Dwellers in the Hills (Chapter 2, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 2

He swept around the bare curves with the most reckless, headlong plunges, and I caught the force of the great swing, now with the right, and now with the left knee, throwing the whole weight of my body against the horse's shoulder next to the hill. Once in a while the red nose of the Cardinal showed by my stirrup and dropped back, but Jud was holding his horse well and riding with his whole weight in the stirrups and the strain on the back-webbed girth of his saddle where it ought to be. It was a dangerous road if the horse fell, only El Mahdi never fell, although he sometimes blundered like a cow; and the Cardinal never fell when he ran, and the Bay Eagle, who knew all that a horse ever learned in the world,--we would as soon have expected to see her fly up in the air as to fall in the road.

We were a mile down the long hill, thundering like a drove of mad steers, when I caught through the tree-tops a glimpse of Cynthia's cart, and wrenched the bit out of El Mahdi's teeth. He was not inclined to stop, and plunged, ploughing long furrows in the clay road. But a stiff steel bit is an unpleasant thing with which to take issue, and he finally stopped, sliding on his front feet.

We turned the corner in a slow, deliberate trot, and there, as calmly as though it were the most natural thing in the world, was Cynthia, sitting as straight as a sapling on the high seat, with the reins held close in her left hand, and beside her Woodford, and jogging along before the cart was the bald-faced cattle-horse.

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