The carriage builder was probably feeling tired, or maybe he was just lazy. It takes a lot of work to make a carriage wheel. All the wooden spokes have to be handmade and fit tightly into the wooden hub and rim of the wheel. When the carriage builder discovered that some spokes were too small for the holes, he decided to make them fit by pushing little wedges of wood in here and there to hold them in place. Then he painted over the wheel thinking no one would ever know the difference. But sloppy workmanship makes a difference!
Ellen White, her adult son, Willie, and several other passengers rode in the carriage with that wheel. Mrs. White and her group were looking for a place to run a Bible school that summer, and all seemed to be going well. But those spokes were working themselves loose with each turn of the wheel over the bumpy road. Then, at the worst possible moment as they turned a corner, the painted-over carriage wheel suddenly collapsed. Immediately the carriage tilted to one side and overturned, throwing some of the passengers out.
In spite of the confusion, Willie managed to hold the horse’s reins tightly so she did not run away, dragging a broken upside-down carriage with people still in it. Mrs. White had to crawl out over the back seat on her hands and knees.
There were bruises and Mrs. White’s dress was torn, but thankfully no one was seriously injured. Everyone was thankful to be alive, but puzzled as to why the carriage had suddenly overturned with no warning.
Willie unhitched the horse and tied her to a nearby fence. As he went off to find another carriage, Mrs. White and her friends inspected the wreck and found the broken carriage wheel. Now they knew what had happened. They had a lot of time to think about how important small things can be. Because of the carelessness of that one worker, six people could have died.
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