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A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

Containing the history of the breaking of the horse Devil, and relates the returning of his Grace of Osmonde from France

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And thus, with other beholders, though in a different mood from theirs, he did, until a day when even the most sceptical saw that the brute came to the fray with less of courage, as if there had at last come into his brain the dawning of a fear of that which rid him, and all his madness could not displace from its throne upon his back.

"By God!" cried more than one of the bystanders, seeing this, despite the animal's fury, "the beast gives way! He gives way! She has him!" And John Oxon, shutting his teeth, cut short an oath and turned pale as death.

From that moment her victory was a thing assured. The duel of strength became less desperate, and having once begun to learn his lesson, the brute was made to learn it well. His bearing was a thing superb to behold; once taught obedience, there would scarce be a horse like him in the whole of England. And day by day this he learned from her, and being mastered, was put through his paces, and led to answer to the rein, so that he trotted, cantered, galloped, and leaped as a bird flies. Then as the town had come to see him fight for freedom, it came to see him adorn the victory of the being who had conquered him, and over their dishes of tea in the afternoon beaux and beauties of fashion gossiped of the interesting and exciting event; and there were vapourish ladies who vowed they could not have beaten a brute so, and that surely my Lady Dunstanwolde must have looked hot and blowzy while she did it, and have had the air of a great rough man; and there were some pretty tiffs and even quarrels when the men swore that never had she looked so magnificent a beauty and so inflamed the hearts of all beholding her.

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On the first day after her ladyship's last battle with her horse, the one which ended in such victory to her that she rode him home hard through the streets without an outbreak, he white with lather, and marked with stripes, but his large eye holding in its velvet a look which seemed almost like a human thought--on that day after there occurred a thing which gave the town new matter to talk of.

His Grace of Osmonde had been in France, called there by business of the State, and during his absence the gossip concerning the horse Devil had taken the place of that which had before touched on himself. 'Twas not announced that he was to return to England, and indeed there were those who, speaking with authority, said that for two weeks at least his affairs abroad would not be brought to a close; and yet on this morning, as my Lady Dunstanwolde rode 'neath the trees, holding Devil well in hand, and watching him with eagle keenness of eye, many looking on in wait for the moment when the brute might break forth suddenly again, a horseman was seen approaching at a pace so rapid that 'twas on the verge of a gallop, and the first man who beheld him looked amazed and lifted his hat, and the next, seeing him, spoke to another, who bowed with him, and all along the line of loungers hats were removed, and people wore the air of seeing a man unexpectedly, and hearing a name spoken in exclamation by his side, Sir John Oxon looked round and beheld ride by my lord Duke of Osmonde. The sun was shining brilliantly, and all the Park was gay with bright warmth and greenness of turf and trees. Clorinda felt the glow of the summer morning permeate her being. She kept her watch upon her beast; but he was going well, and in her soul she knew that he was beaten, and that her victory had been beheld by the one man who knew that it meant to her that which it seemed to mean also to himself. And filled with this thought and the joy of it, she rode beneath the trees, and so was riding with splendid spirit when she heard a horse behind her, and looked up as it drew near, and the rich crimson swept over her in a sweet flood, so that it seemed to her she felt it warm on her very shoulders, 'neath her habit, for 'twas Osmonde's self who had followed and reached her, and uncovered, keeping pace by her side.

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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