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a tale
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Page 45

10. X.

On the following morning, very early, as the
school-master stood at his door, inhaling the
bright, wholesome air, and beholding the shadows
of the rising sun, and the flashing dew-drops
on the red vine-leaves, he heard the sound
of wheels, and saw Mr. Pendexter and his wife
drive down the village street in their old-fashioned
chaise, known by all the boys in town as “the
ark.” The old white horse, that for so many
years had stamped at funerals, and gnawed the
tops of so many posts, and imagined he killed so
many flies because he wagged the stump of a tail,
and, finally, had been the cause of so much discord
in the parish, seemed now to make common
cause with his master, and stepped as if endeavouring
to shake the dust from his feet as he passed
out of the ungrateful village. Under the axle-tree


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hung suspended a leather trunk; and in the chaise,
between the two occupants, was a large bandbox,
which forced Mr. Pendexter to let his legs hang
out of the vehicle, and gave him the air of imitating
the Scriptural behaviour of his horse.
Gravely and from a distance he saluted the
school-master, who saluted him in return, with a
tear in his eye, that no man saw, but which,
nevertheless, was not unseen.

“Farewell, poor old man!” said the school-master
within himself, as he shut out the cold
autumnal air, and entered his comfortable study.
“We are not worthy of thee, or we should have
had thee with us forever. Go back again to the
place of thy childhood, the scene of thine early
labors and thine early love; let thy days end
where they began, and like the emblem of eternity,
let the serpent of life coil itself round and
take its tail into its mouth, and be still from all
its hissings for evermore! I would not call thee
back; for it is better thou shouldst be where
thou art, than amid the angry contentions of this
little town.”

Not all took leave of the old clergyman in so
kindly a spirit. Indeed, there was a pretty general
feeling of relief in the village, as when one


Page 47
gets rid of an ill-fitting garment, or old-fashioned
hat, which one neither wishes to wear, nor is
quite willing to throw away.

Thus Mr. Pendexter departed from the village.
A few days afterwards he was seen at a fall
training, or general muster of the militia, making
a prayer on horseback, with his eyes wide
open; a performance in which he took evident
delight, as it gave him an opportunity of going
quite at large into some of the bloodiest campaigns
of the ancient Hebrews.