A JOB HORSE AND HIS DRIVERS. Ill
reins about as we started, and of course gave me several unmeaning cuts with the whip, though I was fairly off. There had been a good deal of road-mending going on, and even where the stones were not freshly laid down there were, a great many loose ones about. My driver was laughing and joking with the lady and the children, and talking about the country to the right and to the left; but he never thought it worth while to keep an eye on his horse, or to drive on the smoothest parts of the road; and so it easily happened that I got a stone in one of my forefeet.
Now, if Mr. Gordon, or John, or in fact any good driver, had been there, he would have seen that something was wrong before I had gone three paces. Or even if it had been dark, a practiced hand would have felt by the rein that there was something wrong in the step, and they would have got down and picked out the stone. But this man went on laughing and talking, while at every step the stone became more firmly wedged between my shoe and the frog of my foot. The stone was sharp on the inside and round on the outside, which, as every one knows, is the most dangerous kind that a horse can pick up, at the same time cutting his foot, and making him most liable to stumble and fall.
Whether the man was partly blind, or only very careless, I can't say ; but he drove me with that stone in my foot for a good half-mile before he saw anything. By that time I was going so lame with the pain that at last he saw it, and called out, "Well, here's a go! Why, they have cent us out with a lame horse! What a shame !"
He then chucked the reins and flipped about with the whip, saying, " Now, then, it's no use playing the old soldier with me ; there's the journey to go, and it's no use turning lame and lazy."
Just at this time a farmer came riding up on a brown cob; he lifted his hat and pulled up.