Page:Black Beauty (1877).djvu/117

This page has been validated.

gate; he looked anxiously about, and just caught sight of the flying figure, now, far away on the road. In an instant he sprang to the saddle. I needed no whip, or spur, for I was as eager as my rider: he saw it, and giving me a free rein, and leaning a little forward, we dashed after them.

For about a mile and a half, the road ran straight, and then bent to the right, after which it divided into two roads. Long before we came to the bend, she was out of sight. Which way had she turned? A woman was standing at her garden gate, shading her eyes with her hand, and looking eagerly up the road. Scarcely drawing the rein, Blantyre shouted, "Which way?" "To the right," cried the woman, pointing with her hand, and away we went up the right-hand road; then, for a moment we caught sight of her; another bend, and she was hidden again. Several times we caught glimpses, and then lost them. We scarcely seemed to gain ground upon them at all. An old road-mender was standing near a heap of stones—his shovel dropped, and his hands raised. As we came near he made a sign to speak. Blantyre drew the rein a little. "To the common, to the common, sir; she has turned off there." I knew this common very well; it was for the most part very uneven ground, covered with heather and dark green furze bushes, with here and there a scrubby old thorn tree; there were also open spaces of fine short grass, with anthills and mole turns everywhere; the worst place I ever knew for a headlong gallop.

We had hardly turned on the common, when we