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OVER his second glass of the Yacht Club Madeira-which is famous throughout all the East -after Sunday tiffin, George Merton declared wholeheartedly for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and what is now called the "horse-drawn era," generally.

Maybe if he'd had a third or a fourth he would have vaunted the Middle Ages; you never know how the juice of the grape will affect some people.

This accursedly mechanical age in which we lived, he said, stood for nothing but gross materialism. Bolshevism, hoppole figures (I think he was referring to women, and not the malting industry), cocktails (he'd only had four before lunch', lip-stick (he was at a dance on Saturday night), and lounge lizards (so I suppose she danced with some one else). It was his intention. be announced, to revive the good old times, so far as he could. that very afternoon by doing some postition driving.

George possesses a set of pony size four-in-hand harness and an ancient wagonette, in which he occasionally drives a team of four of his polo ponies.

At least I suppose he drives them. Sometimes one gets the impression that they are out on their own, as one might say,

and that George, though holding the reins, is more the gentleman-in-waiting (on their pleasure) than the comptroller.

This postilion stunt was an entirely new notion.

As a matter of fact, though you mightn't think it to look at him, George reads quite a lot, and one of the particular periods of history which he professes to admire is that of the Second Empire in France.

Apparently it was then that a carriage-and-four with postilions was known as équipage à la Daumont,”

So à la Daumont George said that he, his ponies, and his wagonette would take the air.

It seemed likely to be rather a good sort of rag, but as be said that I was to be the only passenger. I thought we'd better have a little old brandy with our cofee. And perhaps s little more afterwards!

Also, as I gathered that four ponies would require two postilions, I asked George whom he proposed to obtain as the


He said Jim Pollexfen. and I said that if that was the case we'd better have a third of brandy, or perhaps take the bottle along with us.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Jim Polexfen- J. P." we always call hincouldn't ride. I think he must

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be able to do so (though Heaven knows I am no judge in such matters), as he contrives to remain upon a horse's back whilst proceeding at an alarming speed cross country," or even down a road; but that seems to me to be more a feat of endurance than of skill-and at least no one is concerned in it besides J. P. -unless any one is unfortunate enough to get in his way!

Postilion driving, as I understand it, though I must plead an almost complete ignorance of the subject, is to some extent a matter of co-operation or partnership, not to say mutual agreement. For instance, if the man with the two front horses goes one way, I imagine that there must be some sort of understanding that the feller with the back pair, or whatever they're called, goes the same way. It seems obvi


But J. P. is distinctly an individualist, especially when a-horse!

However, it's no good anticipating troubles. They come along all right without that.

It being Sunday afternoon, the first thing to do about J. P. was to awaken him from the more or less stertorous slumber into which he would assuredly have fallen after tiffin. So George and I proceeded to the room which he was occupying for the week-end to perform this not too easy task. The room belonged to some sportsman who apparently was a bit of a naturalist, and it was

crammed with all sorts of specimens and trophies, in the middle of which stood the bed upon which J. P., clad simply in a not very extensive towel about his waist, or rather that was where it was intended to be (it was the middle of the hot weather), reposed-an unlovely spectacle!

Having no dynamite or other high explosive handy, George hit upon the idea of laying a large stuffed crocodile alongside him in the hope that its scaly hide might produce that touch of the unusual which will generally arouse even the soundest of sleepers. But J. P. only flung an arm across its neck, and murmured something that sounded like Maudie, darling," so we capsized the bed and chucked him and the mugger on to the floor.

When he had finished saying what he would do to the pair of us when he'd got his trousers on (but I had taken the precaution of secreting them in a cupboard), George explained to him what he wanted him for. J. P. was quite intrigued, and evidently fancied himself considerably in the rôle of wheel-driver, for which George had cast him.

He is a bit touchy about his riding, so George had to be very diplomatic in suggesting that the wheel-driver (the hinder-man, you know) should regulate his conduct more or less by that of the lead-driver, who would be himself. J. P. merely said, "Right-o, old face," and we left it at that.

The two of them then got themselves into a sort of mixture of polo kit and Sunday clothes (Port Malabar has a great respect for the convenances of the Sabbath), though George and I vetoed J. P.'s notion of top-hats, which he insisted were the only proper wear for postilions, and we all went out to the stables where the polo ponies and the wagonette were kept. The syces harnessed up the team with, of course, saddles on the near side animals, and polo reins in place of the long driving


George and J. P. had a bit of an argument about the leaders' traces.

Naturally these were attached to the swingle-bars in the usual way for a four-inhand, instead of going direct from leader to wheeler.

J. P. wanted to substitute ropes for them, but George said that if any one thought that a Second Empire turnout was tied together with string, then such an one only displayed his qualified ignorance. Or words to that effect. He also said that if people had any idea of postilion driving at all (which I am quite sure that neither he nor J. P. had), the traces would always be kept reasonably horizontal, so that there would be no danger of the bars dropping on the leaders' hocks, or the wheelers' knees.

J. P. only said "Perhaps," and George muttered something about perhaps and his foot (I

think it was), which I didn't quite catch.

Anyhow, they both mounted at last, and I got aboard the wagonette and sat on the boxseat.

There was a sort of gearlever alongside it, so I thought I would see what happened if I pushed it forward.

It made a horrible grating noise, which startled the ponies, so that they moved on suddenly. At least J. P.'s two wheelers did, and bumped into George's leaders.

Apparently I'd put the brake hard on, so the vehicle didn't move at all! George cursed J. P., and J. P. cursed him back, and then they both cursed me; but while they were doing that I pushed the lever back again, and J. P. yelled “Lookout! we're off." And so we were! Very nearly in more senses than one where George and J. P. were concerned too!

The stable-yard is rather long and narrow, but fortunately a syce had the sense to fling the gates open, as the ponies, all of which had been raced now and then at gymkhana meetings, seemed to think that they were starting for the helter skelter scurry, though personally I thought that the first syllable of helter was where we should land-and pretty soon at that! The wagonette seemed to do a pretty steep bank, as the flyin' fellers say, when we turned into the road, and you can take it from me that all that the science Johnnies say about centrifugal force

is perfectly true. In fact, if I hadn't managed to catch hold of the lamp-bracket as I was leaving, I should have proved it there and then! Presumably they strapped people to their seats in the jolly old post-boy days. Either that or the jolly old post-boys were better hands at their job than George and J. P. It seems to me improbable that they could have been worse.

Once fairly on the road we got down to second speed, or a trot, but George and J. P. would go on wrangling over our hurried exit "-I think that's the right word for it-from the yard.


George seemed to think that J. P. was to blame, and asked him if he thought he was out with a (red-coloured) fire-engine. J. P. said no. Not unless he happened to catch sight of George's nose, in which case there might be some excuse for the illusion that there was a conflagration somewhere. Upon which George, who is sensitive about his principal feature, dried up.

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the Red Lamp quarter of the city, who were out for their daily airing.

Evidently they thought that George was bowing to them, and they seemed to be much gratified, poor things, as they don't often receive recognition in a public thoroughfare.

Unfortunately for George, the General's wife drove past a second or two later, and she had evidently seen his "salute to fayre ladyes," for she gave him the frozen face straight out of the ice-box. George is supposed to be engaged to one of her daughters, but I reckon he can substitute was for "is" now!

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As for J. P., with his back. wards bending movement, I told him that it wouldn't be much use his trying to explain that he was recoiling in horror from George, as her Ladyship had probably decided that he was drunk, and would leave it at that.

I said that she might think it better to be an inebriate than a profligate, but that probably she disliked both sorts, and would condemn one as thoroughly as t'other. J. P. got quite ratty about it!

At last we went up a hill where the road was pretty steep and narrow, with a wall on either side made of the usual combination of stones and mud.

There was a big bungalow at the top, where some people we all knew lived.

They were away (fortunately, as it turned out), but the cus


tomary wooden box with "NOT AT HOME" painted on it hung on the gate-post.

We thought we might as well put our visiting-cards in it, to show that we had not forgotten absent friends, and 80 George and J. P. handed theirs to me to do so.

The road was so narrow that I could reach the box from my seat without getting down.

I'd just dropped the cards through the slit, when something J. P.'s spurs probably, he never could keep his legs still-caused the team to start forward.

I nearly overbalanced, and in trying to save myself caught my fingers in the slit.

As I was dragged away the box came along with me, which mightn't have mattered so much had not the gate-post, a square pillar about six feet high, with a stone ball atop, come with it, and fallen a ruin in the roadway!

In fact, the whole blessed thing simply crumbled into dust!

But as we were moving on, and George and J. P. were quite fully occupied with their animals, and didn't seem to have heard the crash-actually there wasn't much of a noise, the pillar subsiding quite gracefully,—I didn't call out to them. For one reason that my own card had, in some mar vellous manner, got jerked back into my sleeve, so that only theirs remained in the box!

At the top of the hill we decided to take a sort of hair

pin corner and return home by another road, which from wh I remembered of it-it wat much used for traffic as a re

was a good deal steeper than the one by which we had come up.

There seemed to be a lot of bother about getting round the turning, but polo ponies are fairly used to jostling one another.

J. P. got kicked on the ankle in the process, and defled the Sabbath atmosphere considerably for some time afterwards. but George-who hadn't recovered from the shock of the rencontre with his prospective mother-in-law-George, he only said that he wished that J. P. had been kicked somewhere else, and that for twopence, or some equally small consideration, he would correct the mistake.

So we started down the hil a bit jangled-like.

Very soon we seemed to be going pretty fast, and J. P. whose pair of ponies were in a sort of slithering canter, called back to me, "Brake, you silly ass." So I broke. Or rather the lever did when I jammed it forward, which left the shandridan, as one might say, freewheeling. J. P. shouted, "Go on, George, dash you!" and George shouted over his shoulder, "Keep 'em back, can't you!" But quite evidently J. P. could not, so we went on— considerably.

Mr Kipling has described in deathless verse how a horse battery came across the desert

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