"He has gone to look at his horses," said Lady Scroope, unable not to shew her disappointment by the tone of her voice.

"That is so natural," said Sophie, who was more cunning. "Young men almost idolize their horses. I should like to go and see Dandy whenever he arrives anywhere, only I don't dare!" Dandy was Miss Mellerby's own horse, and was accustomed to make journeys up and down between Mellerby and London.

"I don't think horses and guns and dogs should be too much thought of," said Lady Scroope gravely. "There is a tendency I think at present to give them an undue importance. When our amusements become more serious to us than our business, we must be going astray."

"I suppose we always are going astray," said Miss Mellerby. Lady Scroope sighed and shook her head; but in shaking it she shewed that she completely agreed with the opinion expressed by her guest.

As there were only two horses to be inspected, and as Fred Neville absolutely refused the groom's invitation to look at the old carriage horses belonging to the family, he was back in his aunt's room before Miss Mellerby had gone upstairs to dress for dinner. The introduction was made, and Fred did his best to make himself agreeable. He was such a man that no girl could, at the first sight of him, think herself injured by being asked to love him. She was a good girl, and would have consented to marry no man without feeling sure of his affections; but Fred Neville was bold and frank as well as handsome, and had plenty to say for himself. It might be that he was vicious, or ill-tempered, or selfish, and it would be necessary that she should know much of him before she would give herself into his keeping; but as far as the first sight went, and the first hearing, Sophie Mellerby's impressions were all in Fred's favour. It is no doubt a fact that with the very best of girls a man is placed in a very good light by being heir to a peerage and a large property.

"Do you hunt, Miss Mellerby?" he asked. She shook her head and looked grave, and then laughed. Among her people hunting was not thought to be a desirable accomplishment for young ladies. "Almost all girls do hunt now," said Fred.

"Do you think it is a nice amusement for young ladies?" asked the aunt in a severe tone.

"I don't see why not;--that is if they know how to ride."

"I know how to ride," said Sophie Mellerby.

"Riding is all very well," said Lady Scroope. "I quite approve of it for girls. When I was young, everybody did not ride as they do now. Nevertheless it is very well, and is thought to be healthy. But as for hunting, Sophie, I'm sure your mamma would be very much distressed if you were to think of such a thing."


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