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pitch we raced after the Earl, who with a long start was going like the wind. Do all we might, we could not get near him, until he was brought up by a heavy post and rail, where the Dorking road winds along the bottom. There he struck his chest, and in spite of being winded, did no small credit to his lungs, by a power of shrieks that rent the valley.

"What a coward!" cried Stoneman, who had kept up with me, though we both had "gone croppers once or twice. "He is all there for holloaing, at any rate!"

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But the worst of the business was yet to come. As we drew a pull of breath, before rushing to the rescue, we heard a sudden clatter in the road below, then we saw a wild dash of something dark, and a woman lay on her back under a low tree. I leaped the rail fence, to which the Earl was still clinging, and there lay my sister Grace, in her riding-habit, while the sound of the runaway pony's hoofs came clanging round the corner.

I lifted my darling sister Grace, and set her against the hedge-bank, and my heart went out of me, as I knelt and whispered to her. If it had been even Dariel, could my terror have been so terrible? I pulled her riding-gloves off, and found a penny in them, the change the dear frugal soul had taken from the last turnpike gate she paid. And then when I saw her sweet kind face as white as a shroud, and the bright eyes closed, and the long black lashes that I used to vow she dyed when I wanted to put her in a passion-lying upon the waxen cheeks, without caring a dump what any other chap might think, I lifted up my voice and wept.

"Shush, shush, don't be a fool, Shorje," said some fellow, pushing me away; ze gairl is only what

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you called shtunned. All raight, all raight, in ten skips of ze vlea. My tear, I am ze dochtor."

I went across the road, and stood by Jackson Stoneman, who was standing as firm as a rock, and pretending to play with the whip he had picked up. "Look here," I said, "she will never pay another pike."

"Take a turn with me, my dear fellow," he replied, "Hopmann will get on better without us. My housekeeper's mother lives round the corner. Though the Lord knows that if all we want is a woman

-Lord Melladew, I am so sorry for your little accident. You mustn't wear yellow spats, the next time you go shooting. Garrod will help you to your inn, and the doctor will come, when he has seen to this more urgent case. Garrod, let his lordship throw all his weight on you. Stop a moment. Send your boy at full speed to The Bell, and order their low four-wheeler here. He is not to say why, for fear of frightening Lady Cranleigh. And let him take that villain of a pony to The Bell."

In less than an hour, I had the great joy of hearing that Grace was quite conscious, and had no limbs. broken, nor any other injury that a few days would not cure. When the pony bolted at the shrieks and kicks and swaying figure of his lordship, a branch across the road had swept my sister from the saddle, but luckily it did not strike any vulnerable part, unless the part that often wounds a man is such. In a word it was her lump of hair, or what ladies call their chignon, into which she was obliged to coil her tresses tight for riding, that received the impact of the too obtrusive tree. But I scarcely knew what to conclude about the doctor, or Stoneman himself, who had been so uneasy about a young

Earl hanging out so near our Grace, when, as sure as English words were ever uttered by a German, I heard Hopmann whisper this con

dolence to himself "Zat was ze graidest shot as ever I did make. One fire, leetle bepper, bring me down two bagients."

CHAPTER XVIII.-A LOVEBIRD.

Thus again, without any effort of his own, was the clever stockbroker quit of rivalry; for although the Earl did not leave the village for some weeks, he was not in a condition to do much poetic wooing, even if he could have found a partner. And this was not the only good result from that serious double accident; for the necessity of daily enquiry at our cottage became so pressing, and Stoneman so gallantly rose to this occasion, that the stiffness and coldness which had hitherto marked my mother's reception of him could no longer be maintained, but glided very quietly into goodwill and gratitude. All of us began to forgive him, more and more, for the crime of not belonging to an ancient county family, while the merits of his affluence almost drove us to maintain them against his own indifference.

"You go along," I said, for I had come to know him now, and could talk of his cash without tapping at it; "you know as well as I do, that the first consideration with nine out of ten of us isMoney."

"I am afraid it is," he answered, as he stopped to make a bow, across a thousand cobblestones, to my sister, who was descending from the sky no doubt to attend to her milk-pans, and to know of nothing else; "I am afraid it is, with those who have not got it; and there is a great deal to be said for them. But I should be ashamed if it were so, with those who have obtained it. Moreover,

it would be contrary to human. nature, for does any man value a thing that is his own? As long as it seems beyond his reach, it is all that is lovely and charming; but the moment he has reduced the chose in action, as the lawyers express it, into possession, all its glory is gone, till he loses it again.' "Very well. There is your chose in action over there." I pointed to the dairy window. "I shall take care to tell her how you mean to estimate her, if ever she becomes your property."

"For Heaven's sake," he cried, while he caught me by the sleeve, as if I were going straightway to denounce him, "don't suppose that such impious doctrines apply toto the one exception of all human laws."

"I am afraid that they do, and ever so much quicker than they apply to money. But once more, when are you going to try your luck?"

For he had pestered me perpetually about his feelings now, and I had advised him not to be in too much of a hurry. I felt that he was further on than I was, in acquaintance with the lovely object; for he must have had about thirty opportunities, to my three, counting dog-dialogues and everything. But he had not done half so much as I had; and women are wise enough to take one deed deeper to the dear heart, than a hundred thousand words. In fact, it is difficult to get that out again, if done by a man of the right age

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and manner, and if they were sensitive just then with fright. The thought of this bore me up against friend Jackson's flowing opportunities, and made me an impartial critic of his work.

He looked at me uneasily, when I brought him to this point; and all his experience in "carrying over," and contingoes, and settling days, and whatever else they call it, was of very little use to him with such a ticklish stock.

"Come in here, George," he said; "how am I to talk, as if it were a question of exchange and discount, when I see her bright hair dancing in the sun, like that? But let me look. Don't say a word, until she goes away."

"Here are two cart-saddles and a pair of blinkers, and a truss of clover hay. If her young springcarrots can dance through all that, they must beat Berenice's and Helen's of Troy. Don't be quite a fool, Jack. You ought to know that girls can't abide being stared at with their slops on. They have got a finer word for it-peg something, in the novels. But Grace never gets herself up for a rustic surprise, like those fashionable dairymaids."

"I should hope not indeed! She is nature itself. And all nature is sweetest in the morning. But there is not a spark of poetry about you, George. All that has gone into the female line. What would I give, to see you frightfully in love!"

The piercing glance he gave me completely turned the tables; but I pulled him back so briskly that he came back to himself; for he was got up very bucklish in some Volunteer apparel, on his way to a swell rifle-meeting; and it may be imagined that he longed for Grace to look at him, almost as much as he longed to look at Grace. However, that was no concern of mine.

And he came back very modestly to his own affairs, and sat down where he could not see the window.

"Has she said anything about me lately? Does she seem to have the least idea? You know how I have tried to keep myself in the background according to your advice, which was most kindly meant. But meanwhile other fellows have been making play. Thank God, we have settled Melladew; I was most afraid of him. Coronet, and sonnets, and a head of curly hair. Foremost of her sex although she is-but no, what am I talking of? Her mind is far too lofty. When I behold her in her graceful simplicity, like an Angel ministering what they get out of the cowsbut allow me to hang that cartsaddle on the other peg, George."

To my vexation there was Grace again, standing in the doorway, with a great spoon in her handfor a type of the greater one not so very far away-giving a taste of some white stuff to old Sally, who was stooping a hunchified back to save spilling. To see the light poise of the youthful figure, and the merry smile while the white froth was tilted carefully into that ancient mouth, little would you think that within so short a period, all this bright life had missed the grave by half an inch.

man.

"Thank God!" whispered Stone"How little heed we take of their goodness, George! All men in comparison ought to be killed."

"Not a bit of it," I answered. "Perhaps Melladew ought. He couldn't have made more row if he had been kilt, as an Irishman is being always. But perhaps he could not help it; for it is his nature to."

"In any other case I should not have blamed him much, though it is not altogether perhaps the style

of Englishmen. But one thing we always forget how intensely some people feel what to others is a fleabite. And the ankle is a very nasty place after all, though the shot only just broke the skin, Hopmann says. You heard him claim the shot? Well, now he puts it upon me! However, he is quite welcome, for the tale might go against him with his 'bagients.' Ta, ta! I'm off to enquire for my Lord, and I always let him know where I come from. Won't Hopmann make a fine thing out of this! I have lent him a trap and a man, to make the most of it. The man drives like a fury and calls out to everybody, 'Can't stop-very sorry - let them all know- the poor Hearl, he is in such hagony!' Hopmann's new letter-box is full already, and his hat is a hoarding of turnpike tickets."

"What a friend you are! What a friend to have!" I exclaimed, as he jumped upon his highly polished horse, for Grace had tripped away with a little turn of neck, which meant, "Wouldn't you like to come with me?" And Stoneman was hoping to get another glimpse from the saddle over the palings. Ay, and he did so too, as the light in his eyes made clear to me.

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A firm friend is likely to be a faithful lover, and a true husband when the gloss is off the love; but whether Grace had any sense of this, or even thought at all about him, was more than I could say at present. Quick of perception as she was, it seemed almost impossible that she could have failed to observe his attention, or it might be called his entire devotion to her. Yet when I tried her with a lot of little dodges, such as a brother must have at command, if he wants to keep time with his sisters, she never turned a hair-as the sporting people say-and she looked me out of

countenance sometimes, as if I were inferior to the female race. Knowing what she was, I was unable to suppose that there could be any depth in her beyond my understanding, so I said to myself, "Let her mind the milk. What can a sweet girl desire beyond that?"

To do good, to be kind, to be always cheerful, and to find their happiness in making ours that was the proper thing, when I was young, for the rising generation of the better sex. Of our faults they must have no knowledge, but be as hard as possible upon their own; and in that particular they had every help from their own sex, whose time was ripening into criticism. Somehow or other they have changed all that, and flung themselves far into the opposite extreme.

Nothing could have made me dwell upon such little things, unless there had been one of them that was all the world to me. And while I was endeavouring to explain my sister to the clearest of my understanding, and blaming her for my failure, there must have been some other purpose behind, which was even more than brotherly. I was able to give very good advice to Jackson Stoneman, and he was quite right in adopting it; but that masterful inaction did not seem to suit my case. What might be going on even now-that was the great point for me to ascertain-in a matter beyond all discretion or cold comfort? Saturday was come; and I had been attending, with a grandeur of benevolence beyond all praise, to a love-affair deeply interesting, but in which you might call me a spectator only. Surely my own state of puzzle was enough, without trying to make dovetails of another pair.

Therefore, as soon as I had paid the men, at three o'clock that after

noon, which was the proper time, I saddled old Joe, and without a word to Grace, who might think what she liked-let her mind her own affairs-off I set for St Winifred's valley, where I knew an old shed that would entertain the horse. Let this old fellow get enough to eat, which he might pull from the hayrick, and all time, all friends, any fatherland would be just alike to him.

The days were drawing in very fast, and although the sun was on the shoulder of the hill, the sense of autumn and of night impending had taken the cheer and the warmth away, and saddened the dignity of the trees. My heart was beating fast, yet low, as I hurried down the slope from the lonely shed: fast with some foolish jerks of hope that any corner might show Dariel; yet low, as every corner went its way, without any sign of my darling. When I came to the ruined chapel, and peeped in, discovering only solitude, so flurried and tremulous was my condition-a most unusual state for me that the Lesghian chief, if he saw me thus, might fairly think that some mischief from the old wound was at work inside. To recover myself and appear before him in a decent manner, I crossed the brook by a fallen tree, and wandered into the gloomy wood, where the old approach had lost its way; and here I lingered so long that dusk was deepening into darkness when I crossed the lonely stream again.

Fearing that Sûr Imar might suppose me to be careless, and having recovered my self-command in right of much moralising, I entered by the lower door, and walked across the grass towards the quarters where the people lived. All was quiet, dull, and foggy, darker than the land outside, and damp enough to give love itself a touch of rheumatic

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As I passed by a low ruined wall in the fog, I heard a click as of some iron latch falling to, or flung to carelessly. This drew my attention that way, and then a swish like the swing of a heavy cloak followed, and then I saw a tall man coming from an angle in the wall that had a roof to it. At the moment I was walking rather fast, and if I had continued at that pace, my elbow and the stranger's might have struck one another; for he was also walking fast, and his courseto use one of Slemmick's words -was "slantindicular" to mine. He had not yet descried me, by reason of the wall, and feeling that he had no right on these premises, I drew back, and let him get in front of me. For I was never at all comfortable about things here, since my interview with Nicolo.

Keeping my distance carefully, I followed that man towards the buildings, while I tried to make out enough of him to learn his rank and age, and anything else that could be known. If he were to turn and resent my vigilance, gladly would I have it out with him; for a little fight, even if I got the worst of it, would have been a comfort to my bruised spirit then. But the fellow never turned, and seemed to be quite indifferent whether there was any one to heed him. As for his appearance, I could make out very little, except that he was not an Englishman. Dark as it was, I could have sworn to that; whether by his walk, or dress, or figure, or what else, I cannot say

but at any rate he was a foreigner and I could almost answer for it

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