“They wouldn’t let me have the currycomb,” said Amabel, who was very hot, and perfectly self-satisfied. Lady Louisa was in despair, but the Squire laughed. The ladies of his family had been great horsewomen for generations.
In the early summer, some light carting being required by the gardener, he begged leave to employ “Miss Amabel’s old horse,” who came at last to trot soberly to the town with a light cart for parcels, when the landlord of the Crown would point him out in proof of the Squire’s sagacity in horse-flesh.
But it was not by her attachment to the cart-horse alone that Amabel disturbed the composure of the head-nurse and of Louise the bonne. She was a very Will-o’-the-wisp for wandering. She grew rapidly, and the stronger she grew the more of a Tom-boy she became. Beyond the paddock lay another field, whose farthest wall was the boundary of a little wood,—the wood where Jan had herded pigs. Into this wood it had long been Amabel’s desire to go. But nurses have a preference for the high road, and object to climbing walls, and she had not had her wish. She had often peeped through a hole in the wall, and had smelt honeysuckle. Once she had climbed half way up, and had fallen on her back in the ditch. Louise uttered a thousand and one exclamations when Amabel came home after this catastrophe; and Nurse, distrusting the success of any real penalties in her power, fell back upon imaginary ones.
“I’m sure it’s a mercy you have got back, Miss Amabel,” said she; “for Bogy lives in that wood; and, if you’d got in, it’s ten to one he’d have carried you off.”
“You said Bogy lived in the cellar,” said Amabel.
Nurse was in a dilemma which deservedly besets people who tell untruths. She had to invent a second one to help out her first.
“That’s at night,” said she: “he lives in the wood in the daytime.”
“Then I can go into the cellar in the day, and the wood at night,” retorted Amabel; but in her heart she knew the latter was impossible.
For some days Nurse’s fable availed. Amabel had suffered a good deal from Bogy; and, though the fear of him did not seem so terrible by daylight, she had no wish to meet him. But one lovely afternoon, wandering round the field for cowslips, Amabel came to the wall, and could not but peep over to see if there were any flowers to be seen. She was too short to do this without climbing, and it ended in her struggling successfully to the top. There were violets on the other side, and Amabel let down one big foot to a convenient hole, whence she hoped to be able to stoop and catch at the violets without actually treading in Bogy’s domain. But once more she slipped and rolled over,—this time into the wood. Bogy lingered, and she got on to her feet; but the wall was deeper on this side than the other, and she saw with dismay that it was very doubtful if she could get back.