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stopped. Mr. Enderton popped out in a mo- Enderton. “You cannot speak of a wise and ment, and I also got down to have a talk with discreet act, determinately performed, as a the driver.
thing which has happened. We have been “ These hosses won't do much at holdin' saved, sir, from being dashed to pieces behind back,” he said, " and it worries 'em less to let that wild and unmanageable team of horses; 'em go ahead with the wheels locked. You and I will add that we have been saved by my need n't be afraid. If nothin' breaks, we 're forethought and prompt action." all right."
I turned and looked at him in astonishment. Mr. Enderton seemed endeavoring to sat- “What do you mean?” I said. “What could isfy himself that everything about the running- you have had to do with this accident ? " gear of the coach was in a safe condition. He “Allow me to repeat," said Mr. Enderton, examined the wheels, the axles, and the whif- “ that it was not an accident. The moment fle-trees, much to the amusement of the driver, that we began to go down hill I perceived who remarked to me that the old chap prob- that we were in a position of the greatest danably knew as much now as he did before. I ger. The driver was reckless, the boy incomwas rather surprised that my father-in-law sub- petent, and the horses unmanageable. As my jected the driver to no further condemnation. remonstrances and counsels had no effect upon On the contrary, he said nothing except that the man, and as you seemed to have no defor the rest of this down-hill drive he should sire to join me in efforts to restrain him to a take his place on the driver's unoccupied seat. more prudent rate of speed, I determined to Nobody offered any objection to this, and up take the affair into my own hands. I knew he climbed.
that the first thing to be done was to rid ourWhen we started again Ruth seemed dis- selves of those horses. So long as we were turbed that her father should be in such an connected with them disaster was imminent. exposed position, but I assured her that he I knew exactly what ought to be done. The would be perfectly safe, and would be much horses must be detached from the coach. I better satisfied at being able to see for him- had read, sir, of inventions especially intended self what was going on.
to detach runaway horses from a vehicle. To We now began to go down hill again at a all intents and purposes our horses were runrate as rapid as before. Our speed, however, aways, or would become so in a very short was not equal. Sometimes it would slacken a time. I now made it my object to free ourlittle where the road was heavy or more upon selves from those horses. I got out at our first a level, and then we would go jolting and stop and thoroughly examined the carriage rattling over some long downward stretch. attachments. I found that the movable After a particularly unpleasant descent of this bar to which the whiffle-trees were attached kind the coach seemed suddenly to change was connected to the vehicle by two straps its direction, and with a twist and an uplifting and a bolt, the latter having a ring at the of one side it bumped heavily against some top and an iron nut at the bottom. While thing and stopped. I heard a great shout you and that reckless driver were talking tooutside, and from a window which now com- gether and paying no attention to me, the only manded a view of the road I saw our team person in the party who thoroughly compreof six horses, with the drivers pulling and tug- hended our danger, I unbuckled those straps, ging at the two they rode, madly running away and with my strong nervous fingers, without at the top of their speed.
the aid of implements, I unscrewed the nut Ruth, who had been thrown by the shock from the bolt. Then, sir, I took my seat on into the arms of Mrs. Aleshine, was dreadfully the outside of the coach and felt that I held frightened, and screamed for her father. I had our safety in my own hands. For a time I albeen pitched forward upon Mrs. Lecks, but I lowed our vehicle to proceed, but when we quickly recovered myself
, and as soon as I approached this long slope which stretches found that none of the occupants of the coach before us, and our horses showed signs of inhad been hurt, I opened the door and sprang creasing impetuosity, I leaned forward, hooked out,
the handle of my umbrella in the ring of the In the middle of the road stood Mr. En- bolt, and with a mighty effort jerked it out. derton, entirely uninjured, with a jubilant ex- I admit to you, sir, that I had overlooked the pression on his face, and in one hand a large fact that the other horses were attached to the closed umbrella.
end of the pole, but I have often noticed that “What has happened?" I exclaimed, hurry- when we are discreet in judgment and prompt ing around to the front of the coach, where I in action we are also fortunate. Thus was I saw that the pole had been broken off about fortunate. The hindermost horses, suddenly the middle of its length.
released, rushed upon those in front of them, “ Nothing has happened, sir," replied Mr. and, in a manner, jumbled up the whole team, which seemed to throw the animals into such so, and Ruth now asked me what I supposed terror that they dashed to one side and would become of us. snapped off the pole, after which they went “ If nothing happens to the driver and the madly tearing down the road, entirely beyond boy," I replied, “I suppose they will go on the control of the two riders. Our coach turned until they get to the station to which we were and ran into the side of the road with but a bound, and there they will procure a pole, if moderate concussion, and as I looked at those such a thing can be found, or, perhaps, get flying steeds, with their riders vainly endeavor- another coach, and come back for us. It ing to restrain them, I could not, sir, keep down would be useless for them to return to our an emotion of pride that I had been instru- coach in its present condition.” mental in freeing myself, my daughter, and “And how soon do you think they will come my traveling companions from their danger- back?" she said. ous proximity.
“Not for some hours," I replied. “The The speaker ceased, a smile of conscious driver told me there were no houses between merit
upon his face. For the moment I could the place where we last stopped and the railnot say a word to him, I was so angry. But road station, and I am sure he will not turn had I been able to say or do anything to in- back until he reaches a place where he can dicate the wild indignation that filled my brain, get either a new pole or another vehicle." I should have had no opportunity, for Mrs. Ruth and I walked to a turn at the bottom Lecks stepped up to me and took me by the of the long hill down which our runaway arm. Her face was very stern, and her expres- steeds bad sped. At this point we had an exsion gave one the idea of the rigidity of Bes- tended view of the road as it wound along semer steel.
the mountain side, but we could see no signs “I've heard what has been said,” she re- of our horses nor of any living thing. I did marked, “and I wish to talk to this man. Your not, in fact, expect to see our team, for it would wife is over there with Mrs. Aleshine. Will be foolish in the driver to come back until he you please take a walk with her along the was prepared to do something for us, and even road? You may stay away for a quarter of an if he had succeeded in controlling the runaway hour."
beasts, the quicker he got down the mountain, “Madam,” said Mr. Enderton, “I do not the better. wish to talk to you."
By the time we had returned we had taken "I did n't ask you whether you did or not," quite a long walk, but we were glad of it, for said Mrs. Lecks.' “ Mr. Craig, will you please the exercise tranquillized us both. On our way get your wife away as quick and as far as you back we noticed that a road which seemed can?"
to come up from below us joined the one I took the hint, and, with Ruth on my arm, we were on a short distance from the place walked rapidly down the road. She was very where our accident occurred. This, probably, glad to go, for she had been much frightened, was the lower road which had been spoken and wanted to be alone with me to have me of when we changed horses. explain to her what had occurred. Mrs. Lecks, We found Mr. Enderton standing by himimagining from the expression of his counte. self. His face was of the hue of wood ashes, nance that Mr. Enderton had, in some way, his expression haggard. He reminded me of been at the bottom of the trouble, and fearing a man who had fallen from a considerable that she should not be able to restrain her in- height, and who had been frightened and dignation when she found how he had done stupefied by the shock. I comprehended it, had ordered Mrs. Aleshine to keep Ruth the situation without difficulty, and felt quite away from her father. This action had in- sure that had he had the choice he would creased the poor girl's anxiety, and she was have much preferred a thrashing to the plain glad enough to have me take her away and talk he had heard from Mrs. Lecks. tell her all about our accident.
“What is the matter, father?” exclaimed I did tell her all that had happened, speak- Ruth. “Were you hurt ? " ing as mildly as I could of Mr. Enderton's Mr. Enderton looked in a dazed way at his conduct. Poor Ruth burst into tears. daughter, and it was some moments before he
“I do wish," she exclaimed, " that father appeared to have heard what she said. Then would travel by himself! He is so nervous, he answered abruptly: “Hurt? Oh, no! I and so easily frightened, that I am sure he am not hurt in the least. I was just thinking would be happier when he could attend to of something. I shall walk on to the village his safety in his own way; and I know, too, or town, whichever it is, to which that man that we should be happier without him.” was taking us. It cannot be more than seven
I agreed most heartily with these sentiments, or eight miles away, if that. The road is down although I did not deem it necessary to say hill, and I can easily reach the place before nightfall. I will then personally attend to anything else; and having small faith in the your rescue, and will see that a vehicle is im- resources of roadside taverns, and great faith mediately sent to you. There is no trusting in the unlimited capabilities of Mr. Enderton these ignorant drivers. No,” he continued, in the matter of consuming food on a journey, deprecatingly raising his hand, “ do not at- she had provided bounteously and even extempt to dissuade me. Your safety and that travagantly. of others is always my first care. Exertion is One side of the road was bordered by a nothing."
forest, and on the ground was an abundance Without further words, and paying no at- of dead wood. I gathered a quantity of this, tention to the remonstrances of his daughter, and made a fire, which was very grateful to he strode off down the road.
us, for the air was growing colder and colder. I was very glad to see him go. At any time When we had eaten a substantial cold suphis presence was undesirable to me, and under per and had thoroughly warmed ourselves at the present circumstances it would be more the fire, we got into the coach to sit there and objectionable than ever. He was a good wait until relief should come. We sat for a walker, and there was no doubt he would easily long time; all night, in fact. We were not reach the station, where he might possibly be uncomfortable, for we each had a corner of of some use to us.
the coach, and we were plentifully provided Mrs. Lecks was sitting on a stone by the with wraps and rugs. roadside. Her face was still stern and rigid, Contrary to their usual habit, Mrs. Lecks but there was an expression of satisfaction and Mrs. Aleshine did not talk much. When upon it which had not been there when I left subjected to the annoyances of an ordinary her. Ruth went to the coach to get a shawl, accident, even if it should have been the reand I said to Mrs. Lecks:
sult of carelessness, their disposition would “ I suppose you had your talk with Mr. have prompted them to take events as they Enderton?"
came, and to make the best of whatever might “Talk!” she replied. “I should say so! If happen to them. But this case was entirely difever a man understands what people think of ferent. We were stranded and abandoned on him, and knows what he is, from his crown to the road, on the side of a lonely, desolate his feet, inside and outside, soul, body, bones, mountain, on a cold bleak night; and all this and skin, and what he may expect in this world was the result of what they considered the and the next, he knows it. I did n't keep to deliberate and fiendish act of a man who was what he has done for us this day. I went afraid of horses and who cared for no one in back to the first moment when he began to the world but himself. Their minds were in growl at payin' his honest board on the island, such a condition that if they said anything and I did n't let him off for a single sin that they must vituperate, and they were so kindly he has committed since. And now I feel that disposed towards my wife, and had such a I've done my duty as far as he is concerned; tender regard for her feelings, that they would and havin' got through with that, it's time we not, in her presence, vituperate her father. So were lookin' about to see what we can do for they said very little, and, nestling into their ourselves.”
corners, were soon asleep. It was indeed time, for the day was draw- After a time Ruth followed their example, ing towards its close. For a moment I had and, though I was very anxiously watching thought that we would give Mr. Enderton a out of the window for an approaching light, good start, and then follow him down the and listening for the sound of wheels, I, too, mountain to the station. But a little reflection fell into a doze. It must have been ten or showed me that this plan would not answer. eleven o'clock when I was awakened by some Ruth was not strong enough to walk so far; delicate but cold touches on my face, the naand although Mrs. Aleshine had plenty of ture of which, when I first opened my eyes, I vigor, she was too plump to attempt such a could not comprehend. But I soon understood tramp. Besides, the sky was so heavily over- what these cold touches meant. The window cast that it was not safe to leave the shelter of in the door of the coach on my side had been the coach.
slightly lowered from the top to give us air, As might have been expected, Mrs. Lecks and through the narrow aperture the cold parand Mrs. Aleshine took immediate charge of ticles had come floating in. I looked through the personal comfort of the party, and the first the window. The night was not very dark, thing they did was to make preparations for for, although the sky was overcast, the moon a meal. Fortunately, we had plenty of provis- was in its second quarter, and I could plainly ions. Mrs. Aleshine had had charge of what see that it was snowing, and that the ground she called our lunch-baskets, which were, in- was already white. deed, much more like market-baskets than This discovery sent a chill into my soul, for I was not unfamiliar with snows in mountain there was an ax, and I thought I might posregions, and knew well what this might mean sibly find there a shovel. I opened the coach to us. But there was nothing that we could door and saw that the snow was already above now do, and it would be useless and foolish the lower step. By standing on the spokes of to awaken my companions and distress them the back wheel I could easily get at the boot, with this new disaster. Besides, I thought our and I soon pulled out the ax, but found no situation might not be so very bad after all. shovel. But this did not deter me. I made It was not yet winter, and the snow-fall might my way to the front wheel and climbed up to prove to be but a light one. I gently closed the driver's box, where I knocked off one of the window, and made my body comfortable the thin planks of the foot-board, and this, in its corner, but my mind continued very un- with the ax, I shaped into a rude shovel comfortable for I do not know how long. with a handle rather too wide but serviceable,
When I awoke, I found that there had been with this I went vigorously to work, and soon a heavy fall of snow in the night, and that the had made a pathway across the road. Here flakes were still coming down, thick and fast. I chopped off some low dead branches, picked When Ruth first looked out upon the scene she up others, and soon had a crackling fire, around was startled and dismayed. She was not ac- which my three companions gathered with customed to storms of this kind, and the snow delight. frightened her. Upon Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. A strong wind was now blowing, and the Aleshine the sight of the storm produced an snow began to form into heavy drifts. The entirely different effect. Here was a difficulty, fire was very cheery and pleasant, but the a discomfort, a hardship, but it came in a nat- wind was cutting, and we soon returned to ural way, and not by the hand of a dastardly the shelter of the coach, where we had our coward of a man. With naturally happening breakfast. This was not altogether a cold difficulties they were accustomed to combat meal, for Mrs. Aleshine had provided a little without fear or repining. They knew all about tea-kettle, and, with some snow-water which snow, and were not frightened by this storm. I brought in boiling from the fire in the woods, The difficulties which it presented to their we had all the hot and comforting tea we minds actually raised their spirits, and from wanted. the grim and quiet beings of the last evening We passed the morning waiting and lookthey became the same cheerful, dauntless, ready ing out and wondering what sort of conveywomen that I had known before.
ance would be sent for us. It was generally “Upon my word,” exclaimed Mrs. Aleshine, agreed that nothing on wheels could now be as she clapped her face to a window of the got over the road, and that we must be taken coach, “if this is n't a reg'lar old-fashioned away in a sleigh. snow-storm! I 've shoveled my own way "I like sleigh-ridin'," said Mrs. Aleshine, through many a one like it to git to the barn “if you 're well wropped up, with good horses, to do my milkin' afore the men folks had begun an'a hot brick for your feet, but I must say I makin' paths, an' I feel jus' like as though I don't know but what I 'm goin' to be a little could do it agin.”
skeery goin' down these long hills. If we git “Now, Barb'ry Aleshine," said Mrs. Lecks, fairly slidin', horses, sleigh, an' all together, “ if you're thinkin' of shovelin' your way from there's no knowin' where we 'll fetch up.” this place to where your cows is, you 'd better “There's one comfort, Barb'ry,” remarked step right out and get at it, and I really do Mrs. Lecks,“ and that is that when we do fetch think that if you felt they was sufferin' for want up it'll be at the bottom of the hills and not at of milkin' you 'd make a start.”
the top, and as the bottom is what we want to “ I don't say," answered Mrs. Aleshine, get to, we ought n't to complain.” with an illuminating grin, “that if the case “ That depends a good deal whether we was that way I might n't have the hankerin' come down hindpart foremost, or forepart though not the capableness, but I don't know front. But nobody's complainin’ so fur, spethat there 's any place to shovel our way to cially as the sleigh is n't here.” jus' now.”
I joined in the outlooking and the conjecMrs. Lecks and I thought differently. Across tures, but I could not keep up the cheerful the road, under the great trees, the ground was courage which animated my companions; for comparatively free from snow, and in some not only were the two elder women bright and places, owing to the heavy evergreen foliage, cheery, but Ruth seemed to be animated and it was entirely bare. It was very desirable encouraged by their example, and showed herthat we should get to one of these spots and self as brave and contented as either of them. build a fire, for, though we had been well She was convinced that her father must have wrapped up, we all felt numbed and cold. In reached the railroad station before it began to the boot at the back of the coach I knew that snow, and therefore she was troubled by no fears for his safety. But my mind was filled the huge bank of snow. In about an hour I with many fears.
had made an excavation nearly high enough The snow was still coming down, thick and for me to stand in, and close to the stage door fast, and the wind was piling it into great on that side; and I cleared away the snow so drifts, one of which was forming between the that this door could open into the little cavern coach and a low embankment on that side of I had formed. At the end opposite the entrance the road near which it stood.
of my cave, I worked a hole upwards until I About every half-hour I took my shovel and reached the outer air. This hole was about a cleared out the path across the road from the foot in diameter, and for some time the light other side of the coach to the woods. Several unpacked snow from above kept falling in times after doing this I made my way among and filling it up; but I managed, by packing the trees, where the snow did not impede my and beating the sides with my shovel, to get progress, to points from which I had a view the whole into a condition in which it would some distance down the mountain, and I could retain the form of a rude chimney. plainly see that there were several places where Now I hurried to bring wood and twigs, the road was blocked up by huge snow-drifts. and having made a hearth of green sticks, It would be a slow, laborious, and difficult un- which I cut with my ax, I built a fire in this dertaking for any relief party to come to us snowy fireplace. Mrs. Lecks, Mrs. Aleshine, from the station, and who was there, at that and Ruth had been watching my proceedings place, to come? This was the question which with great interest; and when the fire began most troubled me. The settlement at the sta- to burn, and the smoke to go out of my chimtion was, probably, a very small one, and that ney, the coach door was opened, and the genial there should be found at that place a sleigh or heat gradually pervaded the vehicle. a sledge with enough men to form a party suf- “Upon my word,"exclaimed Mrs. Aleshine, ficiently strong to open a road up the moun- “if that is n't one of the brightest ideas I ever tain-side was scarcely to be expected. Men heard of! A fire in the middle of a snowand vehicles might be obtained at some point bank, with a man there a'tendin' to it, an'a farther along the railroad, but action of this chimney! 'Tis n't every day that you kin see kind would require time, and it was not un- a thing like that!” likely that the railroad itself was blocked up “ I should hope not,"remarked Mrs. Lecks, with snow. I could form no idea, satisfactory “for if the snow drifted this way every day to myself, of any plan by which relief could I'd be ready to give up the seein' business come to us that day. Even the advent of a out-an'-out! But I think, Mr. Craig, you ought messenger on horseback was not to be ex- to pass that shovel in to us so that we can dig pected. Such an adventurer would be lost in you out when the fire begins to melt your litthe storm and among the drifts. On the mor- tle house and it all caves in on you." row relief might come, but I did not like to “ You can have the shovel,” said I, “but I think too much about the morrow; and of don't believe this snow-bank will cave in on any of my thoughts and fears I said nothing me. Of course the heat will melt the snow, to my companions.
but I think it will dissolve gradually, so that At intervals, after I had freshly cleared out the caving-in, if there is any, won't be of much the pathway, the three women, well bundled account, and then we shall have a big open up, ran across the road to the fire under the space here in which we can keep up our fire.” trees. This was the only way in which they “Oh, dear!” exclaimed Ruth, “ you talk as could keep themselves warm, for the coach, if you expected to stay here ever so long, and although it protected us from the storm, was we certainly can't do that. We should starve a very cold place to sit in. But the wind and to death for one thing." the snow which frequently drove in under the “Don't you be afraid of that,” said Mrs. trees made it impossible to stay very long by Aleshine. “ There 's plenty of victuals to last the fire, and the frequent passages to and from till the people come for us. When I pack basthe coach were attended with much exposure kets for travelin' or picnicin', I don't do no and wetting of feet. I therefore determined scrimpin'. An’ we've got to keep up a fire, you that some better way must be devised for know, for it would n't be pleasant for those men, keeping ourselves warm; and, shortly after when they've cut a way up the mountain to git our noonday meal, I thought of a plan, and at us, to find us all froze stiff.” immediately set to work to carry it out.
Mrs. Lecks smiled. “You 're awful tender The drift between the coach and the em- of the feelin's of other people, Barb'ry," she bankment had now risen higher than the top said, “and a heart as warm as yourn ought to of the vehicle, against one side of which it was keep you from freezin'." tightly packed. I dug a path around the back “Which it has done, so far," said Mrs. Aleof the coach, and then began to tunnel into shine complacently.