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When my aunt and I were left to ourselves by Mr. Dick's going out
to bed, I sat down to write my letter to the two old ladies. By
that time she was tired of walking, and sat by the fire with her
dress tucked up as usual. But instead of sitting in her usual
manner, holding her glass upon her knee, she suffered it to stand
neglected on the chimney-piece; and, resting her left elbow on her
right arm, and her chin on her left hand, looked thoughtfully at
me. As often as I raised my eyes from what I was about, I met
hers. 'I am in the lovingest of tempers, my dear,' she would
assure me with a nod, 'but I am fidgeted and sorry!'

I had been too busy to observe, until after she was gone to bed,
that she had left her night-mixture, as she always called it,
untasted on the chimney-piece. She came to her door, with even
more than her usual affection of manner, when I knocked to acquaint
her with this discovery; but only said, 'I have not the heart to
take it, Trot, tonight,' and shook her head, and went in again.

She read my letter to the two old ladies, in the morning, and
approved of it. I posted it, and had nothing to do then, but wait,
as patiently as I could, for the reply. I was still in this state
of expectation, and had been, for nearly a week; when I left the
Doctor's one snowy night, to walk home.

It had been a bitter day, and a cutting north-east wind had blown
for some time. The wind had gone down with the light, and so the
snow had come on. It was a heavy, settled fall, I recollect, in
great flakes; and it lay thick. The noise of wheels and tread of
people were as hushed, as if the streets had been strewn that depth
with feathers.

My shortest way home, - and I naturally took the shortest way on
such a night - was through St. Martin's Lane. Now, the church
which gives its name to the lane, stood in a less free situation at
that time; there being no open space before it, and the lane
winding down to the Strand. As I passed the steps of the portico,
I encountered, at the corner, a woman's face. It looked in mine,
passed across the narrow lane, and disappeared. I knew it. I had
seen it somewhere. But I could not remember where. I had some
association with it, that struck upon my heart directly; but I was
thinking of anything else when it came upon me, and was confused.

On the steps of the church, there was the stooping figure of a man,
who had put down some burden on the smooth snow, to adjust it; my
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