Mr. Treffry stared at him.
“Just so,” he said drily, “but you see there’s my niece to be thought of. Look here! We’re not at the frontier yet, Mr. Harz, by forty miles; it’s long odds we don’t get there—so, don’t spoil sport!” He pointed to the left.
Harz caught the glint of steel. They were already crossing the railway. The sigh of the telegraph wires fluttered above them.
“Hear ’em,” said Mr. Treffry, “but if we get away up the mountains, we’ll do yet!” They had begun to rise, the speed slackened. Mr. Treffry rummaged out a flask.
“Not bad stuff, Mr. Harz—try it. You won’t? Mother’s milk! Fine night, eh?” Below them the valley was lit by webs of milky mist like the glimmer of dew on grass.
These two men sitting side by side—unlike in face, age, stature, thought, and life—began to feel drawn towards each other, as if, in the rolling of the wheels, the snorting of the horses, the huge dark space, the huge uncertainty, they had found something they could enjoy in common. The, steam from the horses’ flanks and nostrils enveloped them with an odour as of glue.
“You smoke, Mr. Harz?”
Harz took the proffered weed, and lighted it from the glowing tip of Mr. Treffry’s cigar, by light of which his head and hat looked like some giant mushroom. Suddenly the wheels jolted on a rubble of loose stones; the carriage was swung sideways. The scared horses, straining asunder, leaped forward, and sped downwards, in the darkness.
Past rocks, trees, dwellings, past a lighted house that gleamed and vanished. With a clink and clatter, a flirt of dust and pebbles, and the side lamps throwing out a frisky orange blink, the carriage dashed down, sinking and rising like a boat crossing billows. The world seemed to rock and sway; to dance up, and be flung flat again. Only the stars stood still.
Mr. Treffry, putting on the brake, muttered apologetically: “A little out o’hand!”
Suddenly with a headlong dive, the carriage swayed as if it would fly in pieces, slithered along, and with a jerk steadied itself. Harz lifted his voice in a shout of pure excitement. Mr. Treffry let out a short shaky howl, and from behind there rose a wail. But the hill was over and the startled horses were cantering with a free, smooth motion. Mr. Treffry and Harz looked at each other.
Mr. Treffry said with a sort of laugh: “Near go, eh? You drive? No? That’s a pity! Broken most of my bones at the game—nothing like it!” Each felt a kind of admiration for the other that he had not felt before. Presently Mr. Treffry began: “Look here, Mr. Harz, my niece is a slip of a thing, with all a young girl’s notions! What have you got to give her, eh? Yourself? That’s surely not enough; mind this—six months after marriage we all turn out much the same—a selfish lot! Not to mention this anarchist affair!