Purchase one of 1st World Library's Classic Books and help support our free internet library of downloadable eBooks. 1st World Library-Literary Society is a n-profit educational organization. Visit us online at www.1stWorldLibrary.ORG - I may as well begin this story with Mr. Hilary Vane, more frequently addressed as the Hourable Hilary Vane, although it was the gentleman's proud boast that he had never held an office in his life. He belonged to the Vanes of Camden Street, - a beautiful village in the hills near Ripton, - and was, in common with some other great men who had made a ise in New York and the nation, a graduate of Camden Wentworth Academy. But Mr. Vane, when he was at home, lived on a wide, maple-shaded street in the city of Ripton, cared for by an elderly housekeeper who had more edges than a new-fangled mowing machine. The house was a porticoed one which had belonged to the Austens for a hundred years or more, for Hilary Vane had married, towards middle age, Miss Sarah Austen. In two years he was a widower, and he never tried it again; he had the Austens' house, and that many-edged woman, Euphrasia Cotton, the Austens' housekeeper. The house was of wood, and was painted white as regularly as leap year. From the street front to the vegetable garden in the extreme rear it was exceedingly long, and perhaps for propriety's sake - Hilary Vane lived at one end of it and Euphrasia at the other. Hilary was sixty-five, Euphrasia seventy, which is t old for frugal people, though it is just as well to add that there had never been a breath of scandal about either of them, in Ripton or elsewhere. For the Hourable Hilary's modest needs one room sufficed, and the front parlour had t been used since poor Sarah Austen's demise, thirty years before this story opens.