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THE HEIRESS OF VERNON HALL.

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THE HEIRESS OF VERNON HALL.

CHAPTER I.

On a beautiful May morning, beneath the shade of a cluster of oaks in a noble and wide-spreading park, I was strolling with my father, Sir Henry Vernon.

Caroline,” he said to me, as we paused for a few minutes, “shut your book, dearest, and listen to me.”

I instantly closed the volume which had been engrossing my whole attention, and looked up at my father.

Caroline,” he continued, as he laid his thin white hand fondly upon my shoulder," from a letter which I have received this morning, I have reason to believe that your aunt Agnes cannot last beyond a few days at the farthest. Her only child will then be an orphan, unprotected, and almost destitute."

Here he stopped, as if expecting that I should make some reply ; but I remained silent, and he proceeded.

“My dear girl," he said, speaking with evident hesitation and embarrassment, “I should wish, if you have no objection, to invite your young cousin Agnes to come and spend some time with us at the Hall-in short, to receive her as an inmate in our family.”

At this proposal I started, and the colour glowed in my cheek, as I said,

Dearest papa, you cannot be in earnest. taxing my credulity. Give Agnes Bray any sum of money, or make her any allowance, however handsome ; but you cannot possibly intend that the daughter of the country apothecary should live as a sister with the only child of Sir Henry Vernon ! Who has ever felt half so bitterly as yourself my aunt's self-degradation in allying herself so far

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