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THE

SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD.

A TRUE TALE.

BY

“SCRUTATOR.”

viii

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. I,

LONDON:
HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS,
SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN,
13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.

1857.

249. dc. 282.

J. Billing, Printer, 103, Hatton Garden, London, and Guildford, Surrey.

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DEAR LORD DUKE,

In availing myself of your kind permission to dedicate the following Tale to your Grace, I must claim the greatest possible indulgence for the many imperfections both of style and composition, with which I am fully aware its pages abound. I have no pretensions to a literary character, and, as your Grace is well aware, would much rather handle the horn than the pen ; but, as the former occupation is now denied me, the latter is adopted in its place, to beguile the tedium vitæ, or idle hours, which would otherwise pass heavily away, Jacking the exciting employment of my earlier years. Although born and bred a true son of Nimrod, my ideas, like his, have not been solely occupied with the chase; but human as well as animal nature has been my study. Leaving for awhile the exhilarating scenes of sporting life, I have now ventured upon a more hazardous, though not less interesting theme-the delineation of human characters, (such, at least, as have come under my own observation,) which, although wanting the skilful finishing touches of an accomplished artist, are strictly original. Deprecating the criticism of the world, which I have no wish to provoke, and feeling secure of your Grace's kind condonation for its numerous faults, I submit this crude, unvarnished tale to your highly esteemed patronage and perusal, in the hope that it may tend to amuse a leisure hour, when your Grace may be relieved from the many duties and avocations which your high position entails upon your time. To your Grace's grandfather and the late lamented Duke, I have been indebted for many acts of kindness and consideration ; and to yourself, my grateful thanks are now due, for lending your friendly assistance in launching me on this novel sphere of action ; and feeling assured that any success which may attend the publication of this Work, must be attributed chiefly, if not entirely, to the prestige of your Grace's high name, rather than to any intrinsic merits of its own,

I have the honour to remain,
Dear Lord Duke,
Most faithfully yours,

THE AUTHOR.

THE SQUIRE OF BEECHWOOD.

CHAPTER I.

It was a beautiful autumnal evening, about the middle of October, in the year 18—. The last rays of the setting sun were yet lingering on the bronzed leaves of the beech woods, on the opposite hill-side, when two youths might be seen sauntering arm-in-arm down the avenue leading from the old Manor House of Willsbury to the outskirts of the village. The evening was delightfully calm, and all nature quietly sinking into repose. The birds were still among

VOL. I.

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