nodding his head at the horse as he spoke, ‘and ’ow that he’d given the matter o’ two ’under’d -- or I’m not sure it weren’t two ’under’d-and-fifty guineas for ’im, and --’

‘Well,’ interrupted Mr Waffles, tired of his verbosity, ‘and what did they say about the horse?’

‘Why,’ continued Mr Buckram, thoughtfully, propping his chin up with his stick, and drawing all the half- crowns up to the top of his pocket again, ‘the fast ’spicious thing I heard was Sir Digby Snaffle’s grum, Sam, sayin’ to Captain Screwley’s bat-man rum, jist afore the George Inn door,

‘ ‘‘Well, Jack, Tommy’s sold the brown oss!’

‘ ‘‘N--O--O--R!’’ exclaimed Jack, starin’ ’is eyes out, as if it were unpossible.

‘ ‘‘He ’as, though,’’ said Sam.

‘ ‘‘Well, then, I ’ope the gemman’s fond o’ walkin’,’’ exclaimed Jack, bustin’ out a laughin’ and runnin’ on.

‘This rayther set me a thinkin’,’ continued Mr Buckram, dropping a second half-crown, which jinked against the nest-egg one left at the bottom, ‘and fearin’ that Mr Sponge had fallen ’mong the Philistines -- which I was werry concerned about, for he’s a real nice gent, but thoughtless, as many young gents are who ’ave plenty of tin -- I made it my business to enquire ’bout this oss; and if he is the oss that I saw in Leicestersheer, and I ’ave little doubt about it (dropping two consecutive half-crowns as he spoke), though I’ve not seen him out, I --’

‘Ah! well, I bought him of Mr Sponge, who said he got him from Lord Bullfrog,’ interrupted Mr Waffles.

‘Ah! then he is the oss, in course,’ said Mr Buckram, with a sort of mournful chuck of the chin; ‘he is the oss,’ repeated he; ‘well, then, he’s a dangerous hanimal,’ added he, letting slip three half-crowns.

‘What does he do?’ asked Mr Waffles.

‘Do!’ repeated Mr Buckram, ‘DO! he’ll do for anybody.’

‘Indeed,’ responded Mr Waffles; adding, ‘how could Mr Sponge sell me such a brute?’

‘I doesn’t mean to say, mind ye,’ observed Mr Buckram, drawing back three half-crowns, as though he had gone that much too far -- ‘I doesn’t mean to say, mind, that he’s wot you call a misteched, runaway, rear-backwards-over-hanimal -- but I mean to say he’s a difficultish oss to ride -- himpetuous -- and one that, if he got the hupper ’and, would be werry likely to try and keep the hupper ’and -- you understand me?’ said he, eyeing Mr Waffles intently, and dropping four half-crowns as he spoke.

‘I’m tellin’ you nothin’ but the truth,’ observed Mr Buckram, after a pause, adding, ‘in course it’s nothin’ to me, only bein’ down ’ere on a visit to a friend, and ’earin’ that the oss were ’ere I made bold to look in to see whether it was ’im or no. No offence, I ’opes,’ added he, letting go the rest of the silver, and taking the prop from under his chin, with an obeisance as if he was about to be off.

‘Oh, no offence at all,’ rejoined Mr Waffles, ‘no offence -- rather the contrary. Indeed, I’m much obliged to you for telling me what you have done. Just stop half a minute,’ added he, thinking he might as well try and get something more out of him. While Mr Waffles was considering his next question, Mr Buckram saved him the trouble of thinking by ‘leading the gallop’ himself.

‘I believe ’im to be a good oss, and I believe ’im to be a bad oss,’ observed Mr Buckram, sententiously. ‘I believe that oss, with a bold rider on his back, and well away with the ’ounds, would beat most osses goin’, but it’s the start that’s the difficulty with him; for it, on the other ’and he don’t incline to go, all the spurrin’, and quiltin’, and leatherin’ in the world won’t make ’im. It’ll be a mercy o’ Providence if he don’t cut out work for the crowner someday.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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