Chapter 16: The Fire
No doubt we were very foolish, but danger seemed to be all round,
and there was nobody we knew to trust in, and all was strange and uncertain.
The fresh air that had come in through the open door made it
easier to breathe, but the rushing sound overhead grew louder,
and as I looked upward through the bars of my empty rack I saw a red light
flickering on the wall. Then I heard a cry of "Fire!" outside,
and the old hostler quietly and quickly came in; he got one horse out,
and went to another, but the flames were playing round the trapdoor,
and the roaring overhead was dreadful.
The next thing I heard was James' voice, quiet and cheery, as it always was.
"Come, my beauties, it is time for us to be off, so wake up and come along."
I stood nearest the door, so he came to me first, patting me as he came in.
"Come, Beauty, on with your bridle, my boy, we'll soon be
out of this smother." It was on in no time; then he took the scarf
off his neck, and tied it lightly over my eyes, and patting and coaxing
he led me out of the stable. Safe in the yard, he slipped the scarf
off my eyes, and shouted, "Here somebody! take this horse while I go back
for the other."
A tall, broad man stepped forward and took me, and James darted back
into the stable. I set up a shrill whinny as I saw him go.
Ginger told me afterward that whinny was the best thing I could have done
for her, for had she not heard me outside she would never have had courage
to come out.
There was much confusion in the yard; the horses being got out
of other stables, and the carriages and gigs being pulled out
of houses and sheds, lest the flames should spread further.
On the other side the yard windows were thrown up, and people were shouting
all sorts of things; but I kept my eye fixed on the stable door,
where the smoke poured out thicker than ever, and I could see flashes
of red light; presently I heard above all the stir and din a loud,
clear voice, which I knew was master's: