`Well, you see, Miss, they war in that far toolhouse, an'it was nobody's business to see to 'em. I reckon Master Tom told Harry to feed 'em, but there's no countin' on Harry - he's a offal creatur as iver come about the primises, he is. He remembers nothin' but his own inside - an' I wish it 'ud gripe him.'

`O Luke, Tom told me to be sure and remember the rabbits every day - but how could I, when they did not come into my head, you know? O, he will be so angry with me, I know he will, and so sorry about his rabbits - and so am I sorry. O what shall I do?'

`Don't you fret, Miss,' said Luke, soothingly, `they're nash things, them lop-eared rabbits - they'd happen ha'died, if they'd been fed. Things out o' natur niver thrive. God A'mighty doesn't like 'em. He made the rabbits' ears to lie back, an' it's nothin' but contrairiness to make 'em hing down like a mastiff dog's. Master Tom 'ull know better nor buy such things another time. Don't you fret, Miss. Will you come along home wi' me, and see my wife? I'm agoin' this minute.'

The invitation offered an agreeable distraction to Maggie's grief, and her tears gradually subsided as she trotted along by Luke's side to his pleasant cottage, which stood with its apple and pear trees, and with the added dignity of a lean-to pig-sty, close by the brink of the Ripple. Mrs Moggs, Luke's wife, was a decidedly agreeable acquaintance: she exhibited her hospitality in bread and treacle and possessed various works of art. Maggie actually forgot that she had any special cause of sadness this morning, as she stood on a chair to look at a remarkable series of pictures representing the Prodigal Son in the costume of Sir Charles Grandison, except that, as might have been expected from his defective moral character, he had not, like that accomplished hero, the taste and strength of mind to dispense with a wig. But the indefinable weight the dead rabbits had left on her mind caused her to feel more than usual pity for the career of this weak young man, particularly when she looked at the picture where he leaned against a tree with a flaccid appearance, his knee-breeches unbuttoned and his wig awry, while the swine, apparently of some foreign breed, seemed to insult him by their good spirits over their feast of husks.

`I'm very glad his father took him back again aren't you, Luke?' she said. `For he was very sorry, you know, and wouldn't do wrong again.'

`Eh, Miss,' said Luke, `he'd be no great shakes, I doubt, let's feyther do what he would for him.'

That was a painful thought to Maggie, and she wished much that the subsequent history of the young man had not been left a blank.

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