IT had been the universal opinion that nothing could come of it, since on the one side Mrs. Wildring was extremely ambitious for her daughter, while on the other Sir Henry Mardale lived in a small dowerhouse, and could leave to his son George only an estate mortgaged to its last farm. So that no one was in the least surprised when George Mardale left England for that country of will-o'-the-wisps, South Africa, and Julia Wildring kept her room for a week. The inevitable end had come, and a compassionate shrug of the shoulders was all that the occasion demanded.
From Africa George wrote home to his father, who found that cramped dowerhouse strangely large and solitary, and at the end of each letter turned to his magnum opus on the Labrador sea-fisheries with a sigh of impatience because that fortune from the gold-fields had still only the solidity of an inspiration. At the close of the third year, however, George wrote in better spirits; at the close of the fourth he had acquired a competency. Then, at the beginning of the fifth, occurred the Raid and the Matabele war, through which George Mardale served as a volunteer.
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