No matter what the weather was, in good old stage coach days,
The driver with his ruddy face and spanking team of bays
Would spin along the turnpike road, o'er level stretch and hill,
That wound away from "Idleburg" to classic Nicholasville.
The depths beneath his seat were filled with leathern sacks of mail,
And all the coach's top at times was crowded to the rail
With trunks, valises, packages, and bundles by the score,
That must have weighed, it seemed to me, five thousand pounds or more.
And strapped within the bulging boot, that hung far out behind,
Was added weight enough to make a team of oxen blind;
And counting all the passengers that filled the coach within,
The load those horses had to drag--I thought it was a sin!
How proud of them the driver was! And often he would brag
That they could pull a heavier load and never balk or flag;
If all the road was ankle-deep in miry, sticky mud,
That was the time his team would show its metal and its blood.
The "ribbons" then he'd gather up, and give his whip a crack,
And any team in front of him had better clear the track;
He seemed to own the turnpike road, and kept the right of way
Unto himself as jealously as bloomers do to-day.
By wood and field he wound along, and by the river's bank,
And when he reached the covered bridge the hoof-beats on the plank
Were echoed from the cliffs around and from the vale below;
And going up the hill beyond he'd let 'em walk and blow.
Then urged into a trot again around the curves they spun
Till hove in sight the manor-house of Camp Dick Robinson;
And on beyond where Nelson lay, the bravest of the brave,
Till Nicholasville at last was reached, to them the reins he gave.
And when the sun was hanging low and slanting shadows fell,
Along the streets of "Idleburg" that old familiar yell
Would greet the ears of villagers from small boys as they ran
With open mouths and lusty lungs a-shouting "Here comes Sam!"
Ah me! The old stage coach, abandoned now, stands in the stable lot,
A victim to the tooth of rust, and slow decay and rot;
Its whole-souled driver years ago forever passed away,
And crumbled now to dust the hand that drove each gallant bay!