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MACHINE-DRIVEN CARRIAGES.

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term! it is so delightfully indefinite), two infants were murdered by their uncle, which tragedy gave rise to the nursery romance of the Babes in the Wood.' We were surprised to find so good an hotel with such extensive and excellent stabling as we did here, being such a remote and small place, but on inquiry we found out that the Crown belonged to the largest horse-dealer in the county, and that the inn was maintained chiefly, if not wholly, for the accommodation of visitors who came to inspect the stud, the landlord living apart in his own house. The head ostler showed us over the stabling with a manifest eye to business; he did his best to induce us to purchase a pair of cobs that were not to be had every day.' Fortunately, we did not require fresh horses every day, so we were content to admire and take their good qualities for granted. At the best, buying a horse is a very risky matter: a friend once said jokingly to me that it was easier to choose a wife than a horse. It is possible that in the near future electric motors may take the place of horseflesh for the propulsion of pleasure carriages. As I write, an electric dogcart has been successfully tried on the road, and will work for six hours. Some few years ago now, the inventor of a carriage propelled by steam invited me to inspect and take a ride in it. This too was after the dogcart fashion; the steam was raised by petroleum, the carriage worked perfectly and made no observable noise. The sensation, however, of travelling in a vehicle on an ordinary road without a horse in front was at first most singular; the machinery was all hidden in the space below the

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seat, and the whole affair had the exact appearance of a dogcart going along, without a horse where a horse should be. The invention, however, came to nothing because of the law forbidding any carriage on the public roads propelled by steam to proceed at a greater rate than four miles an hour, and also requiring a man with a red flag to walk in front. have, however, met more than once huge traction. engines on narrow country lanes, steaming along without any any man in front; in comparison with these tyrants of the highway, with their fussy puffing, the steam dogcart in question seemed quite harmless. The one thing about it we did not like was sitting just over the boiler, for the best regulated boilers will now and again explode. Electricity has the advantage over steam in this respect.

Whilst the horses were resting we took a stroll round the town. Nearly opposite to our inn we noticed an old clock tower which helped to give a character to the otherwise uninteresting thoroughfare of the place. This bore the date of 1679. On it is a carved rebus, a hare and a tun, the same device being repeated on the weather vane and upon the spandrels of the doorway. We read this to mean Hare-ton, but the name of the town was undoubtedly Watton. This rebus therefore puzzled us, and at last we gave it up and begged explanation of a passer-by, who happened to be a farmer of the old-fashioned sort, John Bull personified. Yes,' he said, that stands for the name of the town. A wat and a tun; Watton, you see!' But we did not see, all the same. We merely remarked that we thought

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the animal looked uncommonly like a hare, and that we had never heard of a 'wat' before. 'Well now, to think of that!' responded the farmer, with a look of pity at our ignorance. We calls hares wats

in these parts.'

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Wandering about the town, we felt that there was a want, but what it was we could not make out for some time. Then suddenly it dawned upon us that we had walked over the whole place and had seen no church. Being usually such a conspicuous feature in England, especially in Norfolk towns and villages, its absence was noticeable. We looked all about for a church, but could see no sign of one. The spreading collection of houses around seemed strangely incomplete without this familiar object to preside over the buildings like a protecting mother caring for the living and watching over the dead. These ancient fanes are the outward expression of the age of faith. of faith. Within their hallowed walls how many generations have listened to the oft-repeated ritual, have sorrowed and rejoiced! The names that may be traced on the ancient tombstones are frequently the same names as are to be read upon the shops around.

Not being able to discover a church anywhere, we asked a boy if there were one, and where it might be. He pointed out to us the way to it across some fields, for strangely enough the church here is situated at some distance from the town. We found it to be of the usual Norfolk type, with a round tower, and apparently restored. We did not see the interior, for we were in no humour for clerk-hunting. Here

is a problem. You arrive at a strange town, you wish to see the church; how is it that there is always such a difficulty in discovering the clerk?

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It was now past two o'clock, and as we had still some dozen miles or more to do, we thought it time to get back to our inn and proceed with our journey. But as we walked along we noticed that the clouds were gathering darkly in the direction of our stage; a spot or two of rain fell as though to remind us that the weather was by no means settled. arriving at our inn we felt undecided as to what would be best to do. We were in very comfortable quarters truly, but then on the other hand we had seen all that Watton had to show, and, to be honest, beyond horses there was not much of interest in the place. We took a glance at the barometer, but that useful instrument did not afford us much comfort. It stood at 'Rain,' and fell from that low estate towards Much Rain' when we tapped it. Then we asked advice of the ostler. He had no uncertainty at all about the matter. 'You'll have a wet drive if you starts,' said he, 'and it's a wild bit of country; twelve miles and never a public house; a hard country I calls it.' Just then, however, a gleam of sunshine showed itself. We cared not for ostler's prophecy nor falling barometer; we would start at once. That gleam did it, and, as it turned out, had much to answer for.

'If you wish for peace, prepare for war.' We wished for fine weather and so prepared for wet. Our mackintoshes were put on, our waterproof aprons were wrapped around us, and all made 'taut.' If the rain came it could not hurt us much, and after all, a day

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such as this, when the clouds are bulging with rain, wind-driven and wind-woven into a mystery of forms, letting down now and again from a break above a transient gleam of light on the wet glistening leaves and roadway, is not a day to be despised, and comes even as a relief after the glare of the summer sun.

Wet weather has its rewards; then it is that the colours of the landscape are brought out in a wonderful manner; the leaves and grasses, laden with moisture, reflect the gold of the sun's rays when they come; the distance then is delightfully distinct and colourful; the air too has a freshness, a clearness, that contrasts refreshingly with the heat and haze of a sultry summer day. And after rain, when the sun does shine, what a brightness and sparkle there is all over the landscape; how clear and sweet is the air, washed from all impurities! There is really only one kind of bad weather, in my opinion: that is when the sky is of a uniformly leaden hue, from which the rain pours down in a ceaseless wearying monotony, with no break in the mass of dun-coloured vapour overhead, nor any reasonable prospect of one.

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