place him next to Ringwood, in order to maintain the

credit he had obtained for generosity and forbearance.

" I am afraid I have appeared very foolish/' he said,

"but there are certain subjects which have a peculiar


" A sting indeed" said Sir Mark. " I never saw such

a start off but once, and that was on Sorrel, when the boys

had been stirring up the old wasps' nest in the lane. I

verily believe he went through all the capers of the College

Hornpipe. But spur on, boys, spur on, I see the Twigg's

carriage yonder turning off for the Hall."

The ex-sheriff's equipage was indeed entering the

avenue, but at a very

had flogged his horses

unusual pace; for the coachman

into a gallop, a sure sign, in the

Baronet's opinion, that the lady was not of the party.

Having the advantage of a good start, the vehicle arrived

at its destination some ten minutes before the horsemen ;

but, to the surprise of Sir Mark, he saw from afar the two

ladies run up the steps, and dart into the house like a

couple of scared rabbits bobbing into a burrow. Suspecting

some unusual occurrence he pushed on at speed, and,

on entering the Hall, the first person he encountered was

old Deborah, panting along with a glass of cold water,

her breath just sufficing to inform her master that f( Mrs.


Twigg was in a fit !

Fits by the way are strange things. Like the hen bird

which has the faculty of retaining her egg till an appro-

priate nest is built and ready for its reception, so a lady

seems to have the power of bottling up her hysterics till

there is help at hand, with a chance of hartshorn and

water, and every fitting accompaniment. As Major Oakley

says, in the Jealous Wife, " Did you ever hear of her falling

into a fit when you were not by ? Was she ever found


in convulsions in her closet !

Accordingly Mrs. Twigg had postponed her swoon while

in the carriage, or on the steps or the stairs ; but the moment

she found herself in the drawing-room, with a com-

fortable elbow-chair under her, she quietly closed her eyes,

dropped her arms, and " went off like a lamb/'

K 3

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines