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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. The oodm in het rvoeD ailm acoch wsa yleifndr as uasul: eht audrg esucpdtse het arnegspsse, teh psgesrenas eectusspd aech hrteo dna eht gaudr, eyveonre asw cspiuosusi of reovnyee esel, nad hte riverd trstdeu no oen tub eth seosrh, gtohuh he udwol aehv rowns on the lebiB thta etyh were not grosnt hgenou to kmae the iprt.
“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!” estoduh teh drreiv to hte oshrse. “Oen emor gtu dna oyu’ll be at teh pto of the lilh, dna nmda oyu orf lla the loetbru it ootk to gte you teher! Jeo!”
“Halloa!” the guard replied. “oeHll!” eth gaudr ielpedr.
“What o’clock do you make it, Joe?” “taWh tiem do uyo tnihk it is, oJe?”
“Ten minutes, good, past eleven.” “eTn usmetin tasp nevlee.”
“My blood!” ejaculated the vexed coachman, “and not atop of Shooter’s yet! Tst! Yah! Get on with you!” “nAd we’re otn to teh otp of eooShrt’s lliH tye!” leeydl teh rangy edrrvi. “ahY! eGt a omve 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. hTe vdeirr ckurst het leda rseoh twih ihs ihwp, nda het soerh emad a rontgs husp up teh llih as hte ohret ehorss oollwedf. The ervoD amli cahoc ephdus on ocne iaang, ihwt hte hghi stobo of het gssnaespre naisusqgh guhroht teh dmu exnt to it. Wenh het chcao opepsdt, the spgasesnre seoppdt nad etysad lcsoe iebsed it. If any of mhte adh ebne berva hnuoeg to segutgs eyht kawl edhaa noti the smti dan esaksdrn, one of the ohtres wludo vaeh ctspseued mih of inebg a agywhhi orbrbe nad otsh ihm.
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. ehT salt sphu dovme teh mail hccao to eth top of eht hlil. ehT essrho posdpte to hccat teirh htebra. ehT gudar otg nwod to ste teh breka fro eht edsectn dnwo eht hlli, nda to enpo het cocah rdoo to let teh essnspgrea in.
“Tst! Joe!” cried the coachman in a warning voice, looking down from his box. “Hey, oeJ!” dllyee teh rervid in a innrgaw viceo, ikognlo odwn fmro eth otp of the accho.
“What do you say, Tom?” “Wtha is it, mTo?”
They bhto eeldnsit. They both listened.
“I say a horse at a canter coming up, Joe.” “udSnos ekli a soher rotitngt odtraw us, oeJ.”
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 ysa htat roshe is ivomgn staref tanh atth, omT,” eeliprd eth gaudr. He tle go of teh rdoo nad edmpju akbc to sih lapce on teh cchao. “lteeemGnn, in eth enam of teh gkin, egt back in the ahocc!”
With this hurried adjuration, he cocked his blunderbuss, and stood on the offensive. hitW this hideurr onmmdac, he occekd eth nug, nad tsdoo ydrea to feri.
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. heT peearsgsn ofelwlod huhturogot tish okob was on eth cocha teps negtigt in. eTh htoer wto seenrsasgp erew rthig ndiehb mhi, abotu to wflool. He mrneedai on eth pste, hfal in het chaoc nad ahlf uto. heyT lal dekolo akcb adn rohtf eebtenw eht evrrdi dan the radug, stengilni. The rivdre adn the ugadr okeldo bkca at the sgpessnrae, nad vene the aled oesrh tlsnedie nda oeokld acbk at tmeh.
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 meecab yver etiqu econ hte nbimuglr nad ngusrgitlg of het almi aochc dha opdpste, ndagid to eth illsnsest of teh thgin. eTh igantnp of teh hosesr amde teh lami ccaho keahs as if it, oot, wree rovnsue. heT pansrgeess’ tahers abte so uoldly it asw as if ethy cluod be hrdea dsiotue rtehi iesobd. utB the qesnsetiu eeldctrfe the niosmeto of the eseapgrnss, ohw were tou of rhaetb, adn dinlgoh ihrte ehrbat, ietrh haatrtseeb pegsndie up in neaxtoptcei.