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More Leaves from the Journal
Carriage Accident 7 Oct 1863


Wednesday, October 7, 1863

A hazy morning. I decided by Alice’s advice, with a heavy heart, to make the attempt to go to Clova. At half-past twelve drove with Alice and Lenchen to Altnagiuthasach, where we lunched, having warmed some broth and boiled some potatoes, and then rode up and over the Capel Month in frequent slight snow-showers. All the high hills white with snow; and the view of the green Clova hills covered with snow at the tops, with gleams of sunshine between the showers, was very fine; but it took us a long time, and I was very tired towards the end, and felt very sad and lonely. Loch Mulch looked beautiful in the setting sun as we came down, and reminded me of many former happy days I spent there. We stopped to take tea at Altnagiuthasach. Grant was not with us, having gone with Vicky. We started at about twenty minutes to seven from Altnagiuthasach, Brown on the box next Smith, who was driving, little Willem (Alice’s black serving boy) behind. It was quite dark when we left, but all the lamps were lit as usual; from the first, however, Smith seemed to be quite confused (and indeed has been much altered of late), and got off the road several times, once in a very dangerous place, when Alice called out and Brown got off the box to show him the way. After that, however, though going very slowly, we seemed to be all right, but Alice was not at all reassured, and thought Brown’s holding up the lantern all the time on the box indicated that Smith could not see where he was going, though the road was as broad and plain as possible. Suddenly, about two miles from Altnagiuthasach, and about twenty minutes after we had started, the carriage began to turn up on one side; we called out: “What’s the matter?” There was an awful pause, during which Alice said: “We are upsetting.” In another moment—during which I had time to reflect whether we should be killed or not, and thought there were still things I had not settled and wanted to do—the carriage turned over on its side, and we were all precipitated to the ground! I came down very hard, with my face upon the ground, near the carriage, the horses both on the ground, and Brown calling out in despair, “The Lord Almighty have mercy on us! Who did ever see the like of this before! I thought you were all killed.” Alice was soon helped up by means of tearing all her clothes to disentangle her; but Lenchen, who had also got caught in her dress, called out very piteously, which frightened me a good deal; but she was also got out with Brown’s assistance, and neither she nor Alice was at all hurt. I reassured them that I was not hurt, and urged that we should make the best of it. as it was an inevitable misfortune. Smith, utterly confused and bewildered, at length came up to ask if I was hurt. Meantime the horses were lying on the ground as if dead, and it was absolutely necessary to get them up again. Alice, whose calmness and coolness were admirable, held one of the lamps while Brown cut the traces, to the horror of Smith, and the horses were speedily released and got up unhurt. There was now no means of getting home except by sending back Smith with the two horses to get another carriage. All this took some time, about half an hour, before we got off. By this time I felt that my face was a good deal bruised and swollen, and, above all, my right thumb was excessively painful, and much swollen; indeed I thought at first it was broken, till we began to move it. Alice advised then that we should sit down in the carriage—that is, with the bottom of the carriage as a back—which we did, covered with plaids, little Willem sitting in front, with the hood of his “bournous” over his head, holding a lantern, Brown holding another, and being indefatigable in his attention and care. He had hurt his knee a good deal in jumping off the carriage. A little claret was all we could get either to drink or wash my face and hand. Almost directly after the accident happened, I said to Alice it was terrible not to be able to tell it to my dearest Albert, to which she answered: “But he knows it all, and I am sure he watched over us.” I am thankful that it was by no imprudence of mine, or the slightest deviation from what my beloved one and I had always been in the habit of doing, and what he sanctioned and approved.

The thought of having to sit here in the road ever so long was, of course, not very agreeable, but it was not cold, and I remembered from the first what my beloved one had always said to me, namely, to make the best of what could not be altered. We had a faint hope, at one moment, that our ponies might overtake us; but then Brown recollected that they had started before us. We did nothing but talk of the accident, and how; it could have happened, and how merciful the escape was, and we all agreed that Smith was quite unfit to drive me again in the dark. We had been sitting here about half an hour when we heard the sound of voices and of horses hoofs, which came nearer and nearer. To our relief we found it was our ponies Kennedy (whom dear Albert liked, and who always went out with him, and now generally goes with us) had become fearful of an accident, as we were so long coming; he heard Smith going back with the ponies, and then, seeing lights moving about, he felt convinced something must have happened, and therefore rode back to look for us, which was very thoughtful of him, for else we might have sat there till ten. o'clock. We mounted our ponies at once and proceeded home. Brown leading Alice’s and my pony, which he would not let go for fear of another accident. Lenchen and Willem followed, led by Alick Grant. Kennedy carried the lantern in front. It was quite light enough to see the road without a lantern. At the hill where the gate of the deer-fence is, above the distillery, we met the other carriage, again driven by Smith, and a number of stable-people come to raise the first carriage, and a pair of horses to bring it home. We preferred, however, riding home, which we reached at about twenty minutes to ten o’clock. No one knew what had happened till we told them. Fritz and Louis were at the door. People were foolishly alarmed when we got upstairs, and made a great fuss. Took only a little soup and fish in my room, and had my head bandaged.

I saw the others only for a moment, and got to bed rather late.


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