Old Gracie knew the way home
MARE SAVED SICK DRIVER'S LIFE
It was lucky for brewer's drayman Charlie Gardner that his lead-horse, Gracie, knew the road home. If she had not, he admitted last night, he might not be alive today.
Charlie-who lives in Morgan Road, Holloway, London. N. 7. had just finished delivering his barrels of ale at the White Horse in Shoreditch. He clambered up to his driving perch-and collapsed from a sudden seizure.
His whip fell from his hand.
There was no one around. The street was empty. And he was too weak to call for help.
Only old Gracie a brown shire mare, sensed that something was wrong. For nearly 13 years they had been together delivering beer around London. She waited for his usual command ;
" Come on gal, lets go "
When it didn't come she pricked up her ears and strained on the traces.
Along side her was Quota an inexperienced, nettlesome gelding.
She gave him a signal known only to horses.
With the reins hanging limp over her harness, her driver in his chocolate- brown tunic and sugar-loaf hat lying slumped in his seat and the barrels rattling round on the back. Gracie and Quota trundled the three ton dray down the street.
The brewery was more than two miles away through busy City streets. But Gracie knew the way - for all three of them.
At three sets of traffic lights she stopped - and made Quota stop too - when the lights turned red. Unaided , she picked her way through a maze of traffic, turning from one street into another until she reached Whitbread's brewery in Chiswell Street.
' I 'm proud of you '
Outside, she whinned and rattled her hooves on the roadway - and kept it up until help came.
While an ambulance took the drayman to hospital Gracie, unharnessed, led Quota back to their stalls.
Yesterday, recovering from his stroke. Charlie Gardner reported back to work. He made straight for the stables.
As he stroked and patted Gracie's mane he whispered in her ear :
" I'm proud of you gal. You saved my life "
From his tunic pocket he produced her reward - an extra large slice of currant cake and a carrot.