A little over two months ago, we began a read-along of sorts: small weekly morsels comprising the chapter on tandem driving in the first volume of  The Sports Library (by Mr. T. F. Dale), published in 1899.

If you didn’t start reading along with us from the beginning, you can catch up by reading part of the book’s introduction (and the introduction to our look back at this nineteenth-century book) and parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine of Chapter 10.

Today, the tenth part:

I have spoken about being run away with in a tandem. My experience suggests that this is a rare occurrence, but it has happened to me, and, as it illustrates the usefulness of being handy with the whip, I may relate my experience here. I had driven out a twenty-mile stage from Dera Ghazi Khan to meet a local dignitary on a tour of inspection, and I had to take him back to the station.

Now I had fever at the time, and was weak, and had, too, a leader which had only been at work in harness a short time. Almost as soon as we got into the cart, the leader, a powerful, rather nasty-tempered, but very useful animal, shied at a loaded camel and bolted. Unluckily the wheeler was fresh, and joined in the game. I took a pull, but found that I was powerless, and, moreover, I recognized that, being weakened by fever, I might easily exhaust my strength and roll off my seat.

The road was clear and rather sandy, so I devoted my attention to keeping the team straight. All was going well if rather fast, and I felt I should soon get a pull at my rebellious team, when I recollected that a short distance ahead was an Irish bridge across a mullah. An Irish bridge is so called because it goes under instead of over the water, and is a favorite frontier method of preserving roads which are liable to sudden floods. The dry watercourse is bricked where the road crosses it, which preserves the road and gives a sound bottom in times of flood. The descents are, however, often steep, and generally, as you approach these bridges the brickwork stands above the road by four or five inches. Knowing the tendency of country-breds in general and my black in particular to shy, I pictured to myself a sudden swerve, the wheeler’s legs caught in the trace, and a general smash up.

I tried a pull, but found they were still full of go. Then the best thing to do was to keep them going, and as we approached the critical point, I hit the leader and wheeler, drawing the whip, as it were, the length of the team, and sat tight. Up jumped the cart, down flew the ponies, their feet rattling on the bricks, and up the further side with the traces as tight as possible. I think the sudden change in the road and the swift descent and the weight of the cart as we scrambled up the far side steadied them, for I found I had got hold of them directly we were once more in the road, and the rest of the drive passed without incident. …