orite friend, the desired guest. Presently, there came to be so many little Hetty Gunns in the village, that no young mother had courage to use the name more, however much she loved Hetty. Hetty used to say laughingly that it was well she was an only child, for she had now more nieces and nephews than she knew what to do with. Very dearly she loved them all; and the little things all loved her, the instant she put her arms round them: and more than one young husband, without meaning to be in the least disloyal to his wife, thought to himself, when he saw his baby's face nestling down to Hetty Gunn's brown curls,--
"I wonder if she'd have had me, if I'd asked her. But I don't believe Hetty'll ever marry,--a girl that's had the offers she has."
And so it had come to pass that, at the time our story begins, Hetty was thirty-five years old, and singularly alone in the world. The death of her mother, which had occurred first, was a great shock to her, for it had been a sudden and a painful death. But