The clown dived into the public-house, and told a dark seedy man, with his black hair plastered and rolled effeminately, that he had got a bloke who would stand a quid for a mount. The two came out, and the plastered Italian went to the stables: the melancholy punster conducted Henry into the arena, and stood beside him like Patience on a monument. Presently a quiet mare ran in, and stuck.
Henry was mounted, and cantered her round, the two men instinctively following in a smaller circle, with jaws as long as your arm.
"This is delightful," said Henry; "but I might as well be sitting in a chair. What I want is a Prancer."
Then they brought him another horse, just as docile as the mare. The obedient creature, at a signal, reared suddenly, and seated Mr. Little on the sawdust behind him. A similar result was attained several times, by various means. But Henry showed himself so tough, courageous, and persistent, that he made great progress, and his good-humor won his preceptors. They invited him to come tomorrow, at an earlier hour, and bring half a quid with him. He did so, and this time there was an American rider rehearsing, who showed Henry what to do, and what not to do; and gave him a most humorous and instructive lesson. Indeed, his imitations of bad riding were so truthful and funny, that even the clown was surprised into one laugh; he who rarely smiled, unless in the way of business.
"Well, sir," said Henry, "you have given me a good lesson; now take a hint from me; just you go and do all this before the public; for I never saw you do any thing half as droll."
They all three shook their heads with one accord. Go out of the beaten track, before an audience? Never. Such vagaries were only admissible in private.
After this second day the fee was reduced to a gallon of ale.
But, on the third day, the pupil combined theory with practice. He told his mother he was going to Cairnhope for the night. He then rode off to Cairnhope Church. He had two large saddle-bags, containing provisions, and tools of all sorts. He got safe across the moor just before sunset. He entered the church, led the horse in with him, and put him into the Squire's pew. He then struck a light, went into the chancel, and looked at the picture. It was as he had left it; half on the wall, half drooping over the altar- place. The walls were dank, and streaked here and there with green. His footsteps echoed, and the edifice was all dark, except within the rays of his lantern; it also sang and moaned in a way to be accounted for by the action of the wind on a number of small apertures; but, nevertheless, it was a most weird and ghostly sound. He was glad of the companionship of his very horse.