Had any of the boys in the lower forms of Eton in
the year 1808, been asked who were the most popular boys of their
own age, they would have been almost sure to have answered, without
the slightest hesitation, Tom and Peter Scudamore, and yet it is
probable that no two boys were more often in disgrace. It was not
that they were idle, upon the contrary, both were fairly up in
their respective forms, but they were constantly getting into
mischief of one sort or another; yet even with the masters they
were favorites, there was never anything low, disgraceful, or
ungentlemanly in their escapades, and they could be trusted never
to attempt to screen themselves from the consequences by
prevarication, much less by lying. If the masters heard that a
party of youngsters had been seen far out of bounds, they were
pretty sure that the Scudamores were among them; a farmer came in
from a distance to complain that his favorite tree had been
stripped of its apples—for in those days apples were looked upon by
boys as fair objects of sport,—if the head-master's favorite white
poodle appeared dyed a deep blue, if Mr. Jones, the most unpopular
master in the school, upon coming out of his door trod upon a
quantity of tallow smeared all over the doorstep, and was laid up
for a week in consequence, there was generally a strong suspicion
that Tom and Peter Scudamore were concerned in the matter. One of
their tricks actually came to the ears of the Provost himself, and
caused quite a sensation in the place, but in this case,
fortunately for them, they escaped undetected.
One fine summer afternoon they were out on the
water with two or three other boys of their own age, when a barge
was seen ahead at some short distance from the shore. She was
apparently floating down with the stream, and the fact that a horse
was proceeding along the towing-path a little way ahead was not
noticed, as the rope was slack and was trailing under water. The
boys, therefore, as they were rowing against stream, steered their
boat to pass inside of her. Just as they came abreast of the horse
a man on the barge suddenly shouted to the rider of the horse to go
on. He did so, the rope tightened, rose from the water just under
the bow of the boat, and in another minute the boys were struggling
in the water. All were good swimmers, and would have cared little
for the ducking had it occurred accidentally, but the roars of
laughter of the bargeman, and the chaff with which he assailed them
as they scrambled up the bank, showed clearly enough that they had
been upset maliciously. The boys were furious, and one or two
proposed that they should report the case, but Tom Scudamore
pointed out that the bargeman would of course declare that it was a
pure accident, and that the boys were themselves in fault in not
looking out whether the barge was being towed, before going inside
her, and so nothing would come of reporting.
The boat was dragged ashore and emptied, and in a
few minutes they were rowing back towards the town. The distance
was but short, and they did not repass the barge before they
reached their boat-house. The brothers had exchanged a few words in
a low voice on the way, and instead of following the example of the
others, and starting at a run for the house where they boarded to
change their clothes, they walked down by the river and saw that
the barge had moored up against the bank, at a short distance below
the bridge. They watched for a time, and saw the bargeman fasten up
the hatch of the little cabin and go ashore.
That night two boys lowered themselves with a rope
from the window of one of the dames-houses, and walked rapidly down
to the river. There were a few flickering oil lamps burning, and
the one or two old watchmen were soundly asleep in their boxes.
They did not meet a soul moving upon their way to the object of the
expedition, the barge that had run them down. Very quietly they
slipped on board, satisfied themselves by listening at the
half-open hatch to the snoring within that their enemy was there,
then loosened the moorings so that they could be thrown off at a
"Now, Peter," the elder brother said, "open our
lantern. The night is quite still. You hold your hand behind it, so
that the light will not fall on our faces, and I will look whether
he is only wrapped up in a blanket or has a regular bed; we must
not risk setting the place on fire. Get the crackers ready."
A dark lantern was now taken out from under Tom's
jacket, and was found to be still alight, an important matter, for
striking a light with flint and steel was in those days a long and
tedious business, and then opening it Tom threw the light into the
cabin. It was a tiny place, and upon a bench, wrapped up in a
blanket, the bargeman was lying. As the light fell on his eyes, he
moved, and a moment afterwards started up with an oath, and
demanded who was there.
No answer came in words, but half a dozen lighted
crackers were thrown into the cabin, when they began to explode
with a tremendous uproar. In an instant the hatch was shut down and
fastened outside. The rope was cast off, and in another minute she
was floating down stream with the crackers still exploding inside
her, but with their noise almost deadened by the tremendous outcry
of shouts and howls, and by a continued and furious banging at the
"There is no fear of his being choked, Tom, I
"No, I expect he's all right," Tom said, "it will
be pretty stifling for a bit no doubt, but there's a chimney hole
and the smoke will find its way out presently. The barge will drift
down to the weir before it brings up, there is not enough stream
out for there to be any risk of her upsetting, else we daren't have
turned her adrift."
The next day the whole town was talking of the
affair, and in the afternoon the bargeman went up to the
head-master and accused one of the boys of an attempt to murder
Greatly surprised, the Provost demanded what reason
the man had for suspecting the boys, and the bargeman acknowledged
that he had that afternoon upset a boat with four or five boys in
her. "They would not bear you malice on that account," the Provost
said; "they don't think much of a swim such weather as this, unless
indeed you did it on purpose."
The man hesitated in his answer, and the Provost
continued, "You evidently did do it on purpose, and in that case,
although it was carried too far, for I hear you had a very narrow
escape of being stifled, still you brought it upon yourself, and I
hope it will be a lesson to you not to risk the lives of Eton boys
for your amusement. I know nothing about this affair, but if you
can point out the boys you suspect I will of course inquire into
The bargeman departed, grumbling that he did not
know one of the young imps from another, but if he did find them,
he'd wring their necks for them to a certainty. The Provost had
some inquiries made as to the boys who had been upset, and whether
they had all been in at lock-up time; finding that they had all
answered to their names, he made no further investigation.
This affair had taken place in the summer before
this story begins, on the 15th of October, 1808. On that day a
holiday was granted in consequence of the head-master's birthday,
and the boys set off, some to football, some for long walks in the
The Scudamores, with several of their friends,
strolled down the towing-path for some miles, and walked back by
the road. As they entered their dames-house on their return, Tom
Scudamore said for the twentieth time, "Well, I would give anything
to be a soldier, instead of having to go in and settle down as a
As they entered a boy came up. "Oh, Scudamore,
Jackson's been asking for you both. It's something particular, for
he has been out three or four times, and he wanted to send after
you, but no one knew where you had gone."
The boys at once went into the master's study,
where they remained all the afternoon. A short time after they went
in, Mr. Jackson came out and said a word or two to one of the
senior boys, and the word was quickly passed round, that there was
to be no row, for the Scudamores had just heard of the sudden death
of their father. That evening, Mr. Jackson had beds made up for
them in his study, so that they might not have the pain of having
to talk with the other boys. The housekeeper packed up their
things, and next morning early they started by the coach for
Mr. Scudamore, the father of the young Etonians,
was a banker. He was the elder of two brothers, and had inherited
his father's business, while his brother had gone into the army.
The banker had married the daughter of a landowner in the
neighborhood, and had lived happily and prosperously until her
death, seven years before this story begins. She had borne him
three children, the two boys, now fifteen and fourteen years old
respectively, and a girl, Rhoda, two years younger than Peter. The
loss of his wife afflicted him greatly, and he received another
shock five years later by the death of his brother, Colonel
Scudamore, to whom he was much attached. From the time of his
wife's death he had greatly relaxed in his attention to his
business, and after his brother's death he left the management
almost entirely in the hands of his cashier, in whom he had
unlimited confidence. This confidence was wholly misplaced. For
years the cashier had been carrying on speculation upon his own
account with the monies of the bank. Gradually and without exciting
the least suspicion he had realized the various securities held by
the bank, and at last gathering all the available cash he, one
Saturday afternoon, locked up the bank and fled.
On Monday it was found that he was missing; Mr.
Scudamore went down to the bank, and had the books taken into his
parlor for examination. Some hours afterwards a clerk went in and
found his master lying back in his chair insensible. A doctor on
arriving pronounced it to be apoplexy. He never rallied, and a few
hours afterwards the news spread through the country that
Scudamore, the banker, was dead, and that the bank had stopped
People could believe the former item of news, but
were incredulous as to the latter. Scudamore's bank was looked upon
in Lincolnshire as at least as safe as the Bank of England itself.
But the sad truth was soon clear to all, and for awhile there was
great distress of mind among the people, for many miles round, for
most of them had entrusted all their savings of years to the
Scudamores' bank. When affairs were wound up, however, it was found
that things were not quite so bad as had been feared. Mr. Scudamore
had a considerable capital employed in the bank, and the sale of
his handsome house and estate realized a large sum, so that
eventually every one received back the money they had entrusted to
the bank; but the whole of the capital and the profits of years of
successful enterprise had vanished, and it was calculated by the
executors that the swindler must have appropriated at least
For the first month after their father's death the
boys stayed with the doctor who had long attended the family and
had treated all their ailments since they were born. In the great
loss of their father the loss of their fortune affected them but
little, except that they were sorry to be obliged to leave Eton;
for the interest of the little fortune which their mother had
brought at her marriage, and which was all that now remained to
them, would not have been sufficient to pay for their expenses
there, and indeed such an education would have been out of place
for two boys who had to make their own way in life. At the end of
this month it was arranged that they were to go to their only
existing relative, an elder sister of Mr. Scudamore. The boys had
never seen her, for she had not for many years been friends with
The letter which she had written to the doctor,
announcing her willingness to receive them, made the boys laugh,
although it did not hold out prospects of a very pleasant future.
"I am, of course," she said, "prepared to do my duty. No one can
say that I have ever failed in my duty. My poor brother quarreled
with me. It was his duty to apologize. He did not do so. Had it
been my duty to apologize I should have done so. As I was right,
and he was wrong, it was clearly not my duty. I shall now do my
duty to my niece and nephews. Yet I may be allowed to say that I
regret much that they are not all nieces. I do not like boys. They
are always noisy, and not always clean. They do not wipe their
shoes, they are always breaking things, they go about with all
sorts of rubbish and dirt in their pockets, their hair is always
rough, they are fond of worrying cats, and other cruel games.
Altogether they are objectionable. Had my brother made up his mind
to leave his children in my charge, it was clearly his duty to have
had girls instead of boys. However, it is not because other people
fail in their duty that I should fail in mine. Therefore, let them
come to me this day fortnight. By that time I shall have got some
strong and suitable furniture in the room that my nephews will
occupy, and shall have time to make other arrangements. This letter
will, if all goes well, reach you, I believe, in three days after
the date of posting, and they will take the same time coming here.
Assure them that I am prepared to do my duty, and that I hope that
they will make a serious effort at doing theirs. Ask my nephews,
upon the occasion of their first arrival, to make as little noise
as they can, because my cat, Minnie, is very shy, and if she is
scared at the first meeting, she will take a very long time to get
accustomed to them. I also particularly beg that they do not, as
they come up to the house, throw stones at any of the pigeons who
may be resting upon the roof, for the slates were all set right a
few weeks ago, and I am sure I do not wish to have the slater here
again; they were hanging about for ten days the last time they
came. I do not know that I have anything else to say."
The boys received the reading of this singular
epistle with shouts of laughter.
"Poor aunt," Tom said. "What does she think of us
that she can suppose that, upon our very first arrival, we should
come in like wild Indians, throwing stones at her pigeons, and
frightening her Minnie into fits. Did you ever hear such an
extraordinary idea, Doctor Jarvis?"
"At any rate, boys," the doctor said, when the
laughter had ceased, "you may find your aunt a little peculiar, but
she is evidently determined to do her duty to you, and you must do
yours to her, and not play more pranks than you can help. As to
you, Rhoda, you will evidently be in high favor, and as you are
fortunately a quiet little lady, you will, I have no doubt, get on
with her very well."
"I hope so," Rhoda said, smiling, "you see she
means to be kind, though she does write funny letters, and, at any
rate, there are Minnie and the pigeons; it sounds nice, you know.
Do you know what aunt's place is like, Dr. Jarvis, and how to get
there from here."
"No, my dear, I never was in that part of England.
It is close to Marlborough that she lives, a very pretty country, I
believe. There is, of course, no way to go across from here. You
must go up to London by coach from here, and then to Marlborough by
the western coach. I will write to my brother James in town, where
you stopped at night as you came through, boys, and I know that he
will take you all in for the night, and see that you go off right
in the morning."
"You're very kind, indeed, Doctor Jarvis. I do not
know how to thank you for all you have done for us," Tom said
earnestly, and the others cordially echoed the sentiment.
The day before starting the doctor had a long talk
with the boys. He pointed out to them that their future now
depended upon themselves alone. They must expect to find many
unpleasantnesses in their way, but they must take their little
trials pleasantly, and make the best of everything. "I have no fear
as to Rhoda," their kind friend said. "She has that happy, amiable,
and quiet disposition that is sure to adapt itself to all
circumstances. I have no doubt she will become a favorite with your
aunt. Try to keep out of scrapes, boys. You know you are rather
fond of mischief, and your aunt will not be able to understand it.
If you get into any serious difficulty write to me, you can rely
upon always finding a friend in me."
The journey to London was no novelty to the boys,
but Rhoda enjoyed it immensely. Her place had been taken inside,
but most of the journey she rode outside with her brothers. She was
greatly amazed at the bustle and noise of London, and was quite
confused at the shouting and crowd at the place where the coach
drew up, for two or three other coaches had just arrived from other
directions. Mr. Jarvis had sent his man-servant to meet them, their
luggage was sent direct to the booking-office from which the coach
started for Marlborough, and the servant carried a small bag
containing their night things. It was evening when they got in, and
Rhoda could scarcely keep her eyes open long enough to have tea,
for the coach had been two days and nights upon the road. The next
day they stayed in town, and Mrs. Jarvis took them out to see the
sights of London—the Tower and St. Paul's, and Westminster Abbey,
and the beasts at Exeter Change. The boys had twice before spent a
whole day in London, their father having, upon two occasions, made
his visits to town to fit in with their going up to school, but to
Rhoda it was all new, and very, very wonderful.
The next day the coach started early for
Marlborough. It was to take rather over twenty-four hours on the
way. As before, Rhoda rode outside with her brothers until the
evening, but then, instead of going inside, where there were five
passengers already, she said, as the night was so fine and warm,
she would rather remain with them. They were sitting behind the
coachman, there were two male passengers upon the same seat with
them, and another in the box seat by the coachman. The conversation
turned, as in those days it was pretty sure to turn, upon
highwaymen. Several coaches had been lately stopped by three
highwaymen, who worked together, and were reported to be more
reckless than the generality of their sort. They had shot a
coachman who refused to stop, the week before on Hounslow Heath,
they had killed a guard on the great north road, and they had shot
two passengers who resisted, near Exeter.
Tom and Peter were greatly amused by observing that
the passenger who sat next to them, and who, at the commencement of
the conversation, showed a brace of heavy pistols with which he was
provided, with much boasting as to what he should do if the coach
were attacked, when he heard of the fate of the passengers who had
resisted, became very quiet indeed, and presently took an
opportunity, when he thought that he was not observed, of slipping
his pistols under the tarpaulin behind him.
"I hope those dreadful men won't stop our coach,"
"They won't hurt you if they do, Rhoda," Tom said
assuringly. "I think it would be rather a lark. I say, Peter," he
went on in a whisper, "I think we might astonish them with those
pistols that coward next to you has hid behind him."
"I should just think so," Peter said; "the bargee
at Eton would be nothing to it."
The hours went slowly on. Rhoda and the boys dozed
uncomfortably against each other and the baggage behind them, until
they were suddenly roused by a shout in the road beside them:
"Stand for your lives!"
The moon was up, and they could see that there were
three horsemen. One galloped to the horses' heads, and seized the
rein of one of the leaders, the others rode by the coach.
The first answer to the challenge was a discharge
from the blunderbuss of the guard, which brought one of the
highwaymen from his horse.
The other, riding up to the side of the coach,
fired at the guard, and a loud cry told that the shot had taken
effect. In another moment the fellow was by the side of the
"Hold up!" he said, "or I will blow your brains
The coachman did as he was ordered, and indeed the
man at the leader's head had almost succeeded in stopping them. The
passenger next to the boys had, at the first challenge, again
seized his pistols, and the boys thought that he was going to fire
"Lie down at our feet, Rhoda, quick!" Tom said,
"and don't move till I tell you." The fate of the guard evidently
frightened away the short-lived courage of the passenger, for, as
the coachman again pulled up, he hastily thrust the pistols in
"Get down, every one of you," the highwayman
"Lie still, Rhoda," Tom whispered. "Now, Peter, get
in underneath the tarpaulin."
This was done as the passengers descended. The
luggage was not so heavily piled as usual, and the boys found
plenty of room beneath the tarpaulin.
"Now, Peter, you take one of these pistols and give
me the other. Now peep out. The moon is hidden, which is a good
thing; now, look here, you shall shoot that fellow standing down
below, who is swearing at the ladies inside for not getting out
quicker. I'll take a shot at that fellow standing in front of the
"Do you think you can hit him, Tom?"
"I have not the least idea, but I can try; and if
you hit the other one, the chances are he'll bolt, whether I hit
him or not. Open the tarpaulin at the side so as to see well, and
rest the pistol upon something. You must take a good shot, Peter,
for if you miss him we shall be in a mess."
"All right," Peter said, in a whisper, "I can
almost touch him with the pistol."
In loud and brutal tones the highwayman now began
to order the frightened ladies to give up their watches and rings,
enforcing his commands with terrible curses. When suddenly a pistol
flashed out just behind him, and he fell off his horse with a ball
through his shoulder.
Tom's shot, though equally well intended, was not
so truly aimed. The highwayman had dismounted, and was standing
just in front of the leaders, so that Tom had a fair view of him
between them. The boys had both occasionally fired their father's
pistols, for, in those days, each householder in the country always
kept loaded pistols in his room, but his skill was not sufficient
to make sure of a man at that distance. The bullet flew past at two
feet to the left of his head. But its effect was scarcely less
startling than if it had actually hit him, for, in its passage, it
passed through the ear of the off leader. The horse made a start at
the sudden pain, and then dashed forward. The rest of the team,
already alarmed by the shot, followed her lead; before the startled
highwayman could get out of the way they were upon him, in another
instant he was under their heels, and the coach gave a sudden lurch
as it passed over his body.
"Lie still, Rhoda, a little longer; it's all right,
but the horses have run away," Tom exclaimed, as he scrambled
forward, and caught hold of the reins, which the coachman had tied
to the rail of the seat as he got down. "Catch hold of the reins,
Peter, and help me pull."
Peter did so; but the united strength of the boys
was wholly unequal to arresting the headlong flight of the
Fortunately the highwaymen had chosen a low bottom
between two hills, to arrest the coach, consequently the road was
up a hill of moderate steepness. The boys hoped that the horses
would stop when they got to the top; but they went on with
"This is something like going it," Peter said.
"Isn't it, Peter? They know their way, and we ain't
lively to meet anything in the road. They will stop at their
stable. At any rate, it's no use trying to steer them. Here, Rhoda
dear, get up; are you very much frightened?"
Rhoda still lay quite still, and Peter, holding on
with difficulty, for the coach quite rocked with the speed at which
they were going, climbed over to her, and stooped, down. "Shall I
help you up, Rhoda?"
"No, please, I would rather stop here till it's all
Fortunately the hill, up to the Tillage where they
made the change, was a steep one, and the horses broke into a trot
before they reached the top, and, in another minute drew up at the
door of the inn. The astonishment of the ostlers at seeing the
horses covered with lather, and coachbox tenanted only by two boys,
behind whom a little white face now peered out, was extreme, and
they were unable to get beyond an ejaculation of hallo! expressive
of a depth of incredulous astonishment impossible to be rendered by
"Look here," Tom said, with all the composure, and
much of the impudence, which then, as now, characterized the young
Etonian, "don't be staring like a pack of stuck pigs. You had
better get the fresh horses in, and drive back to the bottom, about
four miles from here. There has been regular row with some fellows,
and I expect two or three are killed. Now, just put up the ladder;
I want to get my sister down."
Almost mechanically the men put the ladder up to
the coach, and the boys and Rhoda got down.
"Do you say the coach has been attacked by
highwaymen in Burnet bottom?"
"I don't know anything about Burnet bottom," Tom
said. "It was a bottom about four miles off. There were three of
them. The guard shot one of them, and the others shot the guard.
Then we were stopped by them, and every one had to get down. Then
the horses ran away, and here we are."
"Then there are two of those highwayman chaps with
the passengers," one of the men said.
"You need not be afraid of them," Tom said
carelessly; "one got shot, and I don't know about the other, but
the wheel of the coach went over him, so I do not suppose he will
be much trouble. Now, if I were you, I should not stand staring any
more, but should make haste and take the coach back."
"Hullo, look at this grey," one of the men
exclaimed, as, at last understanding what had taken place, they
began to bustle about to change horses. "He's got blood all over
the side of his head. One of those scoundrels has shot him through
Tom burst out laughing. "I am the scoundrel!" he
said. "Peter, that explains why we went off so suddenly. I missed
the fellow, and hit the leader in the ear. However, it comes to the
same thing. By the way, we may as well take the pistols."
So saying, he ran up the ladder and brought down
the pistols. By this time the fresh horses were in.
"I can't make nought of it," one of the ostlers
said, climbing up into the coachman's seat. "Jump up, Bill and
Harry. It's the rummiest go I ever heard of in coaching."
"Landlady, can you get us some tea at once,
please," Tom said, going up to the landlady, who was looking on
from the door of the house with an astonishment equal to that of
the men at the whole affair; "as quickly as you can, for my sister
looks regularly done up with fatigue, and then, please let her lie
down till the coach is ready to start again. It will be three
quarters of an hour before it is back, and then, I daresay, there
will be a lot of talking before they go on. I should think they
will be wanting breakfast. At any rate, an hour's rest will do you
Rhoda was too worn out with the over-excitement
even to answer.
Fortunately there was hot water in order to make hot grog for
outriders of the coach, some tea was quickly made, and in ten
Rhoda was fast asleep on the landlady's bed.
Tom and Peter expressed their desire for something
substantial in the way of eating, for the morning had now fairly
broken. The landlady brought in some cold meat, upon which the boys
made a vigorous attack, and then, taking possession of two benches,
they dozed off until the coach arrived.
It had but three horses, for one had been sent off
to carry Bill, the ostler, at full speed to the town at which they
had last changed horses, to fetch a doctor and the constable. The
other two men had remained with the guard, who was shot in the hip,
and the highwayman, whose collar-bone was broken by Peter's shot.
The fellow shot by the guard, and the other one, whom the coach
wheels had passed over, were both dead.
"There's the coach, Tom."
"What a nuisance, Peter, they'll all be wanting to
talk now, and I am just so comfortably off. Well, I suppose it's no
use trying to get any more sleep."
So saying, they roused themselves, and went out to
the door just as the coach drew up.
There was a general shout of greeting from the
passengers, which was stopped, however, by a peremptory order from
He was a large, stout man, with a face red from the
effects of wind and exposure. "Jack," he said, to a man who was
standing near, for the news of the attack upon the coach had
quickly spread, and all the villagers were astir to see it come in.
"Jack, hold the leader's head. Thomas, open the door, and let the
insides out. Gents," he said solemnly, when this was done, "I'm
going to do what isn't a usual thing by no means, in fact, I ain't
no precedence for doing it; but then, I do not know any precedence
for this here business altogether. I never did hear of a coachman
standing up on his box to give a cheer, no, not to King George
himself; but, then, King George never polished off two highwaymen
all to himself, leastway, not as I've heard tell of. Now, these two
young gents have done this. They have saved my coach and my
passengers from getting robbed, and so I'm going to give 'em three
cheers. I'll trouble you to help me up into the box seat,
Assisted by the other passengers, the driver now
gravely climbed up into the box seat, steadied himself there by
placing one hand upon the shoulder of the passenger next him, took
off his low-crowned hat, and said. "Follow me, gents, with three
cheers for those young gents standing there; better plucked ones I
never came across, and I've traveled a good many miles in my
So saying, he gave three stentorian cheers, which
were echoed by all the passengers and villagers.
Then there was a momentary silence, and Tom, who,
with his brother, had been feeling very uncomfortable, although
rather inclined to laugh, seeing that he was expected to say
something, said, "Thank you all very much; but we'd much rather you
hadn't done it."
Then there was a general laugh and movement, and a
general pressing forward of the passengers to shake the boys by the
hand. The driver was assisted down from his elevated position, and
got off the coach and came up to them. "That's the first speech I
ever made, young gentlemen, and, if I know myself, it will be the
last; but, you see, I was druv to it. You're a good sort, that's
certain. What will you drink?"
The boys declared for beer, and drank solemnly with
the driver, imitating him in finishing their mugs at a draught, and
turning them topsy-turvy. There was now a great deal of talking,
and many questions were asked. Tom and Peter modestly said that
there was really nothing to tell. They saw that the gentleman next
to them intended to use his pistols; but, not seeing a good
opportunity, put them down behind the tarpaulin, and the thought
occurred to them that, by slipping behind it, they would get a good
chance of a certain shot. Accordingly, they had fired, and then the
horse had run away; and there was an end of it. There was nothing
extraordinary in the whole matter.
"At any rate, my boys, you have saved me from a
loss of a couple of hundred pounds which I had got hid in my boots,
but which those fellows would have been sure to have have
discovered," one of the passengers said.
There was a general chorus of satisfaction at many
watches and trinkets saved, and then the first passenger went
"I propose, gentlemen and ladies, that when we get
to the end of our journey we make a subscription, according to the
amount we have saved, and that we get each of these young gentlemen
a brace of the very best pistols that can be bought. If they go on
as they have begun, they will find them useful."
There was a general exclamation of approval, and
one of the ladies, who had been an inside passenger, said, "And I
think we ought to give a handsome ring to their sister as a
memorial through life. Of course, she had not so much to do as her
brothers, but she had the courage to keep still, and she had to run
the risk, both of being shot, and of being upset by the coach just
as they did."
This also was unanimously approved, and, after
doing full justice to the breakfast set before them, the party
again took their places. Rhoda being carried down asleep, by the
landlady, and placed in the coach, one of the inside passengers
getting out to make room for her, and she was laid, curled up, on
the seat, with her head in a lady's lap, and slept quietly, until,
to her astonishment, she was woke up, and told that she was in