Here’s another story from Mr. Reynardson:

“‘Hallo, Peter. How about that ‘strange gentleman?” said a brother coachman as he pulled up alongside the above-named Peter Hilton, who drove the Hirondelle from Shrewsbury to Birkenhead, from which place the passengers crossed by a ferry-boat to Liverpool. ‘All along with that strange gentleman’s driving, eh, Peter?’ ‘If that is all you’ve got to say,’ said Peter, ‘you’d better mind your own business.’ This was a mighty sore subject with Peter, who at the best of times was not famed for his affable manners, if anything put him out. He was not very fond of chaff; and the incident I am about to relate afforded a grand subject for banter on the road and with many of his brother coachmen, who all knew me pretty well.

“The facts were these: Peter, for some reasons best known to himself, for I could never make them out, was not vastly fond of me. I knew him less than any coachman on the road, and certainly had never given him any cause for either liking or disliking me. He never much approved of my driving, though he knew I was in the habit of driving any of the coaches out of Shrewsbury and elsewhere in that part of the country. It happened one day that Mr. Isaac Taylor, of the Lion Inn, in Shrewsbury, who horsed most of the coaches, was in the yard when the Hirondelle was about to start. He had given me leave to drive any team of his, and seemed surprised not to see me lay hold of the reins and mount the rostrum. ‘Aren’t you going to drive, sir?’ said he; ‘you’ll find them a fairish team, I think.’ ‘Well, to tell you the truth,’ said I, ‘Peter Hilton don’t seem much to like my driving.’ ‘Nevermind Peter Hilton,’ said Mr. Taylor, ‘jump up, sir; I’ll make it all right,’ calling out at the same time, ‘Hilton, Mr. Reynardson is going to work today.’ ‘Very well, sir, if you like it,’ said Peter, looking as sulky as he could look, and he could look it to perfection.

“Off we started; a horrid day, I well remember, raining and blowing great guns, so that I could hardly keep the horses in the road, the wind dead in my teeth, and the rain driving up the road, till reins, whip, and everything else were as wet and soddened as if they had been boiled or were made of tripe.

“Having arrived at Wrexham, where a Dog-cart was waiting for me to take me to a friend’s house about two miles distant, down I jumped, gave Peter a ‘douceur,’ which I hoped would make him think better of me for the time to come, and said, ‘Good day, Peter; don’t look so cross. I’ll come and drive for you again some day ere very long,’ and with this I jumped into the Dog-cart, and was off before the horses were out of the coach.

“Some time afterwards I met my old friend Mr. Kenyon, or ‘His Honor,’ as he was always called. ‘Hallo, old friend,’ said he, much to my surprise; ‘how came you to let Peter Hilton’s horses get away from you the other day?’ Of course I was all amazement, never having heard of any occurrence that could give rise to the speech. ‘I don’t know what you mean,’ I said. ‘I never let Peter Hilton’s horses get away, nor did I hear of anything of the kind. I can’t make out what you mean.’ ‘Why,’ said His Honor, ‘did not you drive the Hirondelle on such a day from Shrewsbury, and did not they run off with the coach from Wrexham?’

“To this I replied that I had never heard of anything of the kind having taken place, and stated, as I have before said, that as soon as I got off the coach at Wrexham, being wet and miserable, I got into the Dog-cart and made the best of my way to my friend’s house, before the horses were even taken out of the coach. ‘Well, Peter said you did, and it’s all over the country; so, as you did not do it, you will know what to say if anyone chaffs you about it.’ It would seem that whilst they were putting the horses to at the Feathers Inn, at Wrexham, my friend Peter and the three or four passengers that were on the coach — for I remember we had only a light load that day — slipped into the inn to ‘whet their whistles,’ and Wrexham was famous for its good ale in those days. From some cause the horsekeeper left the horses for a moment, and when he returned, to his surprise, he found the coach gone, and, to his greater surprise, friend Peter and his passengers in the bar.

“The horses had started off first in a walk, then in a trot, then got into a gallop, and away they went with the empty coach at any pace you like to call it, till they got to the bottom of Marford Hill, about five miles from Wrexham. How they were stopped, why they stopped, whether they were stopped by anyone, or whether they stopped of their own accord, I never heard; but stop they did, and the coach and horses came to no grief.

“Will Jones, who was driving the coach from Liverpool to Wrexham, met them about halfway down the hill, and seeing something was wrong, there being no one on the coach, pulled almost out of the road, and avoided being run into. He said they were going a real good pace, and he could not for the life of him make out what could be up till he got to Wrexham, and found how matters stood. Peter Hilton, to get the blame off his own shoulders and avoid the chaff which he must go through, and thinking that he should never hear any more of it, laid it to my driving, and said, ‘Oh! it was all along that strange gentleman driving.’ He was soon, however, found out, and the chaff he got was without end. He never passed a coach without being reminded of the strange gentleman.”