dressed in a very fine French grey merino, with a very small crochet-work collar, and, of course, capacious muslin sleeves. The high flounces to her dress set off her smart waist to great advantage.

Mrs Springwheat had got everything ready, and herself too, by the time Lord Scamperdale’s second horseman rode into the yard and demanded a stall for his horse. Knowing how soon the balloon follows the pilot, she immediately ranged the Stunner-tartan-clad children in the breakfast-room; and as the first whip’s rate sounded as he rode round the corner, she sank into an easy-chair by the fire, with a lacefringed kerchief in the one hand, and the Mark Lane Express in the other.

‘Halloa! Springey!’ followed by the heavy crack of a whip, announced the arrival of his lordship before the green palings; and a loud view halloa burst from Jack, as the object of enquiry was seen dancing about the open windowed room above, with his face all flushed with the exertion of pulling on a very tight boot.

‘Come in, my lord! pray, come in! The missis is below!’ exclaimed Springwheat, from the window; and just at the moment the pad-groom emerged from the house, and ran to his lordship’s horse’s head.

His lordship and Jack then dismounted, and gave their hacks in charge of the servant; while Wake, and Fyle, and Archer, who were also of the party, scanned the countenances of the surrounding idlers, to see in whose hands they had best confide their nags.

In Lord Scamperdale stamped, followed by his trainband bold, and Maria, the maid, being duly stationed in the passage, threw open the parlour-door on the left, and discovered Mrs Springwheat sitting in attitude.

‘Well, my lady, and how are you?’ exclaimed his lordship, advancing gaily, and seizing both her pretty hands as she rose to receive him. ‘I declare, you look younger and prettier every time I see you.’

‘Oh! my lord,’ simpered Mrs Springwheat, ‘you gentlemen are always so complimentary.’

‘Not a bit of it!’ exclaimed his lordship, eyeing her intently through his silver spectacles, for he had been obliged to let Jack have the other pair of tortoiseshell-rimmed ones.

‘Not a bit of it,’ repeated his lordship. ‘I always tell Jack you are the handsomest woman in Christendom; don’t I, Jack?’ enquired his Lordship, appealing to his factotum.

‘Yes, my lord,’ replied Jack, who always swore to whatever his lordship said.

‘By Jove!’ continued his lordship, with a stamp of his foot, ‘if I could find such a woman I’d marry her tomorrow. Not such women as you to pick up every day. And what a lot of pretty pups!’ exclaimed his lordship, starting back, pretending to be struck with the row of staring, black-haired, black-eyed, half- frightened children. ‘Now, that’s what I call a good entry,’ continued his lordship, scrutinising them attentively, and pointing them out to Jack; ‘all dogs -- all boys, I mean?’ added he.

‘No, my lord,’ replied Mrs Springwheat, laughing, ‘these are girls,’ laying her hand on the heads of two of them, who were now full giggle at the idea of being taken for boys.

‘Well, they’re devilish handsome, anyhow,’ replied his lordship, thinking he might as well be done with the inspection.

Springwheat himself now made his appearance, as fine a sample of a man as his wife was of a woman. His face was flushed with the exertion of pulling on his tight boots, and his lordship felt the creases the hooks had left as he shook him by the hand.

‘Well, Springey,’ said he, ‘I was just asking your wife after the new babby.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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