He was, however, so useful that two or three times York had hushed the matter up and kept it from the earl's knowledge; but one night, when Reuben had to drive a party home from a ball he was so drunk that he could not hold the reins, and a gentleman of the party had to mount the box and drive the ladies home.
Of course, this could not be hidden, and Reuben was at once dismissed; his poor wife and little children had to turn out of the pretty cottage by the park gate and go where they could. Old Max told me all this, for it happened a good while ago; but shortly before Ginger and I came Smith had been taken back again. York had interceded for him with the earl, who is very kind-hearted, and the man had promised faithfully that he would never taste another drop as long as he lived there.
He had kept his promise so well that York thought he might be safely trusted to fill his place while he was away, and he was so clever and honest that no one else seemed so well fitted for it.
It was now early in April, and the family was expected home some time in May. The light brougham was to be fresh done up, and as Colonel Blantyre was obliged to return to his regiment it was arranged that Smith should drive him to the town in it, and ride back; for this purpose he took the saddle with him, and I was chosen for the journey.
At the station the colonel put some money into Smith's hand and bid him good-by, saying, "Take care of your young mistress, Reuben, and don't let Black Auster be hacked about by any random young prig that wants to ride him - keep him for the lady."
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