“He’d give ten dollars to get out of it,” our hero told himself.
The boy who had brought the turnout around looked at Felix Gussing earnestly.
“Take care of that horse, mister,” said he, warningly. “He’s young and a little bit wild.”
“Wild?” gasped the dude. “I—I don’t want to drive a wild horse.”
“Oh, he’ll be all right if you keep an eye on him,” went on the stable boy.
“Young and a little bit wild!” thought Felix to himself. “Oh, dear, what in the world shall I do? I never drove a horse before. If I get back with less than a broken neck I’ll be lucky! I’d give a thousand to be out of this pickle.”
“Hadn’t we better start, Mr. Gussing?” asked one of the young ladies, after a pause.
“Oh, yes—certainly!” he stammered. “But—er—you can drive if you wish.”
“Thank you, but I would prefer that you drive.”
“Won’t you drive?” he asked of the other young lady.
“Oh, no, not to-day. But I’ll use the whip if you say so,” she answered.
“Not for the world!” cried the unhappy Felix. “He is a bit wild already and there is no telling what he’d do if he felt the whip.”
At last the carriage drove off. Joe gazed after it thoughtfully.
“Unless I miss my guess, there is going to be trouble before that drive is over,” he thought. And there was trouble, as we shall soon learn.
AN UNFORTUNATE OUTING.
Fortunately for the unhappy Felix the horse walked away from the hotel in an orderly fashion, and soon they gained the highway leading to the resort the party wished to visit.
Had the dude left the horse alone all might have gone well. But he deemed it necessary to pull on first one line and then the other, which kept the carriage in a meandering course.
“I don’t think, Mr. Gussing, that you can be much used to driving,” said one of the young ladies, presently.
“That’s a fact,” answered the dude.
“Why don’t you keep to the right of the road?”
“Well,—er—the fact is, this horse is a very difficult one to drive. I don’t believe I ever drove one which was more so.”
As this was the first horse Mr. Gussing had ever driven, this assertion was true in every particular.
“Oh, I can’t travel so slow!” cried one of the young ladies, and seized the whip, and before Felix could stop her, used it on the steed.
The effect was magical. The horse started up like a racer, and tore through the street as if trying to win a race for a thousand dollars.
The dude clung to the reins in the wildest terror. To his frenzied imagination it seemed that his final hour was approaching.
“Whoa!” he screamed, jerking on the lines. “Stop, you crazy beast! Stop, before we all get killed!”
But the horse only went the faster. And now, to increase his alarm, he saw a buggy approaching from the opposite direction. It contained one of the town lawyers, Silas Simms by name.