Chapter 12: A Stormy Day
"That was a very near touch," said my master. "What's to be done now?"
"Well, sir, we can't drive over that tree, nor yet get round it;
there will be nothing for it, but to go back to the four crossways,
and that will be a good six miles before we get round
to the wooden bridge again; it will make us late, but the horse is fresh."
So back we went and round by the crossroads, but by the time we got
to the bridge it was very nearly dark; we could just see that the water
was over the middle of it; but as that happened sometimes
when the floods were out, master did not stop. We were going along
at a good pace, but the moment my feet touched the first part of the bridge
I felt sure there was something wrong. I dare not go forward,
and I made a dead stop. "Go on, Beauty," said my master,
and he gave me a touch with the whip, but I dare not stir;
he gave me a sharp cut; I jumped, but I dare not go forward.
"There's something wrong, sir," said John, and he sprang out of the dog-cart
and came to my head and looked all about. He tried to lead me forward.
"Come on, Beauty, what's the matter?" Of course I could not tell him,
but I knew very well that the bridge was not safe.
Just then the man at the toll-gate on the other side ran out of the house,
tossing a torch about like one mad.
"Hoy, hoy, hoy! halloo! stop!" he cried.
"What's the matter?" shouted my master.
"The bridge is broken in the middle, and part of it is carried away;
if you come on you'll be into the river."