Chapter 25: Reuben Smith
If Smith had been in his right senses he would have been sensible
of something wrong in my pace, but he was too drunk to notice.
Beyond the turnpike was a long piece of road, upon which fresh stones
had just been laid -- large sharp stones, over which no horse could be
driven quickly without risk of danger. Over this road, with one shoe gone,
I was forced to gallop at my utmost speed, my rider meanwhile cutting into me
with his whip, and with wild curses urging me to go still faster.
Of course my shoeless foot suffered dreadfully; the hoof was broken and split
down to the very quick, and the inside was terribly cut by the sharpness
of the stones.
This could not go on; no horse could keep his footing
under such circumstances; the pain was too great. I stumbled,
and fell with violence on both my knees. Smith was flung off by my fall,
and, owing to the speed I was going at, he must have fallen with great force.
I soon recovered my feet and limped to the side of the road,
where it was free from stones. The moon had just risen above the hedge,
and by its light I could see Smith lying a few yards beyond me.
He did not rise; he made one slight effort to do so,
and then there was a heavy groan. I could have groaned, too,
for I was suffering intense pain both from my foot and knees;
but horses are used to bear their pain in silence. I uttered no sound,
but I stood there and listened. One more heavy groan from Smith;
but though he now lay in the full moonlight I could see no motion.
I could do nothing for him nor myself, but, oh! how I listened for the sound
of horse, or wheels, or footsteps! The road was not much frequented,
and at this time of the night we might stay for hours before help came to us.
I stood watching and listening. It was a calm, sweet April night;
there were no sounds but a few low notes of a nightingale,
and nothing moved but the white clouds near the moon and a brown owl
that flitted over the hedge. It made me think of the summer nights long ago,
when I used to lie beside my mother in the green pleasant meadow
at Farmer Grey's.