Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 5, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 5

The following morning, the carrier's cart stopped at the cottage, and
Dick, having helped the carrier to bring in a big portmanteau, burst
into the sitting room with: "Your togs have arrived, Mr. Vernon; and the carrier says that there are
a couple of horses at the station. They're directed 'Drake Vernon,
Esquire,' so they must be for you!"

Vernon nodded.

"That's all right," he said. "They were doing nothing in--where they
were, and I thought I'd have them sent down here. I suppose I must get
some one to exercise them?"

Dick's eyes sparkled and his mouth stretched in an expressive grin.

"Not much difficulty about that," he said. "For instance, I don't mind
obliging you--as a favor."

Mr. Vernon smiled.

"I thought perhaps you might be so good," he said; and he added
casually: "Anybody here who could be trusted to bring them from the
station?"

"I know a most trustworthy person; his name is Richard Lorton, and he
will go for 'em in a brace of jiffs," said Dick.

Mr. Vernon flicked a five-pound note across the table.

"There may be some carriage. By the way, one of them is a lady's nag,
and I fancy they may have sent a sidesaddle."

Dick nodded and repeated the grin.

"I can get them put up at Sandy's," he said. "Sandy used to keep some
stables going for post horses before the coach ran to Hartland, you
know. I've got your horse there. Oh, they'll be all right. You trust to
me."

"I do," said Mr. Vernon. "One moment," as Dick was rushing out to put on
his well-worn riding suit. "I don't think I'd say anything about--the
sidesaddle to Miss Lorton--yet."

Once again Dick nodded--a nod so full of comprehension as to be almost
supernal.

Mr. Vernon went upstairs, and, with Molly's assistance, unpacked the
huge portmanteau, and, when she had got out of the room, examined the
contents. Strangely enough, the linen was all new and unmarked. Only on
the silver fittings of the dressing case were a monogram--in which the
initial "S" was decipherable--and a coronet.

"Sparling's an idiot!" Vernon muttered. "Why didn't he buy a new case? I
shall have to keep this locked."

When he came down again, having changed into a blue serge suit, Nell was
in the drawing-room, arranging some flowers, and she looked up with a
smile of recognition at his altered appearance.

"Your box has arrived, I see," she said, with the frankness of--well,
Shorne Mills. "You must be glad. And where has Dick dashed off to? He
nearly knocked me down in his hurry."

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