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only been momentarily impressed with these occurrences, exhibited no diminution of his good spirits, taking his morning's ride as usual in his cavalier garb, with a silver whistle slung to his neck, and a whole troop of dogs at his heels, enjoying:ltis: dinner with the true relish of'an epicure, qưåffing his claret, smoking his pipes: singing.gräbches of Bacchanalian songs, whistling tunes, indulging in his afternoon's nap, and all the little personal selfish luxuries to which he had been so long habituated, while he occasionally varied his recreations by a practical joke upon Mapletoft, which he enjoyed the more, because the individual in question never suffered his calm, amiable, placid disposition to be ruffled for one moment, even by the coarsest freaks of his brother-in-law.
According to that beneficent provision of Nature, by which the mother's affections are more strongly directed towards the sickliest and most infirm of her offspring, as most needing the maternal offices, Mrs. Colyton had been tenderly attached to her son Richard, and had
been proportionably affected by his death, although she had long foreseen it; but time, that seldom fails to alleviate, if not to cure, every human grief, soon abated her sorrows; and as Edith, whose health continued extremely delicate, now daily required more of her care and attention, she had little leisure for the indulgence of unavailing regrets. Mrs. Colyton too, fortunately for herself, was never happy unless when employed, possessing that sort of mind which shakes off the corrosions of care by its own mere activity, as the rotatory millwheel throws from its surface those cankering substances, which would soon gnaw into its heart were it to remain stationary and in stagnant waters. Notwithstanding the multiplicity of her avocations, she would often steal an hour or two for a theological controversy with a travelling sectarian minister, or non-conformist neighbour. This was an old Puritan practice, in which she took especial delight, not because she ever made any converts to her own particular opinions, for she piqued herself upon
having a doctrine different from all others; but because she never retired from one of these polemical contests without imagining herself to be the victor, and feeling a still more gratifying conviction of her own superior acuteness and biblical lore. She enjoyed them too with the keener relish, as she could never succeed in establishing one among her own family, Edith shrinking from them with a declaration, that as such discussions rarely changed the convictions of either side, all the unamiable feeling they are apt to generate was
so much absolute unredeemed evil ; Hetty protesting, with great naïveté, that she did not understand one single syllable of the matter; and the Squire, although he might have safely advanced the same plea, invariably receiving all overtures of the kind from his devout and disputatious spouse, with a verse of some merry song, or by whistling a loud and lusty tune.
Mapletoft in his rural rambles continued to be exposed to the ridicule of the Westen rustics; who, when they saw him spouting and
apostrophizing with no other auditor than bis inseparable four-footed guardian, would often indulge a laugh at the “rawny gawcum" as they called him, in allusion to his lean figure and supposed imbecility; while the more adventurous of the mischief-loving urchins in the vicinity, as he sate on a stile devouring his book, would occasionally tie straws, strips of paper, long weeds, or even a dead mole or rat to the tail of his wig, additaments which he rarely discovered, but would stride with them through the sniggering village, or carry this new sort of Solitaire into the drawing-room of Orchard Place, to the great indignation of its inmates. But these specimens of mauvaise plaisanterie were by no means unattended with danger to the performers; for in the first instance, the sagacious Keeper, penetrating the designs of which his master remained perfectly unconscious, would now and then threaten hostilities, by an angry growl and menacing display of his remaining teeth, chasing away the assailants by an occasional snap, just as he would a swarm of flies
when they presumed to beleaguer his own nose too importunately; and secondly, the Squire, though he himself, assisted by comical Kit, indulged in an unbounded licence of practical jokes upon his brother-in-law, was so far from allowing the same latitude to others, that he had more than once severely horsewhipped the aforesaid juvenile delinquents when they happened to be detected in their pranks. To most boys, however, danger is a stimulant rather than a repellent; there was a degree of glory in outwitting Keeper and defying the Squire, (for Mapletoft himself was never reckoned for any thing); and the consequence of these temptations, in addition to the pleasure of the joke itself, was the pretty frequent appendage to the scholar's pigtail of some sort of rubbish that could not be safely pronounced either ornamental or useful.
Hetty Chervil's situation in the Colyton family now became one of considerable embarrassment to a frank and ingenuous disposition like hers. She was carrying on a clandestine correspondence with Walter, contrary to the avowed