The Virginians, by William Makepeace Thackeray

CHAPTER XX

Facilis Descensus

Whilst the good old Bishop of Cambray, in his romance lately mentioned, described the disconsolate condition of Calypso at the departure of Ulysses, I forget whether he mentioned the grief of Calypso’s lady’s maid on taking leave of Odysseus’s own gentleman. The menials must have wept together in the kitchen precincts whilst the master and mistress took a last wild embrace in the drawing-room; they must have hung round each other in the fore-cabin, whilst their principals broke their hearts in the grand saloon. When the bell rang for the last time, and Ulysses’s mate bawled, “Now! any one for shore!” Calypso and her female attendant must have both walked over the same plank, with beating hearts and streaming eyes; both must have waved pocket-handkerchiefs (of far different value and texture), as they stood on the quay, to their friends on the departing vessel, whilst the people on the land, and the crew crowding in the ship’s bows, shouted hip, hip, huzzay (or whatever may be the equivalent Greek for the salutation) to all engaged on that voyage. But the point to be remembered is, that if Calypso ne pouvait se consoler, Calypso’s maid ne pouvait se consoler non plus. They had to walk the same plank of grief, and feel the same pang of separation; on their return home, they might not use pocket-handkerchiefs of the same texture and value, but the tears, no doubt, were as salt and plentiful which one shed in her marble halls, and the other poured forth in the servants’ ditto.

Not only did Harry Warrington leave Castlewood a victim to love, but Gumbo quitted the same premises a prey to the same delightful passion. His wit, accomplishments, good-humour, his skill in dancing, cookery, and music, had endeared him to the whole female domestic circle. More than one of the men might be jealous of him, but the ladies all were with him. There was no such objection to the poor black men then in England as has obtained since among white-skinned people. Theirs was a condition not perhaps of equality, but they had a sufferance and a certain grotesque sympathy from all; and from women, no doubt, a kindness much more generous. When Ledyard and Parke, in Blackmansland, were persecuted by the men, did they not find the black women pitiful and kind to them? Women are always kind towards our sex. What (mental) negroes do they not cherish? what (moral) hunchbacks do they not adore? what lepers, what idiots, what dull drivellers, what misshapen monsters (I speak figuratively) do they not fondle and cuddle? Gumbo was treated by the women as kindly as many people no better than himself: it was only the men in the servants’-hall who rejoiced at the Virginian lad’s departure. I should like to see him taking leave. I should like to see Molly housemaid stealing to the terrace-gardens in the grey dawning to cull a wistful posy. I should like to see Betty kitchenmaid cutting off a thick lock of her chestnut ringlets which she proposed to exchange for a woolly token from young Gumbo’s pate. Of course he said he was regum progenies, a descendant of Ashantee kings. In Caffraria, Connaught and other places now inhabited by hereditary bondsmen, there must have been vast numbers of these potent sovereigns in former times, to judge from their descendants now extant.

At the morning announced for Madame de Bernstein’s departure, all the numerous domestics of Castlewood crowded about the doors and passages, some to have a last glimpse of her ladyship’s men and the fascinating Gumbo, some to take leave of her ladyship’s maid, all to waylay the Baroness and her nephew for parting fees, which it was the custom of that day largely to distribute among household servants. One and the other gave liberal gratuities to the liveried society, to the gentlemen in black and ruffles, and to the swarm of female attendants. Castlewood was the home of the Baroness’s youth; and as for her honest Harry, who had not only lived at free charges in the house, but had won horses and money — or promises of money — from his cousin and the unlucky chaplain, he was naturally of a generous turn, and felt that at this moment he ought not to stint his benevolent disposition. “My mother, I know,” he thought, “will wish me to be liberal to all the retainers of the Esmond family.” So he scattered about his gold pieces to right and left, and as if he had been as rich as Gumbo announced him to be. There was no one who came near him but had a share in his bounty. From the major-domo to the shoeblack, Mr. Harry had a peace-offering for them all. To the grim housekeeper in her still-room, to the feeble old porter in his lodge, he distributed some token of his remembrance. When a man is in love with one woman in a family, it is astonishing how fond he becomes of every person connected with it. He ingratiates himself with the maids; he is bland with the butler; he interests himself about the footman; he runs on errands for the daughters; he gives advice and lends money to the young son at college; he pats little dogs which he would kick otherwise; he smiles at old stories which would make him break out in yawns, were they uttered by any one but papa; he drinks sweet port wine for which he would curse the steward and the whole committee of a club; he bears even with the cantankerous old maiden aunt; he beats time when darling little Fanny performs her piece on the piano; and smiles when wicked, lively little Bobby upsets the coffee over his shirt.

Harry Warrington, in his way, and according to the customs of that age, had for a brief time past (by which I conclude that only for a brief time had his love been declared and accepted) given to the Castlewood family all these artless testimonies of his affection for one of them. Cousin Will should have won back his money and welcome, or have won as much of Harry’s own as the lad could spare. Nevertheless, the lad, though a lover, was shrewd, keen, and fond of sport and fair play, and a judge of a good horse when he saw one. Having played for and won all the money which Will had, besides a great number of Mr. Esmond’s valuable autographs, Harry was very well pleased to win Will’s brown horse — that very quadruped which had nearly pushed him into the water on the first evening of his arrival at Castlewood. He had seen the horse’s performance often, and in the midst of all his passion and romance, was not sorry to be possessed of such a sound, swift, well-bred hunter and roadster. When he had gazed at the stars sufficiently as they shone over his mistress’s window, and put her candle to bed, he repaired to his own dormitory, and there, no doubt, thought of his Maria and his horse with youthful satisfaction, and how sweet it would be to have one pillioned on the other, and to make the tour of all the island on such an animal with such a pair of white arms round his waist. He fell asleep ruminating on these things, and meditating a million of blessings on his Maria, in whose company he was to luxuriate at least for a week more.

In the early morning poor Chaplain Sampson sent over his little black mare by the hands of his groom, footman, and gardener, who wept and bestowed a great number of kisses on the beast’s white nose as he handed him over to Gumbo. Gumbo and his master were both affected by the fellow’s sensibility; the negro servant showing his sympathy by weeping, and Harry by producing a couple of guineas, with which he astonished and speedily comforted the chaplain’s boy. Then Gumbo and the late groom led the beast away to the stable, having commands to bring him round with Mr. William’s horse after breakfast, at the hour when Madam Bernstein’s carriages were ordered.

So courteous was he to his aunt, or so grateful for her departure, that the master of the house even made his appearance at the morning meal, in order to take leave of his guests. The ladies and the chaplain were present — the only member of the family absent was Will: who, however, left a note for his cousin, in which Will stated, in exceedingly bad spelling, that he was obliged to go away to Salisbury Races that morning, but that he had left the horse which his cousin won last night, and which Tom, Mr. Will’s groom, would hand over to Mr. Warrington’s servant. Will’s absence did not prevent the rest of the party from drinking a dish of tea amicably, and in due time the carriages rolled into the courtyard, the servants packed them with the Baroness’s multiplied luggage, and the moment of departure arrived.

A large open landau contained the stout Baroness and her niece; a couple of men-servants mounting on the box before them with pistols and blunderbusses ready in event of a meeting with highwaymen. In another carriage were their ladyships’ maids, and another servant in guard of the trunks, which, vast and numerous as they were, were as nothing compared to the enormous baggage-train accompanying a lady of the present time. Mr. Warrington’s modest valises were placed in this second carriage under the maid’s guardianship, and Mr. Gumbo proposed to ride by the window for the chief part of the journey.

My lord, with his stepmother and Lady Fanny, accompanied their kinswoman to the carriage steps, and bade her farewell with many dutiful embraces. Her Lady Maria followed in a riding-dress, which Harry Warrington thought the most becoming costume in the world. A host of servants stood around, and begged Heaven bless her ladyship. The Baroness’s departure was known in the village, and scores of the folks there stood waiting under the trees outside the gates, and huzzayed and waved their hats as the ponderous vehicles rolled away.

Gumbo was gone for Mr. Warrington’s horses, as my lord, with his arm under his young guest’s, paced up and down the court. “I hear you carry away some of our horses out of Castlewood?” my lord said.

Harry blushed. “A gentleman cannot refuse a fair game at the cards,” he said. “I never wanted to play, nor would have played for money had not my cousin William forced me. As for the chaplain, it went to my heart to win from him, but he was as eager as my cousin.”

“I know — I know! There is no blame to you, my boy. At Rome you can’t help doing as Rome does; and I am very glad that you have been able to give Will a lesson. He is mad about play — would gamble his coat off his back — and I and the family have had to pay his debts ever so many times. May I ask how much you have won of him?”

“Well, some eighteen pieces the first day or two, and his note for a hundred and twenty more, and the brown horse, sixty — that makes nigh upon two hundred. But, you know, cousin, all was fair, and it was even against my will that we played at all. Will ain’t a match for me, my lord — that is the fact. Indeed he is not.”

“He is a match for most people, though,” said my lord. “His brown horse, I think you said?”

“Yes. His brown horse — Prince William, out of Constitution. You don’t suppose I would set him sixty against his bay, my lord?”

“Oh, I didn’t know. I saw Will riding out this morning; most likely I did not remark what horse he was on. And you won the black mare from the parson?”

“For fourteen. He will mount Gumbo very well. Why does not the rascal come round with the horses?” Harry’s mind was away to lovely Maria. He longed to be trotting by her side.

“When you get to Tunbridge, cousin Harry, you must be on the look-out against sharper players than the chaplain and Will. There is all sorts of queer company at the Wells.”

“A Virginian learns pretty well to take care of himself, my lord, says Harry, with a knowing nod.

“So it seems! I recommend my sister to thee, Harry. Although she is not a baby in years, she is as innocent as one. Thou wilt see that she comes to no mischief?”

“I will guard her with my life, my lord!” cries Harry.

“Thou art a brave fellow. By the way, cousin, unless you are very fond of Castlewood, I would in your case not be in a great hurry to return to this lonely, tumble-down old house. I want myself to go to another place I have, and shall scarce be back here till the partridge-shooting. Go you and take charge of the women, of my sister and the Baroness, will you?”

“Indeed I will,” said Harry, his heart beating with happiness at the thought.

“And I will write thee word when you shall bring my sister back to me. Here come the horses. Have you bid adieu to the Countess and Lady Fanny? They are kissing their hands to you from the music-room balcony.”

Harry ran up to bid these ladies a farewell. He made that ceremony very brief, for he was anxious to be off to the charmer of his heart; and came downstairs to mount his newly-gotten steed, which Gumbo, himself astride on the parson’s black mare, held by the rein.

There was Gumbo on the black mare, indeed, and holding another horse. But it was a bay horse, not a brown — a bay horse with broken knees — an aged, worn-out quadruped.

“What is this?” cries Harry.

“Your honour’s new horse,” says the groom, touching his cap.

“This brute?” exclaims the young gentleman, with one or more of those expressions then in use in England and Virginia. “Go and bring me round Prince William, Mr. William’s horse, the brown horse.”

“Mr. William have rode Prince William this morning away to Salisbury Races. His last words was, ‘Sam, saddle my bay horse, Cato, for Mr. Warrington this morning. He is Mr. Warrington’s horse now. I sold him to him last night.’ And I know your honour is bountiful: you will consider the groom.”

My lord could not help breaking into a laugh at these words of Sam the groom, whilst Harry, for his part, indulged in a number more of those remarks which politeness does not admit of our inserting here.

“Mr. William said he never could think of parting with the Prince under a hundred and twenty,” said the groom, looking at the young man.

Lord Castlewood only laughed the more. “Will has been too much for thee, Harry Warrington.”

“Too much for me, my lord! So may a fellow with loaded dice throw sixes, and be too much for me. I do not call this betting, I call it ch ——”

“Mr. Warrington! Spare me bad words about my brother, if you please. Depend on it, I will take care that you are righted. Farewell. Ride quickly, or your coaches will be at Farnham before you;” and waving him an adieu, my lord entered into the house, whilst Harry and his companion rode out of the courtyard. The young Virginian was much too eager to rejoin the carriages and his charmer, to remark the unutterable love and affection which Gumbo shot from his fine eyes towards a young creature in the porter’s lodge.

When the youth was gone, the chaplain and my lord sate down to finish their breakfast in peace and comfort. The two ladies did not return to this meal.

“That was one of Will’s confounded rascally tricks,” says my lord. “If our cousin breaks Will’s head I should not wonder.”

“He is used to the operation, my lord, and yet,” adds the chaplain, with a grin, “when we were playing last night, the colour of the horse was not mentioned. I could not escape, having but one: and the black boy has ridden off on him. The young Virginian plays like a man, to do him justice.”

“He wins because he does not care about losing. I think there can be little doubt but that he is very well to do. His mother’s law-agents are my lawyers, and they write that the property is quite a principality, and grows richer every year.”

“If it were a kingdom I know whom Mr. Warrington would make queen of it,” said the obsequious chaplain.

“Who can account for taste, parson?” asks his lordship, with a sneer. “All men are so. The first woman I was in love with myself was forty; and as jealous as if she had been fifteen. It runs in the family. Colonel Esmond (he in scarlet and the breastplate yonder) married my grandmother, who was almost old enough to be his. If this lad chooses to take out an elderly princess to Virginia, we must not balk him.”

“’Twere a consummation devoutly to be wished!” cries the chaplain. “Had I not best go to Tunbridge Wells myself, my lord, and be on the spot, and ready to exercise my sacred function in behalf of the young couple?”

“You shall have a pair of new nags, parson, if you do,” said my lord. And with this we leave them peaceable over a pipe of tobacco after breakfast.

Harry was in such a haste to join the carriages that he almost forgot to take off his hat, and acknowledge the cheers of the Castlewood villagers: they all liked the lad, whose frank cordial ways and honest face got him a welcome in most places. Legends were still extant in Castlewood, of his grandparents, and how his grandfather, Colonel Esmond, might have been Lord Castlewood, but would not. Old Lockwood at the gate often told of the Colonel’s gallantry in Queen Anne’s wars. His feats were exaggerated, the behaviour of the present family was contrasted with that of the old lord and lady: who might not have been very popular in their time, but were better folks than those now in possession. Lord Castlewood was a hard landlord: perhaps more disliked because he was known to be poor and embarrassed than because he was severe. As for Mr. Will, nobody was fond of him. The young gentleman had had many brawls and quarrels about the village, had received and given broken heads, had bills in the neighbouring towns which he could not or would not pay; had been arraigned before the magistrates for tampering with village girls, and waylaid and cudgelled by injured husbands, fathers, sweethearts. A hundred years ago his character and actions might have been described at length by the painter of manners; but the Comic Muse, nowadays, does not lift up Molly Seagrim’s curtain; she only indicates the presence of some one behind it, and passes on primly, with expressions of horror, and a fan before her eyes. The village had heard how the young Virginian squire had beaten Mr. Will at riding, at jumping, at shooting, and finally at card-playing, for everything is known; and they respected Harry all the more for this superiority. Above all, they admired him on account of the reputation of enormous wealth which Gumbo had made for his master. This fame had travelled over the whole county, and was preceding him at this moment on the boxes of Madame Bernstein’s carriages, from which the valets, as they descended at the inns to bait, spread astounding reports of the young Virginian’s rank and splendour. He was a prince in his own country. He had gold mines, diamond mines, furs, tobaccos, who knew what, or how much? No wonder the honest Britons cheered him and respected him for his prosperity, as the noble-hearted fellows always do. I am surprised city corporations did not address him, and offer gold boxes with the freedom of the city — he was so rich. Ah, a proud thing it is to be a Briton, and think that there is no country where prosperity is so much respected as in ours; and where success receives such constant affecting testimonials of loyalty!

So, leaving the villagers bawling, and their hats tossing in the air, Harry spurred his sorry beast, and galloped, with Gumbo behind him, until he came up with the cloud of dust in the midst of which his charmer’s chariot was enveloped. Penetrating into this cloud, he found himself at the window of the carriage. The Lady Maria had the back seat to herself; by keeping a little behind the wheels, he could have the delight of seeing her divine eyes and smiles. She held a finger to her lip. Madame Bernstein was already dozing on her cushions. Harry did not care to disturb the old lady. To look at his cousin was bliss enough for him. The landscape around him might be beautiful, but what did he heed it? All the skies and trees of summer were as nothing compared to yonder face; the hedgerow birds sang no such sweet music as her sweet monosyllables.

The Baroness’s fat horses were accustomed to short journeys, easy paces, and plenty of feeding; so that, ill as Harry Warrington was mounted, he could, without much difficulty, keep pace with his elderly kinswoman. At two o’clock they baited for a couple of hours for dinner. Mr. Warrington paid the landlord generously. What price could be too great for the pleasure which he enjoyed in being near his adored Maria, and having the blissful chance of a conversation with her, scarce interrupted by the soft breathing of Madame de Bernstein, who, after a comfortable meal, indulged in an agreeable half-hour’s slumber? In voices soft and low, Maria and her young gentleman talked over and over again those delicious nonsenses which people in Harry’s condition never tire of hearing and uttering.

They were going to a crowded watering-place, where all sorts of beauty and fashion would be assembled; timid Maria was certain that amongst the young beauties, Harry would discover some, whose charms were far more worthy to occupy his attention, than any her homely face and figure could boast of. By all the gods, Harry vowed that Venus herself could not tempt him from her side. It was he who for his part had occasion to fear. When the young men of fashion beheld his peerless Maria they would crowd round her car; they would cause her to forget the rough and humble American lad who knew nothing of fashion or wit, who had only a faithful heart at her service.

Maria smiles, she casts her eyes to heaven, she vows that Harry knows nothing of the truth and fidelity of women; it is his sex, on the contrary, which proverbially is faithless, and which delights to play with poor female hearts. A scuffle ensues; a clatter is heard among the knives and forks of the dessert; a glass tumbles over and breaks. An “Oh!” escapes from the innocent lips of Maria, The disturbance has been caused by the broad cuff of Mr. Warrington’s coat, which has been stretched across the table to seize Lady Maria’s hand, and has upset the wine-glass in so doing. Surely nothing could be more natural, or indeed necessary, than that Harry, upon hearing his sex’s honour impeached, should seize upon his fair accuser’s hand, and vow eternal fidelity upon those charming fingers?

What a part they play, or used to play, in love-making, those hands! How quaintly they are squeezed at that period of life! How they are pushed into conversation! what absurd vows and protests are palmed off by their aid! What good can there be in pulling and pressing a thumb and four fingers? I fancy I see Alexis laugh, who is haply reading this page by the side of Araminta. To talk about thumbs indeed! . . . Maria looks round, for her part, to see if Madame Bernstein has been awakened by the crash of glass; but the old lady slumbers quite calmly in her arm-chair, so her niece thinks there can be no harm in yielding to Harry’s gentle pressure.

The horses are put to: Paradise is over — at least until the next occasion. When my landlord enters with the bill, Harry is standing quite at a distance from his cousin, looking from the window at the cavalcade gathering below. Madame Bernstein wakes up from her slumber, smiling and quite unconscious. With what profound care and reverential politeness Mr. Warrington hands his aunt to her carriage! how demure and simple looks Lady Maria as she follows! Away go the carriages, in the midst of a profoundly bowing landlord and waiters; of country-folks gathered round the blazing inn-sign; of shopmen gazing from their homely little doors; of boys and market-folks under the colonnade of the old town-hall; of loungers along the gabled street. “It is the famous Baroness Bernstein. That is she, the old lady in the capuchin. It is the rich young American who is just come from Virginia, and is worth millions and millions. Well, sure, he might have a better horse.” The cavalcade disappears, and the little town lapses into its usual quiet. The landlord goes back to his friends at the club, to tell how the great folks are going to sleep at The Bush, at Farnham, to-night.

The inn dinner had been plentiful, and all the three guests of the inn had done justice to the good cheer. Harry had the appetite natural to his period of life. Maria and her aunt were also not indifferent to a good dinner: Madame Bernstein had had a comfortable nap after hers, which had no doubt helped her to bear all the good things of the meal — the meat pies, and the fruit pies, and the strong ale, and the heady port wine. She reclined at ease on her seat of the landau, and looked back affably, and smiled at Harry and exchanged a little talk with him as he rode by the carriage side. But what ailed the beloved being who sate with her back to the horses? Her complexion, which was exceedingly fair, was further ornamented with a pair of red cheeks, which Harry took to be natural roses. (You see, madam, that your surmises regarding the Lady Maria’s conduct with her cousin are quite wrong and uncharitable, and that the timid lad had made no such experiments as you suppose, in order to ascertain whether the roses were real or artificial. A kiss, indeed! I blush to think you should imagine that the present writer could indicate anything so shocking!) Maria’s bright red cheeks, I say still, continued to blush as it seemed with a strange metallic bloom: but the rest of her face, which had used to rival the lily in whiteness, became of a jonquil colour. Her eyes stared round with a ghastly expression. Harry was alarmed at the agony depicted in the charmer’s countenance; which not only exhibited pain, but was exceedingly unbecoming. Madame Bernstein also at length remarked her niece’s indisposition, and asked her if sitting backwards in the carriage made her ill, which poor Maria confessed to be the fact. On this, the elder lady was forced to make room for her niece on her own side, and, in the course of the drive to Farnham, uttered many gruff, disagreeable, sarcastic remarks to her fellow-traveller, indicating her great displeasure that Maria should be so impertinent as to be ill on the first day of a journey.

When they reached the Bush Inn at Farnham, under which name a famous inn has stood in Farnham town for these three hundred years — the dear invalid retired with her maid to her bedroom: scarcely glancing a piteous look at Harry as she retreated, and leaving the lad’s mind in a strange confusion of dismay and sympathy. Those yellow, yellow cheeks, those livid wrinkled eyelids, that ghastly red — how ill his blessed Maria looked! And not only how ill, but how — away, horrible thought, unmanly suspicion! He tried to shut the idea out from his mind. He had little appetite for supper, though the jolly Baroness partook of that repast as if she had had no dinner; and certainly as if she had no sympathy with her invalid niece.

She sent her major-domo to see if Lady Maria would have anything from the table. The servant brought back word that her ladyship was still very unwell, and declined any refreshment.

“I hope she intends to be well tomorrow morning,” cried Madame Bernstein, rapping her little hand on the table. “I hate people to be ill in an inn, or on a journey. Will you play piquet with me, Harry?”

Harry was happy to be able to play piquet with his aunt. “That absurd Maria!” says Madame Bernstein, drinking from a great glass of negus, “she takes liberties with herself. She never had a good constitution. She is forty-one years old. All her upper teeth are false, and she can’t eat with them. Thank Heaven, I have still got every tooth in my head. How clumsily you deal, child!”

Deal clumsily indeed! Had a dentist been extracting Harry’s own grinders at that moment, would he have been expected to mind his cards and deal them neatly? When a man is laid on the rack at the Inquisition, is it natural that he should smile and speak politely and coherently to the grave, quiet Inquisitor? Beyond that little question regarding the cards, Harry’s Inquisitor did not show the smallest disturbance. Her face indicated neither surprise, nor triumph, nor cruelty. Madame Bernstein did not give one more stab to her niece that night: but she played at cards, and prattled with Harry, indulging in her favourite talk about old times, and parting from him with great cordiality and good-humour. Very likely he did not heed her stories. Very likely other thoughts occupied his mind. Maria is forty-one years old, Maria has false ———. Oh, horrible, horrible! Has she a false eye? Has she false hair? Has she a wooden leg? I envy not that boy’s dreams that night.

Madame Bernstein, in the morning, said she had slept as sound as a top. She had no remorse, that was clear. (Some folks are happy and easy in mind when their victim is stabbed and done for.) Lady Maria made her appearance at the breakfast-table, too. Her ladyship’s indisposition was fortunately over: her aunt congratulated her affectionately on her good looks. She sate down to her breakfast. She looked appealingly in Harry’s face. He remarked, with his usual brilliancy and originality, that he was very glad her ladyship was better. Why, at the tone of his voice, did she start, and again gaze at him with frightened eyes? There sate the Chief Inquisitor, smiling, perfectly calm, eating ham and muffins. O poor writhing, rack-rent victim! O stony Inquisitor! O Baroness Bernstein! It was cruel! cruel!

Round about Farnham the hops were gloriously green in the sunshine, and the carriages drove through the richest, most beautiful country. Maria insisted upon taking her old seat. She thanked her dear aunt. It would not in the least incommode her now. She gazed, as she had done yesterday, in the face of the young knight riding by the carriage side. She looked for those answering signals which used to be lighted up in yonder two windows, and told that love was burning within. She smiled gently at him, to which token of regard he tried to answer with a sickly grin of recognition. Miserable youth! Those were not false teeth he saw when she smiled. He thought they were, and they tore and lacerated him.

And so the day sped on — sunshiny and brilliant overhead, but all over clouds for Harry and Maria. He saw nothing: he thought of Virginia: he remembered how he had been in love with Parson Broadbent’s daughter at Jamestown, and how quickly that business had ended. He longed vaguely to be at home again. A plague on all these cold-hearted English relations! Did they not all mean to trick him? Were they not all scheming against him? Had not that confounded Will cheated him about the horse?

At this very juncture, Maria gave a scream so loud and shrill that Madame Bernstein woke, that the coachman pulled his horses up, and the footman beside him sprang down from his box in a panic.

“Let me out! let me out!” screamed Maria. “Let me go to him! let me go to him!”

“What is it?” asked the Baroness.

It was that Will’s horse had come down on his knees and nose, had sent his rider over his head, and Mr. Harry, who ought to have known better, was lying on his own face quite motionless.

Gumbo, who had been dallying with the maids of the second carriage, clattered up, and mingled his howls with Lady Maria’s lamentations. Madame Bernstein descended from her landau, and came slowly up, trembling a good deal.

“He is dead — he is dead!” sobbed Maria.

“Don’t be a goose, Maria!” her aunt said. “Ring at that gate, some one!”

Will’s horse had gathered himself up and stood perfectly quiet after his feat: but his late rider gave not the slightest sign of life.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07