as round and plump and velvety, as a stalk of asparagus, newly fetched out of the ground. But above the curved soft elbow, where no room was for one cross word (according to our proverb),1

three sad gashes, edged with crimson, spoiled the flow of the pearly flesh. My presence of mind was lost altogether; and I raised the poor sore arm to my lips, both to stop the bleeding and to take the venom out, having heard how wise it was, and thinking of my mother. But Ruth, to my great amazement, drew away from me in bitter haste, as if I had been inserting instead of extracting poison. For the bite of a horse is most venomous; especially when he sheds his teeth; and far more to be feared than the bite of a dog, or even of a cat. And in my haste I had forgotten that Ruth might not know a word about this, and might doubt about my meaning, and the warmth of my osculation. But knowing her danger, I durst not heed her childishness, or her feelings.

‘Don’t be a fool, Cousin Ruth,’ I said, catching her so that she could not move; ‘the poison is soaking into you. Do you think that I do it for pleasure?’

The spread of shame on her face was such, when she saw her own misunderstanding, that I was ashamed to look at her; and occupied myself with drawing all the risk of glanders forth from the white limb, hanging helpless now, and left entirely to my will. Before I was quite sure of having wholly exhausted suction, and when I had made the holes in her arm look like the gills of a lamprey, in came the doctor, partly drunk, and in haste to get through his business.

‘Ha, ha! I see,’ he cried; ‘bite of a horse, they tell me. Very poisonous; must be burned away. Sally, the iron in the fire. If you have a fire, this weather.’

‘Crave your pardon, good sir,’ I said; for poor little Ruth was fainting again at his savage orders: ‘but my cousin’s arm shall not be burned; it is a great deal too pretty, and I have sucked all the poison out. Look, sir, how clean and fresh it is.’

‘Bless my heart! And so it is! No need at all for cauterising. The epidermis will close over, and the cutis and the pellis. John Ridd, you ought to have studied medicine, with your healing powers. Half my virtue lies in touch. A clean and wholesome body, sir; I have taught you the Latin grammar. I leave you in excellent hands, my dear, and they wait for me at shovel-board. Bread and water poultice cold, to be renewed, tribus horis. John Ridd, I was at school with you, and you beat me very lamentably, when I tried to fight with you. You remember me not? It is likely enough: I am forced to take strong waters, John, from infirmity of the liver. Attend to my directions; and I will call again in the morning.’

And in that melancholy plight, caring nothing for business, went one of the cleverest fellows ever known at Tiverton. He could write Latin verses a great deal faster than I could ever write English prose, and nothing seemed too great for him. We thought that he would go to Oxford and astonish every one, and write in the style of Buchanan; but he fell all abroad very lamentably; and now, when I met him again, was come down to push-pin and shovel-board, with a wager of spirits pending.

When Master Huckaback came home, he looked at me very sulkily; not only because of my refusal to become a slave to the gold-digging, but also because he regarded me as the cause of a savage broil between Simon Carfax and the men who had cheated him as to his Gwenny. However, when Uncle Ben saw Ruth, and knew what had befallen her, and she with tears in her eyes declared that she owed her life to Cousin Ridd, the old man became very gracious to me; for if he loved any one on earth, it was his little granddaughter.

I could not stay very long, because, my horse being quite unfit to travel from the injuries which his violence and vice had brought upon him, there was nothing for me but to go on foot, as none of Uncle Ben’s horses could take me to Plover’s Barrows, without downright cruelty: and though there would be a harvest- moon, Ruth agreed with me that I must not keep my mother waiting, with no idea where I might be, until a late hour of the night. I told Ruth all about our Annie, and her noble furniture; and the little maid was very lively (although her wounds were paining her so, that half her laughter came ‘on the wrong side of her mouth,’ as we rather coarsely express it); especially she laughed about Annie’s new-fangled

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