Page images
PDF
EPUB

shouldn't mind matching you to ride a steeple chase, either with Sir Halsewell Tynte, or Sir Francis Warre of Hestercombe; but what the dickons could have made you and honest Dumpling pitch yourselves against one another in such a desperate wrestling-match ?”

“ Goodnow, brother! I protest I believe the poor creature was annoyed by this infandum lorum, this unlucky strop; for no sooner was it removed from beneath his tail, than lo! he became instantly as docile as you now behold him.”

By this time the phaeton came up, when Mrs. Colyton leaving Edith, who had been exceedingly agitated at her uncle's perilous exploits, to the care of Hetty, jumped out, ran up to Mapletoft, inquired eagerly whether he had been hurt, and implored him to dismount and join them in the phaeton. No man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre, and no man is a philosopher to his horse, an esprit de corps, a feeling of kind, prompting the most phlegmatic biped of the human species to assert his supremacy

over a four-footed competitor. Paul was not only incited by the praises that had been bestowed upon his horsemanship, but piqued to a certain extent against the refractory Dumpling, under the joint influence of which feelings he declined his sister's invitation, and declared, as he drew up the reins and fixed himself more firmly in the saddle, that he would show himself to be the master, by riding his steed on to Hales Court, and back again to Orchard Place. Nor had he, as in the case of Johnny Gilpin, occasion to repent this boast; for the horse, wearied with its exertions, was right glad to perform the remainder of its journey in perfect tranquillity.'

On their arrival it was found that the amiable family of the Sheltons had put themselves into mourning for Richard's death-a mark of attention and condolence with which Mrs. Colyton was much gratified, but which, by recalling her recent loss, had an injurious effect upon the over-sensitive Edith, already much agitated by her uncle's supposed peril. Running up to her

friend with extended arms in order to welcome her return, she was suddenly overpowered by her emotions, her head sunk upon Agatha's bosom, and she burst into an hysterical passion of tears. In order that the other females might uninterruptedly minister towards her recovery, the gentlemen withdrew into an adjoining chamber, where the Squire and Mr. Shelton soon became engaged in discussing the recent political occurrences in London ; while Mapletoft, who, from the effects of dust and heat, and his retaining the stalks of his huge bouquet, though the flowers had all been shaken off, presented a most ludicrous appearance, pounced eagerly upon Father Bartholomew the old priest, and drawing him aside, instantly plunged into an animated tête-à-tête. At first it might be judged that he was narrating his own recent endurances, for his companions might catch at intervals the phrases—“Philip, who, as his name indeed imports, was a lover of horses— Bucephalus-Hippona-Hippomanes-saltu superare viam," and similar snatches; but the scholars soon became

deeply immersed in a learned disquisition upon classics and Delphin editions, with an occasional digression upon some of the scientific discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton. So much were they absorbed in these subjects, that neither of them observed the entrance of a servant with glasses and refreshments, until the Squire, slapping his kinsman on the shoulder, exclaimed, -

“ 'Odsheart, Paul ! sure you must be thirsty after such hard riding and long talking. Here are bright beakers, man, with sparkling wine and foaming ale; so a fico for Latin and Greek.

Let us drink and be merry, dance, joke and rejoice,
With claret and sherry, theorbo and voice.

Here's to you in a bumper, and to you, mine honest neighbour Shelton, and to you, Father Bartholomew, who I know will pledge me if I talk Latin to you, and so you shall have it in the words of the song :- how runs it ? — something about Orlando, then comes

He is an ass,
That from hence doth pass,

Nisi bibit ad ostia stando.

[ocr errors]

There ! if that's not honest Latin, you must blame Frank Beaumont, and recollect that I don't wear a shaven crown."

The old man willingly pledged him in the challenged bumper, observing, with a good-natured smile, that as they did not often get such cheerful visitants at Hales Court, he hoped its present enlivener would soon return to taste another bottle of their claret, which his kinsman had imported direct from France.

“ That will I do, or I am no true toper," cried the Squire; “but you must all come over shortly to Orchard Place, to try whether I cannot match it; and in the mean time, as a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, we must not leave the present bottle unfinished."

Just as they had completed their repast, they were rejoined by Mrs. Colyton, Hetty, and Agatha Shelton, bringing intelligence that Edith was better, though still a good deal discomposed, and all uniting in a petition to the Squire that she might be allowed to remain a few days at Hales Court, where the change of

« PreviousContinue »