Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 8, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 8

The weeks glided by, Drake's arm got mended, but he still lingered on at
Shorne Mills.

There was something in the beauty, the repose, of the place which
fascinated and held him. He was so weary of the world, sore with
disappointment, and shrinking from the pity of his friends who were, as
he knew, dying to commiserate with him over his altered prospects.

The weather was lovely, the air balmy, and for amusement--well, there
was sailing in the _Annie Laurie_, lounging with a pipe on the jetty,
listening, and sometimes talking, to the fishermen and sailors, and
teaching Miss Nell Lorton to ride.

"Not that you need much teaching," he said on the first day they rode
together--that was before his arm was quite right, and Mrs. Lorton
filled the air with her fears and anxieties for his safety. "But you
have 'picked it up,' as they say, and there are one or two hints I may
be able to give you which will make you as perfect a horsewoman as one
would wish to see."

"Isn't 'perfect' rather a big word?" said Nell.

She turned her face to him, and the glory of its young beauty was
heightened by the radiance of the smile which was enthroned on her lips
and shone in her eyes.

He looked at her with unconscious admiration and in silence for a
moment.

"There is no reason why you shouldn't be perfect," he said. "You've
everything in your favor--youth, health, strength, and no end of pluck."

"I ought to curtsy," said Nell, laughing softly. "But one can't curtsy
on a horse, alas! Please let me off with a bow," and she bent low in the
saddle, with all a girl's pretty irony. "But don't be sparing of those
same hints, please. I really want to learn, and I will be very humble
and meek."

He laughed, as if amused by something.

"I can scarcely fancy you either humble or meek, Miss Nell," he said.
"Hold the reins a little nearer her neck. Like this. See? Then you've
room to pull her if she stumbles; which, by the way, isn't likely. And
you might sit a little closer at the canter. Don't trouble; leave the
pace to the horse."

Nell nodded.

"I know!" she said. "How just being told a thing helps one! I should
like to ride as well as you do. You and the horse seem one."

He was not embarrassed by the compliment.

"Oh, I've ridden all my life," he said, "and under all sorts of
circumstances, on all sorts of horses, and one gets au fait in time.
Now, let her have her head and we'll try a gallop. Don't bear too hard
on her if she pulls--as she may--but ride her on the snaffle as much as
possible."

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