THE SEXTON'S OLD HORSE 219
was tremendous. He seemed to see in the dark ; never stumbled, not once faltered, not once hesitated. I sat as on the ridge of a wave. I felt under me the play of each individual muscle : his joints were so elastic, and his every movement glided so into the next, that not once did he jar me. His growing swiftness bore him along until he flew rather than ran. The wind met and passed us like a tornado.
Across the evil hollow we sped like a bolt from an arblast. No monster lifted its neck; all knew the hoofs that thundered over their heads ! We rushed up the hills, we shot down their farther slopes; from the rocky chasms of the river-bed he did not swerve ; he held on over them his fierce, terrible gallop. The moon, half-way up the heaven, gazed with a solemn trouble in her pale countenance. Rejoicing in the power of my steed and in the pride of my life, I sat like a king and rode.
We were near the middle of the many channels, my horse every other moment clearing one, sometimes two in his stride, and now and then gathering himself for a great bounding leap, when the moon reached the key-stone of her arch. Then came a wonder and a terror: she began to descend rolling like the nave of Fortune's wheel bowled by the gods, and went faster and faster. Like our own moon, this one had a human face, and now the broad forehead now the chin was uppermost as she rolled. I gazed aghast.
Across the ravines came the howling of wolves. An ugly fear began to invade the hollow places of my heart; my confidence was on the wane ! The horse maintained his headlong swiftness, with ears pricked forward, and thirsty nostrils exulting in the wind his career created.