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him, and if I have a chance, I shall befriend him, though he has done no more than he ought.”
“But only think, Ruth, what a hard case it is for him, an only child, and his father died when he was only three years old, and left him such a heap of money; and then he was all the world to his mother: he has never known what hardship is."
“ Time he did,” said Ruth; “I suppose he has been a sort of fatted calf.”
“ No such thing; his mother was a pious woman; she taught him to read his Bible, and she kept him out of bad company, and she made all his masters come to him for fear he should get any harm at school.”
“The more's the pity. I dare say he thinks he is not made of the same flesh and blood as the rest of the world.”
“O, but I tell you, Ruth, his mother used to tell him he was, and to teach him not to think too much of himself; I have heard her myself, when I was a boy, and used to go there to do chores.”
“An ounce of practice is worth a pound of preaching, Jerry-depend upon it. But didn't you say that Mr. Selmar's saddle-borse was for sale ?"
“ Yes, I did; and what's that to you, Ruth? but may be Miss Amy wants him.”
Every may-be has a may-not-be, Jerry; but tell me, is he kind and well broke?”
“I tell no lies, Ruth, not even when I sell a horse. Robinette is as steady as a parson, and he's a lump of good nature. But now do tell me if
you don't want him for Miss Amy." “We two can keep a secret when one is away; all I tell you is, I engage the refusal of the horse.”
To this Jerry agreed. John returned to say there was no answer to the note, and Jerry again remembered that he was in a great hurry, and departed, saying, “Well, I must be back in less than no time.”
“How shall I manage the business ?” said Ruth to herself; “when there's a will there's always a way." She could not talk even to herself without a proverb. “Let me see; Miss Amy is in the breakfast-room; I have not dusted the pictures yet.” In another minute Ruth was apparently very busily employed dusting the pictures. As she stood behind the sofa, where Amy Weston was sitting with a book in her hand, she noticed that she held it upside down.
“ I calculate,” said Ruth to herself, “ that she will not be much the wiser for what she reads this morning. She's only making believe read; well, the honestest folks are not always to be trusted. Do you expect a great many folks this evening, Miss Amy?"
“ No, Ruth, scarcely any body."
“Certainly, I want no further preparations made than those I have mentioned.”
“ Just as I thought,” said Ruth to herself; “ straws show which way the wind blows. She does not value the party now the worth of a pin, and before she got that note she seemed to think of nothing else. I'm sorry for her; there's no herb will cure love.” Ruth sighed audibly, as if she had reference to her own experience. “I will,” thought she, “try speaking to her about Robinette.”
Amy was fully aware of Ruth's loquacity, and had a sort of intuitive knowledge that she was about exercising it upon her at this time, when she was not disposed to indulge her. She rose from her seat with the intention of retiring to her own room; but Ruth was not so easily baffled in her plans.
“ Didn't I hear you say, Miss Amy, that you wanted a saddle-horse ?
“Yes, I did say so, Ruth."
“Well, ma'am, I've had one offered to me to-day, that I guess will suit you exactly.”
“ It seems odd for you and me to be in treaty for a horse, Ruth; I fear we should make but poor jockeys; but who has offered
you one ? »
“Why, you know, ma'am, that poor Mr. Selmar has lost all his money, and he's going to sell off everything he owns, even Robinette, his beautiful saddle-horse.”
Well, Ruth, and what of that?”
“Why you see, Miss Amy, that Jerry says that Robinette is as good as he is handsome, which isn't always the case; and you see, I've engaged the refusal of him, for I thought he would be just the thing for you."
Surely, Ruth, you have not done such a thing.”
“No harm done, Miss Amy; no one knows who I engaged him for ; but I thought you would like Mr. Edward's horse better than any other.”
“But I do not wish, Ruth, to bargain for Mr. Selmar's horse; it was very improper in you, Ruth ; you must go directly and tell Jerry that you did this without my knowledge, and that I do not want Robinette. How could you do
such a thing?" Amy left the room as she said this.
Well, if that isn't ridiculous !” said Ruth, as soon as she was alone. “I reckon she's put out with Mr. Edward for not coming this evening, and that makes her so set against his horse, and that's ridiculous in her; and I suppose he's mad because he failed, and so he spites himself by staying at home, and that's ridiculous in him; and here am I meddling with what's none of my business, and that's more ridiculous than all; and what's the worst of the whole, Jerry will get the laugh at me, if he finds it out. True enough, one fool makes many. He made such a palaver, too, about the horse; I'll be bound he's not such a terrible good horse, after all. I mean to tell him as much when I see him. -I never saw Miss Amy so put out before. Somehow or other it makes one feel more ugly to see such a pretty-spoken person as Miss Amy out of sorts, than it does
real crabbed folks. The sweetest wine makes the sharpest vinegar, as Aunt Polly used to say. Well, I must go to Mr. Selmar's, and tell Jerry I don't want his horse-good, bad, or indifferent."
Ruth was soon at Mr. Selmar's door.