my cloth on, and James was coming in from the corn chamber with some oats, when the master came into the stable; he looked rather serious, and held an open letter in his hand. John fastened the door of my box, touched his cap, and waited for orders.
" Good-morning, John," said the master; " I want to know if you have any complaint to make of James ?"
" Complaint, sir ? No, sir."
" Is he industrious at his work and respectful to you ?"
" Yes, sir, always."
" You never find he slights his work when your back is turned?"
" Never, sir."
" That's well; but I must put another question : have you no reason to suspect, when he goes out with the horses to exercise them, or to take a message, that he stops about, talking to his acquaintances, or goes into houses where he has no business, leaving the horses outside?"
" No, sir, certainly not; and if anybody has been saying that about James I don't believe it, and I don't mean to believe it unless I have it fairly proved before witnesses; it's not for me to say who has been trying to take away James's character, but I will say this, sir, that a steadier, pleasanter, honester, smarter young fellow I never had in this stable. I can trust his word and I can trust his work; he is gentle and clever with the horses, and I would rather have them in charge with him than with half the young fellows I know of in laced hats and liveries; and whoever wants a character of James Howard," said John, with a decided jerk of hia head, "let them come to John Manly."
The master stood all this time grave and attentive, but as John finished his speech a broad smile spread over his face, and, looking kindly across at James, who all this time stood still at the door, he said, " James, my lad, set