Blaker Family of Sussex - Reminiscences


A Journey to Arundel and Consultation with Mr. Evershed.

ONE day in the latter end of the last century, in the same year that the road between Worthing and Shoreham was washed away by the very high tide, I received a telegram late one afternoon from Mr. Evershed to come at once to Arundel to see a patient with him in consulta-tion. I drove to the station and took the first train going in that direction, and in the hurry did not notice that it went no further than Worthing. When I got there, as there was no other train, I took a cab, and told the man to go to Arundel. At Broadwater, about a mile from Worthing, the man stopped and said, "Please, sir, will you tell me the road; I come from London and have only been down here a fortnight." I had never been on that road before; however, by constant enquiries, we at last found our way to Arundel. It was now very dark; Mr. Evershed met us and drove me in his trap some distance into the country, I never knew where. We saw the patient and got back to Arundel between 10 and 11 p.m. With some difficulty we found the cab and I got in. We had a good deal of trouble in finding the road back to Worthing and were obliged constantly to knock up cottagers, who had gone to bed and heartily blessed us for disturbing their rest. We arrived there at about 2 a.m. The cabman then said his horse was tired and could not go, and advised me to put up for the night at some hotel. I told him I meant to go on to Brighton, so we took his horse out and put him in his stable where there were perhaps a dozen more cab-horses. The man said he knew nothing about any of them, so we selected one, a big, well-bred, nice-looking horse and apparently fresh; we harnessed him, put him in the cab, and started to drive to Brighton. The straight road by the sea was washed away and we were obliged to go by the upper road, which passes the Old Sussex Pad Inn (in former times notorious as a rendezvous for smugglers). When we got about a mile from Worthing, we completely lost our way, and went about a quarter of a mile up a lane till we were stopped by a gate going into a field. On one side of this road was a stagnant ditch which in the dark appeared like a path. I got out to explore and walked into the ditch which, from the stink and black mud, I think must have been a sewer. I had a new case of valuable instruments in my pocket and in trying to save these, got pretty well soaked. However, we managed with some difficulty to turn the cab round, and I got in and we started once more. I was fairly comfortable in the cab as long as I kept all the windows shut, but it was a very cold, windy night, and when I got out, as I did, two or three times to knock people up and enquire the road, the cold seemed intense. We at last got to the Sussex Pad; after that I knew the road, and we arrived in Brighton at about 4 a.m. The man was very pleased with the two sovereigns I gave him. I put all my clothes into the bath and went to bed, thinking my troubles were all over; but this was not the case. My wife and family were away in the country, and when I went to my drawer in the morning to get some clean clothes, I could find none; everything had been taken with them, so I was obliged to lie in bed till the servant could go to Needham's, and buy some new clothes.

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