Could his uncle have brought himself to make the request in person, at first, he might probably have succeeded;--and had he succeeded, there would have been no story for us as to the fortunes of Scroope Manor. But the Earl was too proud and perhaps too diffident to make the attempt. From his wife he heard all that took place; and though he was grieved, he expressed no anger. He could not feel himself justified in expressing anger because his nephew chose to remain for yet a year attached to his profession. "Who knows what may happen to him?" said the Countess.

"Ah, indeed! But we are all in the hands of the Almighty." And the Earl bowed his head. Lady Scroope, fully recognizing the truth of her husband's pious ejaculation, nevertheless thought that human care might advantageously be added to the divine interposition for which, as she well knew, her lord prayed fervently as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

"But it would be so great a thing if he could be settled. Sophia Mellerby has promised to come here for a couple of months in the winter. He could not possibly do better than that."

"The Mellerbys are very good people," said the Earl. "Her grandmother, the duchess, is one of the very best women in England. Her mother, Lady Sophia, is an excellent creature,--religious, and with the soundest principles. Mr. Mellerby, as a commoner, stands as high as any man in England."

"They have held the same property since the wars of the roses. And then I suppose the money should count for something," added the lady.

Lord Scroope would not admit the importance of the money, but was quite willing to acknowledge that were his heir to make Sophia Mellerby the future Lady Scroope he would be content. But he could not interfere. He did not think it wise to speak to young men on such a subject. He thought that by doing so a young man might be rather diverted from than attracted to the object in view. Nor would he press his wishes upon his nephew as to next year. "Were I to ask it," he said, "and were he to refuse me, I should be hurt. I am bound therefore to ask nothing that is unreasonable." Lady Scroope did not quite agree with her husband in this. She thought that as every thing was to be done for the young man; as money almost without stint was to be placed at his command; as hunting, parliament, and a house in London were offered to him;--as the treatment due to a dear and only son was shown to him, he ought to give something in return; but she herself, could say no more than she had said, and she knew already that in those few matters in which her husband had a decided will, he was not to be turned from it.

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