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Page [NA] of Channings / by Mrs. Henry Wood.

THE CHANNINGS CHAPTER I THE INKED SURPLICE THE sweet bells of Helstonleigh Cathedral were ringing out in the summer's afternoon. Groups of people lined the streets, more than the customary business of the day would have brought forth; some pacing with idle steps, some halting to talk with one another, some looking in silence towards a certain point, as far as the eye could reach; all waiting in expectation. It was the first day of Helstonleigh Assizes; that is, the day on which the courts of law began their sittings. Generally speaking, the commission was opened at Helstonleigh on a Saturday; but for some convenience in the arrangements of the circuit, it was fixed this time for Wednesday; and when those cathedral bells burst forth, they gave signal that the judges had arrived and were entering the sheriff's carriage, which had gone out to meet them. A fine sight, carrying in it much of majesty, was the procession, as it passed through the streets with its slow and stately steps; and although Helstonleigh saw it twice a year, it looked at it with gratified eyes still, and made the day into a sort of holiday. The trumpeters rode first, blowing the proud note of advance; and the long line of well-mounted javelin men came next, two abreast, their attire being that of the livery of the high sheriff's family, and their jave- lins held in rest. Sundry officials followed, and the governor of the county gaol sat in an open carriage, his long white wand raised in the air. Then appeared the handsome, closed equipage of the sheriff, its four horses, caparisoned with silver, pawingthe ground, for they chafed at the slow pace to which they were re- strained. In it, in their scarlet robes and flowing wigs,

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