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stairs and made for the low buzz of conversation in the
dining-room. Purposing to make the moderately
boisterous entry appropriate to a hunting morning,
I opened the door. After a moment of stupefaction I
recoiled into the passage, having beheld the entire
household on its knees, with backs of varying sizes
turned toward me: I had entered in the middle of the
Lord's Prayer. After a temporizing stroll on the
lawn I re-entered the room unobtrusively; Stephen
handed me a plate of porridge with a grin and no
other reference was made to my breach of decorum.

After breakfast he told me that I'd no more idea of
tying a stock than an ironmonger; when he had
re-tied it for me he surveyed the result with satisfac-
tion and announced that I now "looked ready to
compete against all the cutting and thrusting soldier-
officers in creation"*

By a quarter past ten the Rector was driving me to
the meet in the buggy—the groom having ridden his
horse on with Stephen, who was jogging sedately
along on Jerry. The Rector, whose overcoat had an
astrakhan collar, was rather reticent, and we did the
five miles to the meet without exchanging many
remarks. But it was a comfort, after my solitary
sporting experiments, to feel that I had a couple of
friendly chaperons, and Stephen had assured me that
my hireling knew his way over every fence in the
country and had never been known to turn his head,
My only doubt was whether his rider would do him
credit. We got to the meet in good time, and Mr.
Whatman, a very large man who kept a very large
livery-stable and drove a coach in the summer, was
loquacious about the merits of my hireling, while he
supervised my settlement in the saddle, which felt a
hard and slippery one.