Now free from the house, Scarlett slowed the carriage a little. She could tell that the manner in which she departed had put the engine under considerable strain and she knew she could not risk it breaking down so close to the house.
But Scarlett also knew that she couldn’t just drive nowhere – there had to be a plan. Perhaps the safest place would be to head for London; with so many people in the capital, Scarlett felt she could surely blend in and hide in open sight. She knew her father’s business was partly based in London and that she could carefully work out why father had been attacked in such a serious way. So that was the plan – Scarlett just hoped that there was enough fuel on the carriage to make that a reality.
A few miles down the road, Scarlett had to swerve to avoid a large pothole in the road. Even at the much slower speed, the change in direction was too much for the large wooden wheels and three spokes finally gave in and splintered. The carriage lurched to the right, and Scarlett was flung from the carriage and into a ditch. The carriage itself struck the verge and bounced along the ditch just a short way ahead of Scarlett. the front buried itself into the mud bank and the whole vehicle fell to one side. The weight of the boiler at the rear broke from its holdings – falling back towards Scarlett. Fortunately, she was able to scramble up the side of the ditch as the burning fuel and heated water spilled over where she had been just moments before. Then it was quiet, save for the hiss of the water and the mud that it heated.
Scarlett realised that whilst this was an awful frustration, she needed to keep moving. Fortunately, her country upbringing had meant that the boots she was wearing was practical for walking, unlike the more dainty affairs that some of her friends wore. With her hands, she brushed what she could off the dress and picked out some of the small sticks in her hair and made ready to carry on walking. She was sure that she looked a fright – but hopefully not too in distress.
As she walked down the road, she heard the sound of horses hooves as they struck the ground. Before she could dash to the side, the horse was upon her.
“Hullo Miss!” cried a voice, the tone being friendly and not with any malice. She turned to see who called her – and immediately recognised Charles from the house next door. “Why, Miss Scarlett!” said Charles, “You are a long way from your house. Does your father know you are here on your own?”
“Charles, I need to get away from the house and to safety. My father has been…”
“I did wonder; there was the most loud commotion from your house and I saw the carriage leave at great speed. Come on, I’ll take you a little further.”
With that he held out his hand and with a small jump Scarlett lept up onto the back of the horse. She knew that if friends saw her like this normally, they would surely comment – but she had to get away.
Once safely on the back of the steed, she held on tightly as Charles kicked his heels in and the horse set off. Hopefully towards safety and not into danger.