“Flint mun be possessed,” cried Peter. “Ey never seed him go on i’ this way efore. Ey noticed Elizabeth Device near th’ stables last neet, an ey shouldna wonder if hoo ha’ bewitched him.”
“Neaw doubt on’t,” replied another groom. “Howsomever we mun contrive to ketch him, or Sir Roaph win send us aw abowt our business.
“Ey wish yo’d contrive to do it, then, Tum Lomax,” replied Peter, “fo’ ey’m fairly blowd. Dang me, if ey ever seed sich hey-go-mad wark i’ my born days. What’s to be done, squoire?” he added to Nicholas.
“The devil only knows,” replied the latter; “but it seems we must wait till the little rascal chooses to stop.”
This occurred sooner than was expected. Thinking, possibly, that he had done enough to induce Master Potts to give up all idea of riding him, Flint suddenly slackened his pace, and trotted, as if nothing had happened, to the stable-door; but if he had formed any such notion as the above, he was deceived, for the attorney, who was quite as obstinate and wilful as himself, and who through all his perils had managed to maintain his seat, was resolved not to abandon it, and positively refused to dismount when urged to do so by Nicholas and the grooms.
“He will go quietly enough now, I dare say,” observed Potts, “and if not, and you will lend me a hunting-whip, I will undertake to cure him of his tricks.”
Flint seemed to understand what was said, for he laid back his ears as if meditating more mischief; but being surrounded by the grooms, he deemed it advisable to postpone the attempt to a more convenient opportunity. In compliance with his request, a heavy hunting-whip was handed to Potts, and, armed with this formidable weapon, the little attorney quite longed for an opportunity of effacing his disgrace. Meanwhile, Sir Ralph had come up and ordered a steady horse out for him; but Master Potts adhered to his resolution, and Flint remaining perfectly quiet, the baronet let him have his own way.
Soon after this, Nicholas and Richard having mounted their steeds, the party set forth. As they were passing through the gateway, which had been thrown wide open by Ned Huddlestone, they were joined by Simon Sparshot, who had been engaged by Potts to attend him on the expedition in his capacity of constable. Simon was mounted on a mule, and brought word that Master Roger Nowell begged they would ride round by Read Hall, where he would be ready to accompany them, as he wished to be present at the perambulation of the boundaries. Assenting to the arrangement, the party set forth in that direction, Richard and Nicholas riding a little in advance of the others.