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Flint; but, in the course of time, the banks
have fallen in, increasing the breadth at the
expense of the depth: so that at Parkgate,
whence formerly the Irish packets sailed,
the fisher-girls can walk over at low water,
merely tucking up their petticoats in crossing
the channel, down which the main stream of
fresh water flows.

But although this broad expanse of sand
affords a firm footing, at low water, for the
whole way across, except just round Flint,
where there are several quicksands, when the
tide turns, in certain states of the wind, the
whole estuary is covered with wonderful
rapidity; for the tide seems to creep up
subterraneous channels, and you may find
yourself surrounded by salt-water when you
least expect it.

This was of no consequence to us, as we
were never tied for time. I was teaching
Laura to ride, on a little Welsh pony, and the
sands made a famous riding-school. I laugh
now when I think of the little rat of a pony
she used to gallop about, for she now struggles
into a Brougham of ordinary dimensions with
great difficulty, and weighs nearly as much as
her late husband, Mr. Alderman Mallard.
In a short time, Laura made so much progress
in horsemanship, that she insisted on mounting
my hackney, a full-sized well-bred animal,
and putting me on the rat-pony. When I
indulged her in this fancyfor of course she
had her own wayI had the satisfaction of
being rewarded by her roars of laughter at
the ridiculous figure I cut, ambling beside her
respectable uncle, on his cart-horse cob, with
my legs close to the ground, and my nose
peering over the little Welshman's shaggy
ears, while my fairy galloped round us,
drawing all sorts of ridiculous comparisons.
This was bad enough, but when Captain
Egret, the nephew of my charmer's aunt's
husband, a handsome fellow, with "a lovely
grey horse, with such a tail," as Laura
described it, came up from Chester to stay a
few days, I could stand my rat-pony no longer,
and felt much too ill to ride out; so stood at
the window of my lodgings with my shirt-collar
turned down, and Byron in my hand
open at one of the most murderous passages,
watching Laura on my chestnut, and Captain
Egret on his grey, cantering over the deserted
bed of the Dee. They were an aggravatingly
handsome couple, and the existing state of the
law on manslaughter enabled me to derive
no satisfaction from the hints contained in the
"Giaour" or the "Corsair". Those were
our favourite books of reference for Young
England in those days. Indeed, we were all
amateur pirates and felons, in theory: but
when I had been cast down in disgust at the
debased state of civilisation, which prevented
me from challenging Captain Egret to single
combat, with Laura for the prize of the victor,
instead of a cell in Chester Castle, my eyes
fell on an advertisement in a local paper,
which turned my thoughts into a new channel,
of "Sale of Blood Stock, Hunters and Hackneys,
at Plas* * *, near Holywell.

I determined to give up murder, and buy
another horse, for I could ride as well as the
Captain; and then what glorious tête-à-têtes I
could have, with my hand on the pommel of
Laura's side-saddle. The idea put me in
good-humour. Regimental duties having
suddenly recalled Captain Egret, I spent a
delightful evening with Laura; she quite
approved of my project, and begged that I
would choose a horse "with a long tail, of a
pretty colour", which is every young lady's
idea of what a horse should be.

Accordingly I mounted my chestnut on a
bright morning of July, and rode across to
Flint, accompanied by a man to bring back
my intended purchase. It was dead low
water; when, full of happy thoughts in the
still warm silence of the summer morning,
holding my eager horse hard in, I rode at a
foot-pace across the smooth, hard, wave-
marked bed of the river. There was not a
cloud in the sky. The sun, rising slowly, cast
a golden glow over the sparkling sand. Pat-
pat-pit-pat, went my horse's feet, not loud
enough to disturb the busy crows and gulls
seeking their breakfast; they were not afraid
of me; they knew I had no gun. I remember
it; I see it all before me, as if it were yesterday,
for it was one of the most delicious
moments of my life. But the screaming gulls
and whistling curlews were put to flight,
before I had half crossed the river's bed, by
the cheerful chatter, laughter, and fragments
of Welsh airs sung in chorus by a hearty
crowd of cockle and mussel gatherers, fishermen,
and farmers' wives on their way to the
market on the Cheshire sidemen, women
(they were the majority), and children on foot,
on ponies and donkeys, and in little carts.
Exchanging good-humoured jokes, I passed
on until I came to the ford of the channel,
where the river runs between banks of deep
soft sand. At low water, at certain points, in
summer, it is but a few inches deep; but
after heavy rains, and soon after the turning
of the tide, the depth increases rapidly.

At the ford I met a second detachment of
Welsh peasantry preparing to cross, by making
bundles of shoes and stockings, and tucking
up petticoats very deftly. Great was the fun
and the splashing, and plenty of jokes on the
Saxon and his red horse going the wrong way.
The Welsh girls in this part of the country
are very pretty, with beautiful complexions, a
gleam of gold in their dark hair, and an easy
graceful walk, from the habit of carrying the
water-pitchers from the wells on their heads.
The scene made me feel anything but
melancholy or ill-natured. I could not help turning
back to help a couple of little damsels across,
pillion-wise, who seemed terribly afraid of
wetting their finery at the foot ford.

Having passed the channels, the wheels and
footmarks formed a plain direction for a safe
route, which, leaving Flint Castle on my