THIEVING DOGS AND HOUSES 337
be far higher than he could afford. The horse dealer, however, at once came up, and, while praising the horse, named such a low price for it that the gentleman could hardly believe his ears, and made sure the animal must have some serious drawback. He examined it carefully all over, but could find no drawback anywhere—it was beautifully proportioned, and its knees were quite sound. The dealer, mistaking the reason of his silence, was so anxious to have the bargain concluded that he agreed to accept a still smaller sum, and the young man, feeling that there was some mystery somewhere, paid the money down, and the following morning took the Great North Eoad to Edinburgh.
For the first few miles out of London the way was full of people, and no man was better mounted than himself, or had a horse with better paces. In fact, the more pleased the young man got, the more puzzled he became. As they approached Finchley Common the number of riders fell off, and by the time the young man reached a dip in the road not a soul was in sight but a clergyman driving a one-horse chaise, which was travelling in the opposite direction. As they came close to each other, the ridden horse stopped dead in front of the driven one, thus preventing it from going on its way. The clergyman, taking for granted that he had to do with one of the highwaymen who in those days were the terror of every country district, quietly got out his purse, and assured the young man, who all this while was speechless from astonishment, that it would not be necessary for him to use force. The shame caused by this remark loosened the rider's tongue, and, with a hasty apology and a confused explanation, he whipped up his horse and went his way.
On the next occasion, however, that the horse thought fit to exercise the profession for which he had been educated, things took a graver turn. This time he halted in front of a coach, and before his rider knew what he was at, or was b z