At one time no one could travel on an English road faster than four miles an hour. That was the law until 1896. A man had to walk in front of a car which could not go faster than the man. At night the man had to carry a red lamp.
Once Charles Rolls brought a car from France to England ,but he wanted to drive faster than four miles an hour .In order to have no trouble with the police ,he had a talk with some of the police officers ,who ordered their policemen to look the other way when the car came along the road. This was a good plan in the country ,but not so easy to follow in the busy streets of London.
One night Rolls and some friends started from London on their journey to Cambridge. One of the men walked in front with the red lamp , but he walked as fast as he could .The police became very interested in walls and shop-fronts when they heard the car ,and not one of them saw it .
They reached a hill ;but what a waste of time it was to drive down the hill at four miles an hour! Rolls was getting ready to jump into the car; but then he noticed a policeman who was not looking the other way. The slow car reached him.
“Good evening,” said the policeman ,looking at the car.
“Good evening,” said Rolls ,holding the lamp.
“One of these horseless things,” said the policeman ,looking at it with interest.
“Yes,” said Rolls, and waited.
“I’ve often wanted a ride in one ; but of course policemen can’t buy things like that.” He turned and looked hopefully in Rolls’s face.
“Jump in ,” said Rolls.
“Thanks ,” said the policeman ,and did so . “Now ,”he said ,sitting down, “you can let it go just as you like down this hill. There isn’t another policeman on this road for a mile and a half.”