When Fred Neville first came to the Manor, the old Earl trembled when called upon to receive him. Of the lad he had heard almost nothing,--of his appearance literally nothing. It might be that his heir would be meanly visaged, a youth of whom he would have cause to be ashamed, one from whose countenance no sign of high blood would shine out; or, almost worse, he also might have that look, half of vanity, and half of vice, of which the father had gradually become aware in his own son, and which in him had degraded the Neville beauty. But Fred, to look at, was a gallant fellow,--such a youth as women love to see about a house,--well-made, active, quick, self-asserting, fair-haired, blue-eyed, short-lipped, with small whiskers, thinking but little of his own personal advantages, but thinking much of his own way. As far as the appearance of the young man went the Earl could not but be satisfied. And to him, at any rate in this, the beginning of their connexion, Fred Neville was modest and submissive.

"You are welcome to Scroope," said the old man, receiving him with stately urbanity in the middle of the hall. "I am so much obliged to you, uncle," he said. "You are come to me as a son, my boy,--as a son. It will be your own fault if you are not a son to us in everything." Then in lieu of further words there shone a tear in each of the young man's eyes, much more eloquent to the Earl than could have been any words. He put his arm over his nephew's shoulders, and in this guise walked with him into the room in which Lady Scroope was awaiting them. "Mary," he said to his wife, "here is our heir. Let him be a son to us." Then Lady Scroope took the young man in her arms and kissed him. Thus auspiciously was commenced this new connexion.

The arrival was in September, and the game-keeper, with the under gamekeeper, had for the last month been told to be on his mettle. Young Mr. Neville was no doubt a sportsman. And the old groom had been warned that hunters might be wanted in the stables next winter. Mrs. Bunce was made to understand that liberties would probably be taken with the house, such as had not yet been perpetrated in her time;--for the late heir had never made the Manor his home from the time of his leaving school. It was felt by all that great changes were to be effected,--and it was felt also that the young man on whose behalf all this was to be permitted, could not but be elated by his position. Of such elation, however, there were not many signs. To his uncle, Fred Neville was, as has been said, modest and submissive; to his aunt he was gentle but not submissive. The rest of the household he treated civilly, but with none of that awe which was perhaps expected from him. As for shooting, he had come direct from his friend Carnaby's moor. Carnaby had forest as well as moor, and Fred thought but little of partridges,--little of such old-fashioned partridge-shooting as was prepared for him at Scroope,--after grouse and deer.

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