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NEARLY AN ELOPEMENT. MATILDA MURRAY was left an orphan and an heiress at the age ef 16. Jacob Dale, a member of the Society of Friends, was her guardian; and, with him and his wife, an invalid and a great sufferer from nervous attacks, Matilda was to tind a home. She had been a petted and idolised child and the change from the lavish outpourings of parental love to the cool, calm companionship and care of friend Dale and his wife was like coming out of the heated air of a ball-room into the dark and chilling night. They tried to perform the duties that Mr. Murray, in blS confidence and esteem, had devolved upon them but Matilla felt, without knowing exactly how or why, that duty, and not affection, was the motive that influenced her guardian and his wife towards her. She was not a pretty girl; although, through the mistaken fondneda and flattery of her parents, she had learned to think hersel b'auttfu* Neither was she very wise or prudent. She had grown up in such an enervating atmosphere of praise and indulgence, that her mind was almost in a state of lethargy. She could not endure study or books of an7 kind, except the weakest and trashiest of love-Blck romances; and it was so great a mental effort to her to read one of those quite through, that she rarely s[] complished it. The only motive sufficiently strong to arouse her to much exertion was a love for dress. She was quite happy and excited when she was shuppi0^» and, next to-that, she liked to sit at the window aDd criticise the attire,, of the passers bv-a most uncon- genial inmate for the household of a strict and uncom- promising Quaker. It was noL the least of Matilda's troubles that her ribbons and laces had to be laid aside, as friend DBole, though he did not require her to conform exactly to the mode of dress his tenets prescribed, yet Objected decidedly to Allowing a ward of his to deck her9^ out with any superfluous gauds. It cost the yOi° £ girl many a sigh and pang to close the drawer* In which lay her useless finery. She pined, too, for JOTI, and for the flattery and praise of which she had 80 long been the object. Her guardian still allowed her to attend the school which her mother had selected for her—one of the most fashionfble establishments in York. And, although he often shook his head and groaned over the worldly notions and love for display which seemed to be the chief results of this kind of education, yet, as he said, he did not feel free to take the child away for, while Mr. Murray had left him at full libery to act as he thought best with regard to Matilda, Mrs. Murray had made it an especial request that her daughter's education should be finished at Madame constaufs. There Matilda had formed an intimacy with a young girl, named Anna Fleming, who affected to regard her with that exaggerated fondness so comJllon among school-girls. Their homes were in the Same direction, and Anna always seemed to consider it an important part of her duties, as a friend, to accompany Matilda to her own door before she parted from her. One day they were joined in the street by a tall, showily-looking young gentleman, whom Anna intro- duced to Matilda as her brother. After this, bir. Fleming became their constant escort on their way to and from the school, leaving them regularly .b.f'n within a short distance of either place. Mr. Fleming was one of the most fashionable and dashing young men in the city. He lived elegaoly and expensively; yet no one could tell how he con- trived to do so. His way of life was one ef those mysterious secrets that abound in large cities, for he had no apparent means; and yet he vied with the wealthiest around him. Admirer, as he was, of beautyj and spirit, and wit, there must have been some reason for his selecting a plain, uninteresting girl to b$the object of his devoted attention. Probably the eohd charms, in the shape of .£18.000, with which Matilda was endowed, had much to do in gaining her so dbvoted a worshipper. She admired him excessively. He fully realised the beau-idial she had formed from the books in which she delighted. She told Anna ahe thought her brother perfect. This of course, soon found its way to the ears of the gen- tleman, who smiled to think how easily he had won so important a prize. In a few weeks more, he bad obtained Matilda promise to be his wife, and had, at the same time, impressed upon her the necessity of keeping the whole affair a profound secret from friend Dale and his wife. To this Matilda readily consented, as all her preconceived ideas of guardians were that they were a class of people whose only pleasure lay in thwarting the wishes of their wards especial'y in the matrimonial way; and she anticipated no difficulty in thia, as Mr. Dale was too much absorbed in his busi- ness to pay much attention to her • and his wife's attention was almost entirely engrossed by her ail- ments, which developed every day something new and singular. Mrs. Dale had been watching and ponder- ing over her own ill health for ten years and had not yet been able to determine satisfactorily what her dis- ease was, or where it had its stronghold In her per- plexity, she had tried eight different physicians, who each gave her complant a different name; and some were truly frightful, so that the poor lady would keep her bed for weeks after finding out how ill she was; and it would take all her husband's generalship to persuade her that she was able to sit up. Of course Mrs. Dale could do little for Matilda All that she attempted was to urge her to keep her feet well pro- tected from the damp pavements, and be sure'to wear a veil. There was one inmate of the family of whom the young girl stood in a little dread—George Dale, a nephew of Mr. Dale, and a boy of about IS. He was very curious and inquisitive, and Matilda said, had no soul. He called her Miss Fancy and teased ber until her patience was quite exhausted. lately, he had met her several times when she was taking a longer walk than usual with Mr. Fleming, discussing ways and means. Matilda had one fixed idea con- nected with an elopement; and that was a rope-ladder from a chamber window, a carriage underneath, and a moonlight night. Mr. Fleming tried to convince her that this combi- nation, in these days of policemen, would be sufficient to arouse the whole neighbourhood. But hie eloquence was wasted. Matilda would seem to yield to his reasonings every day; but the next morning would fiud her firmly planted on her rope-ladder again. She rejected with scorn Mr. Fleming's proposal to walk to some clergyman's house, and induce him to marry them. It was too much like a servant girl, she said. Fortunately for Matilda, this discussion occupied several days. Meantime, George had used his eyes and his wits to seme purpoae. One day, after Mr. and Mrs. Dale and Matilda had seated themselves at the dinner-table, a singular noise was heard in the hall; and George came in, dragging after him an enormously long rope ladder. "Now, Matty! what on earth do you want with this contrivance ? I saw the man smuggling it into your rocm; and I thought I would bring it down for you to see if he had made it according to orders. You at the window, and Mr. Fleming on the pavement, with this for a passage-way, is to be the order of the day, is it ? It reminds me ot some one'* description of a 6shing-rod->t. worm at one end, and a tool at the otuwr, only I anould put kuave for fool." Thee should not use such language, George," said Mr. Dale What does thee mean by that thee W,\8 saying aoout Mr. Fleming? And, Matilda, for what purpose did thee have that made r' Matilda burst into tears, and ran from the room without replying; but George enlightened his uncle aa far as he could. He knew that Matilda walked every day with Mr. Fleming and the rope-ladder told the rest. Without Mr. Fleming's knowledge, Matilda had obtained it by the help of a servant. That very night, she intended to make use of it, if a favourable opportunity presented. Anna was to spend the evening with her, and help her to arrange t!er plans, and carry the intelligence of them to her brother, who was growing a little impatient at Ma- tilda's delay. Now, all her hopes were blighted, at least for a time. She remained in her room weeping, while her guardian spent a busy afternoon in investigating the doings of his ward. He questioned the servants, who generally know all that is to be known of any matter of that kind, and went to find Mr. Fleming. He expos tulated with him on inducing so young a girl to take such a step without the knowledge of her protectors. Mr. Fleming appeared to be quite affected by Mr. jDkle's arguments; and although the latter was a shrewd man of business, he allowed himself to be en- tirely thrown off his guard by the apparent manli- ness and frankness with which Mr Fleming avowed his own consciousness of his error, and promised that, although he would not be willing to consider the en- gagement between himself and Miss Murray as at an end, still he would wait some years before attempting to carry the matter further. The youne man behaved himself with great pro- priety," said Mr. Dile to his ward. It thee does as well, I shall be quite satisfied. (To be continued.)

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