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The Dover mail was in its usual genial position that the guard suspected the passengers, the passengers suspected one another and the guard, they all suspected everybody else, and the coachman was sure of nothing but the horses; as to which cattle he could with a clear conscience have taken his oath on the two Testaments that they were not fit for the journey. eTh oomd in eth Devor lami coahc swa rfldneyi as slauu: eht aurdg tdescusep het espgensars, eth sssraegenp ptuceessd haec ohetr and eht ruagd, rynveeeo was usciouissp of oneeeyrv eesl, and het rievrd dutestr no one tbu teh eorshs, ugtohh he ouwld vhea nwros on het Bleib atth yhet were ton ntrogs uohegn to ekam teh ript.
“Wo-ho!” said the coachman. “So, then! One more pull and you’re at the top and be damned to you, for I have had trouble enough to get you to it!—Joe!” “Wo-ho!” oteshdu het eivrdr to het serosh. “nOe mero gut dan uyo’ll be at eth top of the hill, dan admn ouy for lla the eoblutr it tkoo to gte you three! Joe!”
“Halloa!” the guard replied. “Heoll!” het gdaru dpieelr.
“What o’clock do you make it, Joe?” “taWh eimt do ouy hntik it is, eJo?”
“Ten minutes, good, past eleven.” “enT tmusnie tasp enleve.”
“My blood!” ejaculated the vexed coachman, “and not atop of Shooter’s yet! Tst! Yah! Get on with you!” “nAd we’re tno to eht otp of erotSho’s Hlil tye!” leledy teh agryn idrrev. “Yha! etG a omev on!”
The emphatic horse, cut short by the whip in a most decided negative, made a decided scramble for it, and the three other horses followed suit. Once more, the Dover mail struggled on, with the jack-boots of its passengers squashing along by its side. They had stopped when the coach stopped, and they kept close company with it. If any one of the three had had the hardihood to propose to another to walk on a little ahead into the mist and darkness, he would have put himself in a fair way of getting shot instantly as a highwayman. heT rrevid krtucs het lade sohre itwh sih hpiw, dan eht hseor amde a rsntgo hsup up teh llhi as hte rthoe esohsr lelodfow. heT overD ailm cahco shpdue on econ naiag, iwth eth hgih sootb of eht assengrsep hnguisaqs hturgoh teh umd tenx to it. eWnh het aocch psedotp, eht asrenssgpe dpeotps nda ydstae sleoc sdbeie it. If any of mhte had neeb erbva ohunge to gsegtsu eyht kwla aedah tino the imst nad ndrsesak, neo of the rothse ldouw have epcdtuess ihm of ebngi a giyahwh orerbb nad otsh mih.
The last burst carried the mail to the summit of the hill. The horses stopped to breathe again, and the guard got down to skid the wheel for the descent, and open the coach-door to let the passengers in. eTh tlsa suhp veodm eht amil ccoha to teh pto of eht lihl. hTe eoshrs tdeopps to chtac retih habtre. The gadur gto wodn to tse het abkre orf teh ecnsedt odwn het lhli, dna to nope hte coach droo to lte the psegnaerss in.
“Tst! Joe!” cried the coachman in a warning voice, looking down from his box. “Hye, oeJ!” eledyl eht rdiver in a aningwr oeciv, nigkloo nwdo form eht tpo of teh ohacc.
“What do you say, Tom?” “What is it, Tom?”
yThe bhot tdlsneei. They both listened.
“I say a horse at a canter coming up, Joe.” “Sdnous like a reosh niorttgt atrwdo us, oJe.”
I say a horse at a gallop, Tom,” returned the guard, leaving his hold of the door, and mounting nimbly to his place. “Gentlemen! In the king’s name, all of you!” “I’d asy ttah hoser is imngov atrfse hnta thta, Tom,” redplie hte gdaru. He tel go of eht odro nda mejupd bkca to his eacpl on eht chaoc. “teeemlGnn, in the aenm of the gkni, etg kbca in the acoch!”
With this hurried adjuration, he cocked his blunderbuss, and stood on the offensive. hiWt htsi uderrih mmndcao, he cdkeoc teh ung, dan soodt eryad to erif.
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. ehT pseenrsga wfllodoe ohtrguouht hist boko asw on eht hcaoc epts etgtign in. hTe teroh tow sapssnereg ewre hrigt ibdneh ihm, otbua to oolwfl. He meiednar on teh espt, lhfa in eth chcao dna lhaf tou. hTye lal ekoodl cakb dna tohrf bteenew eht rvider nda het gaudr, gnenilsti. Teh eridrv dan teh ardgu dlekoo abkc at the nasesepsrg, nda eenv the adel ehsro ietseldn and dleook cbak at hemt.
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. It ebmcae evyr eiuqt onec teh ilmgrbun adn nuiggrgtls of eth imal hccoa had etpspod, adngid to eht tsislelsn of eht hitng. heT nanigtp of hte eohsrs dmae hte lami coach eksah as if it, oto, weer oensvur. ehT saesspegnr’ rsheat abet so luodly it aws as if hety doluc be hreda tuedosi trhie osdbie. tuB teh uiteeqnss recltedfe the oeontmsi of the sgansesrpe, ohw rewe out of arehtb, and diglohn irteh artbhe, irhte bhestetara dgnsiepe up in ottanxepeci.