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secondly, a vague but diligent perusal of the novels ol
Surtees, whose humorous touches were almost entirely
lost on me, since I accepted every word he wrote as a
literal and serious transcription from life.
Anyhow, I had returned home with the brush and
received the congratulations of Dixon when my atten-
tion was attracted by an extra green patch of clover-
grass by the roadside: I was now about a mile beyond
the village and nearly double that distance from home.
It seemed to me that Rob must be in need of refresh-
ment. So I dismounted airily and intimated to him
that he ought to cat some grass. This he began to do
without a moment's delay. But there was mischief in
Rob Roy that afternoon. With one knee bent he
grabbed and munched at the grass with his diminutive
muzzle as though he hadn't had a meal for a month.
Nevertheless, he must have been watching my move-
ments with one of his large and intelligent eyes.
With characteristic idiocy I left the reins dangling on
his neck and stepped back a little way to admire him.
The next moment he had kicked up his heels and was
canterkig down the road in the direction of his stable.
It.seemed to me the worst thing that could possibly
have happened. It would take me years to live down
the disgrace. Panic seized me as I imagined the
disasters which must have overtaken Rob Roy on his
way home—if he had gone home, which I scarcely
dared to hope. Probably his knees were broken and I
should never be able to look Dixon in the face again*
In J;hc meantime I must hurry as fast as my dis-
mounted legs could carry me. If only I could catch
sight of that wretched Rob Roy eating some more
grass by the roadside! If only I hadn't let him go!
If only I could begin my ride all over again! How
careful I would be!