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´╗┐Title: In the Riding-School; Chats with Esmeralda
Author: Browne, Theo. Stephenson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In the Riding-School; Chats with Esmeralda" ***

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ESMERALDA***


Transcribed by Elizabeth Durack, who is very pleased to be able to share
this rare and charming book.



IN THE RIDING-SCHOOL; CHATS WITH ESMERALDA

BY THEO. STEPHENSON BROWNE

1890



    -- We two will ride,
    Lady mine,
  At your pleasure, side by side,
  Laugh and chat.
         ALDRICH



TO THE MODERN MEN OF UZ; MY FRENCH, ENGLISH, AND AMERICAN
MASTERS.



CONTENTS

   I. A PRELIMINARY CHAT WITH ESMERALDA  The proper frame of mind
      --Dress--Preparatory exercises.
  II. SHALL YOU TAKE YOUR MOTHER, ESMERALDA?  The first lesson--
      Various ways of mounting--Slippery reins--Clucking--After
      a ride.
 III. CHAT DURING THE SECOND LESSON  Equestrian language--
      Trotting without a horse--Exercises in and out of the saddle.
  IV. ESMERALDA'S TRIALS AT THE THIRD LESSON  Pounding the saddle
      --A critical spectator--A few rein-holds.
   V. ESMERALDA ON THE ROAD  Good and bad and indifferent riders--
      A very little runaway.
  VI. THE ORDEAL OF A PRIVATE LESSON  Voltes and half voltes--
      "On the right hand of the school"--Imagination as a teacher.
 VII. ESMERALDA AT A MUSIC RIDE  Sitting like a poker--The
      ways of the bad rider.
VIII. ESMERALDA IN CLASS  Keeping distances--Corners--
      Proper place in the saddle--Exercises to correct nervous
      stiffness.
  IX. ELEMENTARY MILITARY EVOLUTIONS  "Forward, forward, and
      again forward!"--How to guide a horse easily.
   X. CHAT DURING AN EXERCISE RIDE  The deeds of the three-legged
      trotter--The omniscient rider--Backing a step or two--
      Fun in the dressing-room.
  XI. ESMERALDA IS MANAGED  Intervals--The secret of learning
      to ride.
 XII. CHAT ABOUT THE HABIT  Riding-dress in history and fiction--
      Cloth, linings and sewing--Boots, gloves, and hats.
XIII. CHAT ABOUT TEACHERS  Foreign and native instructors--Why
      American women learn slowly--"Keep riding!"



I.

  Impatient to mount and ride.
         _Longfellow_.


And you want to learn how to ride, Esmeralda?

Why? Because? Reason good and sufficient, Esmeralda; to require
anything more definite would be brutal, although an explanation
of your motives would render the task of directing you much
easier.

As you are an American, it is reasonable to presume that you
desire to learn quickly; as you are youthful, it is certain that
you earnestly wish to look pretty in the saddle, and as you are a
youthful American, there is not a shadow of a doubt that your
objections to authoritative teaching will be almost unconquerable,
and that you will insist upon being treated, from the very
beginning, as if your small head contained the knowledge of a
Hiram Woodruff or of an Archer. Perhaps you may find a teacher
who will comply with your wishes; who will be exceedingly
deferential to your little whims; will unhesitatingly accept your
report of your own sensations and your hypotheses as to their
cause; and, Esmeralda, when once your eyes behold that model man,
be content, and go and take lessons of another, for either he is
a pretentious humbug, careless of everything except his fees, or
he is an ignoramus.

It may not be necessary that you should be insulted or ridiculed
in order to become a rider, although there are girls who seem
utterly impervious by teaching by gentle methods. Is it not a
matter of tradition that Queen Victoria owes her regal carriage
to the rough drill-sergeant who, with no effect upon his pupil,
horrified her governess, and astonished her, by sharply saying:
"A pretty Queen you'll make with that dot-and-go-one gait!" Up
went the little chin, back went the shoulders, down went the
elbows, and, in her wrath, the little princess did precisely what
the old soldier had been striving to make her do; but his
delighted cry of "Just right!" was a surprise to her, inasmuch as
she had been conscious of no muscular effort whatsoever. From
that time forth, _incessit regina_.

You may not need such rough treatment, but it is necessary that
you should be corrected every moment and almost every second
until you learn to correct yourself, until every muscle in your
body becomes self-conscious, and until an improper position is
almost instantly felt as uncomfortable, and the teacher who does
not drill you steadily and continuously, permits you to fall into
bad habits.

If you were a German princess, Esmeralda, you would be compelled
to sit in the saddle for many an hour without touching the reins,
while your patient horse walked around a tan bark ring, and you
balanced yourself and straightened yourself, and adjusted arms,
shoulders, waist, knees and feet, under the orders of a drill-
sergeant, who might, indeed, sugar-coat his phrases with "Your
Highness," but whose intonations would say "You must," as plainly
as if he were drilling an awkward squad of peasant recruits. If
you were the daughter of a hundred earls, you would be mounted on
a Shetland pony and shaken into a good seat long before you
outgrew short frocks, and afterwards you would be trained by your
mother or older sisters, by the gentlemen of your family, or
perhaps, by some trusted old groom, or in a good London riding-
school, and, no matter who your instructor might be, you would be
compelled to be submissive and obedient.

But you object that you cannot afford to pay for very careful,
minute, and long-continued training; that you must content
yourself with such teaching as you can obtain by riding in a ring
under the charge of two or three masters, receiving such
instruction as they find time to give you while maintaining order
and looking after an indefinite number of other pupils. Your real
teacher in that case must be yourself, striving assiduously to
obey every order given to you, no matter whether it appears
unreasonable or seems, as the Concord young woman said, "in
accordance with the latest scientific developments and the
esoteric meaning of differentiated animal existences." That
sentence, by the way, silenced her master, and nearly caused him
to have a fit of illness from suppression of language, but
perhaps it might affect your teacher otherwise, and you would
better reserve it for that private mental rehearsal of your first
lesson which you will conduct in your maiden meditation.

You are your own best teacher, you understand, and you may be
encouraged to know that one of the foremost horsemen in the
country says: "I have had many teachers, but my best master was
here," touching his forehead. "Where do you ride, sir?" asked one
of his pupils, after vainly striving with reins and whip, knee,
heel and spur to execute a movement which the master had
compelled his horse to perform while apparently holding himself
as rigid as bronze. "I ride here, sir," was the grim answer, with
another tap on the forehead.

And first, Esmeralda, being feminine, you wish to know what you
are to wear.

Until you have taken at least ten lessons, it would be simply
foolishness for you to buy any special thing to wear, except a
plain flannel skirt, the material for which should not cost you
more than two dollars and a half. Harper's Bazar has published
two or three patterns, following which any dressmaker can make a
skirt quite good enough for the ring. A jersey, a Norfolk jacket,
a simple street jacket or even an ordinary basque waist; any small,
close-fitting hat, securely pinned to your hair, and very loose
gloves will complete a dress quite suitable for private lessons,
and not so expensive that you need grudge the swift destruction
certain to come to all equestrian costumes. Nothing is more
ludicrous than to see a rider clothed in a correct habit, properly
scant and unhemmed, to avoid all risks when taking fences and
hedges in a hunting country, with her chimney-pot hat and her own
gold-mounted crop, her knowing little riding-boots and buckskins,
with outfit enough for Baby Blake and Di Vernon and Lady Gay
Spanker, and to see that young woman dancing in the saddle, now
here and now there, pulling at the reins in a manner to make
a rocking-horse rear, and squealing tearfully and jerkily:
"Oh, ho-ho-oh, wh-h-hat m-m-makes h-h-him g-g-go s-s-s-so?"

If you think it possible that you may be easily discouraged, and
that your first appearance in the riding-school will be your
last, you need not buy any skirt, for you will find several in
the school dressing-room, and, for once, you may submit to
wearing a garment not your own. Shall you buy trousers or tights?
Wait till you decide to take lessons before buying either, first
to avoid unnecessary expense, and second, because until
experience shall show what kind of a horsewoman you are likely to
be, you cannot tell which will be the more suitable and
comfortable. Laced boots, a plain, dark underskirt, cut princess,
undergarments without a wrinkle, and no tight bands to compress
veins, or to restrain muscles by adding their resistance to the
force of gravitation make up the list of details to which you
must give your attention before leaving home. If you be addicted
to light gymnastics you will find it beneficial to practise a few
movements daily, both before taking your first lesson and as long
as you may continue to ride.

First--Hold your shoulders square and perfectly rigid, and turn
the head towards the right four times, and then to the left four
times.

Second--Bend the head four times to the right and four times to
the left.

Third--Bend the head four times to the back and four times to
the front. These exercises will enable you to look at anything
which may interest you, without distracting the attention of your
horse, as you might do if you moved your shoulders, and thus
disturbed your equilibrium on your back. Feeling the change, he
naturally supposes that you want something of him, and when you
become as sensitive as you should be, you will notice that at
such times he changes his gait perceptibly.

Fourth--Bend from the waist four times to the right, four to
the left, four times forward, and four times backward. These
movements will not only make the waist more flexible, but will
strengthen certain muscles of the leg.

Fifth--Execute any movement which experience has shown you will
square your shoulders and flatten your back most effectually.
Throw the hands backward until they touch one another, or bring
your elbows together behind you, if you can. Hold the arms close
to the side, the elbows against the waist, the forearm at right
angles with the arm, the fists clenched, with the little finger
down and the knuckles facing each other, and describe ellipses,
first with one shoulder, then with the other, then with both.
This movement is found in Mason's School Gymnastics, and is
prescribed by M. de Bussigny in his little manual for horsewomen,
and it will prove admirable in its effects. Stretch the arms at
full length above the head, the palms of the hands at front, the
thumbs touching one another, and then carry them straight outward
without bending the elbows, and bend them down, the palms still
in front, until the little finger touches the leg. This movement
is recommended by Mason and also by Blaikie, and as it is part of
the West Point "setting up" drill, it may be regarded as
considered on good authority to be efficacious in producing an
erect carriage. Stand as upright as you can, your arms against
your side, the forearm at right angles, as before, and jerk your
elbows downward four times.

Sixth--Sit down on the floor with your feet stretched straight
before you, and resting on their heels, and drop backward until
you are lying flat, then resume your first position, keeping your
arms and forearms at right angles during the whole exercise.
Still sitting, bend as far to the right as you can, then bend as
far as possible to the left, resuming a perfectly erect position
between the movements, and keeping your feet and legs still.
Rising, stand on your toes and let yourself down fifty times;
then stand on your heels, and raise and lower your toes fifty
times. The firmer you hold your arms and hands during these
movements, the better for you, Esmeralda, and for the horse who
will be your first victim.

Already one can seem to see him, poor, innocent beast, miserable
in the memories of an army of beginners, his mouth so accustomed
to being jerked in every direction, without anything in
particular being meant by it, that neither Arabia nor Mexico can
furnish a bit which would surprise him, or startle his four legs
from their propriety. No cow is more placid, no lamb more gentle;
he would not harm a tsetse fly or kick a snapping terrier. His
sole object in life is to keep himself and his rider out of
danger, and to betake himself to that part of the ring in which
the least labor should be expected of him. The tiny girls who
ride him call him "dear old Billy Buttons," or "darling Gypsy,"
or "nice Sir Archer." Heaven knows what he calls them in his
heart! Were he human, it would be something to be expressed by
dashes and "d's"; but, being a horse, he is silent, and shows his
feelings principally by heading for the mounting-stand whenever
he thinks that a pupil's hour is at an end.

Why that long face, Esmeralda? Must you do all those exercises?
Bless your innocent soul, no! Dress yourself and run away. The
exercises will be good for you, but they are not absolutely
necessary. Remember, however, that your best riding-school master
is behind your own pretty forehead, and that your brain can save
your muscles many a strain and many a pound of labor. And
remember, too, that, in riding, as in everything else, to him
that hath shall be given, and the harder and firmer your muscles
when you begin, the greater will be the benefit which you will
derive from your rides, and the more you will enjoy them. The
pale and weary invalid may gain flesh and color with every
lesson, but the bright and healthy pupil, whose muscles are
like iron, whose heart and lungs are in perfect order, can
ride for hours without weariness, and double her strength in
a comparatively short time.

But--Esmeralda, dear, before you go--whisper! Why do you want
to take riding lessons? Theodore asked you to go out with him
next Monday, and Nell said that she would lend you her habit, and
you thought that you would take three lessons and learn to ride?
There, go and dress, child; go and dress!



II.

  Bring forth the horse!
         _Byron_.


Being ready to start, Esmeralda, the question now arises: "Is a
riding school," as the girl asked about the new French play, "a
place to which one can take her mother?" Little girls too young
to dress themselves should be attended by their mothers or by
their maids, but an older girl no more needs guardianship at
riding-school than at any other place at which she receives
instruction, and there is no more reason why her mother should
follow her into the ring than into the class-room.

Her presence, even if she preserve absolute silence, will
probably embarrass both teacher and pupil, and although her own
children may not be affected by it, it will be decidedly
troublesome to the children of other mothers.

If, instead of being quiet, she talk, and it is the nature of the
mother who accompanies her daughter to riding-school to talk
volubly and loudly, she will become a nuisance, and even a source
of actual danger, by distracting the attention of the master from
his pupils, and the attention of the pupils from their horses, to
say nothing of the possibility that some of her pretty, ladylike
screams of, "Oh, darling, I know you're tired!" or, "Oh, what a
horrid horse; see him jump!" may really frighten some lucky
animal whose acquaintance has included no women but the sensible.

If she be inclined to laugh at the awkward beginners, and to
ridicule them audibly--but really, Esmeralda, it should not be
necessary to consider such an action, impossible in a well-bred
woman, unlikely in a woman of good feeling! Leave your mother, if
not at home, in the dressing-room or the reception room, and go
to the mounting-stand alone.

In some schools you may ride at any time, but the usual morning
hours for ladies' lessons are from nine o'clock to noon, and the
afternoon hours from two o'clock until four. Some masters prefer
that their pupils should have fixed days and hours for their
lessons, and others allow the very largest liberty. For your own
sake it is better to have a regular time for your lessons, but if
you cannot manage to do so, do not complain if you sometimes have
to wait a few minutes for your horse, or for your master.

The school is not carried on entirely for your benefit, although
you will at first assume that it is. As a rule, a single lesson
will cost two dollars, but a ten-lesson ticket will cost but
fifteen dollars, a twenty-lesson ticket twenty-five dollars, and
a ticket for twenty exercise rides twenty dollars. In schools
which give music-rides, there are special rates for the evenings
upon which they take place, but you need not think of music-rides
until you have had at least the three lessons which you desire.

Buy your ticket before you go to the dressing-room, and ask if
you may have a key to a locker. Dress as quickly as you can, and
if there be no maid in the dressing-room, lock up your street
clothing and keep your key. If there be a maid, she will attend
to this matter, and will assist you in putting on your skirt,
showing you that it buttons on the left side, and that you must
pin it down the basque of your jersey or your jacket in the back,
unless you desire it to wave wildly with every leap of your
horse. Flatter not yourself that lead weights will prevent this!
When a horse begins a canter that sends you, if your feelings be
any gauge, eighteen good inches nearer the ceiling, do you think
that an ounce of lead will remain stationary? give a final touch
to your hairpins and hatpins, button your gloves, pull the rubber
straps of your habit over your right toe and left heel, and you
are ready.

In most schools, you will be made to mount from the ground, and
you will find it surprisingly and delightfully easy to you. What
it may be to the master who puts you into the saddle is another
matter, but nine out of ten teachers will make no complaint, and
will assure you that they do very well.

If you wish to deceive any other girl's inconsiderate mother whom
you may find comfortably seated in a good position for criticism,
and to make her suppose that you are an old rider, keep silence.
Do not criticise your horse or his equipments, do not profess
inability to mount, but when you master says "Now!" step forward
and stand facing in the same direction of your horse, placing
your right hand on the upper pommel of the two on the left of the
saddle.

Set your left foot in whichever hand he holds out for it. Some
masters offer the left, some the right, and some count for a
pupil, and others prefer that she should count for yourself. The
usual "One, two, three!" means, one, rest the weight strongly on
the right foot; two, bend the right knee, keeping the body
perfectly erect; three, spring up from the right foot, turning
very slightly to the left, so as to place yourself sideways on
the saddle, your right hand toward the horse's head.

Some masters offer a shoulder as a support for a pupil's left
hand, and some face toward the horse's head and some toward his
tail, so it is best for you to wait a little for directions,
Esmeralda, and not to suppose that, because you know all about
Lucy Fountain's way of mounting a horse, or about James Burdock's
tuition of Mabel Vane, there is no other method of putting a lady
in the saddle.

After your first lesson, you will find it well to practise
springing upward from the right foot, holding your left on
a hassock, or a chair rung, your right hand raised as if
grasping the pommel, your shoulders carefully kept back, and
your body straight. It is best to perform this exercise before
a mirror, and when you begin to think you have mastered it,
close you eyes, give ten upward springs and then look at
yourself. A hopeless wreck, eh? Not quite so bad as that, but,
before, you unconsciously corrected your position by the eye,
and you must learn to do it entirely by feeling. You will
probably improve very much on a second trial, because your
shoulders will begin to be sensitive. Why not practise this
exercise before your first lesson? Because you should know just
how your master prefers to stand, in order to be able to
imagine him standing as he really will. It is not unusual to
see riders of some experience puzzled and made awkward by an
innovation on what they have regarded as the true and only
method of mounting, although, when once the right leg and wrist
are properly trained, a woman ought to be able to reach the
saddle without caring what her escort's method of assistance.

Mounting from a high horseblock is a matter of being fairly
lifted into the saddle, and you cannot possibly do it improperly.
it is easy, but it gives you no training for rides outside the
school, and masters use it, not because they approve of it, but
because their pupils, not knowing how easy it is to mount from
the ground, often desire it.

But, being in the saddle, turn so as to face your horse's head,
put our right knee over the pommel, and slip your left foot into
the stirrup. Then rise on your left foot and smooth your skirt, a
task in which your master will assist you, and take you reins and
your whip from him.

How shall you hold your reins? As your master tells you!
Probably, he will give you but one rein at first, and very likely
will direct you to hold it in both hands, keeping them five or
six inches apart, the wrists on a level with the elbows or even a
very little lower, and he is not likely to insist on any other
details, knowing that it will be difficult for you to attain
perfection in these. An English master might give you a single
rein to be passed outside the little finger, and between the
forefinger and the middle finger, the loop coming between the
forefinger and thumb, and being held in place by the thumb. Then
he would expect you to keep your right shoulder back very firmly,
but a French master will tell you that it is better to learn to
keep the shoulder back a little while holding a rein in the right
hand, and an American master will usually allow you to take your
choice, but, until you have experience, obey orders in silence.

And now, having taken your whip, draw yourself back in your
saddle so as to feel the pommel under your right knee; sit well
towards the right, square your shoulders, force your elbows well
down, hollow your waist a little, and start. He won't go? Of
course he will not, until bidden to do so, if he know his
business. Bend forward the least bit in the world, draw very
slightly on the reins, and rather harder on the right, so as to
turn him from the stand, and away he walks, and you are in the
ring. You had no idea that it was so large, and you feel as if
lost on a western prairie, but you are in no danger whatsoever.
You cannot fall off while your right knee and left foot are in
place, and if you deliberately threw yourself into the tan, you
would be unhurt, and the riding-school horse knows better than to
tread on anything unusual which he may find in his way.

Now, Esmeralda, keep your mind--No, your saddle is not turning;
it is well girthed. You feel as if it were? Pray, how do you know
how you would feel if a saddle were to turn? Did you ever try it?
And your saddle is not too large! Neither is it too small! And
there is nothing at all the matter with your horse! Now,
Esmeralda, keep your mind--No, that other girl is not going to
ride you down. Her horse would not allow her, if she endeavored
to do so. The trouble is that she does not guide her horse, but
is worrying herself about staying on his back, when she should be
thinking about making him turn sharp corners and go straight
forward. Regard her as a warning, Esmeralda, and keep your mind--
What is the matter with the reins? Apparently they are oiled,
for they have slipped from under your thumbs, and your horse is
wandering along with drooping head, looking as if training to
play the part of the dead warrior's charger at a military
funeral.

Shorten your reins now, carefully! Not quite so much, or your
horse will think that you intend to begin to trot, and do not
lean backward, or he will fancy that you wish him to back or
stop. The poor thing has to guess at what a pupil wishes, and no
wonder that he sometimes mistakes.

But, Esmeralda, keep your mind on those thumbs and hold them
close to your forefingers. Driving will give no idea of the
slipperiness of leather, but after your first riding lesson you
will wonder why it is not used to floor roller-skating rinks. But
remember that your reins are for your horse's support, not for
yours; they are the telegraph wires along which you send
dispatches to him, not parallel bars upon which your weight is to
depend. Hitherto, you have not ridden an inch. Your horse has
strolled about, and you have not dropped from his back, and that
is not riding, but now you shall begin.

In a large ring, pupils are required to keep to the wall when
walking, as this gives the horse a certain guide, but in small
rings the rule is to keep to the wall when trotting, so as to
improve every foot of pace, and to walk about six feet from the
wall, not in a circle, but describing a rectangle. New pupils are
always taught to turn to the right, and to make all their
movements in that direction. Hold your thumbs firmly in place,
and draw your right hand a very little upward and inward,
touching your whip lightly to the horse's right side, and turning
your face and leaning your body slightly to the right.

The instant that the corner is turned, drop your hand, keeping
the thumb in place, square your shoulders, look straight between
your horse's ears, and then allow your eyes to range upward as
far as possible without losing sight of him altogether. No matter
what is going on about you. Very likely, the criticizing mamma on
the mounting-stand is scolding sharply about noting. Possibly, a
dear little boy is fairly flying about the ring on a pony that
seems to have cantered out of a fairy tale, and a marvelously
graceful girl, whom you envy with your whole soul, is doing
pirouettes in the centre of the ring.

All that is not your business. Your sole concern is to keep your
body in position, and your mind fixed on making your horse obey
you, doing nothing of his own will. Stop him now and then by
leaning back, and drawing on the reins, not with your body but
with your hands. Then lean forward and go on, but if he should
remain planted as fast as the Great Pyramid, if when started he
should refuse to pay any attention to the little taps of your
left heel and the touches of your whip, nay, if he should lie
down and pretend to die, like a trick horse in a circus, don't
cluck. No good riding master will teach a pupil to cluck or will
permit the practice to pass unreproved, and riding-school horses
do not understand it, and are quite as likely to start at the
cluck of a rider on the other side of the ring as they are when a
similar noise is made by the person on their own backs.

But now, just as you have shortened your reins for the fortieth
time or so, your master rides up beside you. You told him of your
little three-lesson plan, and being wise in his generation, he
smilingly assented to it. "Shall we trot?" he asks, in an
agreeable voice. "Shorten your reins, now! Don't pull on them!
Right shoulder back! Now rise from the saddle as I count, 'One,
two, three, four!' Off we go!'" You would like to know what he
meant by "off!" "Off," indeed! You thought you were "off" the
saddle. You have been bounced up and down mercilessly, and have
gasped, "Stop him!" before you have been twice around the ring,
and not one corner have you been able to turn properly. As for
your elbows, you know that they have been flying all abroad, but
still--it was fun, and you would like to try again. You do try
again, and you would like to try again. You do try again, and, at
last, you are conscious of a sudden feeling of elasticity, of
sympathy with your horse, of rising when he does, and then your
master looks at you triumphantly, and says: "You rose that time,"
and leaves you to go to some other pupil. And then you walk your
horse again, trying to keep in position, and you make furtive
little essays at trotting by yourself, and find that you cannot
keep your horse to the wall, although you pull your hardest at
his left rein, the reason being that, unconsciously, you also
pull at the right rein, and that he calmly obeys what the reins
tell him and goes straight forward. Then your master offers to
help you by lifting you, grasping your right arm with his left
hand, and you make one or two more circuits of the ring, and then
the hour is over and you dismount and go to the dressing-room.

Tired, Esmeralda? A little, and you do wonder whether you shall
not be a bruised piece of humanity to-morrow. Not if your flesh
be as hard as any girl's should be in these days of gymnasiums,
but if you have managed to bruise a muscle or to strain one, lay
a bottle of hot water against it when you go to bed and it will
not be painful in the morning. If, in spite of warnings, you have
been so careless about your underclothing as to cause a blister,
a bit of muslin saturated with Vaseline, with a drop of tincture
of benzoin rubbed into it, makes a plaster which will end the
smart instantly.

This is not a physician's prescription, but is hat of a horseman
who for years led the best riding class in Boston, and it is
asserted that nobody was ever known to be dissatisfied with its
effects. Muffle yourself warmly, Esmeralda, and hasten home, for
nothing is easier than to catch cold after riding. Air your frock
and cloak before an open fire to volatilize the slight ammoniacal
scent which they must inevitably contract in the locker, and then
be as good to yourself as the hostler will be to your poor horse.
That is to say, give yourself a sponge bath in hot water, with a
dash of Sarg's soap and almond meal in it, rubbing dry with a
Turkish towel, and then dress and go down to dinner.

Looking at your glowing face and shining eyes, your father will
tell your mother that she should have gone also, but when he
marks the havoc which you make with the substantial part of the
meal, and sees that your appetite for dessert is twice as good as
usual, he will reflect upon his butcher's and grocer's bills,
and, considering what they would be with provision to make for
two such voracious creatures, he will say, "No, Esmeralda, don't
take your mother!"



III.

  Up into the saddle,
  Lithe and light, vaulting she perched.
         _Hayne_.


And you still think, Esmeralda, that three lessons will be enough
to make you a horse woman, and that by next Monday you will be
able to join the road party, and witch the world with your
accomplishments?

Very well, array yourself for conquest and come to the school.
Talk is cheap, according to a proverb more common than elegant;
but it is sinful to waste the cheapest of things. While you
dress, you will meditate upon the sensation which it is your
intention to make in the ring, and upon the humiliation which you
will heap upon your riding master by showing wonderful ability to
rise in the saddle. Although not quite ready to assert ability to
ride hour after hour like a mounted policeman, you feel certain
that you could ride as gracefully as he, and perhaps you
are right, for official position does not confer wisdom in
equitation. To say nothing of policemen, it is not many seasons
since an ambitious member of the governor's staff presented
himself before a riding master to "take a lesson, just to get
used to it, you know; got to review some regiments at Framingham
tomorrow." And when, after some trouble, he had been landed in
the saddle, never a strap had he, and long before his lesson hour
was finished, he was a spectacle to make a Prussian sentinel
giggle while on duty.

And for your further encouragement, Esmeralda, know that it is
but a few years ago that a riding master, in answer to a
rebellious pupil who defended some sin against Baucher with, "Mr.
--of the governor's staff always does so," retorted, "There is
just one man on the governor's staff who can ride, and I taught
him; and if he had ridden like that !" An awful silence expressed
so many painful possibilities that the pupil was meek and humble
ever after, and yet it was not written in any newspaper that any
of those ignorant colonels were thrown from their saddles in
public, nor did the strapless gentleman furnish amusement to
civilian or soldier by rolling on the grass at Framingham.

The truth is, that the number of persons able to judge of riding
is smaller than the number able to ride, and that number is
rather less than one in a hundred of those who appear on
horseback either in the ring or on the road; but Boston could
furnish a legion of men and women who find healthful enjoyment in
the saddle, and who look passably well while doing it, and
possibly you may add yourself to their ranks after a very few
lessons, although there is--You are ready? Come then!

Into the saddle well thought, thanks to your master, but why that
ghastly pause? Turn instantly, place your knee over the pommel
and thrust your foot into the stirrup, if you possibly can,
without waiting for assistance. Teachers of experience, riding
masters, dancing masters, musicians, artists, gymnasts, will
unite in telling you that unless a pupil's mental qualities be
rather extraordinary, it is more difficult to impart knowledge at
a second lesson than at the first, simply because the pupil gives
less attention, expecting his muscles to work mechanically.

Undoubtedly, after long training, fingers will play scales, and
flying feet whirl their owner about a ballroom without making him
conscious of every muscular extension and contraction, but this
facility comes only to those who, in the beginning, fix an
undivided mind upon what they are doing, and who never fall into
willful negligence.

Keep watch of yourself, manage yourself as assiduously as you
watch and manage your horse, and ten times more assiduously than
you would watch your fingers at the piano, or your feet in the
dancing class, because you must watch for two, for your horse and
for yourself. If you give him an incorrect signal, he will obey
it, you will be unprepared for his next act, and in half a minute
you will have a very pretty misunderstanding on your hands.

But there is no reason for being frightened. You cannot fall, and
if your horse should show any signs of actual misbehavior, you
would find your master at your right hand, with fingers of steel
to grasp your reins, and a voice accustomed to command obedience
from quadrupeds, howsoever little of it he may be able to obtain
at first from well-meaning bipeds. You are perfectly safe with
him, Esmeralda, not only because he knows how to ride, but
because the strongest of all human motives, self-interest, is
enlisted to promote your safety. "She said she was afraid to risk
her neck," said an exhausted teacher, speaking the words of
frankness to a spectator, as a timid and stupid pupil disappeared
into the dressing-room, "and I told her that she could afford the
risk better than I. If she broke it, than don't you know, it
probably could not be mended, but mine might be broken in trying
to save her, and, at the best, my reputation and my means of
getting a livelihood would be gone forever in an instant. It's
only a neck with her; it's life and wife and babies that I risk,
and I'll insure her neck." And when the stupid pupil, who was a
lady in spite of her dulness, came from the dressing-room, calmed
and quieted, and began to offer a blushing apology, he repeated
his remarks to her, and so excellent was the understanding
established between them after this little incident that she
actually came to be a tolerable rider. Feeling that he would tell
her to do nothing dangerous to her, she was ready at his command
to lie down on her horse's back and to raise herself again and
again, and, after doing this a few times, and bending alternately
to the right and to the left, the saddle seemed quite homelike,
and to remain in it sitting upright was very easy for a few
moments.

Only for a few moments, however, for the necessity of paying
attention still remained, as it does with you, and again she
stiffened herself, as you are doing now.

As Mr. Mead very justly says, in his "Horsemanship for Women," a
lesson may be learned from a bag of grain set up on horseback,
which is, that while the lower part of your body should settle
itself almost lazily in place, the upper part, which is
comparatively light, should sway slightly but easily with the
horse's motion.

Manage to ride behind the girl who was teaching herself to do
pirouettes the other day. Her horse is walking rapidly, and you
could almost fancy that her prettily squared shoulders were part
of him, so sympathetically do they respond to each step, but if
you should let your horse straggle against hers and frighten him,
you would see that no rock is more firmly seated then she.

If it should please your master to require you to perform the
bending exercise, you will feel the advantage of having practiced
it at home, for it is infinitely easier in the saddle than it is
on the floor, and your riding master will be exceedingly pleased
at the ease with which you effect it. There is no necessity for
telling him that the little feat is quite familiar to you. The
woman of sense keeps as many of her doings secret as she can, and
the wise pupil confesses no knowledge except that derived from
her master. Being, in spite of his superior knowledge, a mortal
man, he will take twice the pains with her, and a hundredfold
more pride in her if persuaded that she owes everything to him.

There is no reason to worry about a little stiffness during the
first lessons. It is almost entirely nervousness, and will
disappear as soon as you are quite comfortable and easy, but the
beautiful flexibility of the good horsewoman comes only to her
whose muscles are perfectly trained, and it is surprising how few
muscles there are to which one may not give employment in an
hour's practice in the ring. If you like, you may, without the
assistance of your master, lean forward to the right side until
your left shoulder touches your horse's crest, and when you are
trotting it is well how and then to lean forward and to the right
until you can see your horse's forefeet, but you would better not
perform the same exercise on the left side for the present, for
you might overbalance yourself and almost slip from the saddle.
If able, as you should be, to touch the floor with your
fingertips without bending your knees, this little movement will
be nothing to you, but do not bend to the left, Esmeralda. Why
not? Why, because if you will have the truth, you are slipping to
the left already, your right shoulder is drooping forward, and
your weight is hanging in your stirrup and pulling your saddle to
the left so forcibly that your horse has lost all respect for
you, and would be thoroughly uncomfortable, were it not that you
have forgotten all about your thumbs, and you have allowed your
reins to slip away from you, so that he is going where he
pleases, except when you jerk him sharply to the right, and then
he shakes and tosses his head and goes on contentedly, as one
saying, "All things have an end, even a new pupil's hour."

Now, sit well to the right, remembering the meal sack; shorten
your reins, keeping your elbows down and your hands low. Shorten
them a very little more, so as to bring your elbows further
forward. When you stop, you should not be compelled to jerk your
elbows back of your waist, but should bring them into line with
it, leaning back slightly, and drawing yourself upward. Stop your
horse now, for practice. Do not speak to him during your first
lessons, except by your master's express command, but address him
in his own language, using your reins, your foot, and your whip,
if your master permit. "Why do you make coquette of your horse?"
asked a French master of a pretty girl who was coaxingly calling
her mount "a naughty, horrid thing," and casting glances fit to
distract a man on the ungrateful creature's irresponsive crest.
"Your horse does not care anything at all about you; don't you
think he does!" pursued he, ungallantly. "You may coax me as much
as you like," said a Yankee teacher to a young woman who was
trying the "treat him kindly" theory, and was calling her horse a
"dear old ducky darling;" "and," he continued, "I'm rather fond
of candy myself, but it isn't coaxing or lump sugar that will
make that horse go. It's brains and reins and foot and whip."

When you have a horse of your own, talk to him as much as you
like, and teach him your language as an accomplishment, but
address the riding-school horse in his own tongue, until you have
mastered it yourself.

Now, adjust yourself carefully, lean forward, extend your hands a
very little, touch your horse with your left heel, and, as soon
as he moves, sit erect and let your hands resume their position.
Hasten his steps until he is almost trotting, before you strike
him with the whip. You can do this by very slightly opening and
shutting your fingers in time with the slight pull which he gives
with his head at every step, by touches with your heel, and by
touches, not blows, with the whip, and by allowing yourself, not
to rise, but to sit a little lighter with each step. It is not
very easy to do, and you need not be discouraged if you cannot
effect it after many trials. Some masters will tell you to strike
your horse on the shoulder, and some will prefer that you should
strike him on the flank as a signal for trotting. Those who
prefer the former will tell you to carry your whip pointing
forward; the others will tell you to carry it pointing backward,
and many masters will say that it makes little difference as long
as it is carried gracefully, and as long as you understand that
it takes the place of a leg on the right side of the horse.
General Anderson, in "On Horseback," lays down the rule that a
horse should never be struck on the shoulder, as it will cause
him to swerve, but use your master's horses in obedience to his
orders.

Now, then, one, two, three, four! One, two, three, four! You
don't seem to be astonishing anybody very much, Esmeralda! Again,
one, two, three, four! Never mind! Sit down and let the horse do
the work. Keep your left heel down, and your left knee close to
the saddle. Not close to the pommel, understand, but close to the
saddle. Try and imagine, if you like, that you are carrying a
dollar between the knee and the saddle, after the West Point
fashion, and do not fret overmuch because you are not rising. If
you were a cavalryman riding with your troop, you would not be
allowed to rise, and to sit properly while sitting close is an
accomplishment not to be despised. "Ow!" What does that mean? You
rose without trying? Watch yourself carefully, and if such a
phenomenon should occur again, try to make it repeat itself by
letting yourself down into the saddle, and then rising again
quickly. But keep trotting! Count how many times you trot around
the ring, and mentally pledge yourself to increase the number of
circuits at your next lesson. And--"Cluck!"

Sit down in the saddle, Esmeralda! Lean back a little, bring your
left knee up against the pommel, keeping the lower part of the
leg close against the saddle; keep your right knee in place and
your right foot and the lower part of your right leg close to the
saddled; guide your horse, but do not otherwise exert yourself.
How do you like it? Delightful? Yes, with a good horse it is as
delightful as sitting in a rocking-chair, but, if you were a
rider of experience, you would not allow your horse to enter upon
the gait without permission, but would bring him back to the trot
by slightly pulling first the left rein and then the right, a
movement which is called sawing the mouth. The poor creature is
really not in fault. He heard the cluck given by that complacent-
looking man, trotting slowly about, and not knowing how to use
his reins and knees in order to go faster, and he said to
himself: "She is tired of trotting and wants a rest; so do I,"
and away he went. If you had been trying to rise, you might have
been thrown, for the greatest danger that you will encounter in
the school comes from rising while the horse is at a canter. The
cadence of the motion is triple, instead of in common time like
that of the trot, and you will soon distinguish the difference,
but eschew cantering at first. If you once become addicted to it,
you will never learn to trot, or even to walk well.

Having had your little warning against clucking, perhaps you
will now sympathize with the indignant Englishwoman who, having
been almost unseated by a similar mischance, responded, when
the clucking cause thereof rode up to say that he was sorry
that her horse should behave so: "It wasn't the horse that was
in fault, sir; it was a donkey." But now, try a round or two
more of trotting, then guide your horse carefully about the ring
two or three times, bring him up to the mounting-stand, dismount,
and go to the dressing-room. You are rather warm, but not in
the least tired, and you have had "such a good time," as you
enthusiastically explain to everybody who will listen to you, but
as there is much merry chatter going on from behind screens, and
as it is all to the same effect, nobody pays much attention, and
if you were cross and complaining, everybody would laugh at you.
A riding-school is a place from which every woman issues better
contented than she entered, and there is no sympathy for
grumblers.

Remember to be careful about your wraps, and that you may be able
to ride better next time, practice these exercises at home: Place
your knees together and heels together, adjust your shoulders,
hands, and arms as if you were in the saddle, and sit down as far
as possible, while keeping the legs vertical from the knee down.
Rise, counting "One," sink again, rise once more at "Two," and
continue through three measures, common time. Rest a minute and
repeat until you are a little weary. Nothing is gained by doing
too much work, but if you do just enough of this between lessons,
you cannot possibly grow stiff. When you can do it fairly well,
try to do it first on one foot and then on the other, and then
bring your right foot in front of your left knee, and, standing
on your left foot, assume, as nearly as possibly, the proper
position for the saddle, and try to rise in time. You will not
find it very difficult, and you will be compelled to keep your
heel down while doing it, especially if you put a block about an
inch thick under your left tow. You may try doing it while
sitting sidewise in a chair, if it be difficult for you to poise
yourself on one foot, but a girl who cannot stand thus for some
time, long enough to lace her riding boot, for instance, is much
too weak for her own good.

Take all your spare minutes for this work, Esmeralda. Bob up and
down in all the secluded corners of the house; try to feel the
motion in the horse-cars--it will not need much effort in many
of them. And if you want to be comfortable in a herdic, sit
sidewise and pretend that the seat is a horse. This is Mr.
Hurlburt's rule for riding in an Irish "outside car." In short,
while taking your first riding-lessons, walk, sit, and think to
the tune of

  "One, two, three, four!
    Near the wall,
  Make him trot;
    You cannot fall!"



IV.

  The Horse does not attempt to fly;
  He knows his powers, and so should I.
         _Spurgeon_.


Wilful will to water, eh, Esmeralda? You are determined to appear
in that riding party after your third lesson, and you think that
you "will look no worse than a great many others." Undoubtedly,
that is true, and more's the pity, but, since you will go, let us
make the most of the third lesson, and trust that you will return
in a whole piece, like Henry Clay's pie.

You do not see why there is any more danger on the road than in
the ring, and you have never been thrown! It would be unkind, in
the face of that "never," to remind you that you have been in the
saddle precisely twice, and, really, there is no more danger from
your incompetency, should it manifest itself on the road, than
might arise from its display in the ring, but with your horse it
is another matter. Having the whole world before him, why not, he
will meditate, speed forth into space, and escape from the
hateful creature who jerks on his head so causelessly, making him
sigh wearily for the days of his unbroken colthood? He would
endure it within doors, because he has noticed that his tormentor
gives place to another every hour, and pain may be borne when it
is not monotonous; but he remembers that there is no limit to the
time during which one human being may impel him along an open
road, and he also remembers some very pretty friskings,
delightful to himself, but disconcerting to his rider, and he may
perform some of them.

Even if he should, he would not unseat a rider well accustomed to
school work, but you! You actually rose in the saddle three times
in succession, the other day, and where were your elbows and
where were your feet when you ceased rising, and long before your
steady, quiet mount understood that you desired him to walk?

Your master smiles indulgently when you announce that this is
your last practice lesson, and says: "Very well, you shall ride
Charlie, to-day, at least for a little while, until some others
come in." He himself mounts, moves off a pace or two, one of the
assistant masters puts you in the saddle, and before the groom
lets Master Charlie's head go, your master says, easily: "Leave
his reins pretty long, especially the right one. Put your left
knee close against the pommel; don't try to rise until I tell
you. Ready. Now."

You feel as if you were in a transformation scene at the theatre.
The windows of the ring seem to run into one another, and at very
short intervals you catch a glimpse in the mirror of a young
woman, in a familiar looking Norfolk jacket, sitting with her
elbows as far behind her as if held there by the Austrian plan of
running a broomstick in front of the arms and behind the waist.

On and on! You earnestly wish to stop, but are ashamed to say so.
Close at your right hand, pace for pace with you, rides your
master, keeping up an unbroken fire of brief ejaculation: "Hands
a little lower! Arms close to the side!" Shoulders square!
Square! Draw your right shoulder backward and upward! Now down
with your right elbow! Don't pull o the right rein! Don't lift
your hands! You'll make him go faster!"

"I like this kind of trot," you say sweetly. "It's easier than
the other kind."

"It isn't a trot; it's a canter," says your master, with a
suspicion of dryness in his voice, "but you may make him trot if
you like. Shorten both reins, especially the left. Whoa, Charlie!
Wait until I say 'Now,' before you do it! Shorten both reins,
especially the left; that will keep him to the wall, Then extend
your left arm a little, and draw back your right; draw back your
left and extend your right, and repeat until he comes down to a
trot. That saws his mouth, and gives him something besides
scampering to occupy his mind. Now we will start up again at a
canter. Lengthen your reins, but remember to shorten them when
you want to trot."

"Shall I tell you before hand, so that you may have time to make
your horse trot, too?" you ask.

Esmeralda, you must have been reading one of those sweet books on
etiquette which advise the horsewoman to be considerate of her
companions. How much notice do you think your master requires to
"make his horse trot"? You will blush over the memory of that
question next year, although now you feel that you have been very
ladylike, even very Christian, in putting it, for have you not
shown that your temper is unruffled and that you are thinking how
to make others happy?

Your master answers that his horse may be trusted, and that if
you prefer to take your own time to change from the canter to the
trot, rather than to wait for him to say, "Now," you may do so.
And the canter begins again, and, after a round or two, you try
the mouth-sawing process, doing  it very well, for it is an ugly
little trick at best, rarely found necessary by an accomplished
rider, and beginners seldom fail to succeed in it at the very
first attempt. If it were pretty and graceful, it would be more
difficult. Down to the trot comes the obedient Charles, and up
you go one, two, three, four! And down you come, until you really
expect to find yourself and the saddle in the tan between the two
halves of your horse.

Of what can the creature's spinal column be made, to bear such a
succession of blows! You begin by pitying the horse, but after
about half a circuit, you think that human beings have their
little troubles also, and you feel a suspicion of sarcasm in your
master's gentle: "You need not do French trot any longer, unless
you like. It will be easier for you to rise."

You give a frantic hop in your stirrup at the wrong minute, and
begin a series of jumps in which you and the horse rise on
alternate beats, by which means your saddle receives twice as
much pounding as at first, and then you have breath enough left
to gasp "Stop," and in a second you are walking along quietly,
and your master is saying in a matter-of-fact way: "You would
better keep your left heel down all the time, and turn the toe
toward the horse's side and keep your right foot and leg close to
the saddle below the knee; swing yourself up and down as a man
does; don't drop like a lump of lead."

"Like a snowflake," you murmur, for you fancy that you have a
pretty wit like Will Honeycomb.

"Not at all," says your master. "The snowflake comes down because
it must, and comes to stay. You come because you choose, and come
down to rise again instantly. You must keep your right shoulder
back, and your hands on a level with your elbows, and you must
turn the corners, not let your horse turn them as he pleases--
but more pupils are coming now and I must give you another horse.
You may have Billy Buttons." The change is effected, the other
pupils begin their lessons, and you and Billy walk deliberately
about in the centre of the ring.

At first he keeps moderately near the wall, but after a time you
find that the circle described by his footsteps has grown
smaller, and that he apparently fancies himself walking around a
rather small tree. Your master rides up as you are pulling and
jerking your left rein in the endeavor to come nearer to the
wall, and says, "Try Billy's canter. I'll take a round with you.
Strike him on the shoulder, and when you want him to trot,
shorten your reins and touch him on the flank. Those are the
signals which he minds best. Now! Canter."

You remember having heard of a "canter like a rocking-chair."
Charlie had it, but you were too inexperienced to know it, but
bad riders long ago deprived Billy of any likeness to a rocking-
chair. He knows that if he should let himself go freely, you
would come near to making him rear by pulling on the reins,
and so he goes along  "one, two, three, one, two, three,"
deliberately, and you feel and look, as you hear an unsympathetic
gazer in the gallery remark, "like a pea in a hot skillet." You
prided yourself on keeping your temper unruffled under the wise
criticism of your master, but in truth you did not really believe
him. You said to yourself that he was too particular, and you
even thought of informing him that he must not expect perfection
immediately, but this piece of impudence, spoken by a person
who, for aught that you can tell, does not know Billy from a
clotheshorse, convinces you instantly, and you decide to canter
no more, but to trot, and so you "shorten your reins and strike
him on the flank."

As you shorten the right rein more than the left, and as your
whip falls as lightly as if you meant the blow for yourself,
Billy goes to the centre of the ring, but you jerk him to the
wall, and in time, trot he does. But your left foot swings now
forward and now outward, and you cannot rise. The regular,
pulsating count by which a clever girl is moving like a machine,
irritates you, and you tell another beginner, "They really ought
to let us rise on alternate bats at first, until we are more
accustomed to the motion," and she agrees with you, and both of
you try this, which might be called trotting on the American
pupil plan, but even the calm Billy manages to take about six
steps between what you regard as the "alternate beats," and at
last breaks into a canter, and you hear yourself ordered, very
peremptorily, to "sit down." You obey, but begin the pea in the
skillet performance again, and at last you tell your master that
you will not try to trot anymore, but would like to know all
about managing the reins.

"And then," you say, looking as wise as the three Gothamites of
the nursery song, "even if I should not be able to trot long, and
should fall behind my friends on the road, I shall have perfect
control of my horse, and can walk on until they miss me and turn
back for me. Will you please tell me all the ways of holding the
reins?"

Your master does not laugh; the joke is too venerable, and he
feels awe-struck as he hears it, so ancient does it seem.

"If you take your reins in one hand," he says, "an easy way is to
hold the snaffle on your ring finger, and the left curb outside
the little finger, with the right curb between the middle and
fore fingers. Then, when you want to use both hands, put your
right little finger and ring finger between the right curb and
right snaffle, and hold your hands at exactly even distances from
your horse's head, with the two reins firmly nipped by the thumbs
resting on top of the fore-fingers. This is the way recommended
in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in Colonel Dodge's 'Patroclus
and Penelope,' and you will see it in many very good hunting
pictures.

"Colonel Anderson, in his 'On Horseback,' recommends dividing
the curb reins by the little finger of the left hand and the
snaffle reins by the middle finger, carrying the ends up
through the hand, and holding them by the thumb. Mr. Mead, in his
'Horsemanship for Women,' mentions this hold, but prefers taking
the curb on the ring finger, and the snaffle outside the little
finger, and between the forefinger and middle finger. This hold
is used in the British army, and it is convenient in school,
because if it be desirable to drop the curb in order to ride with
the snaffle only, you can do it by dropping your ring finger,
and, if your horse be moderately quiet, you can knot the curb
rein and let it lie on his neck. Besides, it makes the snaffle a
little tighter than the curb, and that is held to be a good thing
in England. An English soldier is prone to accuse American
cavalrymen of riding too much on the curb, and by the way, I have
heard English soldiers assert that they were taught the second
method, but it was a riding master formerly in the Queen's
service who told me that the third was preferred.

"M. de Bussigny, in his little 'Handbook for Horsewomen,' gives
the preference to crossing the reins, the curb coming outside the
little finger and between the ring and middle finger, and the
snaffle between the little and ring fingers and the middle finger
and forefinger. I hold my won in that way when training a horse,
but it is better for you to use both hands on the reins, and he
would tell you so. You are more likely to sit square; it gives
you twice the hold, and then, too, you know where your right hand
is, and are not waving it about in the air, or devising queer
ways of holding your whip. Now your hour is over, and I will take
you off your horse. Wait until he is perfectly still, and the
groom has him by the head. Now drop your reins; let me take off
the foot straps; take your foot out of the stirrup; turn in the
saddle; put one hand on my shoulder and one on my elbow, and slip
down as lightly as you can."

You glance at the clock, perceive that you have been I the saddle
almost an hour and a half, and murmur an apology. "Don't mind," is
the encouraging answer. "As long as a pupil does not complain and
call us stingy when we make her dismount, we do not say much. But
are you really going on the road, Monday, Miss Esmeralda?" "Yes,
I am," you answer. "Ah, well," he says, a little regretfully,
"don't forget, then. Hold on with your right knee and sit down
for the canter."

What shall you do by way of exercise before Monday? Practise all
the old movements, a little of each one at a time, and take two
lengths of ribbon as wide as an ordinary rein, or, better still,
two leather straps, and fasten one to the knobs on the two sides
of a door and run the other through the keyhole. Call the knob
straps the snaffle reins, and the keyhole straps the curb, and,
sitting near enough to let them lie in your lap, practice picking
them up and adjusting them with your eyes shut. When you can do
it quickly and neatly, try and see with how little exertion you
can sway the door to left and right, and then practice holding
these dummy reins while standing on one foot and executing the
movement used in trotting. If the door move by a hair's breadth,
it will show you that you are pulling too much, and you must
remember that your hold on your horse's mouth gives you greater
leverage than you have on the door, and then, perhaps, you will
pity the poor beast a little now and then.

What is that? Your master treated you as if you were an ignorant
girl? So you are, dear, and even if you were not, if you knew all
that there is in all the books, you might still be a bad
horsewoman, because you might now know enough to use your
knowledge. You don't care, and you feel very well, and are very
glad that you went? Of course, that is the invariable cry! And
you mean to take some more lessons if you find that you really
need them? Then leave your skirt in the dressing-room locker! You
will come back from your ride a wiser, but not a sadder, girl.
One cannot be sad on horseback.



V.

  --Pad, pad, pad! Like a thing that was mad,
     My chestnut broke away.
         _Thornbury_.


Esmeralda was puzzled when she returned from her first riding
party. In the morning, looking very pretty in her borrowed riding
habit, her English hat with the hunting guard made necessary by
the Back Bay breezes, her brown gauntlets, and the one scarlet
carnation in her button-hole, she drove to the riding-school,
where she had agreed to meet Theodore and her other friends, not
like Mrs. Gilpin, lest all should say that she was proud, but
because her master had promised to lend her one of the school
horses, to put her ion the saddle and to adjust her stirrup, and
because she secretly felt that she would better give herself
every possible advantage in what, as it came nearer, assumed the
aspect of a trial rather than a pleasure.

Beholding Ronald, the promised horse, severely correct in his
road saddle, and looking immensely tall as he stood on the stable
floor, she inly applauded her own wisdom, strongly doubting that
Theodore's unpractised arm would have tossed her into her place
as lightly as the master's, and she was secretly overjoyed when
the master himself mounted and joined the party with her, making
its number nine; Esmeralda herself, the graduate of three
lessons; Theodore, all his life accustomed to ride anything
calling itself a horse, but making no pretenses to mastery of the
equestrian science; the lawyer, understood, on his own authority,
to be well informed in everything; the society young lady,
erect, precise, self-satisfied; the Texan, riding with apparent
laziness, his hands rather high and seldom quiet, but not to
be shaken from his seat; the beauty, languid and secretly
discontented because her horse was "intended for a brunette, and
a ridiculous mount for a blonde"; Versatilia, who had "taken
up riding a little," and the cavalryman, calm, quiet, and
fraternally regarded by the master, as he reviewed the little
flock from the back of a horse which had been offered to him as
the paragon of its species, and for which and its kind, as he
announced after riding a square or two, he "was not paying a cent
a carload."

"It is a lovely horse," said the beauty. "It is such a beautiful
color. But men never care for color."

"Good color is a good thing, undoubtedly," said the master, "but
a beautiful horse is a good horse, not necessarily an animal
which would look well in a painted landscape, because its color
would harmonize with the hue of the trees."

"She is a beautiful girl, isn't she," said Esmeralda, looking
admiringly at the beauty, who, having just remembered Tennyson's
line about swaying the rein with flying finger tips, was
executing some movements which made her horse raise his ears to
listen for the cause of such conduct, and then shake his head in
mild disapproval.

"What do I care for a pretty girl?" demanded the master. "Pretty
rider is what I want to see, and 'pretty rider' is 'good rider.'
Wait until that girl trots three minutes or so, and see whether
or not she is pretty."

The party went through the streets at a rapid walk, now and then
meeting a horse-car, now and then a stray wagon, but invariably
allowed to take its own way, with very little regard for the rule
of the road. The American who drives, whatever may be his social
station, admires the courage of the woman who rides, but he is
firmly convinced that she does not understand horses, and gives
her all the space available wherein to disport herself.

"Are we all right in placing the ladies on the left?" asked
Theodore, turning to the master.

"Of course," cried the lawyer. "We follow the English rule, and
the left was the place of safety for the lady in the days when
English equestrianism was born. Travelers took the left of the
road, and this placed the cavalier between his lady and any
possible danger."

"And in the United States they take the right, and she is between
him and any possible danger," said the master. "It is the custom,
but it seems illogical and foolish. True, it removes any danger
that the lady may be crushed between her own horse and her
escort's, but who protects her from any passing car or carriage,
and in case of a runaway what can her escort, his left hand
occupied with his own reins, do to aid her with hers, or to
disentangle her foot from the stirrup or her habit from the
pommels in case she is thrown? Can he snatch her from the saddle,
after the matter of one of Joaquin Miller's young men? The truth
is that since the rule of the road is 'keep to the right,' the
rule of the saddle should be 'sit on the right,' but with a lady
on his bridle hand the horseman could not be at his best as an
escort, even then.

"It is one of the many little absurdities in American customs; the
old story of the survival of the two buttons at the back of the
coat, and, by the way, Miss Esmeralda, the two buttons on the
back of your habit are out of place, not because of your tailor's
fault, but because of yours. They should make a line at right
angles with your horse's spinal column. Draw yourself back a
little, until you can feel the pommel under your right knee.
'Draw' yourself back; don't lean, but keep yourself perfectly
erect, your back perpendicular to your horse's. Sit a little to
the left; lean a little to the right. Let your left shoulder go
forward a little, your right shoulder backward. Now you are
exactly right. Try to remember your sensations at this minute, in
order to be able to reproduce them. When I say 'Careful,' pass
yourself in review and endeavor to feel where you are wrong.
But," addressing the cavalryman, who was in advance with
Versatilia, "is this procession a funeral?"

"Not exactly," said the cavalryman, and the, after a backward
glance, he cried, in the fashion of a military riding-school
master: "Pr-r-re-pare to tr-r-r-ot--Trot!"

Esmeralda remembered to shorten her reins, and resigned herself
to the Fates, who were propitious, enabling her to catch the
cadence of the trot, and to rise to it during the few seconds
before the cavalryman slackened rein. "Careful," said the master,
and she shook herself into place, eliciting a hearty "Good!" from
him. "Look at your pretty girl," he growled softly, but savagely,
and truly the beauty solicited attention. Slipping to the left in
her saddle, one elbow pointing toward Cambridgeport and the other
toward Dorchester, her right foot visible through her habit, and
her left all but out of the stirrup, she was attractive no
longer, and to complete the master's disgust she ejaculated: "My
hair is coming down!"

"Better bring a nurse and a ladies' maid for her," he muttered to
Esmeralda, confidentially. "Hairpins in your saddle pocket? Well,
you are a sensible girl," and he rode forward with the little
packet, giving it to the lawyer to pass to the unfortunate young
woman. But here arose a little difficulty. The space between the
lawyer's horse and the beauty's as they stood was too wide to
allow him to lay the parcel in her outstretched fingers. The
Texan, on her right hand, had enough to do to keep her horse and
his own absolutely motionless that she might not be thrown by any
unexpected motion of either animal. Versatilia exclaimed in
remonstrance, "Don't leave me," when the cavalryman said, "Wait a
second, I'll come and give them to her;" the master sat quiet and
smiling.

"Why don't you dismount and give them to her?" cried Theodore,
and was out of his saddle, had placed the parcel in her hand, and
was back in his place again before either of the other three men
could speak.

"Very well done," said the master, approvingly, "but not the
right thing to do. Never leave your saddle without good cause,
and never leave your horse loose for a moment. Yes, I saw that
you retained your hold of the reins; I was talking at Miss
Esmeralda."

"Why didn't you make your horse step sideways?" he asked the
lawyer.

"I can't. He won't. See there!"

Sundry pulls, precisely like those which he might have used had
he intended the horse to turn, a pair of absolutely motionless
legs, and an unused whip were accepted as evidence that the
lawyer's "I can't" was perfectly true, and the master and the
cavalryman exchanged comprehending glances as the latter said:
"Well, don't mind. An eminent authority announced after the
Boston horse show of 1889 that high-school airs were of no use on
the road. To make a horse move a step sideways is the veriest
little zephyr of an air, but it would have been of some use to
you, then. Are we ready now? What's that? Dropped your whip?"

Up went the Texan's left heel, catching cleverly on the saddle as
he dropped lightly to the right, after the fashion of the Arab,
the Moor, the Apache, of all the nations which ride for speed and
for fighting rather than for leaping and hunting, and he caught
the whip from the ground and was back in his place in a
twinkling. The ladies were unmoved, because inappreciative; the
lawyer looked savagely envious, the cavalryman and the master
approving, and Theodore, frankly admiring, but no one said
anything, the little cavalcade rearranged itself, and once more
moved on at a footpace until an electric car appeared.

"Ronald is like a rock," said the master, "and you need not be
afraid, but I'll take this beast along in advance. He will shy,
or do some outrageous thing, and he has a mouth as sensitive as
the Mississippi's, and no more."

The "beast" did indeed sidle and fret and prance, and manifest a
disposition to hasten to drown himself in the reservoir, beyond
the reach of self-propelling vehicles, and he repeated the
performance a the sight of two other cars, although evidently
less alarmed than at first, but the fourth car was in charge of a
kindly-disposed driver, who came to a dead stop, out of pure
amiability.

This was too much for the "beast" to endure; a moving house he
was beginning to regard as tolerable, but a house which stopped
short and glared at him with all its windows was more than horse
nature could endure, and he started for the next county to
institute an inquiry as to whether such actions were to be
allowed, but found himself forced to stop, and not altogether
comfortable, while the master cried good-naturedly: "Go along and
take care of your car. I'll take care of my horse!"

"More than some other folks can do," said the driver, with a
quiet grin at the lawyer, whose angry, "Here, what are you
doing!" shouted to his plunging steed, had brought all the women
in the car to the front, to explain to one another that "that man
was abusing his horse, poor thing."

The car glided off, and Versatilia turned to look at it; her
horse stumbled slightly, jerking her wrists sharply, and but for
the cavalryman's quick shifting of the reins to his right hand
and his strong grasp of her reins with his left, she might have
been in danger.

"Never look back," lectured the master. Esmeralda was his pupil,
and he would have taken the whole centennial quadrille and all
the cabinet ladies to point his moral, had he seen them making
equestrian blunders. "Where your horse has been, where, he is, is
the past. Look to the future, straight before you."

"The cavalryman looked back just now," Esmeralda ventured to say.

"Yes, but he turned his horse very slightly to do it, and he may
do almost anything because he has a perfect seat, and is a good
horseman."

"Suppose I hear something or somebody coming up behind me?"

"If it have any intelligence, it will not hurt you. If it have
none, looking will do you no good. Turn out to the right as far
as you can and look to the front harder than ever, so as to be
ready to guide your horse and to avoid any obstacles in case he
should start to run. What is the trouble with the ladies now?"

"O, dear!" cried the beauty to the society young lady, "your
horse."

"What's the matter with him?" asked the other, still very stately
and not turning.

"Oh! The dreadful creature has caught his tail on my horse's
bit," said the beauty.

"Then you'd better take your horse's bit away," retorted the
other. "My horse's eyes are not at that end of him, and he can't
be expected to look at his tail."

"And you may be kicked," added the Texan. "Check him a little;
there! We ought not to be so close together, and we ought to be
moving a little, I think. Shall we trot again?"

Everybody assented, the cavalryman and Versatilia set off, the
others followed as best they might, the beauty "going to pieces"
in a minute or two, according to the master, the society young
lady stiffening visibly, losing the cadence of the trot very
soon, but making no outcry as she was tossed about uncomfortably,
and not bending her head to look at her reins, as Versatilia did.

"There's the advantage of training in other things," said the
master. "She's a good dancer and a good amateur actress, and she
is controlling herself as she would on a ballroom floor, and
remembering the spectators as she would on the stage. She's no
rider, but is perfectly selfish and self-possessed, and she will
cheat her escort into thinking that she is one. Glad she's no
pupil of mine, however! She always heads the conversation, one of
her friends told me the other day. That is to say, she is always
acting. I can't teach such a person anything; nobody can. She can
teach herself, as she can think of herself and love herself, but
she can't go outside of herself--and the lawyer will find it
out after he has married her."

Esmeralda and Theodore stared in astonishment.

"Walk," said the master, noticing that his pupil looked too warm
for comfort, and the three allowed the others to go on without
them. "Careful," he added, and Esmeralda, adjusting herself
studiously, asked: "Is it really easier to ride on the road than
it is in the school? It seems so."

"It is a little, especially if the corners of the ring are so
near together that the horse goes in a circle, for then the rider
has to lean to the right, while on the road she may sit straight.
Give me the right kind of horse for my pupil to ride, and I would
as leif give lessons on the road as anywhere, but it is not well
for the pupil, whose attention is distracted by a thousand
things, and who learns less in a year than she would in a month
in school. There is no finish about the riding of a woman so
taught. She may be pretty, as you said of one of your friends,
she may be self-possessed, like the other, but she will betray
her ignorance every moment. You were surprised just now at what I
said of the society young lady. A woman can't cheat an old
riding-master, after he has seen her in the saddle. He knows her
and her little ways by heart. Shall we start up? Ah!"

Ronald, the "steady as a rock," was off and away at a canter;
Theodore was starting to gallop in pursuit, but was sharply
ordered back by the master, who went on himself at a rather slow
canter, ready to break into a gallop if his pupil were thrown,
but keeping out of Ronald's hearing, lest he should be further
startled by finding himself followed. There was a clear stretch
of road before her, and Esmeralda sat down as firmly as possible,
brought her left knee up against the pommel, clung firmly with
her right knee, held her hands low and her thumbs as firm as
possible, and thought very hard.

"Very soon," she said to herself, "I shall be thrown and dragged,
and hat a figure I shall be going home, if I', not killed! But I
sha'n't be! I shall be ridiculous, and that's worse." Here she
swept by the riding party, but as Versatilia and the beauty
turned to look at her, and forgot to control their horses, the
cavalryman and the Texan had to do it for them, and could do
nothing for Esmeralda except to shout "Whoa," which Ronald very
properly disregarded. The master came up, and the society young
lady addressed him with, "Very silly of her to try to exhibit
herself so, isn't it?"

"That's no exhibition; that's a runaway," said the master grimly.
"She's doing well too, poor girl," and he and Theodore went on
after the flying rider. Two or three carriages, the riders
staring with horror; a pedestrian or two, innocently wondering
why a lady should be on the road alone; a small boy whistling
shrilly; these were all the spectators of Esmeralda's flight. She
felt desolate and deserted, and yet sure that it was best that
she should be alone, since the master could overtake her if he
would, and she wondered if she should be very seriously injured
when thrown at last, but all the time she was talking to Ronald
in a voice carefully kept at a low pitch, and her hands were held
with a steadiness utterly new to them, and the good horse went on
regularly, but faster and faster.

"That isn't a real runaway," said the master to himself. "Ah, I
see! Her whip is down and strikes him at every stride, and so she
unconsciously urges him forward. If there were a side road here,
I'd gallop around and meet her, or if there were fields on either
side, I'd leap the fence and make a circuit and cut her off, but
through this place, with banks like a railway cutting on each
side, there is nothing to do."

Swifter and swifter! Esmeralda began to feel weaker, thought of
Theodore, and of some other things of which she never told even
him, said a little prayer, but all the time remembered her
master's injunctions, and kept her place firmly, waiting for the
final, and, as she believed, inevitable crash, when lo! She saw
that just in front of her lay a long piece of half-mended road,
full of ugly little stones, and she turned Ronald on it, with a
triumphant, "See how you like that, sir," and then sawed his
mouth. In half a minute he was walking. In another the master was
beside her with words of approval. Theodore galloped up, pale and
anxious, and between the two she had quite as much praise as was
good for her, and, being told of the position of the whip, found
her confidence in Ronald restored.

"But you should never start up hastily," said the master. "Take
time for everything, and check your horse the instant he goes
faster than you mean to have him. You are a good girl, and you
shall not be scolded, or snubbed, either," he muttered, and the
party came up, the cavalryman and the Texan loud in praise, the
other four clamorous with questions and advice.

"You look quite disheveled," said the society young lady
agreeably.

"Ladies often do after they have been on the road a little while.
Excuse me, but one of your skirt buttons is unfastened," said the
master, and, not knowing how to pass her reins into her right
hand so as to use her left to repair the accident, the society
young lady was effectually silenced, while the master, holding
Esmeralda's horse, made her wipe her face, arrange the curly
locks flying about her ears, readjust her hat, and generally
smooth her plumage, until she was once more comfortable.

After a little, the master proposed a trot up the hill, and
instructed Esmeralda to lean forward as her horse climbed upward,
"If you should have to trot down hill, lean back a little, and
keep your reins short," he said.

The lawyer and the society young lady, essaying to descend the
next hill brilliantly, barely escaped going over their horses'
heads, and all four ladies were glad when they perceived that
they were going homeward.

"I like it," Esmeralda said to the master, "but I wish I knew
more, and I'm going to learn, and I see now that three lessons
isn't enough, even for a beginning."

"I knew a girl who took seventeen lessons and then was thrown,"
said the society young lady. "Native ability is better than
teaching. I don't believe any master could make a rider of you,
Esmeralda."

"A good teacher can make a rider out of anyone who will study,"
said the master, to whom she looked for approval. "As for
seventeen lessons, they are better than seven, of course, but
they are not much, after all. How many dancing lessons, music
lessons, elocution lessons have you taken? More than seventeen? I
thought so. Here's a railroad bridge, but no train coming. Had
one been approaching, and had there been no chance to cross it
before it came, I should have made you turn Ronald the other way,
Miss Esmeralda, so that if he ran he would run out of what he
thinks is danger, and not into it. And now for an easy little
trot home."

An easy little trot it was, and Esmeralda, left at her own door,
where a groom waited to take her horse to the stable, was happy,
but puzzled. "Theodore," she cried, as soon as he appeared in the
evening, "did you ask the master to go with us? He treated me
just as he does in school."

"Yes, I did," said Theodore boldly. "I was afraid to take charge
of you alone. That was a 'road lesson.'"

"You--you--exasperating thing!" cried Esmeralda. "But then,
you were sensible."

"That's tautology," said Theodore.



VI.

  A solitary horseman might have been seen.
         _G.P.R. James_.


And so you are feeling very meek after your road lesson and your
runaway, Esmeralda, and are a perfect Uriah Heep for 'umbleness,
and are, henceforth and forever, going to believe every syllable
that your master utters, and to obey every command the instant
that it is given, and--there, that will do! And you are going
to take one private lesson so as to learn a few little things
before you display your progress before any other pupils again?
One private lesson! Did your master advise it? No-no, but he
consented to give it, when you had persuaded him that it would be
best for you? When you had persuaded him? Behold the American
pupil's definition of obedience: to follow commands dictated by
herself! However, there is no use in trying to eradicate the
ideas bequeathed and fostered by a hundred years of national
self-government, so go to the school at the hour when no other
pupils are expected.

The horses pace very solemnly around the great ring, and you
adjust yourself with wonderful dignity, feeling that your master
must perceive by your improved carriage and by the general
perfection of your aspect that your exquisite timidity and
charming shyness have been responsible for your awkwardness in
former lessons, when other pupils were present, but now he leaves
your side and takes a position in the centre of the ring, whence
he addresses you thus:

"Keep your reins even! The right ones are too short, the left too
long! Stop him! That is not stopping him! He took two steps
forward after he checked himself. Go forward, and try again when
I tell you. Stop! Not so hard, not so hard! You are making him
back! Extend your arms forward! There! A little more, and you
would have made him rear! Whoa! Wo-ho! Now listen! Not so! Don't
drop your reins in that way, and sit so carelessly that a start
would throw you from your place! Never leave your horse to
himself a second! Sit as well as you can, look between your
horse's ears and listen! Always use some discretion in choosing
your place to stop. Do not try to stop when turning a corner,
even to avoid danger, but rather change your direction. In the
ring, never stop on the track, unless in obedience to your
masters order, but turn out into the centre, but when you have
once told your horse to stop, make him do it, for his sake, as
well as for your own, if you have to spend an hour in the effort.
And it will be an hour well spent, so that you need not lose
patient, and if you do lose it, do not allow your horse to
perceive it.

"To stop, you should press your leg and your whip against your
horse's sides; lift your hands a very little, and turn them in
toward your body, lean back and draw yourself up. There are six
things to do: two to your horse, one on each side of him, two
with your hands and two with your body, and you must do them
almost simultaneously. Unless you do the first two, your horse
will surely take a forward step or two after stopping, in order
to bring himself into a comfortable position. If you do not cease
doing the last four the moment that your horse has stopped, he
may rear or he may back several steps, and he should never do
that, but should await an order for each step. Now, do you
remember the six things? Very well! Go forward! Stop! Did I tell
you to do anything with your arms? No> Well, why did you bring
your elbows back of your waist, then? It is allowable to do that
--to save your life, but not to stop your horse. Bend your hands
at the wrist, turning the knuckles, if need be, until they are at
right angles with their ordinary position, so that the back of
your hand is toward your horse's ears, but keep the thumb
uppermost all the time.

"Now, think it over a moment! Go forward! Stop! Pretty well! Go
on! Don't lean forward too much when you start, and sit up again
instantly.

"Now walk around the school once, and go into all the corners.
Stop! You stopped pretty well, but you leaned back too far, and
you did not draw yourself up at all. Mind, you draw 'yourself'
up; you don't try to pull the bit up through the corners of your
horse's mouth. What I wanted to say was that a turn is just half
a stop as far as your hands, leg and whip are concerned. To turn
to the right, use your right hand and whip, but keep your left
leg and hand steady; to turn to the left, use your left leg and
hand and keep your whip and whip hand steady. When you turn to
the right, lean to the right instead of backward; 'lean,' not
twist to the right, and turn your head to the right so as to see
what may be there.

"If you were on the road, and did not turn your head before going
down a side street, you might knock over a bicycle rider, and
thereby hurt your horse, which would be a pity," he says, with
apparent indifference as to the bicycle rider's possible
injuries. "Now go around the school again. Left shoulder forward!
Right shoulder back! Sit to the right! Lean to the left! I told
you to sit to the left, the other day? And that is the reason
that I have told you to sit to the right to-day. You over-do it.
Miss Esmeralda, if I were talking for my own pleasure, I should
say pretty things to you, but I am talking to teach you, and when
I say 'This is wrong! This is wrong!' and again 'This is wrong!'
I do it for you, not for myself. When your father and mother say
'This is wrong; you must not do it, or you will be sorry,' you do
not look at them as if you thought them to be unreasonable--or,
I trust that you do not," he adds, mentally. "Heaven only knows
what an American girl may do when anybody says, 'You must not' to
her.

"Now," he goes on aloud, "it is the same with your teacher; he
says 'You are wrong,' lest you should be sorry by and by, and he
is patient and says it many times, as your father and mother do,
and he says it every time that you do anything wrong, unless you
do so many wrong things at once that he cannot speak of each one.
Now you shall turn to the right, and remember that a turn is half
a stop. Go across the school and then turn to the left! Keep a
firm hold on your right rein now so as to keep your horse close
to the wall. Where, where are your toes? It was not necessary to
make you turn so as to see your right foot through your riding
habit as I can now, to know that they were pointing outward. Your
right shoulder told the story by drooping forward. M. de Bussigny
lays especial stress on this point in his manual, and you will
find that your whole position depends more on that seemingly
unimportant right foot than on many other things, so bend your
will to holding it properly, close against the saddle. Walk on
now, keeping on a straight line. If you cannot do it in the
school, you cannot on the road, and many an ugly scrape against
walls, horse-cars, and other horses you will receive unless you
can keep to the right and in a straight line. Now turn to the
left, and go straight across the school. Straight! Fix your eye
on something when you start, and ride at it with as much
determination as if it were a fence; now you turn to the right
again and go forward. Have you read Delsarte?"

No, you murmur to yourself, you have not read Delsarte, and, if
you had, you do not believe that you could remember it or
anything else just at present. What an endless string of
directions! You wish that there was another pupil with you to
take the burden of a few of them! You wish you were--oh!
Anywhere. This is your obedience, is it Esmeralda? Well, you
don't care! This is dull! Your horse thinks so, too. He gently
tries the reins, and, finding that you offer no resistance, he
decides to take a little exercise, and starts off at a canter,
keeping away from the wall most piously, avoiding the corners as
if some Hector might be in ambuscade there to catch and tame him,
and rushing on faster and faster, as you do nothing in particular
to stop him.

"Lean to the right," cries the master, and you obey, but the
horse continues his canter, almost a gallop now, when suddenly
your wits return to you, you draw back first the right hand and
then the left, he begins to trot, and by some miracle you begin
to rise, and continue to do it, you do not know exactly how,
feeling a delight in it, an exhilarating, exultant sensation as
if flying. "Keep your right leg close to the saddle below the
knee and turn your toes in!" You obey, and even remember to press
your left knee to the saddle also and to keep your heel down.
"Don't rise to the left! Rise straight! Your horse is circling to
the right, and you must lean to the right to rise straight! Take
him into the corners so that he will move more on a straight
line, and you can rise straight and be as much at ease as if on
the road. Whoa! Now, don't change your position, but look at
yourself! You did not shorten your reins when you began to trot,
and, if your horse had stumbled, you could not have aided him to
regain his balance. Had you shortened them properly, you could,
by sitting down, using your leg and whip lightly and turning your
hands toward your body, have brought him down to a walk without
hurling yourself forward against the pommel in that fashion. Now,
adjust yourself and your reins, and start forward once more," and
you obey, and are beginning to flatter yourself that your master
does not know that your canter was accidental, when he warns you
against allowing a horse to do anything unbidden.

"You should have stopped him at once," he says. "He will very
likely try to repeat his little maneuver in a few minutes. When
he does, check him instantly, not by your voice, but as you have
been directed. And now, have you read Delsarte? No? If you have
time, you might read a chapter or two with advantage, simply for
the sake of learning that a principle underlies all attitudes.

"He divides the body into three parts; the head, torso, and legs,
and he teaches that the first and third should act on the same
line, while the second is in opposition to them. For instance, if
you be standing and looking toward the right, your weight should
rest on your right leg and your torso should be turned to the
left. Neither turn should be exaggerated, but the two should be
exactly proportioned, one to another.

"Now for riding, your body is divided into three parts, your head
and torso making one, your legs above the knee, the second, and
your legs below the knee, the third, and you will find that the
first and third will act together, whether you desire it or not.
Your right foot is properly placed now, but turn its toes outward
and upward; you see what becomes of your right shoulder. Now try
to make a circle to the right, a volte we call it, because it is
best to become accustomed to a few French words, as there are
really no English equivalents for many of the terms used in the
art of equestrianism.

"To make a volte you have only to turn to the right and to keep
turning, going steadily away from the wall until opposite your
starting point, and then regaining it by a half-circle. Making
voltes is not only a useful exercise, showing your horse that you
really mean to guide him, and teaching you to execute a movement
steadily, but it affords an excellent way of diverting the
horse's attention from the mischief which Satan is always ready
to find for idle hoofs. Give him a few voltes and he forgets his
plans for setting off at a canter. Do you understand? Very well.
When you are half-way down the school try to make a volte. I will
give you no order. Your horse would understand if I did and would
begin the movement himself, and you should do it unaided."

You try the volte, and convince yourself that the geometry master
who taught you that a circle was a polygon with an infinite
number of sides was more exact and less poetical than you thought
him in the days before the riding-school began to reform your
judgment on many things. You are conscious of not making a
respectable curve in return, and you draw a deep breath of
disgust as you say, "That was very bad, wasn't it?"

"Not for the first time. Keep your left hand and leg steady, and
try it again on the other side of the ring. Better! Now walk
around, and make him go into the corners, if you have to double
your left wrist in doing it, but don't move your arm, and when
you begin to bend you right wrist to turn, straighten your left,
and remember to lean your body and turn your head, if you want
your horse to turn his body. Your wrist acts on his head and
keeps him in line; your whip and leg bring his hind legs under
him, but you must move your body if you want him to move his.

"Now, you shall make a half volte, or shall 'change hands,' as it
is sometimes called, because, if you start with your left hand
nearest the wall, you will come back to the wall with your right
hand nearest to it; or, to speak properly, 'if you start on the
right hand of the school, you will end on the left hand.' For the
half volte, make a half circle to the right, and then ride in a
diagonal line to a point some distance back on your track, and
when you are close to it make three quarters of a turn to the
left and you will find yourself on the left of the school, and in
a position to practice keeping your horse to the right. Try it,
beginning about two thirds of the way down the long side of the
school. Now to get back to the right hand, you may turn to the
left across the school, and turn to the left again.

"There is a better way of dong it, but that is enough for to-day.
Walk now. Do you see how much better your horse carries himself,
and how much better you carry your hands, after those little
exercises? Now you must try and imagine yourself doing them over
and over and over again, to accustom your mind to them, just as
when learning to play scales and five-finger exercises you used
to think them out while walking. Shall you not need pictures and
diagrams to assist you? Not if you have as much imagination as
any horsewoman should have. Not if you have enough imagination to
manage a cow, much more to enter into the feelings of a good
horse. Pictures are invaluable to the stupid; they benumb and
enervate the clever, and turn them into apish imitators, instead
of making them able to act from their own knowledge and volition.
Theory will not make you a good rider, but a really good rider
without theory is an impossibility, and your theory must have a
deeper seat than your retinae. Now, you shall have a very little
trot, and then you may walk for ten minutes, and try to do voltes
and half voltes by yourself, asking me for aid if you cannot
remember how to execute the movements. Doing them will help you
to pass away the time when you are too tired to trot, and will
keep you from having any dull moments."

And you, Esmeralda, you naughty girl! You forgot all about your
sulkiness half an hour ago, and, looking your master in the face,
you say: "But nobody ever has dull moments in riding-school."
There! Finish your lesson and walk off to the dressing-room; you
will be trying to trade horses with somebody the next thing, you
artful, flattering puss!



VII.

  Here we are riding, she and I!
         _Browning_.


What is it now, Esmeralda? By your blushing and stammering it is
fairly evident that another of your devices for learning on the
American plan--that is to say, by not studying--is in full
possession of your fancy, and that again you expect to become a
horsewoman by a miracle; come, what is it? A music ride? Nell has
an acquaintance who always rides to music, and asserts that it is
as easy as dancing; that the music "fairly lifts you out of the
saddle," and that the pleasure of equestrian exercise is doubled
when it is done to the sound of the flute, violin, and bassoon,
or whatever may be the riding-school substitutes?

As for lifting you out of the saddle, Esmeralda, it is quite
possible that music might execute that feat, promptly and neatly,
once, and might leave you out, were it produced suddenly and
unexpectedly by "dot leetle Sherman bad," and it is undoubtedly
true that, were you a rider, music would exhilarate you, quicken
your motions, stimulate your nerves, and assist you as it assists
a soldier when marching. It is also true that it will aid even
you somewhat, by indicating on what step you should rise, so that
your motions will not alternate with those of your horse, to your
discomfiture and his disgust, and that thus, by mechanically
executing the movement, you may acquire the power of seeing that
you are not performing it when you rise once a minute or
thereabouts, but a music ride is an exercise which a wise pupil
will not take until advised thereto by her master. Still, have
your own way! Why did George Washington and the other fathers of
the republic exist, if its daughters must be in bondage to common
sense and expediency?

Borrow Nell's habit once more, for the criticism to be undergone
on the road is mild compared to that of a gallery of spectators
before whom you must repeatedly pass in review, and who may
select you as the object of their especial scrutiny. Dress at
home, if possible; if not, go to the school early, and array
yourself rapidly, but carefully, for there may be fifty riders
present during the evening, and there will be little room to
spare on the mounting-stand, and no minutes to waste on buttoning
gloves, shortening skirt straps or tightening boot lacings.
Remember all that you have been taught about mounting and
about taking your reins, and think assiduously of it, with a
determination to pay no attention to the gallery. There will be
no spectators on the mounting-stand, and Theodore, who will take
charge of you in the ring, will mount before you do, and when you
have been put in your saddle by one of the masters, and start, he
will take his place on your right, nearer the centre of the ring.
While you are walking your horses slowly about, turning corners
carefully and never ceasing to control your reins, warn him that
when you say, "Centre," he must turn out to the right instantly,
that you also may do so. If possible, you will not pronounce the
word, but will ride as long as the horses canter or trot in time
to the music.

"Do you understand," Theodore asks, "that these horses adjust
their gait to the music?"

"So Nell's friend says."

"Well, I don't believe it. They are good horses, but I don't
believe that they practice circus tricks. Why must I go to the
centre the minute that you bid me? Why couldn't you pull up and
pass out behind me?"

"Because if I did, somebody might ride over me. It is not proper
to stop while on the track."

"Oh-h! How long do they trot or canter at a time? Half an hour?"

"Only a few minutes," you answer, wondering whether Theodore
really supposes that you could canter, much less trot half an
hour, even if stimulated by the music of the spheres.

"That's a pretty rider," he says, as a girl circles lightly past,
sitting fairly well, and rising straight, but with her arms so
much extended that her elbow is the apex of a very obtuse angle,
though her forearms are horizontal. You explain this point to
Theodore, who replies that she looks pretty, and seems to be able
to trot for some time, whereupon your heart sinks within you.
What will he say when he sees the necessary brevity of your
performance?

Other riders enter: two or three men mounted on their own horses,
beautiful creatures concerning whose value fabulous tales are
told in the stable; the best rider of the school, very quietly
and correctly dressed, and managing her horse so easily that the
women in the gallery do not perceive that she is guiding him at
all, although the real judges, old soldiers, a stray racing man
or two, the other school pupils and the master--regard her
admiringly, and the grooms, as they bring in new horses, keep an
eye on her and her movements, as they linger on their way back to
the stable.

"Her horse is very good," Theodore admits, "but I don't think
much of her. Well, yes, she is pretty," he admits, as she
executes the Spanish trot for a few steps and then pats her
horse's shoulder; "it's pretty, but anybody could do it on a
trained horse, couldn't they, sir?" he asks your master, who
rides up, mounted on his own pet horse.

"Anybody who knew how. The horse has been trained to answer
certain orders, but the orders must be given. An untrained horse
would not understand the orders, no matter how good an animal he
might be. Antinous might not have been able to ride Bucephalus,
and I don't believe that Alexander could have coaxed Rosinante
into a Spanish trot. It isn't enough to have a Corliss engine, or
enough to have a good engineer: you must have them both, and they
must be acquainted with one another. I don't believe that horse
would do that for you."

"No, I don't think he would," Theodore says dryly, for he has
been watching, and has reluctantly owned to himself that he does
not see how the movement is effected. Meantime, you, Esmeralda,
have been arduously devoting yourself to maintaining a correct
attitude, and are rewarded by hearing somebody in the gallery
wonder whether you represent the kitchen poker or Bunker Hill
Monument.

"Don't mind," your master says, encouragingly. "It is better to
be stiffly erect than to be crooked, and as for the person who
spoke, she could not ride a Newfoundland dog," and with that he
touches his hat, and rides lightly across the ring to speak to a
lady whose horse has, in the opinion of the gallery, been showing
a very bad temper, although in reality every plunge and curvet
has been made in answer to her wrist and to the tiny spur which
his rider wears and uses when needed. The lady nods in answer to
something which the master says, the two draw near to the wall,
side by side, the others fall in behind them, and the band begins
a waltz, playing rather deliberately at first, but soon slightly
accelerating the time.

There is very little actual need of guiding your horse,
Esmeralda, because long habit has taught him what to do at a
music-ride, but you do right to continue to endeavor to make him
obey you. Should he stumble; should that man riding before you
and struggling to make his horse change his leading foot fail in
the attempt, and cause the poor creature to fall; should the
rider behind you lose control of her horse, your firm hold of the
reins would be of priceless value to you, but now the waltz
rhythm suddenly changes to that of a march, and your horse begins
to trot, slowly and with little action at first, and then with a
freer, longer stride which really lifts you out of the saddle,
sending you rather too high for grace, indeed, but making the
effort very slight for you, and enabling you to think about your
elbows, and sitting to the right and keeping your right shoulder
back and your right foot close to the saddle and pointing
downward, and your left knee also close, and "about seventy-five
other things," as you sum up the case to yourself. Thanks to
this, you are enabled to continue until the music stops, and
Theodore says, approvingly, "Well, you can ride a little."

"A very little," your master says. She has learned something, of
course, but it would be the unkindest of flattery for me to fell
her that she does well."

"One must begin to ride in early childhood," Theodore says.

"One should begin to be taught in childhood," the master amends,
"but it is not absolutely necessary. Some of the best riders in
the French Army never mounted until they went to the military
school, and some of the best riders at West Point only know a
horse by sight until they fall into the clutches of the masters
there, and then!" His countenance expresses deep commiseration.

"Now," he adds, "if you take my advice, you two, you will take
places in the centre of the ring; you will sit as well as you
know how, Miss Esmeralda, and you will watch the others through
the next music. It is perfectly allowable," he adds, drawing rein
a moment as he passes, "to sit a little carelessly when your
horse is at rest, always keeping firm hold of the reins, but I
would rather that you did not do it until you had ridden a little
more and are firmer in your seat. Hollow your waist the least in
the world, for the sake of our poker-critic in the gallery, and
watch for bad riding as well as for good," and away he goes, and
again the double circle of riders sweeps around the ring, and you
have time to see that the horses seem to enjoy the motion, and
that their action is more easy and graceful than it is when they
are obeying the commands of poor riders.

Theodore indulges in a little sarcasm at the expense of a man
whose elbows are on a level with his shoulders, while his two
hands are within about three inches of one another on the reins,
and his horse has as full possession of his head as of his body
and legs, which is saying much, for his riders toes are pointing
earthward and his heels apparently trying to find a way to one
another through the body of his steed. Another man, riding at an
amble into which he has forced his fat horse by using a Mexican
bit, and keeping his wrists in constant motion; and another, who
leans backward until his nose is on a level with the visor of his
cap, also attract his attention, but he persists in his opinion
that the best riders among the ladies are those who can trot and
canter the longest, until your master, coming up, says in answer
to your protest against such heresy, "No. Ease and a good seat
are indeed essential, but they are not everything. They insure
comfort and confidence, but not always safety. It is well to be
able to leap a fence without being thrown. It is better to know
how to stop and open a gate and shut it after you, lest some day
you should have a horse which cannot leap, or a sprained wrist
which may make the leap imprudent for yourself. You can acquire
the seat almost insensibly while learning the management, but you
must study in order to learn the management. However, you came
mainly for enjoyment to-night, I think. Go and ride some more."

And you obey, and you have the enjoyment. And when you go to the
dressing-room, it is with a feeling of perfect indifference to
the gallery critics, and when you come down, ready for the
street, you have a little gossip with the master.

This is the only kind of music ride, he tells you, practicable
for riders of widely varying ability, but the ordinary circus is
but a poor display of horsemanship compared to what may be seen
in some private evening classes in this country, or in military
schools. There are groups of riders in Boston and in New York,
friends who have long practiced together, who can dancer the
lancers and Virginia reels as easily on horseback as on foot, and
who can ride at the ring as well as Lord Lindesay himself, or as
well as the pretty English girls who amuse themselves with the
sport in India.

"Just think," you sigh, "to be able to make your horse go forward
and back, and to move in a circle, a little bit of a circle, and
to do all of it exactly in time! Oh!"

And then, seeing Theodore perfectly unmoved, your master tells of
the military music rides when, rank after rank, the soldiers dash
across the wide spaces of the school and stop at a word, or by a
preconcerted, silent signal, every horse's head in line, every
left hand down, saber or lance exactly poised, every foot
motionless, horse and rider still as if wrought from bronze. And
then he tells of the labyrinthine evolutions when the long line
moving over the school floor coils and uncoils itself more
swiftly than any serpent, each horse moving at speed, each one
obeying as implicitly as any creature of brass and iron moved by
steam. And then he talks of broadsword fights, in which the left
hand, managing the horse, outdoes the cunning of the right, and
of the great reviews, when, if ever, a monarch must feel his
power as he sees his squadrons dash past him, saluting as one
man, and reflects on the expenditure of mental and physical power
represented in that one moment's display.

"You can't learn to do such things as these," he says, "by mere
rough riding. Why, only the other day, when Queen Victoria went
to Sandringham, the gentlemen of the Norfolk County hunt turned
out to escort her carriage, all in pink, all wearing the green
velvet caps of the hunt, all splendidly mounted and perfectly
appointed. They were a magnificent sight, and it was no wonder
that Her Majesty looked at them with approval.

"In a dash across country they would probably have surpassed any
other riders in the world, unless, perhaps, those of some other
English country, but when Her Majesty and the Prince of Wales
appeared at a front window, and the gentlemen rode past to salute
them, what happened? The first three or four ranks went on well
enough, although Frenchmen, or Spaniards, or Germans would have
done better, because they, had they chosen, would have saluted
and then reined backward, but the Englishmen made a gallant show,
and Her Majesty smiled. Somebody raised a cheer, and the horses
began to rear and perform movements not named in the school
manuals. The Queen laughed outright, and the gentlemen finished
their pretty parade in some confusion. Now a very little school
training would have prevented that accident, and the huntsmen
would have been as undisturbed as Queen Christina was that day
when her horse began to plunge while in a procession, and she
quickly brought him to his senses, and won the heart of every
Spaniard who saw her by showing that 'the Austrian' could ride.
An English hunting-man's seat is so good that he is often
careless about fine details, but a trained horseman is careless
about nothing, and a trained horsewoman is like unto him."

And now the lights are out, and you and Theodore go away, and,
walking home, lay plans for further work in the saddle, for he,
too, has caught the riding-fever, and now you begin to think
about class lessons.



VIII.

  All in a wow.
         _Sothern_.


And you really fancy, Esmeralda, that you are ready for class
lessons? You have been in the saddle only six times, remember.
But you have been assured, on the highest authority, that fifty
lessons in class are worth a hundred private lessons? And the
same authority says that the class lessons should be preceded by
at least twice as much private instruction as you have enjoyed;
but, naturally, you suppress this unfavorable context. You think
that you cannot begin to subject yourself to military discipline
so soon?

After that highly edifying statement of your feelings, Esmeralda,
hasten away to school before the dew evaporates from your dawning
humility, and make arrangements for entering a class of
beginners. You are fortunate in arriving half way between two
"hours," and find to your delight that you may begin to ride with
five or six other pupils on the next stroke of the clock, and you
hasten to array yourself, and come forth just in time to see
another class, a long line of pretty girls, making its closing
rounds, the leader sitting with exquisitely balanced poise, which
seems perfectly careless, but is the result of years of training
and practice; others following her with somewhat less grace, but
still accomplishing what even your slightly taught vision
perceives to be feats of management far beyond you; still others,
one blushing little girl with her hat slung on her arm, the heavy
coils of her hair falling below her waist; and an assistant
master riding with the last pupil, who is less skillful than the
others, while another master rides up and down the line or stands
still in the centre of the ring, criticising, exhorting,
praising, using sarcasm, entreaty and sharp command, until the
zeal and energy of all Gaul seem centered in his speech.

The clock strikes, and in a trice the whole class is dismounted,
and its members have scampered away to make themselves presentable
for the journey home, and to you, awaiting your destiny in the
reception room, enter Versatilia, the beauty, and the society young
lady, and Nell, and you stare at them in wrathful astonishment
fully equalled by theirs, and then, in the following grand outburst
of confession, you are informed that, each one having planned to
outgeneral the others and to become a wondrous equestrian, the
Fates and the wise fairy who, sitting in a little room overlooking
the ring, presides over the destinies of classes, have willed that
you should be taught together.

"And there are three other young ladies who have never ridden at
all," the wise fairy says, "and they are to ride behind  you, and
you must do very well in order to encourage them," she adds with
a kind smile; and then there is a general muster of grooms and
horses, and in a moment you are all in your saddles and walking
about the ring, into which, an instant after, another lady rides
easily and gracefully, to be saluted by both masters with a sigh
of relief, and requested to take the lead, which she does,
trotting lightly across the ring, wheeling into line and falling
into a walk with trained precision, and now the lesson really
begins.

"You must understand, ladies," says the teacher, that you must
always, in riding in class, keep a distance of about three feet
between your horse and the one before you, and that you must
preserve this equally in the corners, on the short sides of the
school, and on the long sides."

"That's easy enough, I'm sure," says the society young lady,
taking it upon herself to answer, and eliciting an expression of
astonishment from the teacher, not because he is surprised, habit
already rendering him sadly familiar with young women of her
type, but because he wishes to relegate her to her proper
position of submissive silence as soon as may be.

"You think so?" he asks. "Then we shall depend on you to regard
the distance with great accuracy. At present you are two feet too
far in the rear. Forward! Now, ladies, when I say 'forward,' it
is not alone for one; it is for all of you; each one must look
and see whether or not her horse is in the right place. And she
must not bend sideways to do it, Miss Versatilia. She must look
over her horse's head between his ears. Now, forward! Now, look
straight between your horse's ears, each one of you, and see
something on the horse before you that is just on a line with the
top of his head, and use that as a guide to tell you whether or
not you are in place! Now, forward, Miss--Miss Lady! Not so
fast! Keep walking! Do not let him trot! Keep up in the corners!
Do not let your horse go there to think! Use your whip lightly!
Not so, not so!" as the society young lady brings down her whip,
half on the shoulder of gentle Toto, half on his saddle, and sets
him dancing lightly out of line, to the discomfiture of
Versatilia's horse, who follows him from a sense of duty.

"Take your places again," cries your teacher, "and keep to the
wall! If you had had proper control of your horse, that would not
have happened, Miss Versatilia! Now, Miss Lady, hold your whip in
the hollow of your hand, and use it by a slight movement, not by
raising your arm and lashing, lashing, lashing as if you were on
the race course. A lady is not a jockey, and she should employ
her whip almost as quietly as she moves her left foot. Forward,
forward! And keep on the track, ladies! Keep your horses' heads
straight by holding your reins perfectly even, then their bodies
will be straight, and you will make one line instead of being on
six lines as you are now. And, Miss Esmeralda, forward! Use your
whip! Not so gently! It is not always enough to give your horse
one little tap. Give him many, one after the other with quickened
movement, so that he will understand that you are in a hurry. It
is like the reveille which sounds ever louder until everybody is
awake!

"Now, you must not make circles! Make squares! Go into the
corners! Don't pull on your horse's head, Miss Nell! He thinks
that you mean him to stop, and then you whip him and he tries to
go on, and you pull again, and he knows not what to think. Always
carry out whatever purpose you begin with your horse if you can.
If sometimes you make a mistake, and cannot absolutely correct it
because of those behind you, guide your horse to his proper
place, and the next time that you come to that part of the ring,
make him go right! Forward, forward! Ladies, not one of you is in
the right place! Keep up! Keep up! Miss Lady, you must go forward
regularly! Now prepare to trot! No, no! Walk! When I say,
'Prepare to trot,' it is not for you to begin, but to think of
what you must do to begin, and you must not let your horses go
until I give the second order, and then not too fast at first.
Now, prepare to trot! Trot! Not quite so fast, Miss Lady; gently!
Keep up, keep up, Miss Beauty! Miss Esmeralda, you are sitting
too far to the left, your left shoulder is too far back! on't
hold your hands so high, Miss Versatilia! Rise straight, Miss
Esmeralda! Now, remember, ladies, what I say is for all. Prepare
to whoa! Whoa!"

The leader, by an almost imperceptible series of movements, first
sitting down in her saddle, then slightly relaxing her hold of
the reins, and turning both hands very slightly inward, brings
her horse to a walk and continues on her way. The others, with
more or less awkwardness, come to a full stop, and your teacher
laughs.

"When I say that," he explains, "I mean to cease trotting, not to
stop. Go forward, and remember how you have been taught to go
forward, Miss Esmeralda. It is not enough to frown at your horse.
Now, prepare to trot! Trot!" And then he repeats again and again
that series of injunctions which already seems so threadbare to
you, Esmeralda, but which you do not follow, not because you do
not try, but because you have not full control of your muscles,
and then comes once more the order, "Prepare to whoa. Whoa!" and
a volley of sharp reminders about the solemn duty of keeping a
horse moving while turning corners, and once more the column
proceeds as regularly as possible.

"I observe," says your teacher, riding close to you, "that you
seem timid, Miss Esmeralda. Do you feel frightened."

"No," you assure him.

"Then it is because you are nervous that you are so rigid. Try
not to be stiff. Give yourself a little more flexibility in the
fingers, the wrists, the elbows, everywhere! You are not tired?
No? Be easy then, be easy!" And you remember that you have been
likened unto a poker, and sadly think that, perhaps the
comparison was just.

"The other master shall ride with you for a few rounds," he
continues; "that will give you confidence, and you will not be
nervous." You indignantly disclaim the possession of nerves, he
smiles indulgently, and the other teacher rides up beside you,
and advises you steadily and quietly during the next succession
of trotting and walking, and, conscious of not exerting yourself
quite so much and of being easier, you begin to think that
perhaps you have a nerve or two somewhere, and you determine to
conquer them.

"You are sitting too far to the right now," says your new guide,
the most quiet of North Britons. "There should be about half an
inch of the saddle visible to you beyond the edge of your habit,
if it fit quite smooth, but you would better not look down to se
it. It would do no harm for once, perhaps, but it would look
queer, and might come to be a habit. Try to judge of your
position by the feeling of your shoulders and by thinking whether
you are observing every rule; but, once in a great while, when you
are walking, take your reins in your left hand, pass your right
hand lightly along the edge of your saddle, ad satisfy yourself
that you are quite correct in position. If you be quite sure that
you can take a downward glance, without moving your head, try it
occasionally, but very rarely. Use this, in fact, as you would
use a measure to verify a drawing after employing every other
test, and if any teacher notice you and reprove you for doing it,
do not allow yourself to use it again for two or three lessons,
for, unless you can be quiet about it, it is better not to use it
at all."

"Ladies, ladies," cries a new voice, at the sound of which the
leader is seen to sit even better than before, "this is not a
church, that you should go to sleep while you are taught truth!
Attend to your instructor! Keep up when he tells you. Make your
movements with energy. You tire him; you tire me; you tire the
good horses! how then, rouse yourselves! Prepare to trot! Trot!"
And away go the horses, for it is not every hour that they hear
the strong voice which means that instant obedience must be
rendered. "Keep up! keep up!" cries your teacher. "Come in!" says
your own guide, and then pauses himself, to urge one of the
beginners behind you, and for a minute or two the orders follow
one another thick and fast, the three men working together, each
seeming to have eyes for each pupil, and to divine the intentions
of his coadjutors, and then comes the order, "Prepare to whoa!
Whoa! and the master sits down on the mounting-stand, and frees
his mind on the subject of corners, a topic which you begin to
think is inexhaustible.

"Please show these ladies how to go into a corner," he concludes,
and your teacher does so, executing the movement so marvelously
that it seems as if he would have no difficulty in performing it
in any passageway through which his horse could walk in a
straight line. The whole class gazes enviously, to be brought to
the proper frame of mind by a sharp expostulatory fire of: "Keep
your distance! Forward!" with about four times as many warnings
addressed to the society young lady as to all the others; and
then suddenly, unexpectedly, the clock strikes and the lesson is
over.

The society young lady dresses herself with much precision and
deliberation, and announces that she will never, no, never! never
so long as she lives, come again; and in spite of Nell's attempts
to quiet her, she repeats the statement in the reception room, in
the master's hearing, aiming it straight at his quiet countenance.

"No?" he says, not so much disturbed as she could desire. "You
should not despair, you will learn in time."

"I don't despair," she answers; "but I know something, and I will
not be treated as if I knew nothing."

"An, you know something," he repeats, in an interested way. "But
what you do not know, my young lady, is how little that something
is! This is a school; you came here to be taught. I will not
cheat you by not teaching you."

"And it is no way to teach! Three men ordering a class at once!"

"Ah, it is 'no way to teach'! Now, it is I who am taking a lesson
from you. I am greatly obliged, but I must keep to my own old
way. It may be wrong--for you, my young lady--but it has made
soldiers to ride, and little girls, and other young ladies, and I
am content. And these others? Are they not coming any more?"

And every one of those cowardly girls huddles away behind you,
Esmeralda, and leaves you to stammer, "Y-yes, sir, but you do
s-scold a little hard."

"That," says the master, "is my bog voice to make the horses
mind, and to make sure that you hear it. And I told you the other
day that I spoke for your good, not for my own. If I should say
every time I want trotting, 'My dear and much respected beautiful
young ladies, please to trot,' how much would you learn in a
morning?"

"We are ladies," says the society young lady, "and we should be
treated as ladies."

"And you--or these others, since you retire--are my pupils,
and shall be treated as my pupils," he says with a courtly bow
and a "Good morning," and you go away trying to persuade the
society young lady to reconsider.

"Not that I care much whether she does or not," Nell says
confidentially to you. "She's too overbearing for me," and just
at that minute the voice of the society young lady is heard to
call the master "overbearing," and you and Nell exchange
delighted, mischievous smiles.

Now for that stiffness of yours, Esmeralda, there is a remedy, as
there is for everything but death, and you should use it
immediately, before the rigidity becomes habitual. Continue your
other exercises, but devote only about a third as much time to
them, and use the other two thirds for Delsarte movements.

First: Let your hands swing loosely from the wrist, and swing
them lifelessly to and fro. Execute the movement first with the
right hand then with the left, then with both.

Second: Let the fingers hang from the knuckles, and shake them in
the same way and in the same order.

Third: Let the forearm hang from the elbow, and proceed in like
manner.

Fourth: Let the whole arm hang from the shoulder, and swing the
arms by twisting the torso.

Execute the finger and hand movements with the arms hanging at
the side, extended sidewise, stretched above the head, thrust
straight forward, with the arms bent at right angles to them and
with the arms flung backward as far as possible. Execute the
forearm movements with the arms falling at the side, and also
with the elbow as high as the shoulder.

After you have performed these exercises for a few days, you will
begin to find it possible to make yourself limp and lifeless when
necessary, and the knowledge will be almost as valuable as the
ability to hold yourself firm and steady. You will find the
exercises in Mrs. Thompson's "Society Gymnastics," but these are
all that you will need for at least one week, especially if you
have to devote many hours to the task of persuading the society
young lady not to leave your class unto you desolate.



IX.

  "Left wheel into line!" and they
  wheel and obey.
         _Tennyson_.


When you arrive at the school for your second class lesson,
Esmeralda, you find the dressing-room pervaded by a silence as
clearly indicative of a recent tempest as the path cloven through
a forest by a tornado. From the shelter of screens and from
retired nooks, come sounds indicative of garments doffed and
donned with abnormal celerity and severity, but never a word of
joking, and never a cry for deft-fingered Kitty's assistance, and
then, little by little, even these noises die away, and the
palace of the Sleeping Beauty could not be more quiet. No girl
stirs from her lurking-place, until our yourself issue from your
pet corner, and then Nell, a warning finger on her lip,
noiselessly emerges from hers, and you go into the reception room
together, and she explains to you that, despite her announcement
that she would never come again, the society young lady has
appeared, and has announced her intention to defend what she
grandly terms her position as a lady.

"And the master will think us, her associates, as unruly as she
is!" Nell almost sobs. "If I were he, I would send the whole
class home, there!" But the other girls now enter, each
magnificently polite to the others, and the file of nine begins
its journey along the wall, attended as before, the society young
lady taking great pains about distance, and really doing very
well, but the beauty sitting with calm negligence which soon
brings a volley of remonstrance from both teachers, who address
her much after the fashion of Sydney Smith's saying, "You are on
the high road to ruin the moment you think yourself rich enough
to be careless."

"You must not keep your whip in contact with your horse's
shoulder all the time," lectured one of the teachers, "if you do,
you have no means of urging him to go forward a little faster.
Keep it pressed against the saddle, not slanting outward or
backward. When you use it, do it without relaxing your hold upon
the reins, for if, by any mischance, your horse should start
quickly, you will need it. Forward, ladies, forward! don't stop
in the corners! Use your whips a very little, just as you begin
to turn! Miss Esmeralda, keep to the wall! No, no! Don't keep to
the wall by having your left rein shorter than your right! They
should be precisely even."

"As you approach the corner," says the other teacher quietly,
speaking to you alone,  "carry your right hand a little nearer to
your left without bending your wrist, so that your rein will just
touch your horse's neck on the right side. That will keep his
head straight."

"But he seems determined to go to the right," you object.

"That is because your right rein is too short now. While we are
going down the long side of the school, make the reins precisely
even. Now, lay the right rein on his neck, use your whip, and
touch him with your heel to make him go on; bend your right wrist
to turn him, use your whip once more, and go on again!"

"Forward, Miss Esmeralda, forward!" cries the other teacher.

"That is because Miss Lady did not go into the corner, and so is
too far in advance," your teacher explains. "You must, in class,
keep your distance as carefully when the rifer immediately before
you is wrong as when she is right. It is the necessity of doing
that, of having to be ready for emergencies, to think of others
as much as of your horse and of yourself, that give class
teaching much of its value."

"Forward, ladies, forward," cries the other teacher. "Remember
that you are not to go to sleep! Now prepare to trot, and don't
go too fast at first. Remember always to change from one gait to
another gently, for your own sake, that you may not be thrown out
of position; for your horse's, that he may not be startled, and
made unruly and ungraceful. He has nerves as well as you. Now,
prepare to trot! Trot! Shorten your reins, Miss Beauty! Shorten
them!" and during the next minute or two, while the class trots
about a third of a mile, the poor beauty hears every command in
the manual addressed to her, and smilingly tries, but tries in
vain to obey them; but in an unhappy moment the teacher's glance
falls on the society young lady and he bids her keep her right
shoulder back. "You told me that before," she says, rather more
crisply than is prescribed by any of he manuals of etiquette
which constitute her sole library.

"Then why don't you do it?" is his answer. "Keep your left
shoulder forward," he says a moment later, whereupon the society
young lady turns to the right, and plants herself in the centre
of the ring with as much dignity as is possible, considering that
her horse, not having been properly stopped, and feeling the
nervous movements of her hands, moves now one leg and now
another, now draws his head down pulling her forward on the
pommel, and generally disturbs the beautiful repose of manner
upon which she prides herself.

"You are tired? No? Frightened? Your stirrup is too short? You
are not comfortable?" demands the teacher, riding up beside her.
"Is there anything which you would like to have me do?"

"I don't like to be told to do two things at once," she responds
in a tone which should be felt by the thermometer at the other
end of the ring.

"But you must do two things at once, and many more than two, on
horseback," he says; "when you are rested, take your place in the
line."

"I think I will dismount," she says.

"Very well," and before she has time to change her mind, a bell
is rung, a groom guides her horse to the mounting-stand, the
master himself takes her out of the saddle, courteously bids her
be seated in the reception room and watch the others, and she
finds her little demonstration completely and effectually
crushed, and, what is worse, apparently without intention. Nobody
appears to be aware that she has intended a rebellion, although
"whole Fourth of Julys seem to bile in her veins."

"Now," the teacher goes on, "we will turn to the right, singly.
Turn! Keep up, ladies! Keep up! Ride straight! To the right
again! Turn!" and back on the track, on the other side of the
school, the leader in the rear, the beginners in advance, you
continue until two more turns to the right replace you.

"That was all wrong," the teacher says, cheerfully. "You did not
ride straight, and you did not ride together. Your horses' heads
should be in line with one another, and then when you arrive at
the track and turn to the right again, your distance will be
correct. Now we will have a little trot, and while you are
resting afterward, you shall try the turn again."

The society young lady, watching the scene in sulkiness, notes
various faults in each rider and feels that the truly promising
pupil of the class is sitting in her chair at that moment; but
she says nothing of the kind, contenting herself by asking the
master, with well-adjusted carelessness, if it would not be
better for the teacher to speak softly.

"It gives a positive shock to the nerves to be so vehemently
addressed," she says, with the air of a Hammond advising an
ignorant nurse.

"That is what he has the intention to do," replies the other. "It
is necessary to arouse the rider's will and not let her sleep,
but if it were not, the teacher of riding, or anybody who has to
give orders, orders, orders all day long, must speak from an
expanded chest, with his lungs full of air, or at night he will
be dumb. The young man behind the counter who has to entreat,
persuade, to beg, to be gentle, he may make his voice soft, but
to speak with energy in a low tone is to strain the vocal cords
and to injure the lungs permanently. The opera singer finds to
sing piano, pianissimo more wearisome than to make herself heard
above a Wagner orchestra. The orator, with everybody still and
listening with countenance intent, dares not speak softly, except
now and then for contrast. In the army we have three months'
rest, and then we go to the surgeon, and he examines our throats
and lungs, and sees whether or not they need any treatment. If
you go to the camp of the military this summer, you will find the
young officers whom you know in the ball-room so soft and so
gentle, not whispering to their men, but shouting, and the best
officer will have the loudest shout."

The society young lady remembers the stories which she has heard
her father and uncles tell of that "officer's sore throat," which
in 1861 and 1862, caused so many ludicrous incidents among the
volunteer soldiery, the energetic rill master of one day being
transformed into a voiceless pantomimist by the next, but, like
Juliet when she spoke, she says nothing, and now the teacher once
more cries, "Turn!" and then, suddenly, "Prepare to stop! Stop!
Now look at your line! Now two of you have your horses' heads
even! And how many of you were riding straight?"

A dead silence gives a precisely correct answer, and again he
cries, "Forward!" A repetition of the movement is demanded, and
is received with cries of "This is not good, ladies! This is not
good! We will try again by and by. Now, prepare to change hands
in file."

The leader, turning at one corner of the school, makes a line
almost like a reversed "s" to the corner diagonally opposite, and
comes back to the track on the left hand, the others straggling
after with about as much precision and grace as Jill followed
Jack down the hill; but, before they are fairly aware how very
ill they have performed the manoeuvre, they perceive that their
teacher not only aimed at having them learn how to turn to the
left at each corner, but also at giving himself an opportunity to
make remarks about their feet and the position thereof, and at
the end of five minutes each girl feels as if she were a
centipede, and you, Esmeralda, secretly wonder whether something
in the way of mucilage of thumb-tacks might not be used to keep
your own riding boots close to the saddle. "And don't let your
left foot swing," says the teacher in closing his exhortations;
"hold it perfectly steady! Now change hands in file, and come
back to the track on the right again, and we will have a little
trot."

"And before you begin," lectures the master, "I will tell you
something. The faster you go, after once you know how to stay in
the saddle, the better for you, the better for your horse. You
see the great steamer crossing the ocean when under full headway,
and she can turn how this way and now that, with the least little
touch of the rudder, but when she is creeping, creeping through
the narrow channel, she must have a strong, sure hand at the
helm, and when she is coming up to her wharf, easy, easy, she
must swing in a wide circle. That is why my word to you is always
'Forward! Forward!' and again, 'Forward!' There is a scientific
reason underlying this, if you care to know it. When you go fast,
neither you nor the horse has time to feel the pressure of the
atmosphere from above, and that is why it seems as if you were
flying, and he is happy and exhilarated as well as you. You will
see the tame horse in the paddock gallop about for his pleasure,
and the wild horse on the prairie will start and run for miles in
mere sportiveness. So, if you want to have pleasure on horseback,
'Forward!'"

While the little trot is going on, the society young lady
improves the shining hour by asking the master "if he does not
think it cruel to make a poor horse go just as fast as it can,"
to which he replies that the horse will desire to go quite as
long as she can or will, whereupon she withdraws into the cave of
sulkiness again, but brightens perceptibly as you dismount and
join her.

"You do look so funny, Esmeralda," she begins. "Your feet do seem
positively immense, as the teacher said."

"Pardon me; I said not that," gently interposes the teacher;
"only that they looked too big, bigger than they are, when she
turns them outward."

"And you do sit very much on one side," she continues to
Versatilia: "and your crimps are quite flat, my dear," to the
beauty.

"Never mind; they aren't fastened on with a safety pin," retorts
the beauty, plucking up spirit, unexpectedly.

"O, no! of course not," the wise fairy interposes, with a little
laugh. "You young ladies do not do such things, of course. But,
do you know, I heard of a lady who wore a switch into a riding-
school ring one day, and it came off, and the riding master had
to keep it in his pocket until the end of the session."

Little does the wise fairy know of the society young lady's ways!
What she has determined to say, she declines to retain unsaid,
and so she cries: "And you do thrust your head forward so
awkwardly, Nell!"

"'We are ladies,'" quotes Nell, "and we can't answer you," and
the society young lady finds herself alone with the wise fairy,
who is suddenly very busy with her books, and after a moment, she
renews her announcement that she is not coming any more. "Well, I
wouldn't," the wise fairy says, looking thoughtfully at her. "You
make the others unhappy, and that is not desirable, and you will
not be taught. I gave you fair warning that the master would be
severe, but those who come here to learn enjoy their lessons.
Once in a great while there are ladies who do not wish to be
taught, but they find it out very soon, as you have."

"There is always a good reason for everything," the master says
gravely. "Now, I have seen many great men who could not learn to
ride. There was Gambetta. Nothing would make a fine rider out of
that man! Why? Because for one moment that his mind was on his
horse, a hundred it was on something else. And Jules Verne! He
could not learn! And Emile Giardin! They had so many things to
think about! Now, perhaps it is so with this young lady. Society
demands so much, one must do so many things, that she cannot bend
her mind to this one little art. It is unfortunate, but then she
is not the first!" And with a little salute he turns away, and
the society young lady, much crosser than she was before he
invented this apology for her, comes into the dressing room and--
bids you farewell? Not at all! Says that she is sorry, and that
she knows that she can learn, and is going to try. "And I suppose
now that nothing will make her go!" Nell says, lugubriously, as
you saunter homeward.

You are still conscious of stiffness, Esmeralda? That is not a
matter for surprise or for anxiety. All your life you have been
working for strength, for even your dancing-school teacher was
not one of those scientific ballet-masters who, like Carlo
Blasis, would have taught you that the strength of a muscle often
deprives it of flexibility and softness. You desire that your
muscles should be rigid or relaxed at will. Go and stand in front
of your mirror, and let your head drop forward toward either
shoulder, causing your whole torso to become limp. Now hold the
head erect, and try to reproduce the feeling. The effect is
awkward, and not to be practised in public, but the exercise
enables you to perceive for yourself when you are stiff about the
shoulders and waist. Now drop your head backward, and swing the
body, not trying to control the head, and persist until you can
thoroughly relax the muscles of the neck, a work which you need
not expect to accomplish until after you have made many efforts.
Now execute all your movements for strengthening the muscles,
very slowly and lightly, using as little force as possible. After
you can do this fairly well, begin by executing them quickly and
forcibly, then gradually retard them, and make them more gently,
until you glide at last into perfect repose. This will take time,
but the good results will appear not only in your riding, but
also in your walking and in your dancing. You and Nell might
practise these Delsarte exercises together, for no especial dress
is needed for them, and companionship will remove the danger of
the dulness which, it must be admitted, sometimes besets the
amateur, unsustained by the artist's patient energy. Before you
take another class lesson, you may have an exercise ride, in
which to practise what you have learned. "Tried to learn!" do you
say? Well, really, Esmeralda, one begins to have hopes of you!



X.

     --Ye couldn't have made him a rider,
  And then ye know, boys will be boys, and hosses,
                 --well, hosses is hosses!
       _Harte_.


When you and Nell go to take your exercise ride, Esmeralda, you
must assume the air of having ridden before you were able to
walk, and of being so replete with equestrian knowledge that
the "acquisition of another detail would cause immediate
dissolution," as the Normal college girl said when asked if she
knew how to teach. You must insist on having a certain horse, no
matter ho much inconvenience it may create, and, if possible, you
should order him twenty-four hours in advance, stipulating that
nobody shall mount him in the interval, and, while waiting for
him to be brought from the stable, you should proclaim that he is
a wonderfully spirited, not to say vicious, creature, but that
you are not in the smallest degree afraid of him. You should pick
up your reins with easy grace, and having twisted them into a
hopeless snarl, should explain to any spectator who may presume
to smile that one "very soon forgets the little things, you know,
but they will come back in a little while."

Having started, you must choose between steadily trotting or
rapidly cantering, absolutely regardless of the rights or wishes
of any one else, or else you must hold your horse to a spiritless
crawl, carefully keeping him in such a position as to prevent
anybody else from outspeeding you. If you were a man, you would
feel it incumbent on you to entreat your master to permit you to
change horses with him, and would give him certain valuable
information, derived from quarters vaguely specified as "a person
who knows," or "a man who rides a great deal." meaning somebody
who is in the saddle twenty times a year, and duly pays his
livery stable bill for the privilege, and you would confide in
some other exercise rider, if possible, in the hearing of seven
or eight pupils, that your master was not much of a rider after
all, that the "natural rider is best," and you would insinuate
that to observe perfection it was only necessary to look at you.
If, in addition to this, you could intimate to any worried or
impatient pupils that they had not been properly taught, you
would make yourself generally beloved, and these are the ways of
the casual exercise rider, male and female. But you, Esmeralda,
are slightly unfitted for the perfect assumption of this part by
knowing how certain things ought to be done, although you cannot
do them, and alas! you are not yet adapted to the humbler but
prettier character of the real exercise rider, who is thoroughly
taught, and whose every movement is a pleasure to behold.

There are many such women and a few men who prefer the ring to
the road for various reasons, and from them you may learn much,
both by observation and from the hints which many of them will
give you if they find that you are anxious to learn, and that you
are really nothing more pretentious than a solitary student. So
into the saddle you go, and you and Nell begin to walk about in
company. "In company," indeed, for about half a round, and then
you begin to fall behind. Touching your Abdallah lightly with
whip and heel starts him into a trot and coming up beside Nell
you start off her Arab, and both horses are rather astonished to
be checked. What do these girls want, they think, and when you
fall behind again, it takes too strokes of the whip to urge
Abdallah forward, Arab is unmoved by your passing him, and you
find the breadth of the ring dividing you and Nell. You pause,
she turns to the right, crosses the space between you, turns
again and is by your side, and now both of you begin to see what
you must do. Nell, who is riding on the inside, that is to say on
the included square, must check her horse very slightly after
turning each corner, and you must hasten yours a little before
turning, and a little after, so as to give her sufficient space
to turn, and, at the same time, to keep up with her. You, being
on her left, must be very careful every moment to have a firm
hold of your left rein, so as to keep away from her feet, and she
must keep especial watch of her right rein in order to guard
herself.

After each of you has learned her part pretty well, you should
exchange places and try again, and then have a round or two of
trotting, keeping your horses' heads in line. You will find both
of them very tractable to this discipline, because accustomed to
having your master's horse keep pace with them, and because they
often go in pairs at the music rides, and you must not expect
that an ordinary livery stable horse would be as easily managed.
It is rather fashionable to sneer at the riding-school horse as
too mild for the use of a good rider, and very likely, while
you and Nell are patiently trying your little experiment, you
will hear a youth with very evident straps on his trousers,
superciliously requesting to have "something spirited" brought
in from the stable for him.

"Not one of your school horses, taught to tramp a treadmill
round, but a regular flyer," he explains.

"Is he a very good rider?" you ask your master. "Last time he was
hear I had to take him off Abdallah," he says sadly, and then he
goes to the mounting-stand to deny "the regular flyer," and to
tender instead, "an animal that we don't give to everybody,
William." Enter "William," otherwise Billy Buttons, whom the
gentleman covetous of a flyer soon finds to be enough for him to
manage, because William, although accustomed to riders awkward
through weakness, is not used to the manners of what is called
the "three-legged trotter"; that is to say, the man whose unbent
arms and tightened reins make a straight line from his shoulders
to his horse's mouth, while his whole weight is thrown upon the
reins by a backward inclination of his body.

If you would like to know how Billy feels about it, Esmeralda,
bend your chin toward your throat, and imagine a bar of iron
placed across your tongue and pulling your head upward. It would
hurt you, but you could raise your head and still go forward,
making wild gestures with your hands, kicking, perhaps, in a
ladylike manner, as Gail Hamilton kicked Halicarnassus, but by no
means stopping. Now suppose that bar of iron drawn backward by
reins passing one on each side of your shoulders and held firmly
between your scapulae; you could not go forward without almost
breaking your neck, could you? No more could Billy, if his rider
would let out his reins, bend his elbows, and hold his hands low,
almost touching his saddle, but, as it is, he goes on, and if he
should rear by and by, and if his rider should slide off, be not
alarmed. The three-legged trotter is not the kind of horseman to
cling to his reins, and he will not be dragged, and Billy is too
good-tempered not to stop the moment he has rid himself of his
tormentor. But while he is still on Billy's back, and flattering
himself that he is doing wonders in subjugating the "horse that
we don't give to everybody," do you and Nell go to the centre of
the ring and see if you can stop properly. Pretty well done, but
wait a moment before trying it again, for it is not pleasant to a
horse. Sit still a few minutes, and then try and see if you can
back your horse a step or two.

In order to do this, it is not enough to sit up straight and to
say "back," or even to say "bake," which, according to certain
"natural riders," is the secret of having the movement executed
properly. You must draw yourself up and lean backward, touching
your horse both with your foot and with your whip, in order that
he may stand squarely, and you must raise your wrists a little,
and the same time turning them inward. The horse will take a
step, you must instantly sit up straight, lower your hands, and
then repeat the movement until he has backed far enough. Four
steps will be quite as many as you should try when working thus
by yourself, because you do not wish to form any bad habits, and
your master will probably find much to criticise in your way of
executing the movement. The most that you can do for yourself is
to be sure that Abdallah makes but one step for each of your
demands. If he make two, lower your hands, and make him go
forward, for a horse that backs unbidden is always troublesome
and may sometimes be dangerous.

"Just watch that man on Billy Buttons," says your master, coming
up to you, "and make up your minds never to do anything that you
see him do. And look at those two ladies who are mounting now,
and see how well it is possible to ride without being taught in
school, provided one rides enough. They cannot trot a rod, but
they have often been in the saddle half a day at a time in
Spanish America, whence they come, and they can 'lope,' as they
call it, for hours without drawing rein. They sit almost, but not
quite straight, and they have strength enough in their hands to
control any of our horses, although they complain that these
English bits are poor things compared to the Spanish bit. You
see, they can stay on, although they cannot ride scientifically."

"And isn't that best?" asked Nell.

"It is better," corrects the master. "The very best is to stay on
because one rides scientifically, and that is what I hope that
you two will do by and by. There's that girl who always brings in
bags of groceries for her horse! Apples this time!"

"Isn't it a good thing to give a horse a tidbit of some kind
after a ride?" asked Nell.

"'Good,' if it be your own horse, but not good in a riding-
school. It tends to make the horses impatient for the end of a
ride, and sometimes makes them jealous of one another at the
mounting-stand, and keeps them there so long as to inconvenience
others who wish to dismount. Besides, careless pupils, like that
girl, have a way of tossing a paper bag into the ring after the
horse has emptied it, and although we always pick it up as soon
as possible, it may cause another horse to shy. A dropped
handkerchief is also dangerous, for a horse is a suspicious
creature and fears anything novel as a woman dreads a mouse."

What is the trouble on the mounting-stand? Nothing, except that a
tearful little girl wants "her dear Daisy; she never rides
anything else, and she hates Clifton, and does not like Rex and
Jewel canters, and she wants Da-a-isy!"

"But is it not better for you to change horses now and then, and
Daisy is not fit to be in the ring to-day," says your master.
"Jewel is very easy and good-tempered. Will you have him?"

"No, I'll have Abdallah."

"A lady is riding him."

"Well, I want him."

It is against the rules for your master to suggest such a thing
to you, Esmeralda, but suppose you go up to the mounting-stand
and offer to take Jewel yourself and let her have Abdallah. You
do it; your master puts you on Jewel, and sends the wilful little
girl away on Abdallah, and then comes up to you and Nell, thanks
you, and says, "It was very good of you, but she must learn some
day to ride everything, and I shall tell her so, and next time!"

He looks capable of giving her Hector, Irish Hector, who is
wilful as the wind, but in reward for your goodness he bestows a
little warning about your whips upon Nell, who has a fancy for
carrying hers slantwise across her body, so that both ends show
from the back, and the whole whip is quite useless as far as the
horse is concerned, although picturesque enough with its loop of
bright ribbon.

"It makes one think of a circus picture," he says; "and, Miss
Esmeralda, don't hold your whip with the lash pointing outward,
to tickle Miss Nell's horse, and to make you look like an
American Mr. Briggs 'going to take a run with the Myopias, don't
you know.' Isn't this a pretty horse?"

"Well, I don't know," you say frankly; "I'm no judge. I don't
know anything about a horse."

For once your master loses his self-possession, and stares
unreservedly. "Child," he says, "I never, never before saw
anybody in this ring who didn't know all about a horse."

"Well, but I really don't, you know."

"No, but nobody ever says so. Now just hear this new pupil
instruct me."

The new pupil, who thinks a riding habit should be worn over two
or three skirts, and is consequently sitting with the aerial
elegance of a feather bed, is riding with her snaffle rein, the
curb tied on her horse's neck, and is clasping it by the centre,
allowing the rest to hang loose, so that Clifton, supposing that
she means to give him liberty to browse, is looking for grass
among the tan. Not finding it, he snorts occasionally, whereupon
she calls him "poor thing," and tells him that "it is a warm day,
and that he should rest, so he should!"

"Your reins are too long," says your master.

"Do you mean that they are too long, or that I am holding them so
as to make them too long," she inquires, in a precise manner.

"They are right enough. Our saddlers know their business. But you
are holding them so that you might as well have none. Shorten
them, and make him bring his head up in its proper place."

"But I think it's cruel to treat him so, when he's tired, poor
thing! I always hold my reins in the middle when I'm driving, and
my horse goes straight enough. This one seems dizzy. He goes
round and round."

"He wouldn't if he were in harness with two shafts to keep his
head straight"--

"But then why wouldn't it be a good thing to have some kind of a
light shaft for a beginner's horse?"

"It would be a neat addition to a side saddle," says your master,
"but shorten your reins. Take one in each hand. Leave about eight
inches of rein between your hands. There!  See. Now Guide your
horse."

He leaves her, in order that he may enjoy the idea of the side
saddle with shafts, and she promptly resumes her old attitude
which she feels is elegant, and when Clifton wanders up beside
Abdallah, she sweetly asks Nell, "Is this your first lesson? Do
you think this horse is good? The master wants me to pull on my
reins, but I think it is inhuman, and I won't, and"--but
Clifton strays out of hearing, and your arouse yourselves to
remember that you are having more fun than work.

There is plenty of room in the ring, now, so you change hands,
and circle to the left, first walking and then trotting, slowly
at first, and then rapidly, finding to your pleasant surprise,
that, just as you begin to think that you can go no further, you
are suddenly endowed with new strength and can make two more
rounds. "A good half mile," your master says, approvingly, as you
fall into a walk and pass him, and then you do a volte or two,
and one little round at a canter, and then walk five minutes, and
dismount to find the rider of the alleged William assuring John,
the head groom, that redoubtable animal needs "taking down."

"Shall ride him with spurs next time," he says. "I can manage
him, but he would be too much for most men," and away he goes and
a flute-voiced little boy of eight mounts William, retransformed
into Billy Buttons, and guides him like a lamb, and you escape up
stairs to laugh. But you have no time for this before the
merciful young woman enters to say that she is going to another
school, where she can do as she pleases and have better horses,
too, and the more you and Nell assure her that there is no school
in which she can learn without obedience, and that her horse was
too good, if anything, the more determined she becomes, and soon
you wisely desist.

As she departs, "Oh, dear," you say, "I thought there was nothing
but fun at riding-school, and just see all these queer folks."

"My dear," says philosophic Nell, "they ar part of the fun. And
we are fun to the old riders; and we are all fun to our master."

Here you find yourselves enjoying a bit of fun from which your
master is shut out, for three or four girls come up from the ring
together, and, not seeing you, hidden behind your screens, two,
in whom you and Nell have already recognized saleswomen from whom
you have more than once bought laces, begin to talk to overawe
the others.

"My deah," says one, "now I think of it, I weally don't like the
setting of these diamonds that you had given you last night. It's
too heavy, don't you think?"

The other replies in a tone which would cheat a man, but in which
you instantly detect an accent of surprise and a determination to
play up to her partner as well as possible, that she "liked it
very well."

"I should have them reset," says the former speaker. "Like mine,
you know; light and airy. Deah me, I usedn't to care for
diamonds, and now I'm puffectly infatooated with them, don't you
know! My!" she screams, catching sight of a church clock, and,
relapsing into her everyday speech: "Half-past four! And I am due
at"--[An awkward pause.] "I promised to return at four!"

There is no more talk about diamonds, but a hurried scramble to
dress, an a precipitate departure, after which one of the other
ladies is heard to say very distinctly: "I remember that girl as
a pupil when I was teaching in a public school, and I know all
about her. Salary, four dollars a week. Diamonds!"

"She registered at the desk as Mrs. Something," rejoins the
other. "She only came in for one ride, and so they gave her a
horse without looking up her reference, but one of the masters
knew her real name. Poor little goosey! She has simply spoiled
her chance of ever becoming a regular pupil, no matter how much
she may desire it. No riding master will give lessons to a person
who behaves so. He would lose more than he gained by it, no
matter how long she took lessons. And they know everybody in a
riding-school, although they won't gossip. I'd as soon try to
cheat a Pinkerton agency."

"I know one thing," Nell says, as you walk homeward: "I'm going
to take an exercise ride between every two lessons, and I'm going
to ride a new horse every time, if I can get him, and I'm going
to do what I'm told, and I shall not stop trotting at the next
lesson, even if I feel as if I should drop out of the saddle.
I've learned so much from an exercise ride."



XI.

  Ride as though you were flying.
       _Mrs. Norton_.


"Cross," Esmeralda? Why? Because having had seven lessons of
various sorts, and two rides, you do not feel yourself to be a
brilliant horsewoman? Because you cannot trot more than half a
mile, and because you cannot flatter yourself that it would be
prudent for you to imitate your favorite English heroines, and to
order your horse brought around to the hall door for a solitary
morning canter? And you really think that you do well to be
angry, and that, had your teacher been as discreet and as
entirely admirable as you feel yourself to be, you would be more
skilful and better informed?

Very well, continue to think so, but pray do not flatter yourself
that your mental attitude has the very smallest fragment of an
original line, curve or angle. Thus, and not otherwise, do all
youthful equestrians feel, excepting those doubly-dyed in
conceit, who fancy that they have mastered a whole art in less
than twelve hours. You certainly are not a good rider, and yet
you have received instruction on almost every point in regard to
which you would need to know anything in an ordinary ride on a
good road. You have not yet been taught every one of these
things, certainly, for she who has been really taught a physical
or mental feat, can execute it at will, but you have been partly
instructed, and it is yours to see that the instruction is not
wasted, by not being either repeated, or faithfully reduced to
practice. Remember clever Mrs. Wesley's answer to the unwise
person who said in reproof, "You have told that thing to that
child thirty times." "Had I told it but twenty-nine," replied the
indomitable Susanna, "they had been wasted." What you need now is
practice, preferably in the ring with a teacher, but if you
cannot afford that, without a teacher, and road rides whenever
you can have them on a safe horse, taken from a school stable, if
possible, with companions like yourself, intent upon study and
enjoyment, not upon displaying their habits, or, if they be men,
the airs of their horses, and the correctness of their equipment,
or upon racing.

As for the solitary canter, when the kindly Fates shall endow
that respectable American sovereign, your father, with a park
somewhat bigger than the seventy-five square feet of ground
inclosed by an iron railing before his present palace, it will be
time enough to think about that; but you can no more venture upon
a public road alone than an English lady could, and indeed, your
risk in doing so would be even greater than hers. Why? Because in
rural England all men and boys, even the poorest and the
humblest, seem to know instinctively how a horse should be
equipped. True, a Wordsworth or a Coleridge did hesitate for
hours over the problem of adjusting a horse collar, but Johnny
Ragamuffin, from the slums, or Jerry Hickathrift, of some shire
with the most uncouth of dialects, can adjust a slipping saddle,
or, in a hand's turn, can remove a stone which is torturing a
hoof.

Not so your American wayfarer, city bred or country grown; it
will be wonderful if he can lengthen a stirrup leather, ad,
before allowing such an one to tighten a girth for you, you would
better alight and take shelter behind a tree, and a good large
tree, because he may drive your horse half frantic by his well-
meant unskilfulness. Besides, Mrs. Grundy very severely frowns on
the woman who rides alone, and there is no appeal from Mrs.
Grundy's wisdom. Sneer at her, deride her, try, if you will, to
undermine her authority, but obey her commands and yield to her
judgment if you would have the respect of men, and, what is of
more consequence, the fair speech of women. And so, Esmeralda, as
you really have no cause for repining, go away to your class
lesson, which has a double interest for you and Nell, because of
the wicked pleasure which you derive from hearing the master
quietly crush the society young lady with unanswerable logic.

You have seen him with a class of disobedient, well-bred little
girls, and know how persuasive he can be to a child who is really
frightened. You have seen him surrounded by a class of eager
small goys, and beset with a clamorous shout of, "Plea-ease let
us mount from the ground." You have heard his peremptory "No,"
and then, as they turned away discomfited, have noted how kindly
was his "I will tell you why, my dear boys. It is because your
legs are too short. Wait until you are tall, then you shall
mount." You know that when Versatilia, having attended a party
the previous evening and arisen at five o'clock to practise
Chopin, and then worked an hour at gymnastics, could not, from
pure weariness, manage her horse, how swift was his bound across
the ring, and how carefully he lifted her from the saddle, and
gave her over to the ministrations of the wise fairy. You know
that any teacher must extract respect from his scholars, and you
detect method in all the little sallies which almost drive the
society young lady to madness, but this morning it is your turn.

You do, one after the other, all the things against which you
have been warned, and, when corrected, you look so very dismal
and discouraged that the Scotch teacher comes quietly to your
side and rides with you, and, feeling that he will prevent your
horse from doing anything dangerous, you begin to mend your ways,
when suddenly you hear the master proclaim in a voice which, to
your horrified ears, seems audible to the whole universe: "Ah,
Miss Esmeralda! she cannot ride, she cannot do her best, unless
she has a gentleman beside her." In fancy's eye you seem to see
yourself blushing for that criticism during the remainder of your
allotted days, and you almost hope that they will be few. You
know that every other girl in the class will repeat it to other
girls, and even to men, and possibly even to Theodore, and that
you will never be allowed to forget it. Cannot ride or do your
best without a gentleman, indeed! You could do very well without
one gentleman whom you know, you think vengefully, and then you
turn to the kindly Scotch teacher, and, with true feminine
justice, endeavor to punish him for another's misdeeds by telling
him that, if he please, you would prefer to ride alone. As he
reins back, you feel a decided sinking of the heart and again
become conscious that you are oddly incapable of doing anything
properly, and then, suddenly, it flashes upon you that the master
was right in his judgment, and you fly into a small fury of
determination to show him that you can exist "without a
gentleman." Down go your hands, you straighten your shoulders,
adjust yourself to a nicety, think of yourself and of your horse
with all the intensity of which you are capable, and make two or
three rounds without reproof.

"Now," says the teacher, "we will try a rather longer trot than
usual, and when any lady is tired she may go to the centre of the
ring. Prepare to trot! Trot!"

The leader's eyes sparkle with delight as she allows her good
horse, after a round or two, to take his own speed, the teacher
continues his usual fire of truthful comments as to shoulders,
hands and reins, and one after another, the girls leave the
track, and only the leader and you remain, she, calm and cool as
an iceberg, you, flushed, and compelled to correct your position
at almost every stride of your horse, sometimes obliged to sit
close for half a round, but with your whole Yankee soul set upon
trotting until your master bids you cease. Can you believe your
ears?

"Brava, Miss Esmeralda!" shouts the master. "Go in again. That is
the way. Ah, go in again! That is the way the rider is made!
Again! Ah, brava!"

"Prepare to whoa! Whoa!" says the teacher, and both he and your
banished cavalier congratulate you, and it dawns upon you that
the society young lady is not the only person whom the master
understands, and is able to manage. However, you are grateful,
and even pluck up courage to salute him when next you pass him;
but alas! that does not soften his heart so thoroughly that he
does not warningly ejaculate, "Right foot," and then comes poor
Nell's turn. She, reared in a select private school for young
ladies, and having no idea of proper discipline, ventures to
explain the cause of some one of her misdeeds, instead of
correcting it in silence. She does it courteously, but is met
with, "Ah-h-h! Miss Esmeralda, you know Miss Nell. Is it not with
her on foot as it is on horseback? Does she not argue?"

You shake your head severely and loyally, but brave Nell speaks
out frankly, "Yes, sir; I do. But I won't again."

"I would have liked to ride straight at him," she confides to you
afterwards, "but he was right. Still, it is rather astounding to
hear the truth sometimes."

And now, for the first time around, you are allowed to ride in
pairs, and the word "interval," meaning the space between two
horses moving in parallel lines, is introduced, and you and Nell,
who are together, congratulate yourselves on having in your
exercise ride learned something of the manner in which the
interval may be preserved exactly, for it is a greater trouble to
the others than that "distance" which you have been told a
thousand times to "keep." You have but very little of this
practice, however, before you are again formed in file, and
directed to "Prepare to volte singly!"

When this is done perfectly, it is a very pretty manoeuvre, and,
the pupils returning to their places at the same movement, the
column continues on its way with its distances perfectly
preserved, but as no two of your class make circles of the same
size, or move at similar rates of speed, your small procession
finds itself in hopeless disorder, and in trying to rearrange
yourselves, each one of you discovers that she has yet something
to learn about turning. However, after a little trot and the
usual closing walk, the lesson ends, and you retire from the
ring, with the exception of Nell, who, having been taught by an
amateur to leap in a more or less unscientific manner, has begged
the master to give her "one little lesson," a proposition to
which he has consented.

The hurdle is brought out, placed half-way down one of the long
sides of the school, and Nell walks her horse quietly down the
other, turns him again as she comes on the second long side,
shakes her reins lightly, putting him to a canter, and is over--
"beautifully," as you say to yourself, as you watch her
enviously.

"You did not fall off," the master comments, coiling the lash of
the long whip with which he has stood beside the hurdle during
Miss Nell's performance, "but you did not guard yourself against
falling when you went up, and had you had some horses, you might
have come down before he did, although that is not so easy for a
lady as it is for a man. When you start for a leap, you must draw
your right foot well back, so as to clasp the pommel with your
knee, and just as the horse stops to spring upward, you must lean
back and lift both hands a little, and then, when he springs,
straighten yourself, feel proud and haughty, if you can, and, as
he comes down, lean back once more and raise your hands again,
because your horse will drop on his fore legs, and you desire him
to lift them, that he may go forward before you do. You should
practise this, counting one, as you lean backward, drawing but
not turning the hands backward and upward; two, as you straighten
yourself wit the hands down, and three, as you repeat the first
movement; and, except in making a water jump, or some other very
long leap, the 'two' will be the shortest beat, as it is in the
waltz. And, although you must use some strength in raising your
hands, you must not raise them too high, and you must not lean
your head forward or draw your elbows back. A jockey may, when
riding in a steeplechase for money, but he will be angry with
himself for having to do it, and a lady must not. I would rather
that you did not leap again to-day, because what I told you will
only confuse you until you have time to think it over and to
practise it by yourself in a chair. And I would rather that you
did not leap again in your own way, until you have let me see you
do it once or twice more, at least."

"You did not have to whip my horse to make him leap," Nell says,

"The whip was not to strike him, but to show him what was ready
for him if he refused," says the master. "One must never permit a
horse to refuse without punishing bum, for otherwise he may
repeat the fault when mounted by a poor rider, and a dangerous
accident may follow. One must never brutalize a horse--indeed,
no one but a brute does--but one must rule him."

By this time he has taken Nell from her saddle and is in the
reception room where he finds you grouped and gazing at him in a
manner rather trying even to his soldierly gravity, and decidedly
amusing to the wise fairy, who glances at him with a laugh and
betakes herself to her own little nest.

"My young ladies," he says. "I will show you one little leap, not
high, you know, but a little leap sitting on a side saddle," and,
going out, he takes Nell's horse, and in a minute you see him
sailing through the air, light as a bird, and without any of the
encouraging shouts used by some horsemen. It is only a little
leap, but it impresses your illogical minds as no skilfulness in
the voltes and no _haute ecole_ airs could do, for leaping is the
crowning accomplishment of riding in the eyes of all your male
friends except the cavalryman, and when he returns to the
reception room, you linger in the hope of a little lecture, and
you are not disappointed.

"My young ladies," he says, "at the point at which you are in the
equestrian art, what you should do is to keep doing what you
know, over and over again, no matter if you do it wrong. Keep
doing and doing, and by and by you will do it right. I have tried
that plan of perfecting each step before undertaking another, but
it is of no use with American ladies. You will not do things at
all, unless you can do them well, you say. That is to say if you
were to go to a ball, and were to say, 'No, I have taken lessons,
I have danced in school, but I am afraid I cannot do so well as
some others. I will not dance here.' That would not be the way to
do. Dance, and again dance, and if you make a little mistake,
dance again! The mistake is of the past; it is not matter for
troubling; dance again, and do not make it again. And so of
riding, ride, and again ride! Try all ways. Take your foot out of
the stirrup sometimes, and slip it back again without stopping
your horse, and when you can do it at the walk, do it at the
trot, and keep rising! And learn not to be afraid to keep
trotting after you are a little tired. Keep trotting! Keep
trotting! Then you will know real pleasure, and you will not hurt
your horses, as you will if you pull them up just as they begin
to enjoy the pace. And then"--looking very hard at nothing at
all, and not at you, Esmeralda, as your guilty soul fancies--
"and then, gentlemen will not be afraid to ride with you for fear
of spoiling their horses by checking them too often."

And with this he goes away, and on! Esmeralda, does not the
society young lady make life pleasant for you and Nell in the
dressing-room, until the beauty attracts general attention by
stating that she has had an hour of torment!

"Perhaps you have not noticed that most of these saddles are
buckskin," she continues; "I did not, until I found myself
slipping about on mine to day as if it were glazed, and lo! It
was pigskin, and that made the difference. I would not have it
changed, because the Texan is always sneering at English pigskin,
and I wanted to learn to ride on it; but, until the last quarter
of the hour, I expected to slip off. I rather think I should
have," she adds, "only just as I was ready to slip off on one
side, something would occur to make me slip to the other. I shall
not be afraid of pigskin again, ad you would better try it, every
one of you. Suppose you should get a horse from a livery stable
some day with one of those slippery saddles!"

"I am thinking of buying a horse," says the society young lad;
"but the master says that I do not know enough to ride a beast
that has been really trained. Fancy that!"

"And all the authorities agree with him," says Versatilia, who
has accumulated a small library of books on equestrianism since
she began to take lessons. "Your horse ought not to know much
more than you do--for if he do, you will find him perfectly
unmanageable."

Here you and Nell flee on the wings of discretion. The daring of
the girl! To tell the society young lady that a horse may know
more than she does!



XII.

  Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy.
       _Shakespeare_.


And now, Esmeralda, having determined to put your master's advice
into practice and to "keep riding," you think that you must have
a habit in order to be ready to take to the road whenever you
have an opportunity, and to be able to accompany Theodore, should
he desire to repeat your music-ride? And you would like to know
just what it will cost, and everything about it? And first, what
color can you have?

You "can" have any color, Esmeralda, and you "can" have any
material, for that matter. Queen Guinevere wore grass green silk,
and if her skirt were as long as those worn by Matilda of
Flanders, Norman William's wife, centuries after, her women must
have spent several hours daily in mending it, unless she had a
new habit for every ride, or unless the English forest roads were
wider than they are to-day. But all the ladies of Arthur's court
seem to have ridden in their ordinary dress. Enid, for instance,
was arrayed in the faded silk which had been her house-dress and
waking-dress in girlhood, when she performed her little feat of
guiding six armor-laden horses. Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart
seem to have liked velvet, either green or black, and to have
adorned it with gold lace, and both probably took their fashions
form France; the young woman in the Scotch ballad was "all in
cramoisie"; Kate Peyton wore scarlet broadcloth, but secretly
longed for purple, having been told by a rival, who had probably
found her too pretty for scarlet, that green or purple was "her
color."

There are crimson velvet and dark blue velvet and Lincoln green
velvet habits without end in fiction, and in the records of
English royal wardrobes, but, beautiful as velvet is, and
exquisitely becoming as it would be, you would better not indulge
your artistic taste by wearing it. It would cost almost three
times as much as cloth; it would be nearly impossible to make a
well fitting modern skirt of it, and it would be worn into
ugliness by a very few hours of trotting. Be thankful, therefore,
that fashion says that woollen cloth is the most costly material
that may be used.

In India, during the last two or three seasons, Englishwomen have
worn London-made habits of very light stuffs, mohairs and fine
Bradford woollens, and there is no reason why any American woman
should not do the same. In Hyde Park, for three summers, in those
early morning hours when some of the best riders go, attended by
a groom, to enjoy something more lively than the afternoon
parade, skirts of light tweed and covert coats of the same
material worn over white silk shirts, with linen collars and a
man's tie, have made their wearers look cool and comfortable, and
duck covert jackets, with ordinary woollen skirts have had a
similar effect, but American women have rather hesitated as to
adopting these fashions, lest some one, beholding, should say
that they were not correct. Thus did they once think that they
must wear bonnets with strings in church, no matter what
remonstrance was made by the thermometer, or how surely they were
deafened to psalm and sermon by longing for the cool, comfortable
hats, which certain wise persons had decided were too frivolous
for the sanctuary.

New York girls have worn white cloth habits at Lenox without
shocking the moral sense of the inhabitants, but Lenox, during
the season, probably contains a smaller percentage of simpletons
than any village in the United States, and some daring Boston
girls have appeared this year in cool and elegant habits of
shepherd's check, and have pleased every good judge who has seen
them. If quite sure that you have as much common sense and
independence as these young ladies, imitate them, but if not,
wear the regulation close, dark cloth habit throughout the year,
be uncomfortable, and lose half the benefit of your summer rides
from becoming overheated, to say nothing of being unable to "keep
trotting" as long as you could if suitably clothed for exercise.
But might you not, if your habit were thin, catch cold while your
horse was walking? You might if you tried, but probably you would
not be in a state so susceptible to that disaster as you would if
heavily dressed.

There is little danger that the temperature will change so much
during a three hours' ride that you cannot keep yourself
sufficiently warm for comfort and for safety, and if you start
for a long excursion, you must use your common sense. The best
and least expensive way of solving the difficulty is to have an
ordinary habit, with the waist and skirt separate, and to wear a
lighter coat, with a habit shirt, or with a habit shirt and
waistcoat, whenever something lighter is desirable. This plan
gives three changes of dress, which should be enough for any
reasonable girl.

But still, you do not know what color you can wear? Black is
suitable for all hours and all places, even for an English fox
hunt, although the addition of a scarlet waistcoat, just visible
at the throat and below the waist, is desirable for the field.
Dark blue, dark green, dark brown are suitable for most
occasions, and a riding master whose experience has made him
acquainted with the dress worn in the principal European
capitals, declares his preference for gray with a white
waistcoat.

Among the habits shown by English tailors at the French
exhibition of 189, was one of blue gray, and a Paris tailor
displayed a tan-colored habit made with a coat and waistcoat
revealing a white shirt front. London women are now wearing white
waistcoats and white ties in the Park, both tie and waistcoat as
stiff and masculine as possible.

This affectation of adopting men's dress, when riding, is
comparatively modern. Sir Walter gives the date in "Rob Roy,"
when Mr. Francis sees Diana for the first time and notices that
she wears a coat, vest and hat resembling those of a man, "a mode
introduced during my absence in France," he says, "and perfectly
new to me." But this coat had the collar and wide sharply pointed
lapels and deep cuffs now known as "directoire," and its skirts
were full, and so long that they touched the right side of the
saddle, and skirts, lapels, collar and cuffs were trimmed with
gold braid almost an inch wide. The waistcoat, the vest, as Sir
Walter calls it, not knowing the risk that he ran in this half
century of being considered as speaking American, had a smaller,
but similar, collar and lapels, work outside those of the coat,
and the "man's tie" was of soft white muslin, and a muslin sleeve
and ruffles were visible at the wrists. The hat was very broad
brimmed, and was worn set back from the forehead, and bent into
coquettish curves, and altogether the fair Diana might depend
upon having a very long following of astonished gazers if she
should ride down Beacon Street or appear in Central Park to-day.

Your habit shall not be like hers, Esmeralda, but shall have a
plain waist, made as long as you can possibly wear it while
sitting, slightly pointed in front and curving upward at the side
to a point about half an inch below that where the belt of your
skirt fastens, and having a very small and perfectly flat
postilion, or the new English round back. Elizabeth of Austria
may wear a princess habit, if it please her, but would you,
Esmeralda, be prepared, in order to have your habit fit properly,
to postpone buttoning it until after you were placed in the
saddle, as she was accustomed to do in the happy days when she
could forget her imperial state in her long wild gallops across
the beautiful Irish hunting counties? The sleeves shall not be so
tight that you can feel them, nor shall the armholes be so close
as to prevent you from clasping your hands above your head with
your arms extended at full length, and the waist shall be loose.
If you go to a tailor, Esmeralda, prepare yourself to make a firm
stand on this point. Warn him, in as few words as possible, that
you will not take the habit out of his shop unless it suits you,
and do not allow yourself to be overawed by the list of his
patrons, all of whom "wear their habits far tighter, ma'am."
Unless you can draw a full, deep breath with your habit buttoned,
you cannot do yourself or your teacher any credit in trotting,
and you will sometimes find yourself compelled to give your
escort the appearance of being discourteous by drawing rein
suddenly, leaving him, unwarned, to trot on, apparently
disregarding your plight. Both your horse and his will resent
your action, and unless he resemble both Moses and Job more
strongly than most Americans, he will have a few words to say in
regard to it, after you have repeated it once or twice. And,
lastly, Esmeralda, no riding master with any sense of duty will
allow you to wear such a habit in his presence without telling
you his opinion of it, and stating his reasons for objecting to
it, and you best know whether or not a little lecture of that
sort will be agreeable, especially if delivered in the presence
of other women. Warn your tailor of your determination, then, and
if his devotion to his ideal should compel him to decline your
patronage, go to another, until you find one who will be content
not to transform you into the likeness of a wooden doll. Women
are not made to advertise tailors, whatever the tailors may
think.

What must you pay for your habit? You may pay three hundred
dollars, if you like, although that price is seldom charged,
unless to customers who seem desirous of paying if, but the usual
scale runs downward from one hundred and fifty dollars. This
includes cloth and all other materials, and finish as perfect
within as without, and is not dear, considering the retail price
of cloth, the careful making, and the touch of style which only
practised hands can give. The heavy meltons worn for hunting
habits in England cost seven dollars a yard; English tweeds which
have come into vogue during the last few years in London, cost
six dollars, broadcloth five dollars; rough, uncut cheviots,
about six dollars; and shepherds' checks, single width, about two
dollars and a half. For waistcoats, duck costs two dollars and a
quarter a yard, and fancy flannels and Tattersall checks anywhere
from one dollar and a half to two dollars. The heavy cloths are
the most economical in the end, because they do not wear out
where the skirt is stretched over the pommel, the point at which
a light material is very soon in tatters.

The small, flat buttons cost twenty-five cents a dozen; the fine
black sateen used for linings may be bought for thirty-five cents
a yard, and canvas for interlinings for twenty-five cents. With
these figures you may easily make your own computations as to the
cost of material, for unless a woman is "more than common tall,"
two yards and a half will be more than enough for her habit
skirt, which should not rest an inch on the ground on the left
side when she stands, and should not be more than a quarter of a
yard longer in its longest part. Two lengths, with allowance for
the hem two inches deep are needed for the skirt, and when very
heavy melton is used, the edges are left raw, the perfect riding
skirt in modern eyes being that which shows no trace of the
needle, an end secured with lighter cloths by pressing all the
seams before hemming, and then very lightly blind-stitching the
pointed edges in their proper place.

Strength is not desirable in the sewing of a habit skirt. It is
always possible that one may be thrown, and the substantial
stitching which will hold one to pommel and stirrup may be fatal
to life. So hems are constructed to tear away easily, and seams
are run rather than stitched, or stitched with fine silk, and the
cloth is not too firmly secured to the wide sateen belt. The
English safety skirts, invented three or four years ago, have the
seam on the knee-gore open from the knee down to the edge, and
the two breadths are caught together with buttons and elastic
loops, all sewed on very lightly so as to give way easily. The
effect of this style of cutting is, if one be thrown, to
transform one into a flattered or libelous likeness of Lilian
Russell in her naval uniform, prepared to scamper away from one's
horse, and from any other creatures with eyes, but with one's
bones unbroken and one's face unscathed by being dragged and
pounded over the road, or by being kicked.

For the waist and sleeves, Esmeralda, you will allow as much as
for those of your ordinary frocks, and if you cannot find a
fashionable tailor who will consent to adapt himself to your
tastes and to your purse, you may be fortunate enough to find men
who have worked in shops, but who now make habits at home,
charging twenty-five dollars for the work, and doing it well and
faithfully, although, of course, not being able to keep
themselves informed as to the latest freaks of English fashion by
foreign travellers and correspondents, as their late employers
do. There are two or three dressmakers in Boston and five or six
in New York whose habits fit well, and are elegant in every
particular, and, if you can find an old-fashioned tailoress who
really knows her business, and can prepare yourself to tell her
about a few special details, you may obtain a well-fitting waist
and skirt at a very reasonable price.

Of these details the first is that the sateen lining should
be black. Gay colors are very pretty, but soon spoiled by
perspiration, and white, the most fitting lining for a lady's
ordinary frock, is unsuitable for a habit, since one long, warm
ride may convert it into something very untidy of aspect. This
lining, of which all the seams should be turned toward the
outside, should end at the belt line, and between it and the
cloth outside should be a layer of canvas, cut and shaped as
carefully as possible, and the whalebones, each in its covering,
should be sewed between the canvas and the sateen. If a waistcoat
be worn, it should have a double sateen back with canvas
interlining, and may be high in the throat or made with a step
collar like that of the waist. The cuffs are simply indicated by
stitching and are buttoned on the outside of the sleeve with two
or three buttons. Simulated waistcoats, basted firmly to the
shoulder seams and under-arm seams of the waist, and cut high to
the throat with an officer collar, are liked by ladies with a
taste for variety, and are not expensive, as but for a small
quantity of material is required for each one. They are fastened
by small hooks except in those parts shown by the openings, and
on these flat or globular pearl buttons are used.

When a step collar and a man's tie are worn, the ordinary high
collar and chemisette, sold for thirty-eight cents, takes the
place of the straight linen band worn with the habit high in the
throat, and the proper tie is the white silk scarf fastened in a
four-in-hand knot, and, if you be wise, Esmeralda you will buy
this at a good shop, and pay two dollars and a quarter for it,
rather than to pay less and repent ever after. Some girls wear
white lawn evening ties, but they are really out of place in the
saddle, in which one is supposed to be in morning dress. Wear the
loosest of collars and cuffs, and fasten the latter to your habit
sleeves with safety pins. The belts of your habit skirt and waist
should also be pinned together at the back, at the sides, and the
front, unless your tailor has fitted them with hooks and eyes,
and if you be a provident young person, you will tuck away a few
more safety pins, a hairpin or two, half a row of "the most
common pin of North America," and a quarter-ounce flash of
cologne, in one of the little leather change pouches, and put it
either in your habit pocket or your saddle pocket. Sometimes,
after a dusty ride of an hour or two, a five-minute halt under
the trees by the roadside, gives opportunity to remove the dust
from the face and to cool the hands, and the cologne is much
better than the handkerchief "dipped in the pellucid waters of a
rippling brook," _a la_ novelist, for the pellucid brook of
Massachusetts is very likely to run past a leather factory, in
which case its waters are anything but agreeable. Whether or not
your habit shall have a pocket is a matter of choice. If it have
one, it should be small and should be on the left side, just
beyond the three flat buttons which fasten the front breadth and
side breadth of your habit at the waist. When thus placed, you
can easily reach it with either hand.

Fitting the habit over the knee is a feat not to be effected by
an amateur without a pattern, and the proper slope and adjustment
of the breadths come by art, not chance; but Harper's Bazaar
patterns are easily obtained by mail. The best tailors adjust the
skirt while the wearer sits on a side saddle, and there is no
really good substitute for this, for, although one my guess
fairly well at the fir of the knee, nothing but actual trial will
show whether or not, when in the saddle, the left side of the
skirt hangs perfectly straight, concealing the right side, and
leaving the horse's body visible below it. When your skirt is
finished, no matter if it be made by the very best of tailors,
wear it once in the school before you appear on the road with it,
and, looking in the mirror, view it "with a crocket's eye," as
the little boy said when he appeared on the school platform as an
example of the advantages of the wonderful merits of oral
instruction.

An elastic strap about a quarter of a yard long should be sewed
half way between the curved knee seam and the hem, and should be
slipped over the right toe before mounting, and a second strap,
for the left heel, should be sewed on the last seam on the under
side of the habit, to be adjusted after the foot is placed in the
stirrup. The result of this cutting and arrangement is the
straight, simple, modern habit which is so great a change from
the riding dress of half a century ago, with its full skirt which
nearly swept the ground. The short skirt first appears in the
English novel in "Guy Livingstone," and is worn by the severe and
upright Lady Alice, the dame who hesitated not to snub Florence
Bellasis, when snubbing was needful, and who was a mighty
huntress. Now everybody wears it, and the full skirts are seen
nowhere except in the riding-school dressing-rooms, where they
yet linger because they may be worn by anybody, whereas the plain
skirts fits but one person. It seems odd that so many years were
required to discover that a short skirt, held in place by a strap
placed over the right toe and another slipped over the left heel,
really protected the feet more than yards of loosely floating
cloth, but did not steam and electricity wait for centuries?
Since the new style was generally adopted, Englishwomen allow
themselves the luxury of five or six habits, instead of the one
or two formerly considered sufficient, but each one is worn for
several years. When the extravagant wife, in Mrs. Alexander's "A
Crooked Path," suggests that she may soon want a new habit, her
husband asks indignantly, "Did I not give you one two years ago?"

The trousers may mach the habit or may be of stockinet, or the
imported cashmere tights may be worn. Women who are not fat and
whose muscles are hard, may choose whichsoever one of these
pleases them, but fat women, and women whose flesh is not too
solid, must wear thick trousers, and would better have them lined
with buckskin, unless they would be transformed into what Sairey
would call "a mask of bruiges," and would frequent remark to Mrs.
Harris that such was what she expected. Trousers with gaiter
fastenings below the knee are preferred by some women who put not
their faith in straps alone, and knee-breeches are liked by some,
but to wear knee breeches means to pay fifteen dollars for long
riding-boots, instead of the modest seven or eight dollars which
suffice to buy ordinary Balmoral boots. Gaiters must button on
the left side of each leg, and trouser straps may be sewed on one
side and buttoned on the other, instead of being buttoned on both
sides as men's are. Tailors sometimes insist on two buttons, but
as a woman does not wear her trousers except with the strap, it
is not difficult to see why she needs to be able to remove it.
The best material for the strap is thick soft kid, or thin
leather lined with cloth. The thick, rubber strap used by some
tailors is dangerous, sometimes preventing the rider from placing
her foot in the stirrup, sometimes making her lose it at a
critical moment. Whether breeches, tights, or trousers are worn,
they must be loose at the knee, or trotting will be impossible,
and the rider will feel as if bound to the second pommel, and
will sometimes be unable to rise at all.

As to gloves, the choice lies between the warm antelope skin
mousquetaires at two dollars a pair, and the tan-colored kid
gauntlets at the same price. The former are most comfortable for
winter, the latter for summer, and neither can be too large.
Nobody was ever ordered out for execution for wearing black
gloves, although they are unusual, and now and then one sees a
woman, whose soul is set on novelty, gorgeous in yellow cavalry
gauntlets, or even with white dragoon gauntlets, making her look
like a badly focused photograph.

Lastly, as to the hat. What shall it be, Esmeralda?

No tuft of grass-green plumes for you, like Queen Guinevere's,
nor yet the free flowing feather to be seen in so many beautiful
old French pictures, nor the plumed hat which "my sweet Mistress
Ann Dacre" wore when Constance Sherwood's loving eyes first fell
upon her, but the simple jockey cap, exactly matching your habit,
and costing two dollars and a half or three dollars; the Derby
cap for the same price or a little more; or, best of all, the
English or the American silk hat, as universally suitable as a
black silk frock was in the good old times when Mrs. Rutherford
Birchard Hayes was in the White House. The English Henry Heath
hat at seven or eight dollars, with its velvet forehead piece and
its band of soft, rough silk, stays in place better than any
other, but it is too heavy for comfort. If you can have an
American hatter remodel it, making it weigh half a pound less, it
will be perfection, always provided that he does not, as he
assuredly will unless you forbid it, throw away the soft, rough
band, which keeps the hat in place, and substitute one of the
American smooth bands, designed to slip off without ruffling the
hair, and doing it instantly, the moment that a breeze touches
the brim of the hat. A hunting guard, fastened at the back of the
hat brim and between two habit buttons is better than an elastic
caught under the braids of your hair, for when an elastic does
not snap outright, it is always trying to do so, and in the
effort holds the hat so tightly on the head so as sometimes to
give actual pain. The hunting guard is no restraint at all unless
the hat flies off, in which case it keeps it from following the
example of John Gilpin's, but with the Henry Heath lining, your
hat is perfectly secure in anything from a Texas Norther to a New
England east wind. If you follow London example, and wear a straw
hat for morning rides, sew a piece of white velvet on the inner
side of the band, and your forehead will not be marked.

Arrayed after these suggestions, Esmeralda, you will be
inconspicuous, and that is the general aim of the true lady's
riding dress, with the exception of those worn by German
princesses, when, at a review, they lead the regiments which they
command. Then, their habits may be frogged and braided with gold,
or they may fire the air in habit and hat of white and scarlet,
the regimental colors, as the Empress of Germany did the other
day. If you were sure of riding as these royal ladies do, perhaps
even white and scarlet might be permitted to you, but can you
fancy yourself, Esmeralda, sweeping across a parade ground with a
thousand horsemen behind you, and ready to salute your sovereign
and commander-in-chief at the right moment, and to go forward
with as much precision as if you, too, were one of those
magnificently drilled machines brought into being by the man of
blood and iron?



XIII.

  'Tis an old maxim in the schools,
  That flattery's the food of fools.
       _Swift_.


If American children and American girls were the angels which
their mothers and their lovers tell them that they are, the best
possible riding master for them would be an American soldier who
had learned and taught riding at West Point. Being of the same
race, pupil and teacher would have that vast fund of common
memories, hopes and feelings; that common knowledge of character,
of good qualities and of defects, and that ability to divine
motives and to predict action which constitute perfect sympathy,
and their relations to one another would be mutually agreeable
and profitable. Unfortunately, Esmeralda, you, like possibly some
other American girls, are not an angel, and if you were, you
could not have such a riding master, because the very few men who
have the specified qualifications are too well acquainted with
the characteristics of their countrywomen to instruct them in the
equestrian art. Who, then, shall be his substitute? Clearly,
either a person sufficiently patient and clever to neutralize the
faults of American women, or one capable of adapting himself to
them, of eluding them, and of forcing a certain quantity of
knowledge upon his pupils, almost in spite of themselves. The
former is hardly to be found among natives of the United States;
the latter can be found nowhere else, except, possibly, in
certain English shires in which the inhabitants so closely
resemble the average American that when they immigrate hither
they are scarcely distinguishable from men whose ancestors came
two or three centuries ago.

A foreign teacher, whether French, German, or Hungarian, always
regards himself in the just and proper European manner as the
superior of his pupil. The traditions in which he has been
reared, in which he has been instructed, not only in riding, but
in all other matters, survive from the time when all learning was
received from men whose title to respect rested not only on their
wisdom but on their ecclesiastical office, and who expected and
received as much deference from their pupils as from their
congregations. Undeniably, there are unruly children in European
schools, but their rebelliousness is never encouraged, and their
teachers are expected to quell it, not to submit to it, much less
to endeavour to avoid it by giving no commands which are
distasteful. Even in the worst conducted private schools on the
continent, there is always at least one master who must be
obeyed, whose authority is held as beyond appeal, and in the
school conducted either by the church or by civil authority, the
duty of enforcing perfect discipline is regarded as quite as
imperative as that of demanding well-learned lessons.

Passing through these institutions, the young European enters the
military school with as little thought of disputing any order
which may be given him as of arguing with the priest who states a
theological truth from the pulpit. And, indeed, had he been
reared under the tutelage of one of those modern silver-tongued
American pedagogues, who make gentle requests lest they should
elicit antagonism by commands, the military school should soon
completely alter the complexion of his ideas, for he would find
his failures in the execution of orders treated as disobedience.
He would not be punished at first, it is true, but pretty
theories that he was nervous, or ill, or the victim of hereditary
disability, or of fibre too delicately attenuated to perform any
required act, would not be admitted except, indeed, as a reason
for expulsion. Moreover, the tests to which he would be compelled
to submit before this escape from discipline lay open to him,
would be neither slight nor easily borne, for the European
military teacher has yet to learn the existence of that exquisite
personal dignity which is hopelessly blighted by corporal
punishment or infractions of discipline.

"Will you teach me how to ride, sir?" asked a Boston man of a
Hungarian soldier, one of the pioneers among Boston instructors.

"Will I teach you! Eh! I don't know," said the exile dolefully,
for during his few weeks in the city, he had seen something of
the ways of the American who fancies himself desirous of being
taught. "Perhaps you will learn, but will--I--teach--you?
You can ride?"

"A little."

"Very well! Mount that horse, and ride around the ring."

Away went the pupil, doing his best, but before he had traversed
two sides of the school, the master shouted to the horse, and the
pupil was sitting in the tan. He picked himself up, and returned
to the mounting-stand, saying: "Will you tell me how to stay on
next time?"

"I will," cried the Hungarian in a small ecstasy; "and I will
make a rider of you!" And he did, too, and certainly took as much
pleasure in his pupil in the long course of instruction which
followed, and in the resultant proficiency.

In European riding-schools for ladies, there is, of course, no
resort to corporal punishment, but there is none of that careful
abstention from telling disagreeable truths which popular
ignorance extracts from American teachers in all schools, except
in the military and naval academies. Indeed, the need of it is
hardly felt, for that peculiar self-consciousness which makes an
American awkward under observation and restive under reproof is
scarcely found in countries not democratic, and the "I'm ez good ez
you be" feeling that is at the bottom of American intractability,
has no chance to flourish in lands where position is a matter of
birth and not of self-assertion.

A French woman, compelled to make part of her toilet in a railway
waiting-room under the eyes of half a score of enemies, that is
to say, of ten other women, arranges her tresses, purchased or
natural, uses powder-puff and hare's foot if she choose, and turns
away from the mirror armed for conquest; but an American similarly
situated, forgets half her hair-pins, does not dare to wash her
face carefully lest some one should sniff condemnation of her
fussiness, and looks worse after her efforts at beautifying. A
French girl, told that her English accent is bad, corrects it
carefully; an American, gently reminded that a French "u" is not
pronounced like "you," changes it to "oo," and stares defiance
at Bocher and all his works. And even that commendable reserve
which hinders well-bred Americans from frank self-discussion,
stands in the way of perfect sympathy between him and the
European master, representative of races in which everybody,
from an emperor in his proclamations to the peasant chatting over
his beer or _petit vin_, may discourse upon his most recondite
peculiarities.

For all these reasons, the European riding master is often
misunderstood, even by his older pupils, and young girls almost
invariably mistake his patient reiteration and his methodical
vivacity for anger, so that his classes seldom contain any pupils
not really anxious to learn, or whose parents are not determined
that they shall learn in his school and no other. Teaching is a
matter of strict conscience with him, and even after years of
experience, and in spite of more than one severe lesson as to
American sensitiveness, he continues to speak the truth. Even
when his pupils have become what the ordinary observer calls
perfect riders, he allows no fault to go unreproved, although
nobody can more thoroughly enjoy the evening classes, organized
by fairly good riders rather for amusement than for instruction.
If you think you can endure perfect discipline and incessant
plain speaking go to him, Esmeralda.

If you cannot, take the other alternative, the American or the
English master, but remember that it is only by absolute
submission that you will obtain the best instruction which he is
capable of giving. If you do not compel him to tax his mind with
remembering all your foibles and weaknesses, you may, thanks to
race sympathy, learn more rapidly at first from him than from a
foreigner, and, unless you are rude and insubordinate to the
point of insolence, you may depend upon receiving no actual
harshness from him, although he will refuse to flatter you, and
will repeat his warnings against faults, quite as persistently as
any foreigner.

A very little observation of your fellow pupils will show you
that presumption upon his good nature is wofully common, and that
his American inability to forget that a woman is a woman, even
when she conducts herself as if her name were Ursa or Jenny,
often subjects him to stupendous impertinence, which he receives
with calm and silent contempt. You will find that his instruction
follows the same lines as that of all foreign masters in the
United States, for there is no American system of horsemanship,
the traditions of the army, and of the north, being derived
from France, those of the south fro, England, and those of the
southwest from Spain, by the way of Mexico and Texas. Under
his instruction, you will remain longer in the debatable land
between perfect ignorance of horsemanship, and being a really
accomplished rider, than you would if taught by a foreigner, but,
as has already been said, you will learn more rapidly at first,
an the result, if you choose to work hard, will be much the same.

Should you, by way of experiment, choose to take lessons from
both native and foreign masters, you will find each frankly ready
to admit the merits of the other, and to acknowledge that he
himself is better suited to some pupils than to others and, to
come back to what was told you at the outset, you will find them
unanimous in assuring you that your best teacher, the instructor
without whose aid you can learn nothing, is yourself, your
slightly rebellious, but withal clever, American self. You can
learn, Esmeralda. There is no field of knowledge into which the
American woman has attempted to enter, in which she has not
demonstrated her ability to compete, when she chooses to put
forth all her energy, with her sisters of other nations, but she
must work, and must work steadily. There are American teachers of
grammar who cannot parse; American female journalists who cannot
write; American women calling themselves doctors, but unable to
make a diagnosis between the cholera and the measles; and
American women practising law and dependent for a living on
blatant self-advertising, but with the faculties of Vassar and
Wellesley in existence; with the editor of Harper's Bazar
receiving the same salary as Mr. Curtis; with American women
acknowledged as a credit to the medical and to the legal
profession--what of it? The American woman can learn anything,
can do anything. Do you learn to ride, and, having done it, "keep
riding." At present you have received just sufficient instruction
to qualify you to ride properly escorted, on good roads, but--

          "KEEP RIDING!"





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