Mr Seaforth descended that morning, whip in hand, and equipped in a handsome green riding-frock,but no 'breeches and boots to match' were there: loose jean trowsers, surmounting a pair of diminutive Wellingtons, embraced, somewhat incongruously, his nether man, vice the 'patent cords,' returned, like yesterday's pantaloons, absent without leave. The 'top-boots' had a holiday.
'A fine morning after the rain,' said Mr Simpkinson from Bath.
'Just the thing for the 'ops,' said Mr Peters. 'I remember when I was a boy -- -- '
'Do hold your tongue, P.,' said Mrs Peters, advice which that exemplary matron was in the constant habit of administering to 'her P.,' as she called him, whenever he prepared to vent his reminiscences. Her precise reason for this it would be difficult to determine, unless, indeed, the story be true which a little bird had whispered into Mrs Botherby's ear, -- Mr Peters, though now a wealthy man, had received a liberal education at a charity-school and was apt to recur to the days of his muffin cap and leathers. As usual, he took his wife's hint in good part, and 'paused in his reply.'
'A glorious day for the ruins!' said young Ingoldsby. 'But, Charles, what the deuce are you about? -- you don't mean to ride through our lanes in such toggey as that?'
'Lassy me!' said Miss Julia Simpkinson, 'won't you be very wet?'
'You had better take Tom's cab,' quoth the squire.
But this proposition was at once overruled; Mrs Ogleton had already nailed the cab, a vehicle of all others the best adapted for a snug flirtation.
'Or drive Miss Julia in the phaeton?' No; that was the post of Mr Peters, who, indifferent as an equestrian, had acquired some fame as a whip while travelling through the midland counties for the firm of Bagshaw, Snivelby, and Ghrimes.
'Thank you, I shall ride with my cousins,' said Charles, with as much nonchalance as he could assume, -- and he did so; Mr Ingoldsby, Mrs Peters, Mr Simpkinson from Bath, and his eldest daughter with her album, following in the family coach. The gentleman-commoner 'voted the affair d -- -d slow, and declined the party altogether in favour of the gamekeeper and a cigar. 'There was 'no fun' in looking at old houses!' Mrs Simpkinson preferred a short sejour in the still-room with Mrs Botherby, who had promised to initiate her in that grand arcanum, the transmutation of gooseberry jam into Guava jelly.