18. Going for the Doctor
One night, a few days after James had left, I had eaten my hay and was lying down in my
straw fast asleep, when I was suddenly roused by the stable bell ringing very loud. I heard
the door of John's house open, and his feet running up to the hall. He was back again in
no time; he unlocked the stable door, and came in, calling out, "Wake up, Beauty! You
must go well now, if ever you did;" and almost before I could think he had got the saddle
on my back and the bridle on my head. He just ran round for his coat, and then took me at
a quick trot up to the hall door. The squire stood there, with a lamp in his hand.
"Now, John," he said, "ride for your life -- that is, for your mistress' life; there is not a
moment to lose. Give this note to Dr. White; give your horse a rest at the inn, and be back
as soon as you can."
John said, "Yes, sir," and was on my back in a minute. The gardener who lived at the
lodge had heard the bell ring, and was ready with the gate open, and away we went
through the park, and through the village, and down the hill till we came to the toll-gate.
John called very loud and thumped upon the door; the man was soon out and flung open
"Now," said John, "do you keep the gate open for the doctor; here's the money," and off
he went again.
There was before us a long piece of level road by the river side; John said to me, "Now,
Beauty, do your best," and so I did; I wanted no whip nor spur, and for two miles I
galloped as fast as I could lay my feet to the ground; I don't believe that my old
grandfather, who won the race at Newmarket, could have gone faster. When we came to
the bridge John pulled me up a little and patted my neck. "Well done, Beauty! good old
fellow," he said. He would have let me go slower, but my spirit was up, and I was off
again as fast as before. The air was frosty, the moon was bright; it was very pleasant. We
came through a village, then through a dark wood, then uphill, then downhill, till after
eight miles' run we came to the town, through the streets and into the market-place. It was
all quite still except the clatter of my feet on the stones -- everybody was asleep. The
church clock struck three as we drew up at Dr. White's door. John rang the bell twice, and
then knocked at the door like thunder. A window was thrown up, and Dr. White, in his
nightcap, put his head out and said, "What do you want?"
"Mrs. Gordon is very ill, sir; master wants you to go at once; he thinks she will die if you
cannot get there. Here is a note."
"Wait," he said, "I will come."
He shut the window, and was soon at the door.
"The worst of it is," he said, "that my horse has been out all day and is quite done up; my
son has just been sent for, and he has taken the other. What is to be done? Can I have
"He has come at a gallop nearly all the way, sir, and I was to give him a rest here; but I
think my master would not be against it, if you think fit, sir."