Chapter 6In which the occurrence of the accident mentioned in the last chapter, affords an opportunity to a couple of gentlemen to tell stories against each other
`WO HO!' cried the guard, on his legs in a minute, and running to the leaders' heads. `Is there only genelmen there as can len' a hond here? Keep quiet, dang ye! Wo ho!'
`What's the matter?' demanded Nicholas, looking sleepily up.
`Matther mun, matter eneaf for one neight,' replied the guard; `dang the wall-eyed bay, he's gane mad wi' glory I think, carse t'coorch is over. Here, can't ye len' a hond? Dom it, I'd ha' dean it if all my boans were brokken.'
`Here!' cried Nicholas, staggering to his feet, `I'm ready. I'm only a little abroad, that's all.'
`Hoold 'em toight,' cried the guard, `while ar coot treaces. Hang on tiv'em sumhoo. Weel deane, my lod. That's it. Let'em goa noo. Dang 'em, they'll gang whoam fast eneaf!'
In truth, the animals were no sooner released than they trotted back, with much deliberation, to the stable they had just left, which was distant not a mile behind.
`Can you blo' a harn?' asked the guard, disengaging one of the coach-lamps.
`I dare say I can,' replied Nicholas.
`Then just blo' away into that 'un as lies on the grund, fit to wakken the deead, will'ee,' said the man, `while I stop sum o' this here squealing inside. Cumin', cumin'. Dean't make that noise, wooman.'
As the man spoke, he proceeded to wrench open the uppermost door of the coach, while Nicholas, seizing the horn, awoke the echoes far and wide with one of the most extraordinary performances on that instrument ever heard by mortal ears. It had its effect, however, not only in rousing such of their fall, but in summoning assistance to their relief; for lights gleamed in the distance, and people were already astir.
In fact, a man on horseback galloped down, before the passengers were well collected together; and a careful investigation being instituted, it appeared that the lady inside had borken her lamp, and the gentleman his head; that the two front outsides had escaped with black eyes; the box with a bloody nose; the coachman with a contusion on the temple; Mr Squeers with a portmanteau bruise on his back; and the remaining passengers without any injury at all -- thanks to the softness of the snow-drift in which they had been overturned. These facts were no sooner thoroughly ascertained, than the lady gave several indications of fainting, but being forewarned that if she did, she must be carried on some gentleman's shoulders to the nearest public-house, she prudently thought better of it, and walked back with the rest.
They found on reaching it, that it was a lonely place with no very great accommodation in the way of apartments -- that portion of its resources being all comprised in one public room with a sanded floor, and a chair or two. However, a large faggot and a plentiful supply of coals being heaped upon the fire, the appearance of things was not long in mending; and, by the time they had washed off all effaceable marks of the late accident, the room was warm and light, which was a most agreeable exchange for the cold and darkness out of doors.
`Well, Mr Nickleby,' said Squeers, insinuating himself into the warmest corner, `you did very right to catch hold of them horses. I should have done it myself if I had come to in time, but I am very glad you did it. You did it very well; very well.'
`So well,' said the merry-faced gentleman, who did not seem to approve very much of the patronising tone adopted by Squeers, `that if they had not been firmly checked when they were, you would most probably have had no brains left to teach with.'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|