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THE OLD LEDGER,-No. I.

THE GREY MARE.

Every little place in the country has its great man, who stands as conspicuously among the smaller folk as a pear tree in the midst of a plantation of cabbages.

Mr. Josiah Greene had by his extraordinary tact and ability obtained this enviable pre-eminence in the town of B-. He was a tall

, brown, bony, gawky mau, measuring about six feet in his stockings, with sharp, angular features, illuminated with a pair of penetrating grey eyes; although the precise colour of his optics was a matter of dispute among the ladies, arising from the reflection of his green spectacles.

He usually wore a slouching drab hat, turned up with green, a *pudding neckcloth, encompassing his long, skinny neck; his sober suit was large and ill-fitting, and his drab gaiters hung loosely upon his calfless legs. A pair of wide, easy, lack-lustre shoes completed his attire. His literary pursuits were peculiar, but not uncommon; devouring with avidity the miscellaneous hotch-potch' of newspapers and magazines, and was reported to know everything. He was in the enjoyment of a tolerable income, and was respectfully called by his inferiors 'Squire,' whilst his familiars dubbed him Doctor, although he had really no more pretensions to the M.D. than he had to the D.D.

Having lately 'taken' to geology, he might be daily seen in the neighbourhood with his bag and hammer, Macadamizing the unoffending pebbles with all the assiduity of a parish.pauper labouring for his eightpence per diem.

In this harmless pursuit he had accumulated materials almost suffi. cient to pave a carriage-sweep.

His establishment was upon a very economical scale, consisting of one girl,' (as he termed her, although poor Mary had long since passed her fortieth summer,) and an'occasional man, who served him in the double capacity of groom and gardener ; for, albeit, Mr. Josiah Greene had no horse, he possessed a mare,' which in point of bone was matchless; such a square head, and straight neck, and angles enough for the illustration of a whole book of trigonometry. Indeed his grey mare was very like a wooden one animated ; and, in point of flesh, the dogs in the neighbourhood had in truth but a sorry prospect.

But her worth and virtues outweighed, in the Doctor's mind, her deplorable want of personal beauty; for he was frequently hard to declare that she was so safe and sure-footed, and withal so docile that he could guide her with a pack-thread; and then, as for starting or shying, it was a perfect insult to her general propriety of conduct to imagine her capable of freaks so unbecoming in one of her condition !'

Though not far advanced in years, Mimmy' (so called by her sponsors,) was 'grey,' with tail and ears uncropped, in all the length and luxuriance of their natural beauty.

In his habits Josiah himself was perfectly mechanical, dividing his time, like a musician, into thirds. The morning was usually devot. ed latterly to geological pursuits ; his afternoon to riding, whilst

his evenings were customarily spent at one or other of his acquaintances'.

With the males he smoked his coal-pipe, and quaffed homebrewed, and discussed the business and affairs of the parish or the county. In elections he became an orator, although his warm and eloquent harangues were confined to the circle in which he revolved.

He was a staunch Tory in his politics, and successfully brought over the whole clique' to his way of thinking, notwithstanding the opposition of the village-lawyer, who was a red-hot radical, and nightly held forth in the tap.room of the principal, and indeed only inn of the place; but who failed from his want of character in making any converts, except amongst the lowest class, who, fortunately for the safety of the country, as Greene asserted, had no voice, albeit they were loud and liberal enough in their applause of the lawyer's levelling opinions.

With the female portion of the community Josiah was a great favourite, for he had a world of small-talk,' and could, moreover, join in all their snug cribbage and whist parties, and was ever ready to give his opinion as well of muslins, chintzes, or silks, as of flower. roots. And then, he had such taste' that his judgment was as infallibly taken in ribands as in politics.

His tame lionism, however, was doomed to suffer a partial eclipse. Two dashing youths from college came to spend a few days at the residence of a maiden aunt in the village ; and the novelty and brilliancy of their vivacious conversation threw Josiah completely into the shade, and the great leader-the Paganini of the little coterie—was compelled to play second fiddle. Notwith. standing his boasted philosophy, he could not refrain from exhibiting evident symptoms of uneasiness, and, like a carp thrown suddenly out of his natural element, he opened his mouth, and gasped, andsaid nothing !

If his personal consequence was diminished, his character, too, at this juncture, was assailed by suspicions of the most flagrant and unseemly conduct. Scandal was busy with his name, and he began to suffer from the coldness and neglect of his former associates.

As usual, detraction only uttered her blighting inuendos in the most inaudible whispers, giving him no chance of reply or justifica. tion; and he consequently only felt the effect without suspecting the true cause, and-he hammered away more furiously than ever at the stones in the neighbourhood.

"Well, Mary,' said old Andrews, the groom-gardener, twirling a potato-dibble in his hand, and hanging over the half-door which led into her sanctum, the kitchen.

Well, Master Andrews,' said Mary, resting awhile from her labours, for she was trying hard to restore the shine' to a smoked saucepan, which time and her industry had united to deprive of its “ tin.”

* It's main hot, Mary,' continued Andrews; and this 'tatoo planting's dry work.

. Will thee have a drink, Andrews ?'
• Why, thank ye, I don't care much if I do,' replied he.
• I've nothing but the weak small.'

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'0! it'll wet where it goes,' said he, and that's enough.'

So Mary drew him a pint mug of the poor liquor, and presented it to him.

Will thee like a slice o'cold meat or so?' inquired Mary. "Why, I don't think as how 'twill hurt me if so be I do,' answered Andrews, 'for l’d nothin' but knobs o' chairs, and pumphandles for dinner, and I've got an appetite which comes and goes like a saw!'

The meat was forth with produced, and the couple had what An. drews termed a 'confab.'

It was my birthday yesterday,' said he.
• Dear me?' exclaimed Mary, as if it were really an extraordinary
thing for a man to have a birthday ; 'and, pray how old may you
be ?'
• Fifty-two,' replied Andrews.
Fifty-two!' echoed Mary emphatically.
'Ay,-a good age for a hog, ain't it?' and then they broke forth
into a simultaneous laugh.

How old do 'ee think I be, Andrews ?' said Mary.
Why, thirty next grass, maybe, guessed the gallant Andrews.

A leetle more nor than that anyhow,' said Mary, bridling up,
and by no means displeased at the insidious compliment, and then
graciously added, 'Come, you don't eat; take another slice o' meat,
and another mug.'
It is needless to say the invitation was complied with.

What the dickens is the matter with our master ?' said Andrews. 'He seemed quite in a winegar fever this mornin'.'

'I tell you what it is,' said Mary, 'he ain't bin right sin' them College chaps came among us.'

A couple o' yellow-beaked boys!' muttered Andrews. 'Sure-ly they can't put his nose out o' joint; thof I did hear say them Watsons up yonder brought out the brown loaf to him t'other day. Sartin 'tis he were as hurried and flurried this mornin' for all the world like a dry leaf in a whirlwind.' 'Them are upstart folk, them Watsons,' remarked Mary.

'Yes; I've hard Jem say (and he knows a thing or two) that their larder's the smallest possible; and that a dish o’ fricasseed wind and stewed tinder would last the two old frumps for a week on end !

Here ensued another hearty laugh. Andrews, however, notwithstanding the cachinnatory interruption, managed to ply his knife and fork so cleverly during the colloquy, that he contrived to scrape the blade-bone to an alarming bareness.

But no clue to the cause of the 'Squire's' unaccountable change was elicited by the two domestics. The fact is, the news had not yet spread abroad. When it had gone the customary round of the tea-table tattlers, it gradually extended to the kitchen, and from thence in a right line to the whole village.

It was confidently reported, that late one evening the well-known grey mare of Josiah Greene was seen standing at the door of a small house in the neighbouring market-town, where dwelt in genteel retirement a young lady,' who had certainly no claim to a character' from her last place! All the spinsters

were “horrified,' while the married ladies dreaded

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the force of example, and all concurred in the opinion that the 'Doctor' was a very shocking old man.

The radical little lawyer, with the fear of an action for slander or calumny before his eyes, pretended to take up the cudgels in favour of his rival, and ingeniously contradicted the report wherever he went.

Notwithstanding the well-known difference of their political views, he would not-nay, he could not for a moment entertain so injurious and illiberal an opinion of Greene as to think he could possibly do so and so.” And then, having completely aroused the curiosity of those who had heard nothing of the malicious report, he proceeded to relate the shameful rumour which had got abroad.

Poor Greene, however, was the only individual in the village who was in ignorance of the rising storm which threatened the wreck of his moral character, and was daily more and more puzzled to imagine the cause of the frigidity and indifference of his friends.

At length the whole mystery burst upon the astonished philosopher like a thunder-clap.

. Busily occupied one evening in the arrangement of his fractured pebbles, his tranquillity was suddenly disturbed by the announcement of the lawyer.

* This is really an unexpected honour,' said Greene, ironically. The lawyer bowed, looked grave, and took a seat. I have ill tidings,'-commenced the man of law.

Eh, what ? cried Greene. Why, what Radical is likely to lose his election ?

*None; but there is a staunch Tory likely to be "put out,"' retorted the lawyer.

• How so?

"Why, I am sorry to say it, but my client, Farmer Hodges, has instructed me to serve you with notice of action for a trespass.'

Me?' exclaimed Greene, starting up from his seat. 'You. He accuses you of riding across one of his enclosures late on the evening of the 10th instant, and of doing considerable damage to his crop or crops, and of breaking certain fences of wood.'

"A fine story, truly !' cried Greene, recovering his composure. “Let me see-the 10th--that was Thursday—-yes, Thursday. I was never out of the house the whole of the day.'

' That remains to be proved. · Hodges has three or four creditable witnesses who have made oath to the identity of the horse or mare.'

* Umph!' cried the mystified Greene; this is strange--very strange!--unaccountable! And rising, he rang the bell.

Mary answered the summons.
• Where is Andrews ?' demanded he.
Watering the cabbage plants,' replied the ancient domestic.
Send him in immediately.'

Old Andrews appeared with his blue apron tucked up on one side, and the perspiration standing upon his brown and ruddy brow.

Pray, Andrews, do you ever recollect,' said Greene, that I have ridden Mimmy of an evening ?'

No, sir, never.' "Can you swear to this?' demanded the lawyer. "Take my bible-oath on it afore any justice in the county,' re

plied Andrews, positively clenching his huge fist, and beating the air emphatically to clench his asseveration.

The 'Squire' then proceeded to repeat the accusation the lawyer had made.

'It's all a flam, by jingo!' cried Andrews, looking excited and confused.

Are you prepared upon your oath-(remember an oath is an awful thing, Andrews !)--are you ready upon your oath, I repeat, to say that, to the best of your knowledge and belief, the grey mare was not out of the stable on the evening of Thursday last ?? “Thursday evening !' repeated Andrews, scratching his ear,

“The infallible resource

To which embarrassed people have recourse,” and looking rather confused,—Thursday evening ?'

Remember, Andrews,' said Greene, anxiously, that I am threatened with a law-suit for damages, and that I rely confidently upon your evidence to exculpate me. Yes, your old master may be ruin. ed; for I am resolved to spend the last farthing I have in the world in defending my cause.'

Andrews looked seriously at his worthy master, then at the lawyer, and his knees evidently trembled. At last recovering his possession of mind, he exclaimed,

Yes!—she were out, as I am a sinner, and hope to be saved !' * There!' said the lawyer; 'that is enough.'

What! do you too mean to bear false witness against me ?' said Josiah.

'No, no, no!' said Andrews, convulsively, and dropping on his knees. “Pardon me, dear master! I b’lieve for a sartainty the old gentleman ha' got the upper hand o' me. There's never no mischief but he has a finger in the pie. Them two devil-may-care chaps at the house yonder has led me into this scrape.'

Greene sternly commanded him to rise, and, after much circumlo. cution, they elicited from the unfortunate gardener the fact that the two College youths had secretly fee'd him to lend the mare on two or three occasions, no doubt for the very purpose of mystifying the character of the eccentric geologist, and involving him in a dilemma; in which charitable purpose, as we have seen, they had succeed. ed to their hearts' content.

The lawyer was satisfied, but by no means internally pleased with the justification of his old rival, and retreated completely bafiled and confused.

Old Andrews was terribly alarmed, but readily obtained the forgiveness of his worthy master, who was too much delighted at having removed the imputation cast upon his character to harbour any vindictive feelings against his unwise domestic, who had been made the dupe of the two rival • lions.'

The whole detail of the affair was soon spread abroad, and the good folks of the village, who really esteemed the 'Doctor,' now generously took up the cudgels in his favour, resolving to make him every reparation for the unmerited slight and neglect he had suffered. They openly deprecated the 'lark' of the young gentlemen, and refused to have any intercourse with them.

The consequence was, they compounded with Farmer Hodges for

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