It was a perfect summer's evening. The sun had just set, and purple, gold, violet, rose colour still filled the sky in the west. There was a tender new moon, looking like a silver bow, also to be seen; before long the evening star would be visible. Hester Thornton stepped out of the drawing-room at the Grange, and, walking a little way down the broad gravel sweep, began to listen intently. Hester was about seventeen-a slender girl for her age. Her eyes were dark, her eyebrows somewhat strongly marked, her abundant hair, of a much lighter shade of brown, was coiled in close folds round her well-shaped head. Her lips were slightly compressed, her chin showed determination. Hester had t been beautiful as a child, and she was t beautiful as a girl, but her face was pleasant to look at, very bright when animated, very steadfast and sweet when in repose. The air was like nectar to her cheeks. She was naturally a pale girl, but a faint rose colour was w discernible in her complexion, and the look of expectation in her dark eyes made them charming.