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The Sexton's Old Horse
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"That is well! be friends with him," he said: "he will carry you all the better to-morrow!--Now we must hurry home!"
My desire to ride the horse had grown passionate.
"May I not mount him at once, Mr. Raven?" I cried.
"By all means!" he answered. "Mount, and ride him home."
The horse bent his head over my shoulder lovingly. I twisted my hands in his mane and scrambled onto his back, not without aid from certain protuberant bones.
"He would outspeed any leopard in creation!" I cried.
"Not that way at night," answered the raven; "the road is difficult.-- But come; loss now will be gain then! To wait is harder than to run, and its meed is the fuller. Go on, my son--straight to the cottage. I shall be there as soon as you. It will rejoice my wife's heart to see son of hers on that horse!"
I sat silent. The horse stood like a block of marble.
"Why do you linger?" asked the raven.
"I long so much to ride after the leopardess," I answered, "that I can scarce restrain myself!"
"You have promised!"
"My debt to the Little Ones appears, I confess, a greater thing than my bond to you."
"Yield to the temptation and you will bring mischief upon them--and on yourself also."
"What matters it for me? I love them; and love works no evil. I will go."
But the truth was, I forgot the children, infatuate with the horse.
Eyes flashed through the darkness, and I knew that Adam stood in his own shape beside me. I knew also by his voice that he repressed an indignation almost too strong for him.
"Mr. Vane," he said, "do you not know why you have not yet done anything worth doing?"
"Because I have been a fool," I answered.
"Which do you count your most indiscreet action?"
"Bringing the princess to life: I ought to have left her to her just fate."
"Nay, now you talk foolishly! You could not have done otherwise than you did, not knowing she was evil!--But you never brought any one to life! How could you, yourself dead?"
"I dead?" I cried.
"Yes," he answered; "and you will be dead, so long as you refuse to die."
"Back to the old riddling!" I returned scornfully.
"Be persuaded, and go home with me," he continued gently. "The most--nearly the only foolish thing you ever did, was to run from our dead."
I pressed the horse's ribs, and he was off like a sudden wind. I gave him a pat on the side of the neck, and he went about in a sharp-driven curve, "close to the ground, like a cat when scratchingly she wheels about after a mouse," leaning sideways till his mane swept the tops of the heather.
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