“Hullo! Hi! Help! Out collision-mats! Stop the cab! Look out, Sabre! Sabre!”
He suddenly became aware—and he jammed on his brakes and dismounted by straddling a leg to the ground—that in the narrow lane he was between two plunging horses. Their riders had divided to make way for his bemused approach. They had violently sundered, expecting him to stop, until he was almost on top of them, and one of the pair was now engaged in placating his horse, which resented this sudden snatching at bit and prick of spur, and persuading it to return to the level road.
On one side the lane was banked steeply up in a cutting. The horse of the rider on this side stood on its hind legs and appeared to be performing a series of postman’s double knocks on the bank with its forelegs. Lord Tybar, who bestrode it, and who did not seem to be at all concerned by his horse copying a postman, looked over his shoulder at Sabre, showing an amused grin, and said, “Thanks, Sabre. This is jolly. I like this. Come on, old girl. This way down. Keep passing on, please.”
The old girl, an extraordinarily big and handsome chestnut mare, dropped her forelegs to the level of the road, where she exchanged the postman’s knocking for a complicated and exceedingly nimble dance, largely on two legs.
Lord Tybar, against her evident intentions, skilfully directed the steps of this dance into a turning movement so that she and her rider now faced Sabre; and while she bounded through the concluding movements of the pas seul he continued in the same whimsical tone and with the same engaging smile, “Thanks still more, Sabre. This is extraordinarily good for the liver. Devilish graceful, aren’t I? See, I’m only holding on with one hand! Marvellous. No charge for this.” And as the mare came to rest and quivered at Sabre with her beautiful nostrils, “Ah, the music’s stopped. Delicious. How well your step suits mine!”
“Ass!” laughed a voice above them; and Sabre, who had almost forgotten there was another horse when he had abruptly wakened and dismounted, looked up at it.
The other horse was standing with complete and entirely unconcerned statuesqueness on the low bank which bounded the lane on his other side. Lady Tybar had taken it—or it had taken Lady Tybar—out of danger in a sideways bound, and horse and rider remained precisely where the sideways bound had taken them as if it were exactly where they had intended to go all that morning, and as if they were now settled there for all time as a living equestrian statue,—a singularly striking and beautiful statue.
“We are up here,” said Lady Tybar. Her voice had a very clear, fine note. “We are rather beautiful up here, don’t you think? Rather darlings? No one takes the faintest notice of us; we might be off the earth. But we don’t mind a bit. Hullo, Derry and Toms, Marko is actually taking off his hat to us. Bow, Derry.”