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Thomas Hardy: Far from the Madding Crowd
Chapter 32: Night--horses Tramping (continued)
"Hark!" said Gabriel.
They listened. Distinct upon the stagnant air came the sounds of a trotting horse passing up Longpuddle Lane--just beyond the gipsies' encampment in Weatherbury Bottom.
"That's our Dainty--I'll swear to her step," said Jan.
"Mighty me! Won't mis'ess storm and call us stupids when she comes back!" moaned Maryann. "How I wish it had happened when she was at home, and none of us had been answerable!"
"We must ride after," said Gabriel, decisively. "I'll be responsible to Miss Everdene for what we do. Yes, we'll follow."
"Faith, I don't see how," said Coggan. "All our horses are too heavy for that trick except little Poppet, and what's she between two of us?--If we only had that pair over the hedge we might do something."
"Mr. Boldwood's Tidy and Moll."
"Then wait here till I come hither again," said Gabriel. He ran down the hill towards Farmer Boldwood's.
"Farmer Boldwood is not at home," said Maryann.
"All the better," said Coggan. "I know what he's gone for."
Less than five minutes brought up Oak again, running at the same pace, with two halters dangling from his hand.
"Where did you find 'em?" said Coggan, turning round and leaping upon the hedge without waiting for an answer.
"Under the eaves. I knew where they were kept," said Gabriel, following him. "Coggan, you can ride bare-backed? there's no time to look for saddles."
"Like a hero!" said Jan.
"Maryann, you go to bed," Gabriel shouted to her from the top of the hedge.
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