My aunt, I may observe, allowed my horse on the forbidden ground, but had not at all relented towards the donkeys.

“He will be fresh enough presently!” said I.

“The ride will do his master good, at all events,” observed my aunt, glancing at the papers on my table. “Ah, child, you pass a good many hours here. I never thought, when I used to read books, what work it was to write them.”

“It’s work enough to read them, sometimes,” I returned. “As to the writing, it has its own charms, aunt.”

“Ah! I see!” said my aunt. “Ambition, love of approbation, sympathy, and much more, I suppose? Well: go along with you!”

“Do you know anything more,” said I, standing composedly before her—she had patted me on the shoulder, and sat down in my chair, “of that attachment of Agnes?”

She looked up in my face a little while, before replying—

“I think I do, Trot.”

“Are you confirmed in your impression?” I inquired.

“I think I am, Trot.”

She looked so steadfastly at me: with a kind of doubt, or pity, or suspense in her affection: that I summoned the stronger determination to show her a perfectly cheerful face.

“And what is more, Trot—” said my aunt.


“I think Agnes is going to be married.”

“God bless her!” said I, cheerfully.

“God bless her!” said my aunt, “and her husband too!”

I echoed it, parted from my aunt, went lightly down-stairs, mounted, and rode away. There was greater reason than before to do what I had resolved to do.

How well I recollect the wintry ride! The frozen particles of ice, brushed from the blades of grass by the wind, and borne across my face; the hard clatter of the horse’s hoofs, beating a tune upon the ground; the stiff-tilled soil; the snow-drift, lightly eddying in the chalk-pit as the breeze ruffled it; the smoking team with the waggon of old hay, stopping to breathe on the hill-top, and shaking their bells musically; the whitened slopes and sweeps of Down-land lying against the dark sky, as if they were drawn on a huge slate!

I found Agnes alone. The little girls had gone to their own homes now, and she was alone by the fire, reading. She put down her book on seeing me come in; and having welcomed me as usual, took her work-basket and sat in one of the old-fashioned windows.

I sat beside her on the window-seat, and we talked of what I was doing, and when it would be done, and of the progress I had made since my last visit. Agnes was very cheerful; and laughingly predicted that I should soon become too famous to be talked to, on such subjects.

“So I make the most of the present time, you see,” said Agnes, “and talk to you while I may.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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