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Storchill 12-5934 29004




« Proteus
I am sorry, I must never trust thee more,
But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
The private wound is deepest: O time, most curst,
'Mongst all foes, that a friend should be the worst !"

In a beautiful, sequestered, and delightfully romantic part of the sea-coast, which is bounded on the north and east by the German Ocean, within a mile and a half distant of the east side of Cromer, which has of late years become the resort of the most fashionable company at the bathing seasons, and situated on a cliff of considerable height, projected a ruinous old building, known by the name of the Cottage on the Cliff: for it was certainly ruinous about the period at which this history commences, though it has since undergone some necessary repairs, before it could be found habitable for its present possessor, Captain Singleton, and in its altered state we will endeavour to convey both that and Captain Singleton to the atten tion of our readers; whose extraordinary disposition, and whose singular habitude of manners, befitted him alone to become the inmate of so solitary a place ; for no human being else could have lived in this rude and uncultivated part of the sea-coast, which, either in winter or summer, was subject to the approach of the most violent tempests, on which many a ship-wrecked mariner had been destined to breathe his last sigh, and many a portly vessel had been dashed to fragments on the rocks ; yet there was no place which afforded such picturesque scenery to the eye of the traveller, nor any situation on the Norfolk coast which held forth so many attractions to the invalid who was desirous of mingling pursuits of pleasure with the hope also of a speedy restoration to health.

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Yet such were not the hopes, such were not the motives, which had guided Captain Singleton, and his daughter, a beautiful girl, apparently about seventeen years of age, to the Cliffs of Cromer, who was a man of such reserved, gloomy, austere, and retired habits, that no one ventured to enquire into his circumstances, or seemed solicitous or anxious to court an acquaintance which he himself appeared sedulously to avoid, and proudly to disdain : it is not to be wondered, therefore, that Captain Singleton had but few associates, his family consisting only of himself, his daughter, and two domestics, a male and female, and these formed the whole of his establishment.

Still another personage was occasionally applied to when his assistance was thought necessary, and this was a man of some consequence in the town of Cromer; for he had acquired wealth by his hardy occupation; having formerly been a fisherman so successful in his voyages and trading on the coast, that it had long since enabled him to retire, and live with ease and competency on his fruitful gains.

He alone seemed to be on terms of familiar intimacy with Captain Singleton and his family; it is not that a congeniality of soul or sentiment had driven these two personages together by sympathy or friendship, for Peter Blust, which was the name of the fisher, united to the character of a rough seaman, habits by no means similar to those of the highly finished gentleman and scholar, both of which Captain Singleton confessedly was; still it was certain that he very frequently visited at the house of Peter, and that their acquaintance began in a very few days after he had landed at the Cliffs of Cromer, in the following manner : he had in vain sought for a retired residence on that part of the coast least subject to the approach of the new comers, who daily visited Cromer at the usual period of sea-bathing, and, in one of his solitary walks by the sea-side, he espied the habitation of the fisher, It was a singularly beautiful, wild and romantic spot, and though it was a large, square and handsome built house, of modern architecture, yet it might be said, that it was rising from the white bosom of the ocean, in the midst of the most flowery fields and pastures; still on every side, the wide expanse was bounded by the sea-coast, which it so effectually commanded a prospect of, that all vessels were seen, going to and fro, that sailed in and out of the harbour of Cromer.

Captain Singleton stopped and gazed with unspeakable satisfaction at the lovely scenery which every where surrounded this enchanting spot; so remote, so solitary, and yet so boundless and rich in nature's pleasing variety. Some of the finest milch cows he

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had ever seen were feeding in the pasture, and being milking-time, two young maidens appeared with their milking-pails, followed by a peasant youth, who occasionally assisted them in their employment.

“ Haste ye, Anne,” cried one of them, as she tript along with her pail, and gaily chaunting the fag end of a merry ditty, “haste ye, and get in the milking before the supper, Anne ; for do you know that Miss Jessy has promised Walter and I that we shall go and see the wake to-night in the village ?"

« Wake in the village ! is the wench mad ?" exclaimed the youth, “why, that wont be till after midnight, and 'tis a likely matter that old master will let any of us be out after dark; no, no ! 'tis safe bind, safe find, at Herring Dale, I promise you. Wake, indeed! you had better say your prayers, like all good maids, and let such vagaries alone; for what does it matter what Miss Jessy says ? pretty soul, she is main kind to be sure! but old master is as stubborn as a rock; you might as well talk to the winds, as persuade him to any thing.”

“ I don't care for old master one brass farthing,” cried the spirited maiden, snapping her finger in the youth's face, “and you are as cross-grained a soul as ever lived, Davy; but I shall go to the wake for all you, or old master either !"

“ You had better mind your milking, and say nothing about it, Anne,” retorted Davy, “ for you are just as like to go to the wake as I am to a harvest supper."

The approach of Captain Singleton very soon put an end to any further controversy between them, and he enquired of the youth if he knew of any habitation

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