Slowly we crept down the hill, the wheels grinding in the drag, and jolting heavily from time to time. There were trees by the roadside, indeed, we were on the outskirts of the Belgrade forest. The bare boughs swayed and creaked in the bitter March wind, and as I peered out through the window the night seemed more hideous than ever. "By the by," said I, suddenly, "we have no names.
It is one of my superstitions that we became entangled in a dream some twenty years ago; but I do not know whether this dream was born in Ireland from the beliefs of the country men and women, or whether we but gave ourselves up to a foreign habit as our spirited Georgian fathers did to gambling, sometimes lying, as their history has it, on the roadside naked, but for the heap of straw they had pulled over them, till they could wager a lock of hair or the paring of a nail against what might set them up in clothes again.
When within thirty yards, Richard Hunt rode through a roadside gate to meet him and saluted. "You are my prisoner," he said, courteously. The Yankee never stopped, but wheeled, almost brushing the hedge as he turned. "Prisoner hell!" he said, clearly, and like a bird was skimming away while the men behind the hedge, paralyzed by his daring, fired not a shot.
His Grace's couriers went back and forth to France, and upon his estates the people prepared their rejoicings for the marriage-day, and never had Camylott been so heavenly fair as on the day when the bells rang out once more, and the villagers stood along the roadside and at their cottage doors, courtesying and throwing up hats and calling down God's blessings on the new-wed pair, as the coach passed by, and his Grace, holding his lady's hand, showed her to his people, seeming to give her and her loveliness to them as they bowed and smiled together she almost with joyful tears in her sweet eyes.
Passing along we saw several horses dying on the roadside from hunger; and one poor brute, that we observed, in the morning, lying in a ditch, was quite dead when we reached the same spot in the evening.
So my lord Marquess rode and Mr. Fox with him, for two days at least. For refreshments they drew rein at noon before some roadside inn whose eager host spread before them his very best, and himself waited upon them in awful joy.
As we approached Collin we halted for a moment to look at a column of black marble erected on the roadside to commemorate the devotion of a handful of Russian troops, who had at this spot checked the progress of the whole French army for many hours. A little later, and we were lodged at our inn in the market-town of Collin, where we supped on bread and cheese and good Prague beer.
At the point where the footpath crossed the brook and road, and entered on the field where the feast was held, was a long, low roadside inn; and on the opposite side of the field was a large white thatched farmhouse, where dwelt an old sporting farmer, a great promoter of the revels.
Returning, he sought out Jackson, and found him sitting on a fallen pine by the roadside near the slowly, slowly mending bridge. Hampton dismounted and made his report. "We got over, three of us, general, a short way above. It wasn't difficult. The stream's clear of obstructions there and has a sandy bottom. We could see through the trees on the other side.
Between, the ground was beautifully broken. Rich fields and meadows lay on all sides, sometimes level, and sometimes with a soft, wavy surface, where Ellen thought it must be charming to run up and down. Every now and then these were varied by a little rising ground, capped with a piece of woodland; and beautiful trees, many of them, were seen standing alone, especially by the roadside.