Chapter 25: Reuben Smith
It was now early in April, and the family was expected home some time in May.
The light brougham was to be fresh done up, and as Colonel Blantyre
was obliged to return to his regiment it was arranged that Smith
should drive him to the town in it, and ride back; for this purpose
he took the saddle with him, and I was chosen for the journey.
At the station the colonel put some money into Smith's hand
and bid him good-by, saying, "Take care of your young mistress, Reuben,
and don't let Black Auster be hacked about by any random young prig
that wants to ride him -- keep him for the lady."
We left the carriage at the maker's, and Smith rode me to the White Lion,
and ordered the hostler to feed me well, and have me ready for him at
four o'clock. A nail in one of my front shoes had started as I came along,
but the hostler did not notice it till just about four o'clock.
Smith did not come into the yard till five, and then he said he should
not leave till six, as he had met with some old friends. The man then
told him of the nail, and asked if he should have the shoe looked to.
"No," said Smith, "that will be all right till we get home."
He spoke in a very loud, offhand way, and I thought it very unlike him
not to see about the shoe, as he was generally wonderfully particular
about loose nails in our shoes. He did not come at six nor seven, nor eight,
and it was nearly nine o'clock before he called for me,
and then it was with a loud, rough voice. He seemed in a very bad temper,
and abused the hostler, though I could not tell what for.
The landlord stood at the door and said, "Have a care, Mr. Smith!"
but he answered angrily with an oath; and almost before
he was out of the town he began to gallop, frequently giving me a sharp cut
with his whip, though I was going at full speed. The moon had not yet risen,
and it was very dark. The roads were stony, having been recently mended;
going over them at this pace, my shoe became looser,
and as we neared the turnpike gate it came off.