The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 3, page 3 of 5)


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Chapter 3

"Yes," I answered, heavily, "next year." And I sighed again, bethinking me of the changes this next year must bring to all of us.

"Tell me, Uncle Dick," says she, suddenly, laying a hand on either of my shoulders, "how did father hurt his foot?"

"Why, to be sure," says I, readily, "'twas an accident. You must know 'twas as we came down the steps at 'The Chequers', Pen; talking and laughing, d'ye see, he tripped and fell--caught his spur, I fancy."

"But he wore no spurs, Uncle Dick," says she, mighty demure.

"Oh--why--didn't he so, Pen?" says I, a little hipped. "Well, then he--er--just--tripped, you know--fell, you understand."

"On the steps, Uncle Dick?"

"Aye, on the steps," I nodded.

"Prithee did he fall up the steps or down the steps, Uncle Dick?"

"Down, Pen, down; he simply tripped down the steps and--and there you have it."

"But prithee Uncle Dick--"

"Nay, nay," says I, "the game waits for me, Pen--I must go."

But at this moment, as luck would have it, Bentley reappeared, nor was I ever more glad to see him.

"Aha, man Dick," cries he, wagging his finger at me. "Walk in the rose-garden, was it? Oh, for shame, to so abuse my confidence--Dick, I blush for thee; and Jack's a roaring for thee, and the game waits for thee; in a word--begone! And to-day, Pen," says he, as I turned away, "to-day is Friday!" and he stooped and kissed her pretty cheek.

I had reached the terrace when I stopped all at once and, moved by a sudden thought, I turned about and hurriedly retraced my steps. They were screened from sight by one of the great yew hedges, but as I approached I could hear Bentley's voice: "His horse?" says Bentley.

"Yes," says Pen, "and Saladin's such a quiet old horse as a rule!"

"But what's his horse got to do with it?" says Bentley.

"Why, you were there, Uncle Bentley. Saladin jibbed, didn't he, just as father had one foot in the stirrup ready to mount?"

"Oh! Ha! Hum!" says Bentley. "Did Jack tell you all that, Pen?"

"Who else?" says she, "'twas you caught his bridle, wasn't it?"

"I? Hum! The bridle?" says Bentley, "why--egad, Pen--"

"And Uncle Dick caught father as he fell," she continued.

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