Chapter 16: The Fire
The next morning the master came to see how we were and to speak to James.
I did not hear much, for the hostler was rubbing me down,
but I could see that James looked very happy, and I thought the master
was proud of him. Our mistress had been so much alarmed in the night
that the journey was put off till the afternoon, so James had the morning
on hand, and went first to the inn to see about our harness and the carriage,
and then to hear more about the fire. When he came back we heard him tell
the hostler about it. At first no one could guess how the fire
had been caused, but at last a man said he saw Dick Towler go into the stable
with a pipe in his mouth, and when he came out he had not one,
and went to the tap for another. Then the under hostler said
he had asked Dick to go up the ladder to put down some hay, but told him
to lay down his pipe first. Dick denied taking the pipe with him,
but no one believed him. I remember our John Manly's rule, never to allow
a pipe in the stable, and thought it ought to be the rule everywhere.
James said the roof and floor had all fallen in, and that only
the black walls were standing; the two poor horses that could not be got out
were buried under the burnt rafters and tiles.