Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 63 > Page 34 - "Oh, You Will Not Drive Over Ben Verick? No, Man, No!" A Cape Breton Travel Tale from Dawn Fraser's Book, Echoes from Labor's Wars

Page 34 - "Oh, You Will Not Drive Over Ben Verick? No, Man, No!" A Cape Breton Travel Tale from Dawn Fraser's Book, Echoes from Labor's Wars

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1993/6/1 (250 reads)

made the crossing. When I viewed tiie "bad spot" the next mommg I had an? other attack of nerves. Ugh! It still makes me nervous to tiiink about it But I admit tiiis weakness. I have no head for high places and cannot cross an ordi? nary railway trestle without my stomach taming inside out And so tiie he? roes of the crossing were young McDonald and the sensible hvery stable horse of Johnny Owes-tiier-bic. In those days I had much experience with livery stable horses and still have kindly memories of many that I have driven. They had courage, hones? ty and intelligence to a remarkable degree. I remember driving one dark, stormy night down in Lunenburg County with a big grey livery stable horse. It was wet snow tiiat bUnded me, and one would think bUnded the horse. There was a large leather apron with the rig and in tiiis were two sUts to place tiie reins through. I was twelve miles from my destination when the I storm struck and the snow was just blinding. I placed the reins through the holes, held on with my head and hands under tiie robe, and let tiie horse go as he pleased. There were various tarns and CTOssroads on tiiis highway but I rode on for a couple of hours, tiiistmg to tiie animal that kept going at a good smart pace. Here and there from the motion of the wagon I could teU tiiat he was making a tum or going over a bridge or railway crossing. After a time he halted and I was astonished to discover tiiat he had carried me right to the door of his own stable. It must have been instinct that guided him home, for nothing hving could see tiu-ough tiiat thick snow. On another occasion, in a neigh? boring provmce, I used to drive a littie mare named "Lady," and she was just tiiat, a perfect lady. I was always glad to see her and chose her when I was driving in that section • and she seemed pleased to see me. I used to 233 Esplanade • 562-7646| An Historic Setting Overlooking the Harbour feed her sugar at tiie country grocery stores and I got tiie impression tiiat she used to stop at these stores, expecting a ti-eaL On another dark but stormy night I was driving in a section where tiie road was level and in good condi? tion. Suddenly Lady halted and refiised to go fiirtiier, even when I touched her with the whip. This was very puzzling and, alighting from the rig, I went to her head and began to lead her by tiie bridle. Fifty feet from where she halted I leamed tiie cause. There was a big ti-ee across die road and Lady, not being a steeplechaser, did not attempt to jump. Certainly she could not see it. It was at a curve of tiie road and the night was very dark. Anunal instinct, again, I presume. But as is the weakness of many old men, I am sti-aying from the telling of my tale. MY SLEIGH, OF COURSE, had been left up on die mountam on tiie otiier side of tiie "bad place," so when parting from McDonald I led tiie horse by the bridle down the mountain and into the vaUey below. My destination was tiie home of Mr. Sandy Beaton. I had met Mr. Beaton on anotiier occa? sion at the hotel in Mabou. We had shared a wee drop of Scotch and I had been urged to visit at his home at the first or any opportunity, and as I expect? ed, I was warmly received. "Where did you come from, Fraser, man?" Mr. Beaton wanted to know. He was puzzled to see me, leadmg a hamessed horse witii no vehicle behind him and in the dead of night. "Down over the mountain," I replied. Now that the danger seemed past I was incUned to be a Uttie proud of my experience. "And is tiiat the way you ti-avel now • 'leading an animal with no sleigh or wagon?" "I left the sleigh up on the mountain." And then I proceeded to give some detail of my adventure. Coming to the defense of his mountain and tiie locality in general, Mr. Beaton pooh-poohed tiie idea tiiat tiiere was any danger m crossing the Ben Verick. "I go over it to Invemess town most every weekend," he added. Sandy took care of my faitiifiil horse and the ladies prepared a good supper, after which there was a general demand that I "tell all tiie news." I have always found people in the rural districts very hospitable and easy to entertain. Any story or joke that would seem like a "thrice-told tale" in the town or city, would go over big among tiiese good people • tiie reason prob? ably being tiiat, busy witii the endless work of a farm, tiiey had Uttie time to read the papers or listen to the radio. But mine host, loyal to his homeland. WE'RE PROUD TO SHARE... Scottish and Acadian Festivals Hiking trails, picnic and camping parks Museums and heritage The warmest waters north of the Carolinas! Cottage crafts and works of art The Cape Breton highlands National Park Fresh and salt water fishing Horse racing, canoeing, and other sports Fine accommodations, gift shops Restaurants Wildlife The Sunset Side 'l/l''' of Cape Breton Requests for Visitor's Guide, brochures, and general information may be made to: Inverness County Department of Recreation/Tourism P.O. Box 179. Port Hood. N.S. BOE 2W0 (902)787-2274 Akwtlioweri Over 70 Stores & Services Every Last Thursday of Each Month Is SENIORS DAY Come & Enjoy Tea & Cake in the Mall 800 Grand Lake Road, Sydney, N.S. BIP 6S9 CO-OP SERVICE STATION Kerosene Available Exhaust Repairs Complete Brake Service Motor Vehicle Inspection Minor Repairs Lube--Oil • Greases Top Quality Low, Gasoline... 562-2315 'ow Prices 503 PRINCE ST. • SYDNEY, N. S.
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