Grey still looks very well. I consider it rather a company，
And now the morning arrived. The Ullathorne household was early on the move. Cooks were cooking in the kitchen long before daylight, and men were dragging out tables and hammering red baize on to benches at the earliest dawn. With what dread eagerness did Miss Thorne look out at the weather as soon as the parting veil of night permitted her to look at all! In this respect at any rate there was nothing to grieve her. The glass had been rising for the last three days, and the morning broke with that dull chill steady grey haze which in autumn generally presages a clear and dry day. By seven she was dressed and down. Miss Thorne knew nothing of the modern luxury of deshabilles. She would as soon have thought of appearing before her brother without her stockings as without her stays; and Miss Thorne's stays were no trifle.
And yet there was nothing for her to do when down. She fidgeted out to the lawn, and then back into the kitchen. She put on her high-heeled clogs, and fidgeted out into the paddock. Then she went into the small home park where the quintain was erected. The pole and cross-bar and the swivel, and the target and the bag of flour were all complete. She got up on a carpenter's bench and touched the target with her hand; it went round with beautiful ease; the swivel had been oiled to perfection. She almost wished to take old Plomacy at his word, to go on a side saddle, and have a tilt at it herself.
What must a young man be, thought she, who could prefer maundering among the trees with a wishy-washy school girl to such fun as this? 'Well,' said she aloud to herself, 'one man can take a horse to water, but a thousand can't make him drink. There it is. If they haven't the spirit to enjoy it, the fault shan't be mine;' and so she returned the house.
At a little after eight her brother came down, and they had a sort of scrap breakfast in his study. The tea was made without the customary urn, and they dispensed with the usual rolls and toast. Eggs were also missing, for every egg in the parish had been whipped into custards, baked into pies, or boiled into lobster salad. The allowances of fresh butter was short, and Mr Thorne was obliged to eat the leg of a fowl without having it devilled in the manner he loved.
'I have been looking at the quintain, Wilfred,' said she, 'and it appears to be quite right.'
'Oh,--ah; yes;' said he. 'It seemed to be so yesterday when I saw it.' Mr Thorne was beginning to be rather bored by his sister's love of sports, and had especially no affection for this quintain post.
'I wish you'd just try it after breakfast,' said she. 'You could have the saddle put on Mark Antony, and the pole is there all handy. You can take the flour bag off, you know, if you think Mark Antony won't be quick enough,' added Miss Thorne, seeing that her brother's countenance was not indicative of complete accordance with her little proposition.
Now Mark Antony was a valuable old hunter, excellently suited to Mr Thorne's usual requirements, steady indeed at his fences, but extremely sure, very good in deep ground, and safe on the roads. But he had never yet been ridden at a quintain, and Mr Thorne was not inclined to put him to the trial, either with or without the bag of flour. He hummed and hawed, and finally declared that he was afraid Mark Antony would shy.
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