I needed all the head I had, for while the road had been clear so far, I descried a load of hay on the narrow bridge that stretched over the little river in front of us. There was no chance of passing to one side, and I wondered whether the horse would try to plunge through the load or jump over the railing of the bridge. He did neither, for I saw just in time that a track led down to the river, where farmers drove through when the water was low. Pulling with all my strength on one rein, I managed to turn the horse off the main road and we headed straight for the river.

A shout of horror arose from my companion, and  and clasp him in my arms to keep him from jumping out. There was a mighty splash, a sudden shock that almost flung us over the dashboard, and then Joe Wrigley's horse walked,—yes walked, calmly and sedately to the opposite shore. We were safe and dry-shod, but alas!—stranded in mid-stream. The horse had the shafts; we had the buggy. I looked at my watch;[Pg 208] time, twenty-five minutes to eleven. We were a mile beyond Waydean, but it was possible to walk there in twenty minutes, if we could get to dry land. No one was in sight along the road, and the load of hay had lumbered on, the driver happily unconscious of how he had been saved from sudden disaster. Mr. Fairman, though still pale and agitated, had recovered enough to remember his appointment, and was dismayed at our situation.

I had to give up, regretfully, for want of time, a fascinating plan of taking off the buggy-top to float shorewards in; a glance at his gleaming boots and irreproachable trousers caused me to scout the thought of his wading; there was but one course open to me. With many apologies I removed my lower garments; with more apologies I begged Mr. Fairman to do me the favor of carrying them, and stepped into the water. Then I showed him how to gather the skirts of his coat under his arms, get on my back and hold his legs straight out to keep them from touching the water. He politely protested; I insisted; he yielded. I am almost certain[Pg 209] I heard him chuckle on the journey; I knew he vibrated in a suspicious manner; but when I set him down on shore he was quite solemn in thanking me, and his eyes were moist with emotion as he watched me dry myself with the buggy-duster and get into my clothes.

In my young days I often wished I could have an opportunity to save a human life; indeed, I have always held myself in readiness to plunge into any depth of water up to four feet if occasion should arise, and it is all the more remarkable that I really didn't think of having saved Mr. Fairman's life until he mentioned it. But when I looked back I saw that I had saved him at least four times in a quarter of an hour. First, by not abandoning my post when the horse tried to sit down in the buggy; second, by overcoming his impulse to jump out by my cold dispassionate logic; third, by holding him in the seat when we approached the river; fourth, by rescuing him from the shipwrecked buggy in perfect condition for his wedding.