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Amos Huntingdon

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Amos Huntingdon

  By Reverend T.P. Wilson________________________________________________________________________This a very well written and interesting story, well up to Wilson'sbest. It deals with the various moral issues that beset a ratherwell-off family. The old father makes his two sons an allowance, whichone of them, Amos, manages well, while the other does not. Stability inthe family is provided by an old maiden aunt, Kate, the sister of theold man. There was also a daughter, Julia, who had married ane'er-do-well, and who had been shown the door on that account by theold father, but who was still of great concern to the two young men,particularly to Amos, as she had small children, who were so destitutethat Amos was spending all his allowance in looking after his sister andher children, thus making it impossible for him to lend his brother anymoney.

  Because there are not many people in the story, and because theircharacters are so well-described, the reader is drawn into the family,and follows their concerns with interest. It makes a good audiobook ofabout eleven hours duration. NH________________________________________________________________________





  "Help! help! holloa there! Master Walter--Mr Amos--Jim--Harry--quick--bring us a light!--lend a hand here!" Such were the words whichsuddenly broke the stillness of a dark October night, and roused up thehousehold of Mr Walter Huntingdon, a country gentleman living on hisown estate in Derbyshire. The voice was the coachman's, and cameapparently from somewhere near the drive-gate, which was about a coupleof hundred yards from the front door of the house. The evening had beendark and stormy; and it was in a lull of the tempest that the ominoussounds of distress reached the ears of the inmates of Flixworth Manor.

  In a few moments all was bustle and excitement--lights flashing; feethurrying; voices shouting; and then a rush for the scene of danger andtrouble.

  Outside the grounds in which the Manor-house stood were extensive grasslands on either side of the public road. In the field nearest to thedrive-gate, and on the left as you entered it, was a deep andprecipitous chalk-pit, now disused. This pit was some little distancefrom the road itself, and was not noticeable by persons unacquaintedwith the locality. It had been there no one knew how long, and was afavourite resort of adventurous children, a footpath to the villagepassing not far from its edge. Towards this chalk-pit the startledparty of rescue from the house hurried with one consent, several of themcarrying lanterns or extemporised torches.

  Ten o'clock was striking in the distant church-tower as they gatheredround the spot from which the cries for help had proceeded. A terriblesight was dimly revealed to them in the uncertain glare cast upon it bythe lights which they carried. Hanging over the edge of the chalk-pitwas the squire's carriage. One horse had broken away from the traces,but the other was struggling violently, and seemed likely, in itsplungings, to force the carriage still further over the precipitous sideof the pit. The coachman, who had managed to spring unharmed from thebox, was doing his best to restrain the violence of the terrifiedanimal, but with only partial success; while the situation of MrHuntingdon himself and of his maiden sister, who were inside thecarriage, was perilous and distressing in the extreme.

  The accident had been caused by a strange and savage dog suddenlyspringing at the horses' heads as the carriage was nearing the outergate. The night was very dark, and the horses, which were young andfull of spirit, being startled by the unexpected attack of the dog,which belonged to some passing traveller, sprang violently out of theroad, and, easily crashing through the wooden fence, which happened tobe unusually weak just at that part, carried the carriage along withthem to the very edge of the chalk-pit, spite of all the efforts of thecoachman to hold them in; so that when the people of the Manor-housecame to the rescue, they found the carriage and its occupants in a mostcritical position.

  Not a moment was to be lost. Jim, the stable-boy, was quickly by theside of the coachman, who was almost exhausted with his efforts to curbthe terrified horse, the animal becoming still more excited by the flareof the lights and the rush of the newcomers.

  "Cut the traces, man! cut the traces!" cried Harry the butler, as hegained the spot.

  "Do nothing of the sort," said a voice close by him. "Don't you seethat there may be nothing to hold the carriage up, if you cut thetraces? it may fall sheer over into the chalk-pit.--Steady, Beauty!steady, poor Beauty!" These last words came from a young man whoevidently had authority over the servants, and spoke calmly but firmly,at the same time patting and soothing the terror-stricken animal, which,though still trembling in every limb, had ceased its frantic plungings.

  "William," continued the same speaker, addressing the coachman, "keepher still, if you can, till we have got my father and aunt out."

  Just at that moment a boy of about seventeen years of age sprang on tothe front wheel, which was a little tilted on one side, and with aviolent wrench opened the carriage-door. "Father, dear father," hecried, "are you there? are you hurt?"

  For a moment no reply was made; then in a stifled voice came the words,"Save your aunt, my dear boy, save your aunt!"

  Miss Huntingdon, who was nearest the door, and had contrived to cling toa stout strap at the side of it, was now dragged with difficulty, by thejoint efforts of her nephew and the butler, out on to the firm ground.Walter, her young deliverer, then sprang back to extricate his father."Give me your hand, father," he cried, as he stooped down into thecarriage, which was now creaking and swaying rather ominously. "A lighthere, Harry--Jim!" he continued. It was plain that there was no timefor delay, as the vehicle seemed to be settling down more and more inthe direction of the chasm over which it hung. A light was quicklybrought, and Mr Huntingdon was released at last from his trying andpainful durance; but not without considerable difficulty, as he had beenmuch bruised, and almost stunned, by being dashed against the undermostdoor, and by his poor sister having been thrown violently on him, whenthe carriage had turned suddenly on its side.

  "Hip, hip, hurrah!" shouted Walter, springing on to the hind wheel;"`all's well that ends well.' No bones broken I hope, dear father, dearaunt."

  "Have a care, Master Walter," cried the coachman, who had now managed,with the elder son's help, to release the frightened horse from thetraces, and had given it in charge to the stable-boy,--"have a care, oryou'll be over into the chalk-pit, carriage and all."

  "All right, William," cried the boy; "you look after Beauty, and I'lllook after myself." So saying, he jumped down, making the carriage rockas he sprang to the ground.

  And now, while Miss Huntingdon, who had suffered nothing more seriousthan a severe shaking, was being led to the house by her elder nephewand the female servants who had joined the rescuing party, MrHuntingdon, having made a careful inspection of the position of hiscarriage, found that it was in no danger of falling to the bottom of thechalk-pit, as a stout tree, which sprang from the side of the pit, closeto the top, had become entangled in the undermost hind wheel, and wouldform a sufficient support till the proper means of drawing the vehiclefully on to the level ground could be used on the morrow. All partiesthen betook themselves slowly to the Manor-house.

  In the kitchen, William the coachman was, of course, the great centre ofattraction to a large gathering of domestics, and of neighbours also,who soon came flocking in, spite of the lateness of the hour, to get anauthentic version of the accident, which, snowball-like, would, ere noonnext day, get rolled up into gigantic proportions, as it made its waythrough many mouths to the farther end of the parish.

  In the drawing-room of the Manor-house a sympathising group gatheredround Mr Huntingdon and
his sister, eager to know if either wereseriously the worse for the alarming termination to their journey.Happily, both had escaped without damage of any consequence, so thatbefore they retired to rest they were able, as they drew round thecheery fire, and heard the stormy wind raging without, to talk over theperilous adventure with mutual congratulations at its happy termination,and with thankfulness that the travellers were under the shelter of theManor roof, instead of being exposed to the rough blasts of the storm,as they might still have been had the mishap occurred further from home."Walter, my boy," exclaimed Mr Huntingdon, stretching out his hand tohis younger son, "it was bravely done. If it had not been for you, wemight have been hanging over the mouth of the chalk-pit yet--or,perhaps, been down at the bottom. You are a lad after your father's ownheart,--good old-fashioned English pluck and courage; there's nothing Iadmire so much." As he said these words, his eye glanced for a momentat his eldest son Amos, who was standing at the outside of the group, asthough he felt that the older brother had no claim on his regard on thescore of courage. The young man coloured slightly, but made no remark.He might, had he so pleased, have put in his claim for loving notice, onthe ground of presence of mind in stilling the plunging horse,--presenceof mind, which commonly contributes more to success and deliverance inan emergency than impulsive and impetuous courage; but he was not one toassert himself, and the coachman and stable-boy, who knew the part hehad taken, were not present to speak a word for him. So his youngerbrother Walter got the praise, and was looked upon as the hero of theadventure.