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stream in the beautiful county of Hants, and
we heard no more of him till a notice from
Lloyd's summoned him back again to his desk
in Riches Court.

One autumn he had buried himself as usual
in the solitudes of the Downs. He had carried
his conquering rod from brook to brook, and
waded up to his chin, and toiled beneath his
basket, and persuaded himself he was honourably
and usefully discharging the duties of his
station in life; and, full of this happy
consciousness, he had slept soundly every night for
a fortnight in the little cottage about nine
miles from Winchester; which, out of compliment
to that classical seminary, though without
any pedantic regard to strict accuracy, he
called his Rus in urbe. But, on a certain
morning, the even tenor of his way was
interrupted in a very disagreeable manner. He
had risen early; he was walking at a rapid
pace towards the scene of his morning's work,
a river at some distance from his rus in
urbewhen on crossing the high road to get
on the gentle down which led to the valley he
was in search of, he heard the noise of wheels.
Animal magnetism was not invented at that
time, or at least Mr. Belton had never heard of
it; —but he has often said that a feeling came
over him, on hearing that very common-place
sound, that all was not right. A sort of all-
overishness came upon him, and he wished he
had staid in bed, instead of wandering over
Hampshire hills at six o'clock in the morning.
The vehicle came near him and stoppeda
strong determined dead stop it made, just at
his side, and on turning his eyes towards it,
he saw a young man, of seven or eight-
and-twenty years of age, descending from
the curricle, evidently with the intention
of addressing him. He was surprised but
not displeased. Belton was always fond
of high society, and he felt that this was a

"Will you excuse me, sir," said the
stranger, lifting his hat in a stately but graceful
manner, " if I take the liberty of requesting
a favour at your hands?"

Belton bowed in a very stately and graceful
manner, too.

"Certainly, sir; whatever lies in my

"It is what I expected from your appearance.
One gentleman is rarely disappointed
when he throws himself on the generosity
of another."

"Oh! hang it," thought John Belton.
"Here's a gentleman in distress. I won't
give him a farthing." But a look at the
curricle and the beautiful bay horses
restored him to better thoughts. "He's out
of money, perhaps. I'll lend him twenty

"The obligation you will confer upon me,
sir," continued the stranger, "is the greatest
which one man can bestow on another. I
know I have no right to ask it, except of the
sincerest of my friendsbut with me the
appearance of a gentleman is a sufficient
guarantee that my request, though not
acceded to, will at all events be excused."

Belton's weakness we all knew, from his
earliest appearance in the City, was a passion
for the genteel.

"Say no more, sir, by way of apology," he
said. "I'll do what you want, I'll be bound
unless" —he added with a playfulness which
never left him —"unless it be to rob a

The stranger smiled. "It is not on quite so
dreadful a business. It is merely to accompany
me for a few miles along this road and be
witness to a deed —"

The stranger paused and looked at Belton,
who by this time had taken his seat in the
carriage, and was sitting in an easy attitude
(as if he had been used to curricles every day
of his life), with his rod and fishing-basket
between his knees.

"I shall witness it with the greatest pleasure,"
he said. "Some important document,"
he thought; "his will, perhaps, or perhaps
his marriage settlement." But there was a
coldness and firmness in the expression of
the handsome features of his companion,
which did not accord with the idea of a

The fiery bays stepped out in noble style.
Belton was great on horseflesh, as on all other
branches of life and art; and guessed the
prices of the animals; and told anecdotes of
the horrid bargains his friends had made at
Tattersall's; and was just in the middle of
his famous anecdote of the Lord Mayor's
horse which had been in the dragoons, and
which horse carried his lordship almost into
collision with George the Third on the trumpets
sounding a charge, when the stranger
turned his horses sharp round up a narrow
lane, and put them into a hard gallop with
an exclamation that he feared they were too

"It must be the will of some rich old relation
at the last gasp," thought the discomfited

"Is there any danger of immediate death?"
he inquired.

"Considerable," replied his companion, and
again whipped the smoking steeds. On breasting
the height, "Thank heaven!" he
exclaimed, "we are yet in time!"

Belton looked in the direction of the course
they now took along the level summit of the
down, and perceived three gentlemen engaged
in conversation at the side of a phaeton
from which it was evident they had just

Two of the gentlemen came forward and
shook hands with the owner of the curricle,
and looked inquiringly at Mr. Belton.

"The colonel has deceived me at the last
moment," said the young man in an explanatory
tone; "and my friend here has kindly
consented to take his place."

This seemed quite satisfactory; and one

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