The Accident by Louisa M. Alcott

TOM named his velocipede Black Auster, in memory of the horse in “The Battle of Lake Regillus,” and came to grief as soon as he began to ride his new steed.

“Come out and see me go it,” whispered Tom to Polly, after three days’ practice in the street, for he had already learned to ride in the rink.

Polly and Maud willingly went, and watched his struggles with deep interest, till he got an upset, which nearly put an end to his velocipeding forever.

“Hi, there! Auster’s coming!” shouted Tom, as he came rattling down the long, steep street outside the park.

They stepped aside, and he whizzed by, arms and legs going like mad, and the general appearance of a runaway engine. It would have been a triumphant descent, if a big dog had not bounced suddenly through one of the openings, and sent the whole concern helter-skelter into the gutter. Polly laughed as she ran to view the ruin, for Tom lay flat on his back with the velocipede atop of him, while the big dog barked wildly, and his master scolded him for his awkwardness. But when she saw Tom’s face, Polly was frightened, for the color had all gone out of it, his eyes looked strange and dizzy, and drops of blood began to trickle from a great cut on his forehead. The man saw it, too, and had him up in a minute; but Tom couldn’t stand, and stared about him in a dazed sort of way, as he sat on the curbstone, while Polly held her handkerchief to his forehead, and pathetically begged to know if he was killed.

“Don’t scare mother—I’m all right. Got upset, didn’t I?” he asked, presently, eying the prostrate velocipede with more anxiety about its damages than his own.

“I knew you’d hurt yourself with that horrid thing. Just let it be, and come home, for your head bleeds dreadfully, and everybody is looking at us,” whispered Polly, trying to tie the little handkerchief over the ugly cut.

“Come on, then Jove! how queer my head feels! Give us a boost, please. Stop howling, Maud, and come home. You bring the machine, and I’ll pay you, Pat.” As he spoke, Tom slowly picked himself up, and steadying himself by Polly’s shoulder, issued his commands, and the procession fell into line. First, the big dog, barking at intervals; then the good-natured Irishman, trundling “that divil of a whirligig,” as he disrespectfully called the idolized velocipede; then the wounded hero, supported by the faithful Polly; and Maud brought up the rear in tears, bearing Tom’s cap.