dreariness—perhaps was the result of it.

The alleviation was found in private theatricals. They had made the acquaintance of some neighbours named Earle; had become intimate with them. The circumstances of the two families were much alike, and perhaps this at first drew them together. Captain Earle—a post-captain in the Royal Navy—had left only a slender income to his wife at his death: just enough to enable her to live quietly, and bring up her children inexpensively. They were gentlepeople; and that went a long way with the Raynors. The young Earles—four of them—were all in their teens: the eldest son had a post in Somerset House, the younger one went to a day-school in the neighbourhood, the two daughters had finished their education, and were at home. It chanced that these young people had a passion just now for private theatricals, and the Raynors caught the infection. After witnessing a performance at Mrs.

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