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see and mount you—must see and light upon a decent penn'orth. Quick. We mustn't keep your mistress waiting. And harkye I, take my last orders now. When you return, you will ride closevery close to your lady: so close that you may grasp the bridle; the horse may be skittish ; and we cannot be too cautious. Obe me; and you know not how you may serve yourself. Go.” St. Giles ran upon his errand, and Snipeton—after a turn or two, after another look at the chamber-window where it so strangely comforted him to see, through the curtain, his wife pass and repass—walked towards the stable. He began to hum a tune. Suddenly he stopt. He had never thought of it before ; but—it was a whim, a foolish whim, he knew that—nevertheless he now remembered that his wife never sang. Not a single note. Perhaps she could not sing. Pshaw! There was an idleness of the heart that always sang—somehow. And thus, for a minute, Snipeton pondered, and then laughed—a little hollowly, but still he laughed—at the childishness of his folly. ... Mr. Snipeton was by no means a proud man. He was not one of those incarnate contradictions that, in the way of business, would wipe the shoes of a customer in the counting-house, yet ring #. the servant to poke the fire at home. No: he was not proud.
e refused not to put his hands to his own snuffers if the candle, or his own convenience, needed them. And so, entering the stable, and seeing the mare yet unsaddled, he thought he would make her ready. And then he patted and caressed the beast as the thing that was to bear the treasure of his life : even already he felt a sort of regard for the creature. He was about to saddle the animal, when he heard, as he thought, his wife in the garden. He hurried out, and found Clarissa—already habited—awaiting him. And still his heart grew bigger with new pride, when he saw his wife; she looked so newly beautiful. What wondrous excellence she had Î Under every new aspect, she showed another loveliness! If he could only be sure that so sweet—so gracious a creature loved him—him—so old and—and—so uncomely a man! And then she wanly smiled; and he felt sure of her heart: yes, it was beating with, a part and parcel of, his own—pulse with pulse—throb for throb—their blood commingled—and their spirits, like flame meeting flame—were one !
“Why, Clarissa—love—you never looked so beautiful—never —indeed, never,” said Snipeton, and the old man felt sick with happiness.
“Beautiful, master, isn't missus 7" said Becky, and with her opened hands, she smoothed down the folds of the riding-dress, as though it was some living thing she loved; and then she gazed at the beauty of her mistress, believing it would be wrong to think her quite an angel, and just as wrong not to think her very near one. “Your horse is not yet saddled, love,’ his wife's hand, “not yet, dearest.” “Bless you, master, now missus is drest, I'll saddle her,” cried Becky, and she ran to the stable. Most adroit of handmaids! Equal to tie a bobbin as to buckle a girth ! And ere St. Giles arrived from the Flask with his borrowed steed—it had a sorry, packhorse look, but, as the landlord assured the borrower, was “quite good enough for him; who was he?”—the mare was ready. “Well, 'twill serve for to-day, but next time we must do better than that,” said Snipeton, glancing at St. Giles's horse; and then he turned to lift his wife into the saddle. Untouched by his hand, she was in a moment in her seat : another moment, nay, longer, Snipeton paused to look at her; he had never before seen her on horseback. At length the riders went their way, Becky, hanging over the gate, now looking at her mistress—and now, with red, red face and sparkling eyes, bobbing her head, and showing her teeth to St. Giles, doing his first service as groom to Snipeton—and doing it with a sad, uneasy heart; for he felt that he was the intended tool for some mischief—the bound slave to some wrong. And with this thought in his brain, he looked dull and moody, and answered the eloquent farewells of Becky, with a brief, heavy nod. “Well, I'm sure 1" said Becky, as she thought, to her own snubbed soul. “What's the matter?” asked Dorothy Vale, who stood rubbing her arms, a pace or two behind her. “Nothin'. What should be 2 I never lets anything be the matter. Only when people look ‘good bye' people might answer.” “Ha! child,” replied Mrs. Wale, with an extraordinary gush of eloquence,—“men upon foot is one thing—men upon horseback is another.” How it was that Mrs. Vale condescended to the utterance of this wisdom, we cannot safely say: for no thrifty housewife ever kept her tea and sugar under closer lock than did she the truths unquestionably within her. Perhaps she thought it would twit the new maid—the interloper—brought to be put over
said Snipeton, taking her head. And perhaps she meant it as a kindly warning : for certainly, Dorothy felt herself charitably disposed. Mrs. Wilton had left the cottage; and of course that girl—that chit—could never be made housekeeper. However, leaving the matron and the maid, let us follow the riders.
Great was the delight of Snipeton, as he ambled on, his wife at his side; her long curls dancing in the air; the nimble blood in her face; and, as he thought, deeper, keener affection sparkling in her eyes. Never before had he taken such delight in horsemanship: never had felt the quick pulsation —the new power, as though the horse communicated its strength to the rider—the buoyancy, the youthfulness of that time. And still he rode ; and still, at his side, his wife smiled, and glowed with fresher beauty, and her ringlets—as they were blown now about her cheeks, and now upon her lips, how he envied them l—still danced and fluttered, and when suddenly—as at some blithe word dropt from him—she laughed with such a honied chuckle, she seemed to him an incarnate spell, at whose every motion, look, and sound, an atmosphere of love and pleasure broke on all around her. Poor old man At that delicious moment, every wrinkle had vanished from his brow and heart. He felt as though he had caught time by the beard, and had made him render back every spoil of youth. His brain sang with happiness; and his blood burned like lava.
And so rode they on ; and Snipeton little heeded—he was so young, so newly-made—the steed that, with asthmatic roar, toiled heavily behind. They crossed the heath, turned into Highgate, and with more careful pace descended the hill. Every minute Snipeton felt more precious, it was so close to the last, when he must leave, for some long hours, his life of life l—
(Now, is it not sad—we specially put the question to the Eve whose eyes may chance to rest upon these ink-stained thoughts— is it not a matter, tears being upon hand, to weep over, to think of love in love's paralysis, or dotage? Love, with cherub face and pale gold locks, may chase his butterflies—may, monkey as he is, climb the Hesperian timber, pluck the fruit: he is in the gay audacity of youth, and the tender years of the offender sink felonies to petty larcenies. But love—elderly love—to go limping after painted fancies—to try to reach the golden apples with a crutch-stick,--why, set the offender in the pillory, and shower upon him laughter.)
We have written this paragraph whilst Mr. Snipeton—in the king's highway, and moreover upon horseback—kissed his young wife, Clarissa. Although the man kissed the woman through a wedding-ring—a lawful circle, and not a Pyramus and Thisbe chink—we have no excuse for him, save this, it had been dragged from him. She-potent highwaywoman—had made him surrender his lips by the force of death-dealing weapons. He was about to separate from her. He took her by the hand—grasped it—she looked in his eyes, and—we say it—the old husband kissed his young wife' -
“Caw—caw—cawl." At the very moment—yea, timing the
very smack—a carrion crow flapped its vans above the heads of man and wife, and hovering, thrice cried “caw—caw—caw,” and then flew to the northward, it might be to tell to gossip crows of human infirmity ; it might be, like coward scandal, to feed upon the dead. However, the married pair separated. He would return early—very early that day—to dinner. And she would gently amble homeward; and—as she knew she was the treasure of his soul—she would be very careful not to take cold. She would promise him—ay, that she would.
“Remember—close—very close,” said Snipeton in a low voice to St. Giles; and then again and again he kissed his hands to his wife's back. “She might look once behind,” thought Snipeton gravely; and then he smiled and played with his whip. It was not impossible—nay, it was very likely—she was in tears; and would not show the sweet, delicious weakness to the servant. And still Snipeton paused and watched. How beautifully she rode I Strait as a pillar! And how the feather in her hat sank and rose and fluttered, and how his heart obeyed the motion, as though the plume were waved by some enchantress. - **
He wished he had taken her with him to St. Mary Axe. What Ride with her through the city? And then he recoiled from the very thought of the thousand eyes opened and staring at her—as though by very looking they could steal the bloom they gazed at—recoiled as from so many daggers. Still he watched her. Something made him, on the sudden, unquiet. And then, as if at that moment it had only struck upon his ear, he heard the clanging cry of the crow. Another moment, and he loudly laughed. Was it anything strange, he asked himself, that crows should caw And then again he looked gloomier than before,
He would go home, he thought. For once, he would make holiday, doing double work on the morrow. Yes; he would not toil in the gold-mine to-day. And now she had turned the lane. It was too late. Besides, business was ever jealous—revengeful. Love her as you would for years, the beldam brooked no after neglect. She would have her dues—or her revenge. And with this -thought, Snipeton stuck his spurs to his horse, and rode as though as he was riding to Paradise or a hundred per cent. “I ask your pardon, ma'am,” said St. Giles to Clarissa, about to put her horse to its speed, “but master told me to follow close, and—indeed I ask your pardon—but 'tisn't possible, mounted as I am. I've had a hard bout to keep up, as 'tis. No offence, ma'am,” said St. Giles, very humbly. “Oh no ; we shall soon be at home—'tis not so far,” answered Clarissa; and her altered look, her mournful voice surprised him. It was plain her cheerfulness had been assumed; for, on the sudden, she looked wearied, sick at heart. Poor gentlewoman : perhaps it was parting with her husband. No : that generous thought was banished, soon as it rose. Already St. Giles had a servant's love for his young mistress; she spoke so sweetly, gently, to all about her. And then—though he had passed but one evening with his fellow-servant, Becky—he had learned from her so much goodness of the lady of the house. Again and again he looked at her; it was plain, she had overtasked her spirits; she looked so faint—so pale. “Dear lady—beg your pardon—but you're not well,” cried St. Giles. “Shall I try and gallop after master ?” “No-no ; it is nothing. A little fatigued—no more. I am unused to so much exercise—and—nothing more. Let us hasten home,”—and controlling herself, she put her horse to an amble, St. Giles whipping and spurring hard his wretched beast, to follow, that nevertheless lagged many yards behind. A horseman overtook him. “My good man,” said the stranger, “can you tell me the way to Hampstead church 2" “I don't know—I'm in a hurry,” and in vain St Giles whipped and spurred. “Humph 1 - Your beast is not of your mind, any how. 'Twould be hard work to steal a horse, like that, wouldn't it?" asked the man.