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FLORA;

OR,

SELF-DECEPTION.

CHAPTER I.

TOWN AND COUNTRY.

"WELL, there certainly is a charm in the country!" exclaimed Ada Murray, as, with the assistance of the hand of her companion, she sprang lightly down from a stile on the soft daisy-spangled grass beneath.

"The charm of novelty, I suppose,” replied Flora.

"Well, I am afraid that I must plead guilty to knowing very little more of rural life than I have gathered from, 'Let me Wander not Urseen.' Ever since I came down here, I have been looking out for the shepherds tell

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ing tales under the hawthorn,' and the village

maidens dancing to the sound of the rebeck; but no livelier piece of gaiety can I hear of than a feast to the school-children in a field ! I suppose that you could not have archery here?" she added, suddenly, as the thought crossed her mind.

Oh, yes; we have an old bow and some arrows at home, that belonged to my brother."

Oh, that's not what I mean," replied Ada, laughing; "bows and arrows do not make an archery-meeting, they are a mere excuse for drawing people together.

to have any neighbours?"

But you don't seem

"How can you say so?" cried Flora, playfully, pointing to a village on their right, nestling amidst elm-trees, above which the spire of a little church gleamed in the evening

sun.

"You will not understand me, you malicious little thing! You don't call visiting old women and sickly children, and questioning a prim class of tidy girls in a school-room, seeing anything of society? Have you no neighbours in your own rank of life within ten miles round?"

"Not many," replied Flora; "but a few. There's the clergyman, you have seen him, good old Mr. Ward"

"Oh, yes, I have seen him,—the bald-headed little man, with such a benevolent look and patronizing smile, that I quite expected him to pat me on the head, and say, 'There's a good little dear!""

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Naughty little dear, I should say," laughed Flora. "Oh! he is such a kind old friend, and preaches so beautifully, I don't know what we should do without him. We have known him and his dear old lady so long,―he was a school-fellow of my dear father. there's Captain Lepine".

Then

"A captain! that sounds more lively. Is he an agreeable individual?"

"Yes; he takes care of my garden, and brings

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"I hope that he does not stump about on a wooden one; one could hardly stand that, even in a romance! I suppose that he was wounded at Sobraon, or some of those Indian battles with unpronounceable names?"

'No; he was wounded at Navarino." "Navarino!" exclaimed Ada, with affected horror; "then he must be a century old at the least! Does no one live in this place under eighty years of age?"

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'Yes; the doctor and his wife, and half a dozen little ones, the eldest not out of the school-room."

"And nobody besides?"

"Mrs. Lacy, the widow of a banker, who occupies the white house which you observe yonder; but she does not see a great deal of society."

"I should think not," observed Ada, drily. 'It is a case of the Spanish fleet thou canst not see, for it is not in sight.""

"And she is often ill "

"With ennui, no doubt."

"Ah! and I was forgetting old Miss Butterfield; we passed her just as we turned into the fields."

"Almost bent into a hoop, like an old witch, and dressed after the fashion of our great-grandmothers! If she had only sported a red cloak in addition to her poke-bonnet, I should have gone and asked her to tell my fortune!"

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