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JUliV. THE HADDINGTONS' HOUSEKEEPER, BY GRACE STEBBIXG. %3&£b CHAPTER I. ALL IN ONE BASKET. ' T'S too hard, it really is !" exclaimed a girl. " Poor master, poor missis ! and B^_aiaii>^ at their age, too, when they'd 03-1^-^^^^^ *ia' wante(i comforts if they'd never had them, hefore. Dear, dear, and poor Miss Lylian too! It's too bad, I do declare." And the bright-faced, good- hearted girl found her thoughts quite too much for her. Dropping down on to the green bench in the kitchen garden, she flung up the prettily em¬ broidered long white apron over her face, and burst into a passion of tears and sobs, that threatened to become hysterical, till James Brent, the second gardener, came up and laid a hand with gentle firm¬ ness upon her shoulder. " Look here," he said, in his quiet, practical manner, "cheer up, and listen to me, and I'll show you how to give a bit of help much better than by crying. You know General Dogerty offered me his head gardener's place a matter of a fortnight ago. Well------" "Well," broke in the girl indignantly, "of all selfish things to be thinking of us two, and the family in such trouble. How can you! " " How can you grump at a fellow like this, before you've heard him out!" returned James, with his cheeks burning almost as hotly as her own. " I'm thinking of master and missis as much as you are, and if as much fruit and vegetables as ever they can get through isn't all the way to housekeeping, still it's a bit of help, even you must allow." Bessy's eyes looked more hopeful through her tears, No. 55. Jtji.1, 189S. and her sweetheart continued more eagerly, " You. see, it's like this, lass; you marry me, with no more shillyshallying about it, and settle down in that nice cottage. You can help me, and see to our own little bit of garden as will be, and we'll keep master's kitchen supplied with all the fruit and vegetables as ever they'll eat. And as for Miss Lylian, you've many a time told me as that's the most she lives on." " And so it is," sobbed Bessy, but less dolefully. For, in her present mood, she was readj- to catch at any straw of hope held out to her, that she might be able to help the kind and considerate employers upon whom ruin had fallen so suddenly and unexpectedly. It was too ordinary a tale, however, to very greatly excite folks less unsophisticated than this young lady's-maid and two or three of her companions. Last week the Vernon Haddingtons were wealthy people, to-day they were but little removed from paupers. Mr. Haddington had put all his eggs into one basket, the bottom of that basket had fallen out, and all the eggs were smashed. In plainer words, the bank had failed in which Mr. Haddington had invested all his money, and all the money was lost. The news had arrived on Wednesday evening. That it was something bad, the servants who waited at table at the almost untasted dinner, and the cook, could tell. The next morning, when all the house¬ hold was assembled for prayers, immediately after the short family service, Mr. Haddington told the grave news, and gave the general notice to leave all round, coupled with a few kind words of regret, showing that he could still think for others in the midst of his own trouble. " Always considerate," said cook, as she crossed the hall to her kitchen. And all those in her train