Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
The passenger booked by this history, was on the coach-step,
getting in; the two other passengers were close behind him, and
about to follow. He remained on the step, half in the coach and half
out of; they remained in the road below him. They all looked from
the coachman to the guard, and from the guard to the coachman,
and listened. The coachman looked back and the guard looked
back, and even the emphatic leader pricked up his ears and looked
back, without contradicting.
The stillness consequent on the cessation of the rumbling and
labouring of the coach, added to the stillness of the night, made it
very quiet indeed. The panting of the horses communicated a
tremulous motion to the coach, as if it were in a state of agitation.
The hearts of the passengers beat loud enough perhaps to be heard;
but at any rate, the quiet pause was audibly expressive of people
out of breath, and holding the breath, and having the pulses
quickened by expectation.
The sound of a horse at a gallop came fast and furiously up the hill.
“So-ho!” the guard sang out, as loud as he could roar. “Yo there!
Stand! I shall fire!” The pace was suddenly checked, and, with
much splashing and floundering, a man’s voice called from the
mist, “Is that the Dover mail?” “Never you mind what it is!” the
guard retorted. “What are you?” “Is that the Dover mail?” “Why
do you want to know?” “I want a passenger, if it is.” “What
passenger?” “Mr. Jarvis Lorry.” Our booked passenger showed in a
moment that it was his name. The guard, the coachman, and the
two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.
“Keep where you are,” the guard called to the voice in the mist,
“because, if I should make a mistake, it could never be set right in
your lifetime. Gentleman of the name of Lorry answer straight.”
“What is the matter?” asked the passenger, then, with mildly
quavering speech. “Who wants me? Is it Jerry?” (“I don’t like
Jerry’s voice, if it is Jerry,” growled the guard to himself. “He’s
hoarser than suits me, is Jerry.”) “Yes, Mr. Lorry.” “What is the
matter?” “A despatch sent after you from over yonder. T. and Co.”
“I know this messenger, guard,” said Mr. Lorry, getting down into
the roadassisted from behind more swiftly than politely by the
other two passengers, who immediately scrambled into the coach,
shut the door, and pulled up the window.
“He may come close; there’s nothing wrong.” “I hope there ain’t,
but I can’t make so ‘Nation sure of that,” said the guard, in gruff
soliloquy. “Hallo you!” “Well! And hallo you!” said Jerry, more
hoarsely than before.
“Come on at a footpace! d’ye mind me? And if you’ve got holsters
to that saddle o’ yourn, don’t let me see your hand go nigh ‘em. For