THE COACHING AGE

PERILS BY LAND 

Having described one little cause for nervousness on a coach by water, I will mention one that oc-curred by land, and might have been another case of 'over you go, Jem Peck.' On the arrival of the * Regent' coach at Wansford one fine summer's evening, I remember the ' three little boys in their drab great- coats ' were returning home for their holidays from Eton. We changed, as usual, at the 'Haycock' Inn, kept by Mr, Percival. A very smart team of ' red roans ' was put in; they were quite fit for any gen- tleman's drag, the)' were such a showy lot. ' Young Percival,' as he was then called, got upon the box, and, as his horses were pretty fresh, tbc)- did not start quite kindly. He, being very full of valour and not quite as full of discretion, ' dropped into them,' which made matters worse, and they would not face the bridge, which every one who knows the ' North Road ' is aware is a very awkward one, being very old and narrow, and anything but a bridge to play tricks upon. Just as we got to the bridge, what possessed the brutes I know not, but they whipped round all of a sudden, and after playing sundry antics — and a most nervous performance it was — we found ourselves at the door of the 'Haycock' Inn, from which we had just started, with our horses' heads pointing to London instead of to Stamford! 

How we got there safe, and without being turned over, neither I nor my two brothers, who were also on the coach, could ever make out. After the coach had been turned round again, under the Jehuship of ' Old John Barker,' we again faced the bridge, and arrived safely at Stamford. Nevertheless this was a case in which we ought to have been upset according to all the rules of accidents, and I may almost say of common sense. I well remember that ' Young Percival," with most praiseworthy pluck, proposed to ' tackle them ' again; but 'Old John' did not 'seem to see it,' and said, 'Come, come, old friend; come, come, old friend; this will never do; this will never do; you'll have us over; I'm sure you would —I'm sure you'd have us over.' And so after waiting a short time at the door, just to give his horses time to come to their senses — which, to a certain extent, they had lost in the ' skrimmage ' — we started afresh, and under his guidance sur- mounted the obstacle and orot all right to our destination. It was a real touch-and-go business, and I only wonder we were not all ' spilt.'