The black horse driven by Walter Mason was more sure-footed than the policeman’s mount. The latter slipped and lost its stride. Prince went past the floundering horse like a flash.
The swaying sleigh was just ahead now. Walter drew Prince to one side so that the cutter would clear the sleigh in passing.
The chums could see poor, frightened Linda crouching in the bottom of the sleigh, clinging with both hands to one of the straps from which the plumes streamed. Her face was white and she looked almost ready to faint.
AN UNEXPECTED FIND
The mounted policeman came thundering down the street after them, his horse having regained its footing. The reins of the big steeds were dragging on the ground, and Walter and his girl companions saw no way of getting hold of the lines and so pulling down the frightened horses.
There was another way to save Linda Riggs, however. Walter looked at Nan Sherwood and his lips moved.
“Are you afraid to drive Prince?” he asked.
“No,” declared Nan, and reached for the reins. She had held the black horse before. Besides, she had driven her Cousin Tom’s pair of big draught horses up in the Michigan woods, and Mr. Henry Sherwood’s half-wild roan ponies, as well. Her wrists were strong and supple, and she was alert.
Walter passed the lines over and then kicked the robe out of the way. Bess sat on the left side of the seat, clinging to the rail. She was frightened—but more for the girl in the other sleigh, than because of their own danger.
Walter Mason motioned to Bess to move over to Nan’s side. The latter was guiding Prince carefully, and the cutter crept up beside the bigger vehicle. Only a couple of feet separated the two sleighs as Walter leaned out from his own seat and shouted to Linda:
“Look this way! Look! Do exactly as I tell you!”
The girl turned her strained face toward him. The bigger sleigh swerved and almost collided with the cutter.
“Now!” yelled Walter, excitedly. “Let go!”
He had seized Linda by the arm, clinging with his other hand to the rail of the cutter-seat. She screamed—and so did Bess.
But Walter’s grasp was strong, and, after all, Linda was not heavy. Her hold was torn from the plume-staff, and she was half lifted, half dragged, into the cutter.
Prince darted past the now laboring runaways. One of the latter slipped on a smooth bit of ice and crashed to the roadway.
His mate went down with him and the sleigh was overturned. Had Linda not been rescued as she was, her injury—perhaps her death—would have been certain.
They stopped at the first drug store and a man held the head of the excited black horse while Walter soothed and blanketed him. Then the boy went inside, and into the prescription room, where Nan and Bess were comforting their schoolmate.