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solicitude as if he were a Grand National favourite.
And, so far as we were concerned, "the National1'
(which was to be run ten days before the Ring-well
Heavy Weight Race) was quite a secondary aflair,
though we sometimes talked about it in an offhand
way which might have led a stranger to suppose that
either of us might slip up to Liverpool to see it, pro-
vided that we could spare the time. Neither of us
doubted that Cockbird himself could "get round
Aintree" if asked to do so. He was, we agreed, a
regular National stamp of horse, and though I had
never seen an Aintree fence, I was quite sure that no
fence was too big for him.

On some such afternoon (for we always went out
in the afternoon, though before breakfast would have
been more correct, but it would have made the day so
long and empty), on some such afternoon, when
Cockbird had done his gallop to our mutual satis-
faction and we were jogging quietly home, with the
sun making haloes on the fleeces of the sheep who
watched us pass—on some such afternoon, 1 repeat, I
was reminded of the old days when I was learning to
ride the cob Sheila, and of how I used to ask Dixon
to pretend to be Mr. MacDoggart winning the Hunt
Gup. Such a suggestion now would have struck
both of us as unseemly; this was no time for such
childish nonsense as that (though, when one came to
think of it, twelve years ago wasn't such a very long
time and "the twenty hop-kilns" were still down there
in the valley to remind me of my childish excitement
about them). But the thought passed through my
mind, and at the same moment the warning whistle
of a train going along the Weald would remind me of
that interrogative railway journey which the three
of us would be making* in not much more than two