Mr. Winkle, thus instructed, climbed into his saddle, with about as much difficulty as he would have experienced in getting up the side of a first-rate man-of-war.
'All right?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, with an inward presentiment that it was all wrong.
'All right,' replied Mr. Winkle faintly.
'Let 'em go,' cried the hostler.--'Hold him in, sir;' and away went the chaise, and the saddle-horse, with Mr. Pickwick on the box of the one, and Mr. Winkle on the back of the other, to the delight and gratification of the whole inn-yard.
'What makes him go sideways?' said Mr. Snodgrass in the bin, to Mr. Winkle in the saddle.
'I can't imagine,' replied Mr. Winkle. His horse was drifting up the street in the most mysterious manner--side first, with his head towards one side of the way, and his tail towards the other.
Mr. Pickwick had no leisure to observe either this or any other particular, the whole of his faculties being concentrated in the management of the animal attached to the chaise, who displayed various peculiarities, highly interesting to a bystander, but by no means equally amusing to any one seated behind him. Besides constantly jerking his head up, in a very unpleasant and uncomfortable manner, and tugging at the reins to an extent which rendered it a matter of great difficulty for Mr. Pickwick to hold them, he had a singular propensity for darting suddenly every now and then to the side of the road, then stopping short, and then rushing forward for some minutes, at a speed which it was wholly impossible to control.
'What CAN he mean by this?' said Mr. Snodgrass, when the horse had executed this manoeuvre for the twentieth time.
'I don't know,' replied Mr. Tupman; 'it looks very like shying, don't it?' Mr. Snodgrass was about to reply, when he was interrupted by a shout from Mr. Pickwick.
'Woo!' said that gentleman; 'I have dropped my whip.' 'Winkle,' said Mr. Snodgrass, as the equestrian came trotting up on the tall horse, with his hat over his ears, and shaking all over, as if he would shake to pieces, with the violence of the exercise, 'pick up the whip, there's a good fellow.' Mr. Winkle pulled at the bridle of the tall horse till he was black in the face; and having at length succeeded in stopping him, dismounted, handed the whip to Mr. Pickwick, and grasping the reins, prepared to remount.
Now whether the tall horse, in the natural playfulness of his disposition, was desirous of having a little innocent recreation with Mr. Winkle, or whether it occurred to him that he could perform the journey as much to his own satisfaction without a rider as with one, are points upon which, of course, we can arrive at no definite and distinct conclusion. By whatever motives the animal was actuated, certain it is that Mr. Winkle had no sooner touched the reins, than he slipped them over his head, and darted backwards to their full length.
'Poor fellow,' said Mr. Winkle soothingly--'poor fellow-- good old horse.' The 'poor fellow' was proof against flattery; the more Mr. Winkle tried to get nearer him, the more he sidled away; and, notwithstanding all kinds of coaxing and wheedling, there were Mr. Winkle and the horse going round and round each other for ten minutes, at the end of which time each was at precisely the same distance from the other as when they first commenced--an unsatisfactory sort of thing under any circumstances, but particularly so in a lonely road, where no assistance can be procured.
'What am I to do?' shouted Mr. Winkle, after the dodging had been prolonged for a considerable time. 'What am I to do? I can't get on him.'
'You had better lead him till we come to a turnpike,' replied Mr. Pickwick from the chaise.
'But he won't come!' roared Mr. Winkle. 'Do come and hold him.'
Mr. Pickwick was the very personation of kindness and humanity: he threw the reins on the horse's back, and having descended from his seat, carefully drew the chaise into the hedge, lest anything should come along the road, and stepped back to the assistance of his distressed companion, leaving Mr.