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ing, scolding, growling, and barking, choked off his brute, and left my friend and me, the danger being over, so frightened that we could hardly get home. Although she had naturally consulted the safety of her own pet first, she had done her duty womanfully, so far as screaming went. That was the first fight I ever was in in my life, and I hope it will be the last.
Another misfortune, so to say personal, which befel my staff was the loss of its own head-the ivory crook, which came off in the act of pulling down a rich branch of woodbine from the top of a hedge. A deep muddy ditch received the poor crook, which sank instantly, and in spite of efforts many and various could never be recovered. The worst part of this mutilation was, as often happens to living patients, the cure. Being sent to a parasolshop to have a new crook put on, the stupid people first docked many inches of its height, and then stuck on so clumsily a heavy bone umbrella-top, that it fell off in a few days of its own accord without any accident at all. And the poor stick might have remained for ever headless and “curtailed of his fair proportion, but that a friend of mine (one of those persons who knows how to do kind things in little as well as in great) happened to remember that she had an ebony top that would just fit it ; and her husband, with equal kindness, completed the good action by fastening on the
shining black knob so adroitly, that, although it has been now four or five years in wear, it remains as firm as the first day, looking only a little graver, and more fit for the poor old mistress, who having at first taken to a staff in sport, is now so lame as to be unable to walk without one.
And since the black head has supplanted the white one, another association has come to endear this friend of sixty years.
A little boy, called Henry, the child of the house (son by the way to the hemmer of flounces) has ever since he has been four years old watched my ways, and ministered unbidden to my wants and fancies. Long before he could open the outer door, before indeed he was half the height of the wand in question, there he would stand, the stick in one hand, and if it were summer time a flower in the other, waiting for my going out, the pretty Saxon boy with his upright figure, his golden hair, his eyes like two stars, and his bright intelligent smile! We were so used to see him there, silent and graceful as a Queen's page, that when he returned to school after the holidays, and somebody else presented the stick and the rose, I hardly cared to take them. It seemed as if something was wrong, I missed him so.
Most punctual of petted children! What would Henry have said to-day?
I might have observed, if I had only seen what passed before my eyes, that something was amiss in
our small household ; that Sarah answered the bell, and that the hemmer of flounces, when she did appear, seemed flurried and fatigued. But I was thinking of Sir Philip Sydney, of the “Defence of Poetry,” of the “Arcadia,” and of my own resolution to proceed to the green lane, and to dissect that famous pastoral, and select from the mass, which even to myself I hardly confessed to be ponderous, such pages as might suit an age that by no means partakes of my taste for folios. So I said to her, “That the afternoon being cool, and I less lame than usual, I thought we should not need Sam and the pony-chaise, but that I could manage by the help of my stick."
At that word out burst the terrible tidings. My stick, my poor old stick, my life-long friend, the faithful companion of so many walks, was missing, was gone, was lost! Last night, on our return from the lane, the place in the pony-chaise where Sam and I had carefully deposited it was found vacant. Sam himself, that model of careful drivers and faithful servants, had run back the moment he had unharnessed the pony, had retraced every step of the road, beating the ground like a pointer, questioning everybody, offering rewards, visiting ale-house and beer-house (places that, without special cause, Sam never does visit), to make proclamation of the loss, and finishing all by getting up at four o'clock in the morning, and beating the beaten ground over
again. She herself, who so seldom stirs without me, and so seldom lets me stir without her, that she may pass for my shadow, or (without offence be it spoken) for a sort of walking-stick herself, she had sallied forth, visiting lane and field, road and meadow, questioning reaper and gipsy, a sort of living hue and cry
“And really, Ma’am,” quoth she, “there is some comfort in the interest the people take in the stick ! If it were anything alive, the pony or Fanchon or little Henry, or we ourselves, they could not be more sorry. Master Brent, Ma'am, at the top of the street, he promises to speak to everybody; so does William Wheeler, who goes everywhere; and Mrs. Bromley, at the shop; and the carrier and the post
I dare say the whole parish knows it by this time! I have not been outside the gate to-day, but a dozen people have asked me if we had heard of our stick! It must turn up soon. If one had but the slightest notion where it was lost! I do declare, Ma’am,” continued she, interrupting her lamentations, that
don't seem to be so much troubled about the poor
I !” And with all her regard for me, I think she was a little scandalised at my philosophy.
Why you and Sam seem to have done all that can be done,” replied I; "and perhaps if we go into the lane we may hear some tidings of my poor staff, for I shall be sorry to lose such an old friend !"
"Ah !" said she, “if one did but know where it dropt out of the chaise !"
And so we set forth, I with a new stick of Sam's purveying, a provisional stick, whose very roughness and imperfection proved that that faithful adherent by no means despaired of recovering my legitimate supporter.
My little damsel was not wrong in accusing me of being calmer than she thought quite becoming under so severe a calamity ; but as her inquietude and nervousness proceeded mainly from the state of feverish and impatient expectation, the mixture of hope and fear, in which she had passed the last twenty hours, so the absence of suspense and expectation had much to do with my resignation. I had some suspicion as to the place in which the stick had dropt, and no great hope of finding it.
Day by day, as the sun went down, we had the habit of being taken up at the gate of the short avenue that leads to the old Manor House; an abrupt turn, where the soft turf of the wide lane ends, and the gravel road begins. This road, not much frequented, in general is full of the harvest population during this harvest month; groups of reapers, men and women, full-grown girl and half-grown boy, and little child-the little child who watches by the baby in the cradle whilst the mother reaps. On that side, too, they had just begun to carry the yellow sheaves which studded so richly the great