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humorous, nor decent; otherwise the hour
passed pleasantly enough until my two
companions returned, if indeed these
miserables were they! If they went out sponges,
what marine invective can express their
appearance when they got back again?
They were sodden and dripping wet as well;
they were pulp in the third stage, and might
have been made into a couple of sheets of
foolscap by one process of a paper-machine.
They had waded, it seemed, through a marsh
and quagmire up to the festive scene, and,
bivouacking under a grand stand of five
planks which let in the rain, and where
refreshments were selling solely in the shape of
great sticks of peppermint, they had witnessed
a crowd of ponies start out into the blinding
mist, and not come back again. They had
waited a reasonable time, allowing for the
length of the course, and then returned,
concluding that the whole of the competitors
were lost. They said that it rained far
worse than ever; that they thought they had
caught their deaths of cold; and that they
were both going to bed immediately. The
landlord replied to this, that there was but
one bed in the house, and that there was
a sick person in it already (a sick person
above all that harmony from forty
voices!) but that he would lend them
such clothes as he had, with pleasure. A
little space was cleared in front of the fire,
and then and there the man of the law and
the man of the sword disrobed and rearranged
themselves; never was metamorphosis
more complete. I gave up from that
moment every stitch of faith about "once
a gentleman always a gentleman," and
transformed it, at once, to clothes. I doubt whether
even my own appearancewhich is eminently
aristocraticcould have survived the change.

I shook hands with the more friendly
of my copper-coloured companions and
mounted once more behind the dog-cart;
the pair in front were as wet as ever in five
minutes, and much more ridiculous. I,
myself, was very little better off, for my poor
paralysed umbrella got a stroke in its fifth
rib, and Thompson drove too quickly to admit
of my holding it up properly, and keeping
myself on my perch at the same time; he
was very savage, and so was the lieutenant.
The rain and the wind increased as we
topped the moor again, and the mare did not
like to face them; an angry man makes but
a bad driver; and as she swerved from side to
side, then jibbed, then reared, I saw that
matters were getting serious. As we were
nearing a little bridge upon our way, with a
steep bank and a brook upon the right, the
creature became quite unmanageable; I
jumped out to run to her head, but she was
too quick for me; she gave one mad plunge
to the left, and, at a sharp cut of the whip in
punishment, ran the wheels back to the very
parapet, stood straight up on her hind legs,
and fell overdown the height, backward
dog-cart and all. I never expected to see
either of my companions alive again, but they
fell clear of the vehicle, one on each side of
the ditch, and sprang to their feet at once.

"My precious jingo!" exclaimed the
lieutenant, not without a touch of gratitude in
his tone.

"It was my fault," said Thompson.

The mare was all this time committing
the most determined suicide with her head
under water in a narrow ditch; the shafts
were broken, but she was sufficiently bound
to the cartpoor thingfor it to
prevent her rising. We cut her loose and got her
up unhurt; that was the sole thing, except
our personal safety, to congratulate ourselves
upon. The rain was getting a trifle worse,
the wind was certainly more violent, we
were five miles distant from any housesave
that of Mr. Doone's of Badgerleyupon
Exmoor, and it was getting dark.

I have been present during the worst part,
the longest half, that isof a meeting
at Exeter Hall. I have heard five
Protectionist speakersone down and the other
come onat an agricultural banquet. I
have listened to a Latin declamation at
the University, from the lips of a public
orator. I have heard the same story, for
the fourth time, at mess. I was once at a
convocation of the Clergy of ——, but no
experience of dreariness and weariness that I
can call to mind, endures comparison with
our walk home from Exmoor. The mare fell
lame, and kept limping and slipping behind
us, exciting our wrath and wounding our
sympathies at the same time. The men fell
lameThompson and Shinarthe landlord's
shoes being much too big for them and
full of bumps, and presently Shinar lost one
of his altogether. Our all having to poke
about for that shoe in the wind and the rain,
and the mud, and the half-darkness, was a
wretched incident; and when he had found
it, big as it was, he couldn't get it on again.
None of us spoke, except once; then Thompson,
who was much the biggest of the three,
inquired, in an awful kind of murdering
voice, which of us had first proposed going to
these Exmoor Races? The ravine was on
one side of me with a sheer precipice of fifty
feet, and I hastened to lay it all upon the
waiter.

"Then I'll kill that waiter," said Thompson,
solemnly.

"And so will I," added Lieutenant Shinar.

But neither of them did it, and we wound
up that dismal day with a jovial evening,
throughout which the spared waiter waited
wonderfully.

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