Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/154

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a distant Carriage was at this moment caught; everybody listened; it became more decided; it certainly drew nearer. It was an unusual sound in Stanton at any time of the day, for the Village was on no public road, and contained no gentleman’s family but the Rector’s. The wheels rapidly approached; in two minutes the general expectation was answered; they stopped beyond a doubt at the garden gate of the Parsonage. ‘Who could it be? It was certainly a postchaise. Penelope was the only creature to be thought of. She might perhaps have met with some unexpected opportunity of returning.’ A pause of suspense ensued. Steps were distinguished, first along the paved Footway which led under the windows of the house to the front door, and then within the passage. They were the steps of a Man. It could not be Penelope. It must be Samuel. The door opened, and displayed Tom Musgrave in the wrap of a Traveller. He had been in London and was now on his way home, and he had come half a mile out of his road merely to call for ten minutes at Stanton. He loved to take people by surprise, with sudden visits at extraordinary seasons; and in the present instance had had the additional motive of being able to tell the Miss Watsons, whom he depended on finding sitting quietly employed after tea, that he was going home to an 8 o’clock dinner. As it happened, however, he did not give more surprise than he received, when instead of being shewn into the usual little sitting-room, the door of the best parlour, a foot larger each way than the other, was thrown open, and he beheld a circle of smart people whom he could not immediately recognise arranged with all the honours of visiting round the fire, and Miss Watson seated at the best Pembroke Table, with the best Tea things before her. He stood a few seconds, in silent amazement. ‘Musgrave!’ ejaculated Margaret in a tender voice. He recollected himself,