The girl, who was now taken into the house to assist Mrs. Wansford, awakened Althea in the morning by coming in to make her fire. – Roused to a sense of her new situation, she felt content with having passed a tranquil night, and arose in a disposition to see every object around her, however dreary they might be, in the most favourable light. – The satisfaction which her honest host and hostess expressed at seeing her look well and cheerful, and the grateful delight they took in talking to her of those happy days when they lived with her mother, served to strengthen Althea’s sanguine disposition. – She looked around the inhabited part of her abode – it was melancholy enough, but the faces of the inhabitants were the faces of friends – of people really interested for her welfare, and such as she had not, for a very long time, been accustomed to see. – The morning was less gloomy than is usual so late in the year – and Althea, looking from the Gothic windows, endeavoured to picture to herself what the landscape before her would be, when its present mournful hue was exchanged for the verdure of spring. The country around indeed would have been singularly beautiful, if the unfeeling rapacity of the creditors had not long since stripped all the land that formerly belonged to the Marchmont family of its ancient woods, and even of the trees in the hedge-rows that were fit for sale. – The iron ploughshare of oppression, in the form of law, seemed every where to have passed over the domain – and Althea could not but recollect with a sigh, that the heir to this once rich and extensive property was now an unhappy dependant, without having even the most moderate portion of it left for his support. – From this reflection it was a natural transition to wish she could know what was become of this unfortunate young man – but it was a wish she had no means of satisfying. The people of the house knew the family of Marchmont only by name; they were probably more known in the village about three miles distant, which their hospitality and expenditure had formerly supported, and which, since they had quitted the neighbourhood, was falling to decay. But thither Althea 90could not well go abruptly to make enquiries; and she knew nobody but the family of Eversley who were acquainted with that of Marchmont.