The passenger laughed and took his arm in; and all the other passengers, seeing that the advice of the gentleman was reasonable, concluded to follow it if they should have occasion. And they did have occasion sooner than they had expected. For, just after dark, as they were going down a long hill at a pretty rapid rate, with a wagon a short distance before them, one of the horses of the wagon stumbled and fell, which brought the wagon to a sudden stand just before the coach. The driver perceived in an instant that there was not time to stop his horses, and that the only chance was to turn out of the road and drive by. The ground at the road-side was so much inclined, that he was almost afraid to venture this expedient, but he had no time for thought. He wheeled his horses out,—just escaped the hind wheel of the wagon—ran along by the road-side a short distance, with the wheels on one side, down very near the gutter,—and then, just as he was coming back safely into the road again, the forward wheel nearest the middle of the road, struck a small stone, and threw the coach over. The top rested upon the bank, and the horses were suddenly stopped. Sometimes, on such occasions, the transom bolt, as it is called, that is, the bolt by which the forward wheels are fastened to the carriage, comes out, and the horses run off with the wheels. It did not come out in this case, however. The man who had put his arm out of the window, immediately called out, in great alarm, “Hold the horses! Hold the horses! Don’t let the horses run and drag us.” But this vociferation was needless. A coach full of passengers and baggage is a full load for four horses, when it is mounted on wheels. It would require an exertion far beyond their strength to drag it when on its side. The horses remained quiet, therefore, while the wagoner and the driver, who was not hurt, opened the door in the upper side of the coach. The passengers then climbed out, one by one, without injury. Mary Williams came out last, with her orange-tree safe in her hand.
The Grass Country.
The scene of confusion, produced by the double accident described in the last chapter, was great, but not long continued. The wagoner got his fallen horse up, and then the passengers, with the driver and wagoner, all taking hold together, soon righted the stage. None of the passengers were hurt, but the coach itself was so much injured that the driver thought it was not safe to load it heavily again. The female passengers got in, but the men walked along by the side of it, intending to travel in that way about four miles to the next tavern. Forester, however, was not inclined to take so long a walk. Fortunately, at a small distance before them, was a farmhouse which looked as if it belonged to a large and thrifty farmer. The great barns and sheds, the neat yards, the well-built walls and fences, and the large stock of cattle in the barn-yard, indicated wealth and prosperity. Forester concluded to apply here for a lodging for the night, for himself and Marco. The farmer was very willing to receive them. So the driver took off their trunks, and then the stage-coach, with the rest of the passengers, went on.