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IT was with singular pride that Mr. Thomas
Bovington of Long Hornets, Bucks, viewed
his first ' lot ' of fat bullocks as they filed
their way out of his stock-yard towards the
nearest Station of the North Western Railway.
They were so sleek, so well fed, and
so well behaved, that they turned out of their
stalls with the solemn sobriety of animals
attending their own funeral. Except a few
capers cut by a lively West Highlander, they
sauntered along like beasts who had never had
a care in their lives. For how were they to
know that the tips of their horns pointed to
that bourne from whence few bovine travellers
returnSmithfield? Smithfield, the Heart of
Mid-London, the flower of the capitalthe
true, original, London-Pride, always in full
bloom! A merciful ignorance blinded them
to the fact that, the master who had fed and
pampered them with indulgent industry
who had administered their food out of the
scientific dietaries of Liebig; who had built
their sheds after the manner of Huxtable;
who had stalled and herded them in
imitation of Pusey; who had littered them out of
' Stevens's Book of the Farm 'was about,
with equal care and attention to their comfort,
to have them converted into cash, and
then into beef.

This was Mr. Bovington's first transaction
in bullocks. Since his retirement from
Northampton (where he made a small fortune by
tanning the hides he now so assiduously filled
out), he had devoted his time, his capital, and
his energy to stock-farming. His sheep had
always sold well; so well indeed, that he had
out-stocked the local markets; and, on the
previous morning, had driven off a threescore
flock to the same destination and on the
same tragic errand, as that of his oxen. His
success in the production of mutton had given
him courage: he had, therefore, soared to
beef. Only the Thursday before a neighbouring
farmer had pronounced of his herd to his
face, that ' a primer lot of beasts he never see

Mr. Bovington had several hours to spare
before the passenger-train was due in which
he intended to follow his cattle. Like a
thrifty man he spent a part of it over his
stock-book, to settle finally at what figure he
could afford to sell. He was an admirable
book-keeper; he could tell to an ounce how
much oil-cake each ox had devoured, to a root
how many beets; and, to a wisp, how much
straw had been used for litter. The acreage
of pasture was, also, minutely calculated. The
result was, that Mr. Bovington could find
in an instant the cost price of each stone of
the flesh that had just departed of its own
motion towards the shambles.

To a mercenary mind; to a man whose
whole soul is ground down to considerations
of mere profit (considerations which many
profound politico-philosophers deplore as
entering too largely into the agricultural
mind) the result of Mr. Bovington's
comparison of the cost with the present market
prices, would have been extremely unsatisfactory.
What he had produced at about
3s. 9d. per stone, he found by the ' Marklane
Express ' was ' dull at 3s. 6d., sinking the
offal.' Neither had the season been favourable
for sheepat least, not for his sheep
and by them, too, he would be a loser.
But what of that? Mr. Bovington's object
was less profit than fame. As a beginner, he
wanted to establish a first-class character in
the market; and, that obtained, it would be
time enough to turn his attention to the
economics of feeding and breeding. With what
pride would he hear the praises of those astute
critics, the London butchers, as they walked
round and round, pinching and punching each
particular ox, enumerating his various good
points, and contrasting it with the meaner,
leaner stock of the mere practical graziers!
With what confidence he could command the
top price, and with what certainty he could
maintain it for his ' lots ' in future!

Mr. Bovington was as merciful as he was
above immediate gain. He could not trust
the stock he had nurtured and fed, to the
uncontrolled dominion of drovers. Though
hurried to their doom, he would take care
that they should be killed 'comfortably.'
He considered this as a sacred duty, else he
who was a pattern to the parishwould not
have thus employed himself on a Sunday.
As he took his ticket at the station, the
chimes for evening service had just struck
out. His conscience smote him. As his eye
roved over the peaceful glades of Long
Hornets, on which the evening sun was