, you see, that there is much more to tell you now than if I had written to you before. You don't get papers very regularly here, I think?"

"No, we seldom see a London paper, and the Bath papers don't tell much about anything except the fashionable doings there."

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