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has rendered as familiar to my hand as its flower to that of the Queen of Clubs.
The grey of morning had just begun to steal into our bedchamber, when Mrs. B. ejaculated with unusual vigour : " Henry, Henry, they're in the front drawingroom; and they've just knocked down the parrot-screen."
“ My love,” I was about to observe, “your imaginative powers have now arrived at a pitch of clairvoyance,” when a noise from the room beneath us, as if all the fire-irons had gone off together with a bang, compelled me to acknowledge to myself at least that there was something in Mrs. B.'s alarms at last. I trod downstairs as noiselessly as I could and in almost utter darkness. The drawing-room door was ajar, and through the crevice I could distinguish, despite the gloom, as many as three mufiled figures. They were all of them in black clothing, and each wore over his face a mask of crape, fitting quite closely to his features. I had never been confronted by anything so dreadful before. Mrs. B. had cried “ Wolf!” so often, that I had almost ceased to believe in wolves of this description at all. Unused to personal combat, and embarrassed by the novel circumstances under which I found myself, I was standing undecided upon the landing, when I caught the well-known whisper of “ Henry, Henry,'' from the upper story. The burglars caught it also. They desisted from their occupation of examining the articles of vertu upon the chimney-piece, while their fiendish countenances relaxed into a hideous grin. One of them stole cautiously towards the door where I was standing. I heard his burglarious feet. I heard the
Henry, Henry,” still going on from above stairs; I heard my own heart pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat within me.
It was one of those moments in which one lives a life. The head of the craped marauder was projected cautiously round the door, as if to listen. I poised my weapon, and brought it down with an unerring aim upon his skull. He fell like a bullock beneath the axe; and I sped up to my
bedchamber with all the noiselessness and celerity of a bird. It was I who locked the door this time, and piled the
wash-hand-stand, two band-boxes, and a chair against it with the speed of lightning.
Was Mrs. B. out of her mind with terror that at such an hour as that she should indulge in a paroxysm of mirth?
“Good Heavens!” I cried, “ be calm, my love; there are burglars in the house at last."
“ My dear Henry,” she answered, laughing, so that the tears quite stood in her eyes, “I am very sorry-I tried to call you back. But when I sent you downstairs, I quite forgot that this was the morning upon which I had ordered the sweeps !”
One of those gentlemen was at that moment lying uaderneath with his skull fractured, and it cost me fifteen pounds to get it mended, besides the expense of a new drawing-room carpet.
From Humorous Stories by permission of Messrs. CHATTO & WINDUS.
HOW WE BEAT THE FAVOURITE.
BY ADAM LINDSAY GORDON
“AYE, squire,” said Stevens," they back him at evens;
The race is all over, bar shouting, they say; The Clown ought to beat her; Dick Neville is sweeter
Than ever-he swears he can win all the way. “A gentleman rider-well, I'm an outsider ;
But if he's a gent, who the mischief's a jock?
He rides, too, like thunder-he sits like a rock. “He calls • hunted fairly' a horse that has barely
Been stripp'd for a trot within sight of the hounds; A horse that at Warwick beat Birdlime and Yorrick,
And gave Abd-el-Kader at Aintree nine pounds. “ They say we have no test to warrant a protest;
Dick rides for a lord and stands in with the steward; The light of their faces they show him—his case is
Prejudged, and his verdict already secured.
“ But none can outlast her, and few travel faster,
She strides in her work clean away from The Drag, You hold her and sit her, she couldn't be fitter,
Whenever you hit her she'll spring like a stag.
“And p'rhaps the green jacket, at odds though they back it,
May fall, or there's no knowing what may turn up. The mare is quite ready,—sit still and ride steady;
Keep cool, and I think you may just win the cup.” Dark-brown, with tan muzzle, just stripped for the tussle,
Stood Iseult, arching her neck to the curb;
A loin rather light, but a shoulder superb.
Some parting injunction, bestow'd with great unction,
I tried to recall, but forgot like a dunce ;
Came down in a hurry to start us at once.
“ Keep back in the yellow! Come up on Othello !
Hold hard on the chestnut! Turn round on The Drag! Keep back, there, on Spartan! Back, you, sir, in tartan!
So, steady there, easy," and down went the flag.
We started, and Kerry made strong running on Mermaid,
Through furrows that led to the first stake-and-bound; The crack, half extended, looked bloodlike and splendid,
Held wide on the right where the headland was sound.
I pulled hard to baffle her rush with the snaffile,
Before her two-thirds of the field got away. All through the wet pasture where floods of the last year
Still loitered, they clotted my crimson with clay.
The fourth fence, a wattle, floored Monk and Bluebottle;
The Drag came to grief at the blackthorn and ditch, The rails toppled over Redoubt and Red Rover,
The lane stopped Lycurgus and Leicestershire Witch.
She passed like an arrow Kildare and Cock Sparrow;
And Mantrap and Mermaid refused the stone wall; And Giles on the Greyling came down at the paling,
And I was left sailing in front of them all.
I took them a burster, nor eased her nor nursed her,
Until the black Bullfinch led into the plough, And through thestrong bramble we bored with a scramble-
My cap was knocked off by the hazel-tree bough.
Where furrows looked lighter, I drew the rein tighter
Her dark chest all dappled with flakes of white foam, Her flanks mud-bespattered, a weak rail she shattered
We landed on turf with our heads turned for home.
Then crashed a low binder, and then close behind her
The sward to the strokes of the favourite shook, His rush roused her mettle, yet ever so little
She shorten'd her stride as we raced at the brook,
She rose when I hit her. I saw the stream glitter,
A wide scarlet nostril flashed close to my knee: Between sky and water, The Clown came and caught her;
The space that he cleared was a caution to see.
And forcing the running, discarding all cunning,
A length to the front went the rider in green; A long strip of stubble, and then the big double;
Two stiff flights of rails, with a quickset between.
She raced at the rasper, I felt my knees grasp her,
I found my hands give to her strain on the bit; She rose when The Clown did our silks, as we bounded,
Brush'd lightly! our stirrups clash'd loud as we lit.
A rise, steeply sloping, a fence with stone coping,
The last we diverged round the base of the bill; His path was the nearer, his leap was the clearer,
I flogg'd up the straight, and he led sitting still.
She came to his quarter, and on still I brought her,
And up to his girth, to his breastplate she drew,
He mutter'd_lock'd level the hurdles we flew.
All sights seen obscurely, all shouts vaguely heard; 66 The Green wins !" “The Crimson !” The multitude
swims on, And figures are blended and features are blurred. “ The horse is her master!” “The green forges past her!” “ The Clown will outlast her!” “ The Clown wins!”
66 The Clown!” The white railing races with all the white faces
The chestnut outpaces, outstretches the brown. On still past the gateway she strains in the straight way,
Still struggles "The Clown" by a short neck at most; He swerves, the green scourges, the stand rocks and surges,
And flashes and verges, and flits the white post. Ay! so ends the tussle I knew the tan muzzle
Was first, though the ring-men were yelling “Dead heat!” A nose I could swear by, but Clark said, “The mare by
A short head.” And that's how the favourite was beat. From “Bush Ballads."
BY WILKIE COLLINS.
I Am a single lady—single, you will please to understand, entirely because I have refused many excellent offers. Pray don't imagine from this that I am old. Some women's offers come at long intervals, and other women's offers come close together. Mine came remarkably close together—so, of course, I cannot possibly be old. Not that I presume to describe myself as absolutely young, either; so much depends on people's points of view. I have heard female children of the ages of eighteen or