Chapter 12: A Stormy Day
One day late in the autumn my master had a long journey to go on business.
I was put into the dog-cart, and John went with his master.
I always liked to go in the dog-cart, it was so light and the high wheels
ran along so pleasantly. There had been a great deal of rain,
and now the wind was very high and blew the dry leaves across the road
in a shower. We went along merrily till we came to the toll-bar
and the low wooden bridge. The river banks were rather high,
and the bridge, instead of rising, went across just level,
so that in the middle, if the river was full, the water would be nearly up to
the woodwork and planks; but as there were good substantial rails
on each side, people did not mind it.
The man at the gate said the river was rising fast, and he feared it would be
a bad night. Many of the meadows were under water, and in one low part
of the road the water was halfway up to my knees; the bottom was good,
and master drove gently, so it was no matter.
When we got to the town of course I had a good bait,
but as the master's business engaged him a long time
we did not start for home till rather late in the afternoon.
The wind was then much higher, and I heard the master say to John
that he had never been out in such a storm; and so I thought,
as we went along the skirts of a wood, where the great branches
were swaying about like twigs, and the rushing sound was terrible.
"I wish we were well out of this wood," said my master.
"Yes, sir," said John, "it would be rather awkward if one of these branches
came down upon us."
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when there was a groan, and a crack,
and a splitting sound, and tearing, crashing down among the other trees
came an oak, torn up by the roots, and it fell right across the road
just before us. I will never say I was not frightened, for I was.
I stopped still, and I believe I trembled; of course I did not turn round
or run away; I was not brought up to that. John jumped out
and was in a moment at my head.