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no means.

RS. MACWHIRTER was the wife of a

Scotch merchant who, by the exercise of

that prudence and thrift for which his countrymen have become proverbial, was able to put by a snug little fortune, and to leave his widow in possession of a comfortable jointure, a houseful of substantial, old-fashioned furniture, and sundry treasures in the way of plate and china, which caused her female friends and acquaintances to pronounce her with one voice a lucky woman.

Mrs. MacWhirter herself no doubt thought so too. Only fifteen years ago she had been an elderly spinster, living with a still more elderly aunt, and with no prospect but the slender resources which the said aunt might or might not eventually leave her. Bearing in mind the uncertainty that attaches to the promises of old age, Miss Warly did not waver long when a suitor, welcome as a winter rose, arrived in the shape of Mr. MacWhirter, who was struck by the eminently genteel appearance of the lady at an evening party. This was at the little watering-place on the south coast where the Warlys lived, and which they fondly imagined to be one of the liveliest and most fashionable localities in the kingdom, for Mrs. Warly, whose husband had been a local magnate, knew a good many people, and tea-drinkings and festive meetings were frequent in her set. When Mr. MacWhirter, hailing from the dull northern town, came with his proposal Mrs. Warly scornfully asked her niece how she would bear the loss of “society," and did not scruple to call the place of her future residence a “bread and cheese cupboard.” The breach caused by this sarcastic remark was never healed, and when two years later the old lady died the MacWhirters were not at all surprised to hear that she had left the whole of her little property to some public institution.

Although Mrs. MacWhirter had carried things with a high hand at the time of her marriage and had affected to despise the wrathful feelings it excited in her aged relative, that unlucky speech hit the mark, and unconsciously affected her opinion of Drumkirk. She used to speak to her new friends in tones of gentle resignation of the festivities she had foregone for the sake of-of Mr. MacWhirter, and to picture in glowing colours the constant round of elegant entertainments and the atmosphere of refined gaiety which pervaded life at Darcon-by-Sea.

The inhabitants of Drumkirk listened, and wondered, and admired to her heart's content, and never even owned to each other how inexpressibly bored they felt at her occasional ceremonious tea-parties (when all the best silver and china were solemnly marshalled before the guests) lest it should be suspected they were unaccustomed to good society.

On the death of her husband, Mrs. MacWhirter decided to leave Drumkirk. Her heart, as she expressed it, turned to the haunts of her youth, where it was generally supposed she had been of

some importance, and would now shine as a star of the first magnitude in virtue of her matronly dignity and desirable possessions. So the effects of the late merchant were removed from the dingy house in the little Scotch town to an imposing stuccoed residence, one of many other stuccoed residences, in Bellevue Terrace, Darconby-Sea.

And did Mrs. MacWhirter forthwith plunge into those social joys for which her soul had yearned when they were out of her reach ? By

Inconsistent as it may appear on the part of that estimable lady, truth compels me to own that within two years of her arrival at the stuccoed residence-Drumkirk House, she called it, as a compliment to the memory of her husband, and because it sounded well-So soon, indeed, as the business of fitting the old-fashioned furniture in its new quarters, and the distraction of buying fresh carpets and curtains, and arranging them to the best advantage, were things of the past, Mrs. MacWhirter settled down into an existence the chief excitement of which was a visit from one of her nieces. What she now bewailed was not so much the loss of society as its degeneracy. Where were the delightful réunions, where was that charming sociability, that open-handed hospitality she remembered of old ? Darcon had grown bewilderingly large and frightfully vulgar. The people she knew in her maiden days had died, or left the place, or were represented by flippant young descendants, who looked upon he

as quite belonging to an ancient régime. The assembly-rooms were forgotten, and a monster hall occupied their site—a hall where concerts and all manner of entertainments were given ; but where Mrs. MacWhirter, although she wore her handsomest trinkets, and the China crêpe shawl which Mr. MacWhirter's mother had considered a priceless possession, was simply one of the crowd. After that the widow discovered the falling-off in society before mentioned ; and it was of course this, and not, as ill-natured people suggested, the infirmities of age, which induced her to retire into the privacy of home, and find her chief delights in her afternoon siesta, her knitting, and her recipe-book.

The recipe-book was a great hobby. Two or three hundred recipes, all copied out in the finnikin running-hand so fashionable half a century ago. Proudly turning the pages of this monument to her neatness and housewifery, I am inclined to think there were moments in which Mrs. MacWhirter considered herself the veritable author of the work that furnished her with unending topics of conversation when Miss Keith, her companion, had exhausted the daily paper and sat sewing by the dining-room fire.

Ah!” she would say, having brought out the book under pretence of finding those directions for beef olives cook would want to-morrow,

"here is the recipe I got from Mrs. Woodard's house

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keeper. That was the place, my dear, for comfort and plenty; everything of the best, and to spare. Such stylish people, too! how well I remember at the dinner-party given when their son came of age,” etc., etc. Or, “ There is Captain Wynne's own particular way of making an Indian curry.

first time tried it was when we expected Colonel and Mrs. Armitage; the colonel paid me such a pretty compliment on my success, and poor Mrs. Armitage—did I ever tell you about Mrs. Armitage ?—she was highly connected—cousin to Sir Peter Green.”

Miss Keith knew the stories by heart, having heard them times out of number, but she listened with unfailing patience, and had always a smile and a kindly look in her soft brown eyes to cheer the lonely life that found its only solace in trivial recollections.

You may be sure the two nieces, who had a inuch greater esteem for their aunt as Mrs. MacWhirter than they had entertained for her as Miss Warly, paid every respect to the recipe-book. They were both of them middle-aged married ladies with families, and they both lived within easy distances of Darcon. - Mrs. Kemp's husband farmed some land five or six miles off, and when she came into the town it was in her own carriage, for Mr. Kemp kept a dogcart, a waggonette, and a high-stepping horse. Mrs. Kemp often made a point of calling at Bellevue Terrace, and bringing some little offering to her “dearest aunt.” A few fresh eggs, a pot of cream, or, in the shooting season, a brace or two of partridges were frequent testimonies of her affection; and in return she declared herself amply repaid by the occasional permission, duly asked and graciously accorded, to copy some choice recipe from the much-prized book, or to refer for a moment to its invaluable stores. Georgie had sprained her ankle, and Mrs. Kemp knew there was a liniment given on page six. Tom had heard her say Aunt MacWhirter had a recipe for tomato catsup, and was certain it would prove

the best that could be got. The other niece, not to be behindhand, seldom wrote without asking some important question that set Mrs. MacWhirter poring over her treasure.

“Mrs. Lacy wants to know how long that economical soup is to simmer,” she would explain to Miss Keith: Or, “Mrs. Lacy cannot quite remember the proportions of the seed-cake-she has the good sense to understand the worth of these simple hints in a large family.” And between her admiration of Mrs. Lacy's economy (it was her favourite virtue) and her appreciation of Mrs. Kemp's attentions, which inclined her to condone more readily that lady's extravagancies, she was sorely exercised as to the respective merits of her two nieces; while now and then a shrewd suspicion crossed her mind that for genuine disinterested feeling and real single-hearted sympathy she might look to either in vain.

At such times Maggie Keith would be startled by a profound sigh from her patroness, and glancing up would occasionally see the dowager's sharp eyes fixed upon her with a softer expression than they usually boasted. Perhaps that was not to be wondered at; Maggie's trim figure was very

pretty, and her kind face pleasant to look upon; Mrs.' MacWhirter had found it so many a night last winter when it bent tenderly over her sickbed during a sharp attack of bronchitis.

Mrs. Kemp and Mrs. Lacy had of course been unremitting in their inquiries and calls at that time. Everything that could be done for the sufferer (without absolute personal inconvenience) they did. Mrs. Lacy came and stayed several days, and read serious books to the invalid in a solemn voice, and spoke in loud whispers, and seemed in a perpetual state of fuss. Mrs. Kemp brought fruit and little delicacies, and shook her head ominously, and hoped it was not a breaking up of the constitution. Miss Keith meanwhile fulfilled the minor offices of the sick-room, sat up at night, was always at hand to give medicine or beef-tea, to smooth the heated pillow, and meet the restless peevishness of the patient with cheery words of comfort and hope ; all of which was no more than right, seeing, as they remarked, she was paid for her services. Ah! ladies, there are some services that cannot be paid for in any coinage of gold and silver; and the services Maggie rendered - hearty, womanly services, prompted by purest pity for all things suffering and weak—were surely such.

That illness left its mark upon Mrs. MacWhirter, and was destined also to influence greatly Miss Keith's after life. The little figure moving noiselessly about the darkened chamber, like a stray sunbeam accidentally shut in, had somehow become associated in John Raymond's mind with his ideal of a wife, and it is an open question whether the assiduous attention which charmed the patient during her convalescence was altogether due to professional interest on the part of the young doctor. Though she was no longer regarded as an invalid, he still claimed the privilege of making a friendly call, “ just to see that she was taking care of herself.” Indeed it was quite a wonder if a week went by without his knock resounding through the silent house, making that foolish Maggie start and flash. Her nerves had been a little shaken by confinement you see.

Mrs. MacWhirter was not an observant woman, but she could not fail to have an inkling of the small romance that was being enacted under her

It did not disturb her. If it had been likely to result in a speedy wedding, and the consequent loss of Miss Keith's services, that would be different. But John Raymond was only assistant to Dr. Marshall, and Maggie did not possess a penny. There could be no thought of marriage

. yet, and meanwhile these chance visits afforded a pleasant break in the monotony of the week, paid, as they were, ostensibly to her.

Yes, the weeks had become monotonous even in lively Darcon. That last touch of bronchitis had told Mrs. MacWhirter a truth she had been slow to learn-had shown her that the evil days were come, and the years when she should say, I have no pleasure in them.”

One morning, as she sat by the fire trifling with her knitting, Mrs. Kemp came in.

My dearest aunt, not out this fine day?Mrs. MacWhirter shook her head. “I'he air is



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too keen, and-and, you know, Selina, I am not so young as I was.

“Now that is all nonsense !” said Selina, briskly-she knew that age was a tender point. “ Miss Keith, you really must not let my aunt imagine she is old and worn out. She only wants rousing, poor dear; and I shall take tickets for the concert on Tuesday, and expect you both to go with us.”

But Mrs. MacWhirter professed indifference to the concert, and the affectionate niece tried another tack, and asked to be allowed to look at a certain recipe for cheese-cakes.

“I sometimes wonder," said Mrs. MacWhirter, when the manuscript book was produced, "who will have this when I am gone."

Dear aunt, what a gloomy thought !” cried Mrs. Kemp.

“Of course,” pursued Mrs. MacWhirter, “the bulk of my property goes back to my husband's samily, but there are a few little tokens of affection I can leave to those dear to me."

Mrs. Lacy sighed, and said nothing, but she rapidly reviewed in her mind's eye the contents of the house, and thought it would be odd if a few substantial tokens were not forthcoming.

“I should like some one to have it who would value it,” said Mrs. MacWhirter, still harping on the book. “I sometimes fancy that you, Selina—"

“ Indeed, dearest,” murmured Selina, wiping her eyes, “since you will pursue this melancholy theme, I may say there is nothing of yours I should treasure more highly than this work of your own hands;" and as Mrs. Kemp uttered that deliberate fib the memory of the best silver teaservice, safely reposing upstairs in cotton wool, and a momentary tremor lest her aunt should take her at her word, gave just the amount of agitation to render the speech effective.

After she was gone Mrs. MacWhirter sat brooding by the fire, the shining knitting-needles lying idle in her lap. “ Is it real ? ” she muttered; is it all talk, I wonder ?”

Here followed a long soliloquy, at the end of which her ponderings took a practical turn, and, with something of her former determination, she got her desk and wrote a note making an appointment with her old friend Alr. Inkerman, the lawyer.

During the next fortnight this gentleman had many interviews with his client. They were, of course, strictly private and confidential. Maggie, returning from some outdoor mission which Mrs. MacWhirter had suddenly announced to be urgent, would find him on the point of leaving, after what Martha, the housemaid, called a "regular confab.” Which it's my belief she's altering her will," added the astute Martha.

“Very likely,” responded Miss Keith, absently, thinking how well Mr. Raymond handled Dr. Marshall's pair of grey cobs, and how pleasantly he smiled at her when she met him just now on the parade.

Supposing Martha to be right in her conjecture, the widow made her alterations none too soon. The bright October days which rendered Maggie's impromptu walks so agreeable gave place to a

spell of dreary, tempestuous weather.

Mrs. MacWhirter caught cold, and renewed the bronchitis. This time her old enemy held her in a deadly clutch, not to be relaxed for all the efforts of Dr. Marshall and his assistant, and, reading the truth in their faces, the old lady summoned her nieces to her bedside.

“My time is come,” she said, in her weak, hoarse voice; "and you will find when I am gone I have not forgotten you. There will not be much, for you know my income is an annuity. With regard to one of my most valued possessions, I should like to give it you before I die, and to feel you are of my opinion that, after all Miss Keith has been to me, I am doing right in making over a third part to her.”

Here was a state of affairs ! The valued possession must mean the plate, and might even include the linen and china. Blank consternation and tumultuous wrath, fortunately for the ladies, kept them silent, or it is more than probable some indignant protest might have ousted them from their relative's good graces for ever. Before, however, they had time to recover themselves Mrs. MacWhirter explained herself further.

“Just give me that parcel, Selina. I have had my recipe-book divided into three portions. I know how highly you appreciate my collection of recipes, and I am free to confess that whatever else I may leave, I regard the gift of it as the highest token of my love and esteem. Still I do not apprehend you will feel hurt if in this matter I put my faithful companion on a level with yourselves, and I fancy you will agree with me that it is a fitting recognition of her services."

How wise, how kind of you!” murmured the relieved hearers. “Such a mark of approbation will be worth so much to her in her next place,” observed Mrs. Lacy. And then Miss Keith was called, and the three books were distributed, and Mrs. MacWhirter, as she gave Maggie a kiss, said, “ You will value it and use it for my sake, won't you ?” And Maggie answered, “ Indeed I will, dear;” and bent down and kissed the withered cheek, and carried her gift away, putting it tenderly in her drawer with something of the same feeling which leads us to place among our best treasures the simple toy of the child we lored.

Mrs. Kemp forgot hers, and Miss Keith finding it in the dining-room, posted it to her next morning. The packet was followed a day or two later by a black-edged letter, which told of Mrs. NacWhirter's death.

The disconsolate relations attended the funeral, racked by painful doubts as to the contents of the document to be read by Mr. Inkerman after the cold collation awaiting the mourners had been discussed.

The division of the recipe-book argued a touch of eccentricity which might prove to have found wider scope in the will; and the two who considered themselves the rightful claimants of the dead woman's property eyed Miss Keith somewhat distrustfully, uncertain whether they would be called upon to acquiesce in another proof of their aunt's gratitude. They breathed more freely when they found Maggie's name was only down



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for a legacy of nineteen guineas, and rather bewildered the poor girl (who had been quite unconscious of their suspicions) by changing their chilling demeanour for one of the greatest cordiality.

Mrs. Kemp even asked her to come to Park Farm on a visit. She knew Maggie was quick at her needle, and it would be handy to have help in altering and adapting to her own wear some handsome garments of the late Mrs. MacWhirter. Everything in the house-clothes, plate, and furniture-was divided between the two nieces. To Mary Ann the large silver spirit-stand and best cruet, to Selina the tea-service, and so on. The only disappointment they experienced was in the fact that the sole amount of cash at the disposal of each was five hundred pounds, and they agreed that it showed bad management and a lamentable want of proper feeling for those who came after her, that the widow had not saved more out of her ample income.

Miss Keith did not accept Mrs. Kemp's invite : tion. She went instead on a visit to a married rsister, and diligently plied that clever needle of

hers on her own account. She had made the promise popularly associated in the female mind with a thorough renovation and replenishment of the wardrobe (having consented to become John Raymond's wife before the autumn), and gentler readers will at once understand how busily she stitched, and sewed, and copied patterns through the lengthening days, her labours lightened by hopes and thoughts sweet as the shy violets and fragrant lilies waking in the woods.

So when the spring was over, and the rose-bush on Mrs. MacWhirter's grave was blooming bravely in the lonely cemetery, Maggie came back to Darcon, and this time to a home of her own.

Such a pretty little home it was ! As bright and trim and pleasant as Maggie herself, and that is saying a great deal. The young couple determined to begin prudently. Mr. Raymond had already saved some money, and could, had his bride wished it, have launched out a little more, but they both hoped that by the exercise of a few years' self-denial he might be able to buy a practice and set up for himself.

Dr. Marshall was talking of retiring, and would have liked nothing better than to see his younger colleague in his place, but John shook his head regretfully, and said he should have to content himself with something less than that.

“What a pity !” exclaimed Maggie, when they talked it over. Every one knows you here, and they all like you.”

“Yes," said Mr. Raymond, “it would, there's no denying it, be a splendid chance; but I don't sce any prospect, unless Marshall would waitNo, darling, we must be content with a smaller berth elsewhere."

Of course Maggie protested she could be content anywhere with him ; whereupon the conversation took a turn which caused that young matron to declare that she had no time to waste if John had, and that she must really run and see what made Betsy so late with lunch.

“I am going to give you a dish of my own

devising, sir,” she said, “and shall want your usual candid opinion as to its merits.”

“If it is not better than the abomination you put before me yesterday—"

Maggie's clear laugh rang out gaily.

“I'm afraid I made a victim of you then. Bythe-bye, that was one of Mrs. MacWhirter's recipes

—I'll just mark it. You see, it's a case of experiments at present; I shall get used to your tastes in time."

“Is to-day's experiment one of Mrs. MacWhirter's recipes?” asked John, dubiously, as his wife turned the leaves of a manuscript book she had taken from her desk.

Oh, no! but some of them are really good, and I mean to try them all”-Mr. Raymond shuddered—“for the sake of poor Mrs. MacWhirter."

“And how far have you got?—there's a good many, isn't there? I am aware, my dear, that I owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. MacWhirter, since if it had not been for her we might never have met, but even gratitude has its limits. Look, here are two leaves stuck together-something extra good, perhaps. I wonder feminine curiosity has not induced you to try these hidden dishes first.”

As Mr. Raymond spoke he took up a paperknife and ran it between the two pages. They were closely written upon, like all the rest ; but across the original neat and faded characters a bolder hand had penned some words, gazing on which, with no little perplexity husband and wife read as follows: “ How to make a small fortune. This, undertaken by the proper person, and sufficiently early to ensure success, is very easy. If the reader be Margaret Keith, at one time companion to the late Mrs. MacWhirter, let the said Margaret Keith take this book and call on Mr. Inkerman, solicitor, Darcon-by-Sea. Add a few grains of explanation, and a simple monetary transaction, and the whole will turn out satisfactorily.”

“What does it mean?” said Maggie, getting rather white.

“Well, I suppose," said Mr. Raymond, slowly, “it means that the old lady has taken this eccentric way of leaving you another twenty-pound note—or who knows, Maggie, it may be fifty pounds.”

Maggie laughed at this unlikely notion, as her husband meant she should, for the little woman looked as pale and frightened as if she had received a verbal message from the departed Mrs. MacWhirter.

The dish of Mrs. Raymond's own devising met with scant attention. It was decided they would have time to go round to Mr. Inkerman before the doctor started on his afternoon round; and, luncheon over, Maggie popped on her bonnet, and the two quickly made their way to the lawyer's office, and were shown into his private

The perplexing paragraph was no sooner laid before him than he exclaimed, cordially, “Mrs. Raymond, let me congratulate you.

I had an idea from the first that if any one came forward to claim the money it would be you."


“I don't understand. What money ?” said Maggie.

“Two thousand pounds, at present invested in consols," answered the matter-of-fact lawyer, "according to the wish of my late client, Mrs. MacWhirter; there to remain interest meanwhile accumulating) for five years; and then to be distributed among the various charities named in the deed securing the proper disposal of the money, unless this communication-” pointing to the book,"or either of the similar communications contained in corresponding books, held by the two nieces of the deceased, had in the interim been discovered by the person named therein ; in which case the money was to be paid to that person. It is you, therefore, Mrs. Raymond, who can claim the two thousand.”

But can I take such a sum without-without injury to others ? " faltered Maggie

“ Undoubtedly,” answered the lawyer, with a faint smile at the simplicity of the question. "No one has a better right to it than yourself, and I will immediately arrange for the transfer of the money."

When the interview was concluded, and they stepped again into the street, Maggie felt very much as if it were all a dream.

“John," said she, turning a roguish face to her husband, “my gratitude has no limits; and I think you will have to live on Mrs. MacWhirter's recipes.”

“It would not be difficult,” he replied, laughingly, “if they were all like this."

“No, indeed. And oh, John, how fortunate we are! for now you will be able to buy the practice.”

Great was the mortification with which Mrs. Kemp and Mrs. Lacy heard of the chance they had let slip through their fingers. As the latter, speaking of the unlucky recipe-books, pathetically remarked, they had never had the heart to open those touching mementoes since their lamented relative's death. In fact it was some time before Mrs. Kemp could find hers. They were indignant with the Raymonds, and even went so far as to call Mrs. Raymond a “designing minx."

I do not think Maggie was a designing minx. If so, she was a great deal happier than she deserved to be. And although the two nieces talked no more of their “ dearest aunt,” that lady was not altogether consigned to oblivion, for the doctor and his wife in their prosperous household ever cherished with kindly feeling the memory of Mrs. MacWhirter



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'EW of readers, probably, know whence

the chief supply of lobsters, crabs, and other

shell-fish come for the London market. A large part comes from the little port of Hamble, situated on the creek of that name, which enters from Southampton Water about two miles below Netley.

Before visiting Hamble we were under the impression that these crustaceans, for which the place is famous, were caught in the creek or somewhere in the neighbouring waters. Nothing of the kind. They are all brought by vessels in wells at the bottom of the hold from Devonshire, Cornwall, the Scilly Isles, the west coast of Ireland, and the rocky shores of France and Norway. So far, therefore, Hamble can scarcely be called a “fishing village” according to the ordinary meaning of that designation, where the few resident fishermen rarely catch any fish larger than whitings, sprats, and similar small fry. Nevertheless, as the principal deposit in the south of England, this little port is of interest.

From Hamble they are sent all alive to London, Manchester, and other cities, where they generally arrive in good condition. It was interesting to see the mode in which they are preserved in the smacks during long voyages. At the time of our visit there were eight of these vessels lying at anchor, some of them having just arrived with the dark crustaceans in their banks, while those that

had discharged their live cargoes were preparing to take their departure.

Considering the extent of the trade carried on at Hamble, it is perhaps the cleanest and quietest port in England. Instead of the cutters' cargoes being thrown into boats like dead fish, the live lobsters and crabs are as carefully handled as newborn babes, although they sometimes snap viciously. On the voyage when the sea is calm the lobsters and crayfish are taken out of the tanks with great care, put into a strong net, and towed over the ship's side, and when landed they are placed in a pond until they can be sent to market. Crabs are more hardy, but instead of being landed they are placed in floating chests, with the lids just a little above the level of the water. These oblong boxes are moored close in shore, having the appearance of small decked barges, with padlocks on the top, which are only opened when the crabs are taken out and packed for the market. That takes place generally in the evening, when the cases are conveyed to the Netley terminus, en route for London by the night trains. If there are any dead crabs in the chests they are rejected and boiled immediately for local consumption in and around Southampton and adjacent towns.

In this manner the staple—nay, almost the only -traffic of Hamble is conducted, and corresponds with its quiet aspect, which is no doubt due to this exceptional trade in Billingsgate supplies.

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