Chapter 29: Cockneys
I well remember one spring evening I and Rory had been out for the day.
(Rory was the horse that mostly went with me when a pair was ordered,
and a good honest fellow he was.) We had our own driver, and as he was
always considerate and gentle with us, we had a very pleasant day.
We were coming home at a good smart pace, about twilight.
Our road turned sharp to the left; but as we were close to the hedge
on our own side, and there was plenty of room to pass, our driver did not
pull us in. As we neared the corner I heard a horse and two wheels
coming rapidly down the hill toward us. The hedge was high,
and I could see nothing, but the next moment we were upon each other.
Happily for me, I was on the side next the hedge. Rory was on
the left side of the pole, and had not even a shaft to protect him.
The man who was driving was making straight for the corner,
and when he came in sight of us he had no time to pull over to his own side.
The whole shock came upon Rory. The gig shaft ran right into the chest,
making him stagger back with a cry that I shall never forget.
The other horse was thrown upon his haunches and one shaft broken.
It turned out that it was a horse from our own stables,
with the high-wheeled gig that the young men were so fond of.
The driver was one of those random, ignorant fellows, who don't even know
which is their own side of the road, or, if they know, don't care.
And there was poor Rory with his flesh torn open and bleeding,
and the blood streaming down. They said if it had been a little more
to one side it would have killed him; and a good thing for him, poor fellow,
if it had.
As it was, it was a long time before the wound healed,
and then he was sold for coal-carting; and what that is,
up and down those steep hills, only horses know. Some of the sights
I saw there, where a horse had to come downhill with a heavily loaded
two-wheel cart behind him, on which no brake could be placed,
make me sad even now to think of.