The Kennel and the Stud

We will now accompany Mr Watchorn to the stable, whither his resolute legs carried him as soon as the champagne wrought the wonderful change in his opinion of the weather, though, as he every now and then crossed a spangled piece of ground upon which the sun had not struck, or stopped to crack a piece of ice with his toe, he shook his heated head and doubted whether he was Cardinal Wiseman for making the attempt. Nothing but the fact of his considering it perfectly immaterial whether he was with his hounds or not encouraged him in the undertaking. ‘Dash them!’ said he, ‘they must just take care of themselves.’ With which laudable resolution, and an inward anathema at George Cheek, he left off trying the ground and tapping the ice.

Watchorn’s hurried, excited appearance produced little satisfaction among the grooms and helpers at the stables, who were congratulating themselves on the opportune arrival of the frost, and arranging how they should spend their New Year’s Day.

‘Look sharp, lads! look sharp!’ exclaimed he, clapping his hands as he ran up the yard. ‘Look sharp, lads! look sharp!’ repeated he, as the astonished helpers showed their bare arms and dirty shirts at the partially opened doors, responsive to the sound. ‘Send Snaffle here, send Brown here, send Green here, send Snooks here,’ exclaimed he, with the air of a man in authority.

Now Snaffle was the stud-groom, a personage altogether independent of the huntsman, and, in the ordinary course of nature, Snaffle had just as much right to send for Watchorn as Watchorn had to send for him; but Watchorn being’ as we said before, some way connected with Lady Scattercash, he just did as he liked among the whole of them, and they were too good judges to rebel.

‘Snaffle,’ said he, as the portly, well-put-on personage waddled up to him; ‘Snaffle,’ said he, ‘how many sound ’osses have you?’

None, sir,’ replied Snaffle, confidently.

‘How many three-legged ’uns have you that can go, then?’

‘O! a good many,’ replied Snaffle, raising his hands to tell them off on his fingers. ‘There’s Hop-the-twig, and Hannah Bell (Hannibal), and Ugly Jade, and Sir-danapalis -- the Baronet as we calls him -- and Harkaway, and Hit-me-hard, and Single-peeper, and Jack’s-alive, and Groggytoes, and Greedyboy, and Puff-and-blow; that’s to say two- and three-legged ’uns, at least,’ observed Snaffle, qualifying his original assertion.

‘Ah, well!’ said Watchorn, ‘that’ll do -- two legs are too many for some of the rips they’ll have to carry -- Let me see,’ continued he, thoughtfully, ‘I’ll ride ’Arkaway.’

‘Yes, sir,’ said Snaffle.

‘Sir ’Arry, ’It-me-’ard.’

‘Won’t you put him on Sir-danapalis?’ asked Snaffle.

‘No,’ replied Watchorn, ‘no; I wants to save the Bart. -- I wants to save the Bart. Sir ’Arry must ride ’It- me-’ard.’

‘Is her ladyship going?’ asked Snaffle.

‘Her ladyship drives,’ replied Watchorn; ‘And you, Snooks,’ addressing a bare-armed helper, ‘tell Mr Traces to turn her out a pony phaeton and pair, with fresh rosettes and all complete, you know.’

‘Yes, sir,’ said Snooks, with a touch of his forelock.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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