Part 3 - Black Beauty Audiobook by Anna Sewell (Chs 37-49)

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 37.
The Golden Rule
Two or three weeks after this, as we came into the yard rather late in the evening,
Polly came running across the road with the lantern (she always brought it to him if it
was not very wet).
"It has all come right, Jerry; Mrs. Briggs sent her servant this afternoon to ask you
to take her out to-morrow at eleven o'clock.
I said, 'Yes, I thought so, but we supposed she employed some one else now.'"
"'Well,' said he, 'the real fact is, master was put out because Mr. Barker refused to
come on Sundays, and he has been trying other cabs, but there's something wrong
with them all; some drive too fast, and
some too slow, and the mistress says there is not one of them so nice and clean as
yours, and nothing will suit her but Mr. Barker's cab again.'"
Polly was almost out of breath, and Jerry broke out into a merry laugh.
"''Twill all come right some day or night': you were right, my dear; you generally are.
Run in and get the supper, and I'll have Jack's harness off and make him snug and
happy in no time."
After this Mrs. Briggs wanted Jerry's cab quite as often as before, never, however,
on a Sunday; but there came a day when we had Sunday work, and this was how it
We had all come home on the Saturday night very tired, and very glad to think that the
next day would be all rest, but so it was not to be.
On Sunday morning Jerry was cleaning me in the yard, when Polly stepped up to him,
looking very full of something. "What is it?" said Jerry.
"Well, my dear," she said, "poor Dinah Brown has just had a letter brought to say
that her mother is dangerously ill, and that she must go directly if she wishes to
see her alive.
The place is more than ten miles away from here, out in the country, and she says if
she takes the train she should still have four miles to walk; and so weak as she is,
and the baby only four weeks old, of course
that would be impossible; and she wants to know if you would take her in your cab, and
she promises to pay you faithfully, as she can get the money."
"Tut, tut! we'll see about that.
It was not the money I was thinking about, but of losing our Sunday; the horses are
tired, and I am tired, too--that's where it pinches."
"It pinches all round, for that matter," said Polly, "for it's only half Sunday
without you, but you know we should do to other people as we should like they should
do to us; and I know very well what I
should like if my mother was dying; and Jerry, dear, I am sure it won't break the
Sabbath; for if pulling a poor beast or donkey out of a pit would not spoil it, I
am quite sure taking poor Dinah would not do it."
"Why, Polly, you are as good as the minister, and so, as I've had my Sunday-
morning sermon early to-day, you may go and tell Dinah that I'll be ready for her as
the clock strikes ten; but stop--just step
round to butcher Braydon's with my compliments, and ask him if he would lend
me his light trap; I know he never uses it on the Sunday, and it would make a
wonderful difference to the horse."
Away she went, and soon returned, saying that he could have the trap and welcome.
"All right," said he; "now put me up a bit of bread and cheese, and I'll be back in
the afternoon as soon as I can."
"And I'll have the meat pie ready for an early tea instead of for dinner," said
Polly; and away she went, while he made his preparations to the tune of "Polly's the
woman and no mistake", of which tune he was very fond.
I was selected for the journey, and at ten o'clock we started, in a light, high-
wheeled gig, which ran so easily that after the four-wheeled cab it seemed like
It was a fine May day, and as soon as we were out of the town, the sweet air, the
smell of the fresh grass, and the soft country roads were as pleasant as they used
to be in the old times, and I soon began to feel quite fresh.
Dinah's family lived in a small farmhouse, up a green lane, close by a meadow with
some fine shady trees; there were two cows feeding in it.
A young man asked Jerry to bring his trap into the meadow, and he would tie me up in
the cowshed; he wished he had a better stable to offer.
"If your cows would not be offended," said Jerry, "there is nothing my horse would
like so well as to have an hour or two in your beautiful meadow; he's quiet, and it
would be a rare treat for him."
"Do, and welcome," said the young man; "the best we have is at your service for your
kindness to my sister; we shall be having some dinner in an hour, and I hope you'll
come in, though with mother so ill we are all out of sorts in the house."
Jerry thanked him kindly, but said as he had some dinner with him there was nothing
he should like so well as walking about in the meadow.
When my harness was taken off I did not know what I should do first--whether to eat
the grass, or roll over on my back, or lie down and rest, or have a gallop across the
meadow out of sheer spirits at being free; and I did all by turns.
Jerry seemed to be quite as happy as I was; he sat down by a bank under a shady tree,
and listened to the birds, then he sang himself, and read out of the little brown
book he is so fond of, then wandered round
the meadow, and down by a little brook, where he picked the flowers and the
hawthorn, and tied them up with long sprays of ivy; then he gave me a good feed of the
oats which he had brought with him; but the
time seemed all too short--I had not been in a field since I left poor Ginger at
We came home gently, and Jerry's first words were, as we came into the yard,
"Well, Polly, I have not lost my Sunday after all, for the birds were singing hymns
in every bush, and I joined in the service; and as for Jack, he was like a young colt."
When he handed Dolly the flowers she jumped about for joy.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 38.
Dolly and a Real Gentleman
Winter came in early, with a great deal of cold and wet.
There was snow, or sleet, or rain almost every day for weeks, changing only for keen
driving winds or sharp frosts.
The horses all felt it very much. When it is a dry cold a couple of good
thick rugs will keep the warmth in us; but when it is soaking rain they soon get wet
through and are no good.
Some of the drivers had a waterproof cover to throw over, which was a fine thing; but
some of the men were so poor that they could not protect either themselves or
their horses, and many of them suffered very much that winter.
When we horses had worked half the day we went to our dry stables, and could rest,
while they had to sit on their boxes, sometimes staying out as late as one or two
o'clock in the morning if they had a party to wait for.
When the streets were slippery with frost or snow that was the worst of all for us
One mile of such traveling, with a weight to draw and no firm footing, would take
more out of us than four on a good road; every nerve and muscle of our bodies is on
the strain to keep our balance; and, added
to this, the fear of falling is more exhausting than anything else.
If the roads are very bad indeed our shoes are roughed, but that makes us feel nervous
at first.
When the weather was very bad many of the men would go and sit in the tavern close
by, and get some one to watch for them; but they often lost a fare in that way, and
could not, as Jerry said, be there without spending money.
He never went to the Rising Sun; there was a coffee-shop near, where he now and then
went, or he bought of an old man, who came to our rank with tins of hot coffee and
It was his opinion that spirits and beer made a man colder afterward, and that dry
clothes, good food, cheerfulness, and a comfortable wife at home, were the best
things to keep a cabman warm.
Polly always supplied him with something to eat when he could not get home, and
sometimes he would see little Dolly peeping from the corner of the street, to make sure
if "father" was on the stand.
If she saw him she would run off at full speed and soon come back with something in
a tin or basket, some hot soup or pudding Polly had ready.
It was wonderful how such a little thing could get safely across the street, often
thronged with horses and carriages; but she was a brave little maid, and felt it quite
an honor to bring "father's first course", as he used to call it.
She was a general favorite on the stand, and there was not a man who would not have
seen her safely across the street, if Jerry had not been able to do it.
One cold windy day Dolly had brought Jerry a basin of something hot, and was standing
by him while he ate it.
He had scarcely begun when a gentleman, walking toward us very fast, held up his
Jerry touched his hat in return, gave the basin to Dolly, and was taking off my
cloth, when the gentleman, hastening up, cried out, "No, no, finish your soup, my
friend; I have not much time to spare, but
I can wait till you have done, and set your little girl safe on the pavement."
So saying, he seated himself in the cab. Jerry thanked him kindly, and came back to
"There, Dolly, that's a gentleman; that's a real gentleman, Dolly; he has got time and
thought for the comfort of a poor cabman and a little girl."
Jerry finished his soup, set the child across, and then took his orders to drive
to Clapham Rise. Several times after that the same gentleman
took our cab.
I think he was very fond of dogs and horses, for whenever we took him to his own
door two or three dogs would come bounding out to meet him.
Sometimes he came round and patted me, saying in his quiet, pleasant way, "This
horse has got a good master, and he deserves it."
It was a very rare thing for any one to notice the horse that had been working for
I have known ladies to do it now and then, and this gentleman, and one or two others
have given me a pat and a kind word; but ninety-nine persons out of a hundred would
as soon think of patting the steam engine that drew the train.
The gentleman was not young, and there was a forward stoop in his shoulders as if he
was always going at something.
His lips were thin and close shut, though they had a very pleasant smile; his eye was
keen, and there was something in his jaw and the motion of his head that made one
think he was very determined in anything he set about.
His voice was pleasant and kind; any horse would trust that voice, though it was just
as decided as everything else about him.
One day he and another gentleman took our cab; they stopped at a shop in R----
Street, and while his friend went in he stood at the door.
A little ahead of us on the other side of the street a cart with two very fine horses
was standing before some wine vaults; the carter was not with them, and I cannot tell
how long they had been standing, but they
seemed to think they had waited long enough, and began to move off.
Before they had gone many paces the carter came running out and caught them.
He seemed furious at their having moved, and with whip and rein punished them
brutally, even beating them about the head.
Our gentleman saw it all, and stepping quickly across the street, said in a
decided voice:
"If you don't stop that directly, I'll have you arrested for leaving your horses, and
for brutal conduct."
The man, who had clearly been drinking, poured forth some abusive language, but he
left off knocking the horses about, and taking the reins, got into his cart;
meantime our friend had quietly taken a
note-book from his pocket, and looking at the name and address painted on the cart,
he wrote something down.
"What do you want with that?" growled the carter, as he cracked his whip and was
moving on. A nod and a grim smile was the only answer
he got.
On returning to the cab our friend was joined by his companion, who said
laughingly, "I should have thought, Wright, you had enough business of your own to look
after, without troubling yourself about other people's horses and servants."
Our friend stood still for a moment, and throwing his head a little back, "Do you
know why this world is as bad as it is?"
"No," said the other. "Then I'll tell you.
It is because people think only about their own business, and won't trouble themselves
to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrongdoer to light.
I never see a wicked thing like this without doing what I can, and many a master
has thanked me for letting him know how his horses have been used."
"I wish there were more gentlemen like you, sir," said Jerry, "for they are wanted
badly enough in this city."
After this we continued our journey, and as they got out of the cab our friend was
saying, "My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power
to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 39.
Seedy Sam
I should say that for a cab-horse I was very well off indeed; my driver was my
owner, and it was his interest to treat me well and not overwork me, even had he not
been so good a man as he was; but there
were a great many horses which belonged to the large cab-owners, who let them out to
their drivers for so much money a day.
As the horses did not belong to these men the only thing they thought of was how to
get their money out of them, first, to pay the master, and then to provide for their
own living; and a dreadful time some of these horses had of it.
Of course, I understood but little, but it was often talked over on the stand, and the
governor, who was a kind-hearted man and fond of horses, would sometimes speak up if
one came in very much jaded or ill-used.
One day a shabby, miserable-looking driver, who went by the name of "Seedy Sam",
brought in his horse looking dreadfully beat, and the governor said:
"You and your horse look more fit for the police station than for this rank."
The man flung his tattered rug over the horse, turned full round upon the Governor
and said in a voice that sounded almost desperate:
"If the police have any business with the matter it ought to be with the masters who
charge us so much, or with the fares that are fixed so low.
If a man has to pay eighteen shillings a day for the use of a cab and two horses, as
many of us have to do in the season, and must make that up before we earn a penny
for ourselves I say 'tis more than hard
work; nine shillings a day to get out of each horse before you begin to get your own
You know that's true, and if the horses don't work we must starve, and I and my
children have known what that is before now.
I've six of 'em, and only one earns anything; I am on the stand fourteen or
sixteen hours a day, and I haven't had a Sunday these ten or twelve weeks; you know
Skinner never gives a day if he can help
it, and if I don't work hard, tell me who does!
I want a warm coat and a mackintosh, but with so many to feed how can a man get it?
I had to pledge my clock a week ago to pay Skinner, and I shall never see it again."
Some of the other drivers stood round nodding their heads and saying he was
The man went on: "You that have your own horses and cabs, or
drive for good masters, have a chance of getting on and a chance of doing right; I
We can't charge more than sixpence a mile after the first, within the four-mile
radius. This very morning I had to go a clear six
miles and only took three shillings.
I could not get a return fare, and had to come all the way back; there's twelve miles
for the horse and three shillings for me.
After that I had a three-mile fare, and there were bags and boxes enough to have
brought in a good many twopences if they had been put outside; but you know how
people do; all that could be piled up
inside on the front seat were put in and three heavy boxes went on the top.
That was sixpence, and the fare one and sixpence; then I got a return for a
Now that makes eighteen miles for the horse and six shillings for me; there's three
shillings still for that horse to earn and nine shillings for the afternoon horse
before I touch a penny.
Of course, it is not always so bad as that, but you know it often is, and I say 'tis a
mockery to tell a man that he must not overwork his horse, for when a beast is
downright tired there's nothing but the
whip that will keep his legs a-going; you can't help yourself--you must put your wife
and children before the horse; the masters must look to that, we can't.
I don't ill-use my horse for the sake of it; none of you can say I do.
There's wrong lays somewhere--never a day's rest, never a quiet hour with the wife and
I often feel like an old man, though I'm only forty-five.
You know how quick some of the gentry are to suspect us of cheating and overcharging;
why, they stand with their purses in their hands counting it over to a penny and
looking at us as if we were pickpockets.
I wish some of 'em had got to sit on my box sixteen hours a day and get a living out of
it and eighteen shillings beside, and that in all weathers; they would not be so
uncommon particular never to give us a
sixpence over or to cram all the luggage inside.
Of course, some of 'em tip us pretty handsome now and then, or else we could not
live; but you can't depend upon that."
The men who stood round much approved this speech, and one of them said, "It is
desperate hard, and if a man sometimes does what is wrong it is no wonder, and if he
gets a dram too much who's to blow him up?"
Jerry had taken no part in this conversation, but I never saw his face look
so sad before.
The governor had stood with both his hands in his pockets; now he took his
handkerchief out of his hat and wiped his forehead.
"You've beaten me, Sam," he said, "for it's all true, and I won't cast it up to you any
more about the police; it was the look in that horse's eye that came over me.
It is hard lines for man and it is hard lines for beast, and who's to mend it I
don't know: but anyway you might tell the poor beast that you were sorry to take it
out of him in that way.
Sometimes a kind word is all we can give 'em, poor brutes, and 'tis wonderful what
they do understand." A few mornings after this talk a new man
came on the stand with Sam's cab.
"Halloo!" said one, "what's up with Seedy Sam?"
"He's ill in bed," said the man; "he was taken last night in the yard, and could
scarcely crawl home.
His wife sent a boy this morning to say his father was in a high fever and could not
get out, so I'm here instead." The next morning the same man came again.
"How is Sam?" inquired the governor.
"He's gone," said the man. "What, gone?
You don't mean to say he's dead?"
"Just snuffed out," said the other; "he died at four o'clock this morning; all
yesterday he was raving--raving about Skinner, and having no Sundays.
'I never had a Sunday's rest,' these were his last words."
No one spoke for a while, and then the governor said, "I'll tell you what, mates,
this is a warning for us."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 40.
Poor Ginger
One day, while our cab and many others were waiting outside one of the parks where
music was playing, a shabby old cab drove up beside ours.
The horse was an old worn-out chestnut, with an ill-kept coat, and bones that
showed plainly through it, the knees knuckled over, and the fore-legs were very
I had been eating some hay, and the wind rolled a little lock of it that way, and
the poor creature put out her long thin neck and picked it up, and then turned and
looked about for more.
There was a hopeless look in the dull eye that I could not help noticing, and then,
as I was thinking where I had seen that horse before, she looked full at me and
said, "Black Beauty, is that you?"
It was Ginger! but how changed!
The beautifully arched and glossy neck was now straight, and lank, and fallen in; the
clean straight legs and delicate fetlocks were swelled; the joints were grown out of
shape with hard work; the face, that was
once so full of spirit and life, was now full of suffering, and I could tell by the
heaving of her sides, and her frequent cough, how bad her breath was.
Our drivers were standing together a little way off, so I sidled up to her a step or
two, that we might have a little quiet talk.
It was a sad tale that she had to tell.
After a twelvemonth's run off at Earlshall, she was considered to be fit for work
again, and was sold to a gentleman.
For a little while she got on very well, but after a longer gallop than usual the
old strain returned, and after being rested and doctored she was again sold.
In this way she changed hands several times, but always getting lower down.
"And so at last," said she, "I was bought by a man who keeps a number of cabs and
horses, and lets them out.
You look well off, and I am glad of it, but I could not tell you what my life has been.
When they found out my weakness they said I was not worth what they gave for me, and
that I must go into one of the low cabs, and just be used up; that is what they are
doing, whipping and working with never one
thought of what I suffer--they paid for me, and must get it out of me, they say.
The man who hires me now pays a deal of money to the owner every day, and so he has
to get it out of me too; and so it's all the week round and round, with never a
Sunday rest."
I said, "You used to stand up for yourself if you were ill-used."
"Ah!" she said, "I did once, but it's no use; men are strongest, and if they are
cruel and have no feeling, there is nothing that we can do, but just bear it--bear it
on and on to the end.
I wish the end was come, I wish I was dead. I have seen dead horses, and I am sure they
do not suffer pain; I wish I may drop down dead at my work, and not be sent off to the
I was very much troubled, and I put my nose up to hers, but I could say nothing to
comfort her. I think she was pleased to see me, for she
said, "You are the only friend I ever had."
Just then her driver came up, and with a tug at her mouth backed her out of the line
and drove off, leaving me very sad indeed. A short time after this a cart with a dead
horse in it passed our cab-stand.
The head hung out of the cart-tail, the lifeless tongue was slowly dropping with
blood; and the sunken eyes! but I can't speak of them, the sight was too dreadful.
It was a chestnut horse with a long, thin neck.
I saw a white streak down the forehead. I believe it was Ginger; I hoped it was,
for then her troubles would be over.
Oh! if men were more merciful they would shoot us before we came to such misery.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 41.
The Butcher
I saw a great deal of trouble among the horses in London, and much of it might have
been prevented by a little common sense.
We horses do not mind hard work if we are treated reasonably, and I am sure there are
many driven by quite poor men who have a happier life than I had when I used to go
in the Countess of W----'s carriage, with my silver-mounted harness and high feeding.
It often went to my heart to see how the little ponies were used, straining along
with heavy loads or staggering under heavy blows from some low, cruel boy.
Once I saw a little gray pony with a thick mane and a pretty head, and so much like
Merrylegs that if I had not been in harness I should have neighed to him.
He was doing his best to pull a heavy cart, while a strong rough boy was cutting him
under the belly with his whip and chucking cruelly at his little mouth.
Could it be Merrylegs?
It was just like him; but then Mr. Blomefield was never to sell him, and I
think he would not do it; but this might have been quite as good a little fellow,
and had as happy a place when he was young.
I often noticed the great speed at which butchers' horses were made to go, though I
did not know why it was so till one day when we had to wait some time in St. John's
There was a butcher's shop next door, and as we were standing a butcher's cart came
dashing up at a great pace.
The horse was hot and much exhausted; he hung his head down, while his heaving sides
and trembling legs showed how hard he had been driven.
The lad jumped out of the cart and was getting the basket when the master came out
of the shop much displeased. After looking at the horse he turned
angrily to the lad.
"How many times shall I tell you not to drive in this way?
You ruined the last horse and broke his wind, and you are going to ruin this in the
same way.
If you were not my own son I would dismiss you on the spot; it is a disgrace to have a
horse brought to the shop in a condition like that; you are liable to be taken up by
the police for such driving, and if you are
you need not look to me for bail, for I have spoken to you till I'm tired; you must
look out for yourself."
During this speech the boy had stood by, sullen and dogged, but when his father
ceased he broke out angrily.
It wasn't his fault, and he wouldn't take the blame; he was only going by orders all
the time.
"You always say, 'Now be quick; now look sharp!' and when I go to the houses one
wants a leg of mutton for an early dinner and I must be back with it in a quarter of
an hour; another cook has forgotten to
order the beef; I must go and fetch it and be back in no time, or the mistress will
scold; and the housekeeper says they have company coming unexpectedly and must have
some chops sent up directly; and the lady
at No. 4, in the Crescent, never orders her dinner till the meat comes in for lunch,
and it's nothing but hurry, hurry, all the time.
If the gentry would think of what they want, and order their meat the day before,
there need not be this blow up!"
"I wish to goodness they would," said the butcher; "'twould save me a wonderful deal
of harass, and I could suit my customers much better if I knew beforehand--But
there! what's the use of talking--who ever
thinks of a butcher's convenience or a butcher's horse!
Now, then, take him in and look to him well; mind, he does not go out again to-
day, and if anything else is wanted you must carry it yourself in the basket."
With that he went in, and the horse was led away.
But all boys are not cruel.
I have seen some as fond of their pony or donkey as if it had been a favorite dog,
and the little creatures have worked away as cheerfully and willingly for their young
drivers as I work for Jerry.
It may be hard work sometimes, but a friend's hand and voice make it easy.
There was a young coster-boy who came up our street with greens and potatoes; he had
an old pony, not very handsome, but the cheerfullest and pluckiest little thing I
ever saw, and to see how fond those two were of each other was a treat.
The pony followed his master like a dog, and when he got into his cart would trot
off without a whip or a word, and rattle down the street as merrily as if he had
come out of the queen's stables.
Jerry liked the boy, and called him "Prince Charlie", for he said he would make a king
of drivers some day.
There was an old man, too, who used to come up our street with a little coal cart; he
wore a coal-heaver's hat, and looked rough and black.
He and his old horse used to plod together along the street, like two good partners
who understood each other; the horse would stop of his own accord at the doors where
they took coal of him; he used to keep one ear bent toward his master.
The old man's cry could be heard up the street long before he came near.
I never knew what he said, but the children called him "Old Ba-a-ar Hoo", for it
sounded like that.
Polly took her coal of him, and was very friendly, and Jerry said it was a comfort
to think how happy an old horse might be in a poor place.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 42.
The Election
As we came into the yard one afternoon Polly came out.
I've had Mr. B---- here asking about your vote, and he wants to hire your cab for the
election; he will call for an answer." "Well, Polly, you may say that my cab will
be otherwise engaged.
I should not like to have it pasted over with their great bills, and as to making
Jack and Captain race about to the public- houses to bring up half-drunken voters,
why, I think 'twould be an insult to the horses.
No, I shan't do it." "I suppose you'll vote for the gentleman?
He said he was of your politics."
"So he is in some things, but I shall not vote for him, Polly; you know what his
trade is?" "Yes."
"Well, a man who gets rich by that trade may be all very well in some ways, but he
is blind as to what workingmen want; I could not in my conscience send him up to
make the laws.
I dare say they'll be angry, but every man must do what he thinks to be the best for
his country."
On the morning before the election, Jerry was putting me into the shafts, when Dolly
came into the yard sobbing and crying, with her little blue frock and white pinafore
spattered all over with mud.
"Why, Dolly, what is the matter?" "Those naughty boys," she sobbed, "have
thrown the dirt all over me, and called me a little raga--raga--"
"They called her a little 'blue' ragamuffin, father," said Harry, who ran in
looking very angry; "but I have given it to them; they won't insult my sister again.
I have given them a thrashing they will remember; a set of cowardly, rascally
'orange' blackguards."
Jerry kissed the child and said, "Run in to mother, my pet, and tell her I think you
had better stay at home to-day and help her."
Then turning gravely to Harry:
"My boy, I hope you will always defend your sister, and give anybody who insults her a
good thrashing--that is as it should be; but mind, I won't have any election
blackguarding on my premises.
There are as many 'blue' blackguards as there are 'orange', and as many white as
there are purple, or any other color, and I won't have any of my family mixed up with
Even women and children are ready to quarrel for the sake of a color, and not
one in ten of them knows what it is about." "Why, father, I thought blue was for
"My boy, Liberty does not come from colors, they only show party, and all the liberty
you can get out of them is, liberty to get drunk at other people's expense, liberty to
ride to the poll in a dirty old cab,
liberty to abuse any one that does not wear your color, and to shout yourself hoarse at
what you only half-understand--that's your liberty!"
"Oh, father, you are laughing."
"No, Harry, I am serious, and I am ashamed to see how men go on who ought to know
An election is a very serious thing; at least it ought to be, and every man ought
to vote according to his conscience, and let his neighbor do the same."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 43.
A Friend in Need
The election day came at last; there was no lack of work for Jerry and me.
First came a stout puffy gentleman with a carpet bag; he wanted to go to the
Bishopsgate station; then we were called by a party who wished to be taken to the
Regent's Park; and next we were wanted in a
side street where a timid, anxious old lady was waiting to be taken to the bank; there
we had to stop to take her back again, and just as we had set her down a red-faced
gentleman, with a handful of papers, came
running up out of breath, and before Jerry could get down he had opened the door,
popped himself in, and called out, "Bow Street Police Station, quick!" so off we
went with him, and when after another turn
or two we came back, there was no other cab on the stand.
Jerry put on my nose-bag, for as he said, "We must eat when we can on such days as
these; so munch away, Jack, and make the best of your time, old boy."
I found I had a good feed of crushed oats wetted up with a little bran; this would be
a treat any day, but very refreshing then.
Jerry was so thoughtful and kind--what horse would not do his best for such a
master? Then he took out one of Polly's meat pies,
and standing near me, he began to eat it.
The streets were very full, and the cabs, with the candidates' colors on them, were
dashing about through the crowd as if life and limb were of no consequence; we saw two
people knocked down that day, and one was a woman.
The horses were having a bad time of it, poor things! but the voters inside thought
nothing of that; many of them were half- drunk, hurrahing out of the cab windows if
their own party came by.
It was the first election I had seen, and I don't want to be in another, though I have
heard things are better now.
Jerry and I had not eaten many mouthfuls before a poor young woman, carrying a heavy
child, came along the street. She was looking this way and that way, and
seemed quite bewildered.
Presently she made her way up to Jerry and asked if he could tell her the way to St.
Thomas' Hospital, and how far it was to get there.
She had come from the country that morning, she said, in a market cart; she did not
know about the election, and was quite a stranger in London.
She had got an order for the hospital for her little boy.
The child was crying with a feeble, pining cry.
"Poor little fellow!" she said, "he suffers a deal of pain; he is four years old and
can't walk any more than a baby; but the doctor said if I could get him into the
hospital he might get well; pray, sir, how far is it; and which way is it?"
"Why, missis," said Jerry, "you can't get there walking through crowds like this!
why, it is three miles away, and that child is heavy."
"Yes, bless him, he is; but I am strong, thank God, and if I knew the way I think I
should get on somehow; please tell me the way."
"You can't do it," said Jerry, "you might be knocked down and the child be run over.
Now look here, just get into this cab, and I'll drive you safe to the hospital.
Don't you see the rain is coming on?"
"No, sir, no; I can't do that, thank you, I have only just money enough to get back
with. Please tell me the way."
"Look you here, missis," said Jerry, "I've got a wife and dear children at home, and I
know a father's feelings; now get you into that cab, and I'll take you there for
I'd be ashamed of myself to let a woman and a sick child run a risk like that."
"Heaven bless you!" said the woman, and burst into tears.
"There, there, cheer up, my dear, I'll soon take you there; come, let me put you
As Jerry went to open the door two men, with colors in their hats and buttonholes,
ran up calling out, "Cab!"
"Engaged," cried Jerry; but one of the men, pushing past the woman, sprang into the
cab, followed by the other. Jerry looked as stern as a policeman.
"This cab is already engaged, gentlemen, by that lady."
"Lady!" said one of them; "oh! she can wait; our business is very important,
besides we were in first, it is our right, and we shall stay in."
A droll smile came over Jerry's face as he shut the door upon them.
"All right, gentlemen, pray stay in as long as it suits you; I can wait while you rest
And turning his back upon them he walked up to the young woman, who was standing near
me. "They'll soon be gone," he said, laughing;
"don't trouble yourself, my dear."
And they soon were gone, for when they understood Jerry's dodge they got out,
calling him all sorts of bad names and blustering about his number and getting a
After this little stoppage we were soon on our way to the hospital, going as much as
possible through by-streets. Jerry rung the great bell and helped the
young woman out.
"Thank you a thousand times," she said; "I could never have got here alone."
"You're kindly welcome, and I hope the dear child will soon be better."
He watched her go in at the door, and gently he said to himself, "Inasmuch as ye
have done it to one of the least of these." Then he patted my neck, which was always
his way when anything pleased him.
The rain was now coming down fast, and just as we were leaving the hospital the door
opened again, and the porter called out, "Cab!"
We stopped, and a lady came down the steps.
Jerry seemed to know her at once; she put back her veil and said, "Barker!
Jeremiah Barker, is it you?
I am very glad to find you here; you are just the friend I want, for it is very
difficult to get a cab in this part of London to-day."
"I shall be proud to serve you, ma'am; I am right glad I happened to be here.
Where may I take you to, ma'am?"
"To the Paddington Station, and then if we are in good time, as I think we shall be,
you shall tell me all about Mary and the children."
We got to the station in good time, and being under shelter the lady stood a good
while talking to Jerry. I found she had been Polly's mistress, and
after many inquiries about her she said:
"How do you find the cab work suit you in winter?
I know Mary was rather anxious about you last year."
"Yes, ma'am, she was; I had a bad cough that followed me up quite into the warm
weather, and when I am kept out late she does worry herself a good deal.
You see, ma'am, it is all hours and all weathers, and that does try a man's
constitution; but I am getting on pretty well, and I should feel quite lost if I had
not horses to look after.
I was brought up to it, and I am afraid I should not do so well at anything else."
"Well, Barker," she said, "it would be a great pity that you should seriously risk
your health in this work, not only for your own but for Mary's and the children's sake;
there are many places where good drivers or
good grooms are wanted, and if ever you think you ought to give up this cab work
let me know."
Then sending some kind messages to Mary she put something into his hand, saying, "There
is five shillings each for the two children; Mary will know how to spend it."
Jerry thanked her and seemed much pleased, and turning out of the station we at last
reached home, and I, at least, was tired.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 44.
Old Captain and His Successor
Captain and I were great friends. He was a noble old fellow, and he was very
good company.
I never thought that he would have to leave his home and go down the hill; but his turn
came, and this was how it happened. I was not there, but I heard all about it.
He and Jerry had taken a party to the great railway station over London Bridge, and
were coming back, somewhere between the bridge and the monument, when Jerry saw a
brewer's empty dray coming along, drawn by two powerful horses.
The drayman was lashing his horses with his heavy whip; the dray was light, and they
started off at a furious rate; the man had no control over them, and the street was
full of traffic.
One young girl was knocked down and run over, and the next moment they dashed up
against our cab; both the wheels were torn off and the cab was thrown over.
Captain was dragged down, the shafts splintered, and one of them ran into his
Jerry, too, was thrown, but was only bruised; nobody could tell how he escaped;
he always said 'twas a miracle. When poor Captain was got up he was found
to be very much cut and knocked about.
Jerry led him home gently, and a sad sight it was to see the blood soaking into his
white coat and dropping from his side and shoulder.
The drayman was proved to be very drunk, and was fined, and the brewer had to pay
damages to our master; but there was no one to pay damages to poor Captain.
The farrier and Jerry did the best they could to ease his pain and make him
The fly had to be mended, and for several days I did not go out, and Jerry earned
The first time we went to the stand after the accident the governor came up to hear
how Captain was.
"He'll never get over it," said Jerry, "at least not for my work, so the farrier said
this morning. He says he may do for carting, and that
sort of work.
It has put me out very much. Carting, indeed!
I've seen what horses come to at that work round London.
I only wish all the drunkards could be put in a lunatic asylum instead of being
allowed to run foul of sober people.
If they would break their own bones, and smash their own carts, and lame their own
horses, that would be their own affair, and we might let them alone, but it seems to me
that the innocent always suffer; and then they talk about compensation!
You can't make compensation; there's all the trouble, and vexation, and loss of
time, besides losing a good horse that's like an old friend--it's nonsense talking
of compensation!
If there's one devil that I should like to see in the bottomless pit more than
another, it's the drink devil."
"I say, Jerry," said the governor, "you are treading pretty hard on my toes, you know;
I'm not so good as you are, more shame to me; I wish I was."
"Well," said Jerry, "why don't you cut with it, governor?
You are too good a man to be the slave of such a thing."
"I'm a great fool, Jerry, but I tried once for two days, and I thought I should have
died; how did you do?"
"I had hard work at it for several weeks; you see I never did get drunk, but I found
that I was not my own master, and that when the craving came on it was hard work to say
I saw that one of us must knock under, the drink devil or Jerry Barker, and I said
that it should not be Jerry Barker, God helping me; but it was a struggle, and I
wanted all the help I could get, for till I
tried to break the habit I did not know how strong it was; but then Polly took such
pains that I should have good food, and when the craving came on I used to get a
cup of coffee, or some peppermint, or read
a bit in my book, and that was a help to me; sometimes I had to say over and over to
myself, 'Give up the drink or lose your soul!
Give up the drink or break Polly's heart!'
But thanks be to God, and my dear wife, my chains were broken, and now for ten years I
have not tasted a drop, and never wish for it."
"I've a great mind to try at it," said Grant, "for 'tis a poor thing not to be
one's own master."
"Do, governor, do, you'll never repent it, and what a help it would be to some of the
poor fellows in our rank if they saw you do without it.
I know there's two or three would like to keep out of that tavern if they could."
At first Captain seemed to do well, but he was a very old horse, and it was only his
wonderful constitution, and Jerry's care, that had kept him up at the cab work so
long; now he broke down very much.
The farrier said he might mend up enough to sell for a few pounds, but Jerry said, no!
a few pounds got by selling a good old servant into hard work and misery would
canker all the rest of his money, and he
thought the kindest thing he could do for the fine old fellow would be to put a sure
bullet through his head, and then he would never suffer more; for he did not know
where to find a kind master for the rest of his days.
The day after this was decided Harry took me to the forge for some new shoes; when I
returned Captain was gone.
I and the family all felt it very much. Jerry had now to look out for another
horse, and he soon heard of one through an acquaintance who was under-groom in a
nobleman's stables.
He was a valuable young horse, but he had run away, smashed into another carriage,
flung his lordship out, and so cut and blemished himself that he was no longer fit
for a gentleman's stables, and the coachman
had orders to look round, and sell him as well as he could.
"I can do with high spirits," said Jerry, "if a horse is not vicious or hard-
"There is not a bit of vice in him," said the man; "his mouth is very tender, and I
think myself that was the cause of the accident; you see he had just been clipped,
and the weather was bad, and he had not had
exercise enough, and when he did go out he was as full of spring as a balloon.
Our governor (the coachman, I mean) had him harnessed in as tight and strong as he
could, with the martingale, and the check- rein, a very sharp curb, and the reins put
in at the bottom bar.
It is my belief that it made the horse mad, being tender in the mouth and so full of
spirit." "Likely enough; I'll come and see him,"
said Jerry.
The next day Hotspur, that was his name, came home; he was a fine brown horse,
without a white hair in him, as tall as Captain, with a very handsome head, and
only five years old.
I gave him a friendly greeting by way of good fellowship, but did not ask him any
questions. The first night he was very restless.
Instead of lying down, he kept jerking his halter rope up and down through the ring,
and knocking the block about against the manger till I could not sleep.
However, the next day, after five or six hours in the cab, he came in quiet and
Jerry patted and talked to him a good deal, and very soon they understood each other,
and Jerry said that with an easy bit and plenty of work he would be as gentle as a
lamb; and that it was an ill wind that blew
nobody good, for if his lordship had lost a hundred-guinea favorite, the cabman had
gained a good horse with all his strength in him.
Hotspur thought it a great come-down to be a cab-horse, and was disgusted at standing
in the rank, but he confessed to me at the end of the week that an easy mouth and a
free head made up for a great deal, and
after all, the work was not so degrading as having one's head and tail fastened to each
other at the saddle. In fact, he settled in well, and Jerry
liked him very much.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 45.
Jerry's New Year
For some people Christmas and the New Year are very merry times; but for cabmen and
cabmen's horses it is no holiday, though it may be a harvest.
There are so many parties, balls, and places of amusement open that the work is
hard and often late.
Sometimes driver and horse have to wait for hours in the rain or frost, shivering with
the cold, while the merry people within are dancing away to the music.
I wonder if the beautiful ladies ever think of the weary cabman waiting on his box, and
his patient beast standing, till his legs get stiff with cold.
I had now most of the evening work, as I was well accustomed to standing, and Jerry
was also more afraid of Hotspur taking cold.
We had a great deal of late work in the Christmas week, and Jerry's cough was bad;
but however late we were, Polly sat up for him, and came out with a lantern to meet
him, looking anxious and troubled.
On the evening of the New Year we had to take two gentlemen to a house in one of the
West End Squares.
We set them down at nine o'clock, and were told to come again at eleven, "but," said
one, "as it is a card party, you may have to wait a few minutes, but don't be late."
As the clock struck eleven we were at the door, for Jerry was always punctual.
The clock chimed the quarters, one, two, three, and then struck twelve, but the door
did not open.
The wind had been very changeable, with squalls of rain during the day, but now it
came on sharp, driving sleet, which seemed to come all the way round; it was very
cold, and there was no shelter.
Jerry got off his box and came and pulled one of my cloths a little more over my
neck; then he took a turn or two up and down, stamping his feet; then he began to
beat his arms, but that set him off
coughing; so he opened the cab door and sat at the bottom with his feet on the
pavement, and was a little sheltered. Still the clock chimed the quarters, and no
one came.
At half-past twelve he rang the bell and asked the servant if he would be wanted
that night.
"Oh, yes, you'll be wanted safe enough," said the man; "you must not go, it will
soon be over," and again Jerry sat down, but his voice was so hoarse I could hardly
hear him.
At a quarter past one the door opened, and the two gentlemen came out; they got into
the cab without a word, and told Jerry where to drive, that was nearly two miles.
My legs were numb with cold, and I thought I should have stumbled.
When the men got out they never said they were sorry to have kept us waiting so long,
but were angry at the charge; however, as Jerry never charged more than was his due,
so he never took less, and they had to pay
for the two hours and a quarter waiting; but it was hard-earned money to Jerry.
At last we got home; he could hardly speak, and his cough was dreadful.
Polly asked no questions, but opened the door and held the lantern for him.
"Can't I do something?" she said. "Yes; get Jack something warm, and then
boil me some gruel."
This was said in a hoarse whisper; he could hardly get his breath, but he gave me a
rub-down as usual, and even went up into the hayloft for an extra bundle of straw
for my bed.
Polly brought me a warm mash that made me comfortable, and then they locked the door.
It was late the next morning before any one came, and then it was only Harry.
He cleaned us and fed us, and swept out the stalls, then he put the straw back again as
if it was Sunday. He was very still, and neither whistled nor
At noon he came again and gave us our food and water; this time Dolly came with him;
she was crying, and I could gather from what they said that Jerry was dangerously
ill, and the doctor said it was a bad case.
So two days passed, and there was great trouble indoors.
We only saw Harry, and sometimes Dolly.
I think she came for company, for Polly was always with Jerry, and he had to be kept
very quiet.
On the third day, while Harry was in the stable, a tap came at the door, and
Governor Grant came in.
"I wouldn't go to the house, my boy," he said, "but I want to know how your father
"He is very bad," said Harry, "he can't be much worse; they call it 'bronchitis'; the
doctor thinks it will turn one way or another to-night."
"That's bad, very bad," said Grant, shaking his head; "I know two men who died of that
last week; it takes 'em off in no time; but while there's life there's hope, so you
must keep up your spirits."
"Yes," said Harry quickly, "and the doctor said that father had a better chance than
most men, because he didn't drink.
He said yesterday the fever was so high that if father had been a drinking man it
would have burned him up like a piece of paper; but I believe he thinks he will get
over it; don't you think he will, Mr. Grant?"
The governor looked puzzled.
"If there's any rule that good men should get over these things, I'm sure he will, my
boy; he's the best man I know. I'll look in early to-morrow."
Early next morning he was there.
"Well?" said he. "Father is better," said Harry.
"Mother hopes he will get over it."
"Thank God!" said the governor, "and now you must keep him warm, and keep his mind
easy, and that brings me to the horses; you see Jack will be all the better for the
rest of a week or two in a warm stable, and
you can easily take him a turn up and down the street to stretch his legs; but this
young one, if he does not get work, he will soon be all up on end, as you may say, and
will be rather too much for you; and when he does go out there'll be an accident."
"It is like that now," said Harry.
"I have kept him short of corn, but he's so full of spirit I don't know what to do with
him." "Just so," said Grant.
"Now look here, will you tell your mother that if she is agreeable I will come for
him every day till something is arranged, and take him for a good spell of work, and
whatever he earns, I'll bring your mother
half of it, and that will help with the horses' feed.
Your father is in a good club, I know, but that won't keep the horses, and they'll be
eating their heads off all this time; I'll come at noon and hear what she says," and
without waiting for Harry's thanks he was gone.
At noon I think he went and saw Polly, for he and Harry came to the stable together,
harnessed Hotspur, and took him out.
For a week or more he came for Hotspur, and when Harry thanked him or said anything
about his kindness, he laughed it off, saying it was all good luck for him, for
his horses were wanting a little rest which they would not otherwise have had.
Jerry grew better steadily, but the doctor said that he must never go back to the cab
work again if he wished to be an old man.
The children had many consultations together about what father and mother would
do, and how they could help to earn money. One afternoon Hotspur was brought in very
wet and dirty.
"The streets are nothing but slush," said the governor; "it will give you a good
warming, my boy, to get him clean and dry."
"All right, governor," said Harry, "I shall not leave him till he is; you know I have
been trained by my father." "I wish all the boys had been trained like
you," said the governor.
While Harry was sponging off the mud from Hotspur's body and legs Dolly came in,
looking very full of something. "Who lives at Fairstowe, Harry?
Mother has got a letter from Fairstowe; she seemed so glad, and ran upstairs to father
with it." "Don't you know?
Why, it is the name of Mrs. Fowler's place- -mother's old mistress, you know--the lady
that father met last summer, who sent you and me five shillings each."
"Oh! Mrs. Fowler.
Of course, I know all about her. I wonder what she is writing to mother
"Mother wrote to her last week," said Harry; "you know she told father if ever he
gave up the cab work she would like to know.
I wonder what she says; run in and see, Dolly."
Harry scrubbed away at Hotspur with a huish! huish! like any old hostler.
In a few minutes Dolly came dancing into the stable.
"Oh! Harry, there never was anything so beautiful; Mrs. Fowler says we are all to
go and live near her.
There is a cottage now empty that will just suit us, with a garden and a henhouse, and
apple-trees, and everything! and her coachman is going away in the spring, and
then she will want father in his place; and
there are good families round, where you can get a place in the garden or the
stable, or as a page-boy; and there's a good school for me; and mother is laughing
and crying by turns, and father does look so happy!"
"That's uncommon jolly," said Harry, "and just the right thing, I should say; it will
suit father and mother both; but I don't intend to be a page-boy with tight clothes
and rows of buttons.
I'll be a groom or a gardener." It was quickly settled that as soon as
Jerry was well enough they should remove to the country, and that the cab and horses
should be sold as soon as possible.
This was heavy news for me, for I was not young now, and could not look for any
improvement in my condition.
Since I left Birtwick I had never been so happy as with my dear master Jerry; but
three years of cab work, even under the best conditions, will tell on one's
strength, and I felt that I was not the horse that I had been.
Grant said at once that he would take Hotspur, and there were men on the stand
who would have bought me; but Jerry said I should not go to cab work again with just
anybody, and the governor promised to find
a place for me where I should be comfortable.
The day came for going away.
Jerry had not been allowed to go out yet, and I never saw him after that New Year's
eve. Polly and the children came to bid me good-
"Poor old Jack! dear old Jack! I wish we could take you with us," she
said, and then laying her hand on my mane she put her face close to my neck and
kissed me.
Dolly was crying and kissed me too. Harry stroked me a great deal, but said
nothing, only he seemed very sad, and so I was led away to my new place.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 46.
Jakes and the Lady
I was sold to a corn dealer and baker, whom Jerry knew, and with him he thought I
should have good food and fair work.
In the first he was quite right, and if my master had always been on the premises I do
not think I should have been overloaded, but there was a foreman who was always
hurrying and driving every one, and
frequently when I had quite a full load he would order something else to be taken on.
My carter, whose name was Jakes, often said it was more than I ought to take, but the
other always overruled him.
"'Twas no use going twice when once would do, and he chose to get business forward."
Jakes, like the other carters, always had the check-rein up, which prevented me from
drawing easily, and by the time I had been there three or four months I found the work
telling very much on my strength.
One day I was loaded more than usual, and part of the road was a steep uphill.
I used all my strength, but I could not get on, and was obliged continually to stop.
This did not please my driver, and he laid his whip on badly.
"Get on, you lazy fellow," he said, "or I'll make you."
Again I started the heavy load, and struggled on a few yards; again the whip
came down, and again I struggled forward.
The pain of that great cart whip was sharp, but my mind was hurt quite as much as my
poor sides.
To be punished and abused when I was doing my very best was so hard it took the heart
out of me.
A third time he was flogging me cruelly, when a lady stepped quickly up to him, and
said in a sweet, earnest voice:
"Oh! pray do not whip your good horse any more; I am sure he is doing all he can, and
the road is very steep; I am sure he is doing his best."
"If doing his best won't get this load up he must do something more than his best;
that's all I know, ma'am," said Jakes. "But is it not a heavy load?" she said.
"Yes, yes, too heavy," he said; "but that's not my fault; the foreman came just as we
were starting, and would have three hundredweight more put on to save him
trouble, and I must get on with it as well as I can."
He was raising the whip again, when the lady said:
"Pray, stop; I think I can help you if you will let me."
The man laughed.
"You see," she said, "you do not give him a fair chance; he cannot use all his power
with his head held back as it is with that check-rein; if you would take it off I am
sure he would do better--do try it," she
said persuasively, "I should be very glad if you would."
"Well, well," said Jakes, with a short laugh, "anything to please a lady, of
How far would you wish it down, ma'am?" "Quite down, give him his head altogether."
The rein was taken off, and in a moment I put my head down to my very knees.
What a comfort it was!
Then I tossed it up and down several times to get the aching stiffness out of my neck.
"Poor fellow! that is what you wanted," said she, patting and stroking me with her
gentle hand; "and now if you will speak kindly to him and lead him on I believe he
will be able to do better."
Jakes took the rein. "Come on, Blackie."
I put down my head, and threw my whole weight against the collar; I spared no
strength; the load moved on, and I pulled it steadily up the hill, and then stopped
to take breath.
The lady had walked along the footpath, and now came across into the road.
She stroked and patted my neck, as I had not been patted for many a long day.
"You see he was quite willing when you gave him the chance; I am sure he is a fine-
tempered creature, and I dare say has known better days.
You won't put that rein on again, will you?" for he was just going to hitch it up
on the old plan.
"Well, ma'am, I can't deny that having his head has helped him up the hill, and I'll
remember it another time, and thank you, ma'am; but if he went without a check-rein
I should be the laughing-stock of all the carters; it is the fashion, you see."
"Is it not better," she said, "to lead a good fashion than to follow a bad one?
A great many gentlemen do not use check- reins now; our carriage horses have not
worn them for fifteen years, and work with much less fatigue than those who have them;
besides," she added in a very serious
voice, "we have no right to distress any of God's creatures without a very good reason;
we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but
they do not suffer less because they have no words.
But I must not detain you now; I thank you for trying my plan with your good horse,
and I am sure you will find it far better than the whip.
Good-day," and with another soft pat on my neck she stepped lightly across the path,
and I saw her no more.
"That was a real lady, I'll be bound for it," said Jakes to himself; "she spoke just
as polite as if I was a gentleman, and I'll try her plan, uphill, at any rate;" and I
must do him the justice to say that he let
my rein out several holes, and going uphill after that, he always gave me my head; but
the heavy loads went on.
Good feed and fair rest will keep up one's strength under full work, but no horse can
stand against overloading; and I was getting so thoroughly pulled down from this
cause that a younger horse was bought in my place.
I may as well mention here what I suffered at this time from another cause.
I had heard horses speak of it, but had never myself had experience of the evil;
this was a badly-lighted stable; there was only one very small window at the end, and
the consequence was that the stalls were almost dark.
Besides the depressing effect this had on my spirits, it very much weakened my sight,
and when I was suddenly brought out of the darkness into the glare of daylight it was
very painful to my eyes.
Several times I stumbled over the threshold, and could scarcely see where I
was going.
I believe, had I stayed there very long, I should have become purblind, and that would
have been a great misfortune, for I have heard men say that a stone-blind horse was
safer to drive than one which had imperfect
sight, as it generally makes them very timid.
However, I escaped without any permanent injury to my sight, and was sold to a large
cab owner.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 47.
Hard Times
My new master I shall never forget; he had black eyes and a hooked nose, his mouth was
as full of teeth as a bull-dog's, and his voice was as harsh as the grinding of cart
wheels over graveled stones.
His name was Nicholas Skinner, and I believe he was the man that poor Seedy Sam
drove for.
I have heard men say that seeing is believing; but I should say that feeling is
believing; for much as I had seen before, I never knew till now the utter misery of a
cab-horse's life.
Skinner had a low set of cabs and a low set of drivers; he was hard on the men, and the
men were hard on the horses. In this place we had no Sunday rest, and it
was in the heat of summer.
Sometimes on a Sunday morning a party of fast men would hire the cab for the day;
four of them inside and another with the driver, and I had to take them ten or
fifteen miles out into the country, and
back again; never would any of them get down to walk up a hill, let it be ever so
steep, or the day ever so hot--unless, indeed, when the driver was afraid I should
not manage it, and sometimes I was so
fevered and worn that I could hardly touch my food.
How I used to long for the nice bran mash with niter in it that Jerry used to give us
on Saturday nights in hot weather, that used to cool us down and make us so
Then we had two nights and a whole day for unbroken rest, and on Monday morning we
were as fresh as young horses again; but here there was no rest, and my driver was
just as hard as his master.
He had a cruel whip with something so sharp at the end that it sometimes drew blood,
and he would even whip me under the belly, and flip the lash out at my head.
Indignities like these took the heart out of me terribly, but still I did my best and
never hung back; for, as poor Ginger said, it was no use; men are the strongest.
My life was now so utterly wretched that I wished I might, like Ginger, drop down dead
at my work and be out of my misery, and one day my wish very nearly came to pass.
I went on the stand at eight in the morning, and had done a good share of work,
when we had to take a fare to the railway.
A long train was just expected in, so my driver pulled up at the back of some of the
outside cabs to take the chance of a return fare.
It was a very heavy train, and as all the cabs were soon engaged ours was called for.
There was a party of four; a noisy, blustering man with a lady, a little boy
and a young girl, and a great deal of luggage.
The lady and the boy got into the cab, and while the man ordered about the luggage the
young girl came and looked at me.
"Papa," she said, "I am sure this poor horse cannot take us and all our luggage so
far, he is so very weak and worn up. Do look at him."
"Oh! he's all right, miss," said my driver, "he's strong enough."
The porter, who was pulling about some heavy boxes, suggested to the gentleman, as
there was so much luggage, whether he would not take a second cab.
"Can your horse do it, or can't he?" said the blustering man.
"Oh! he can do it all right, sir; send up the boxes, porter; he could take more than
that;" and he helped to haul up a box so heavy that I could feel the springs go
"Papa, papa, do take a second cab," said the young girl in a beseeching tone.
"I am sure we are wrong, I am sure it is very cruel."
"Nonsense, Grace, get in at once, and don't make all this fuss; a pretty thing it would
be if a man of business had to examine every cab-horse before he hired it--the man
knows his own business of course; there, get in and hold your tongue!"
My gentle friend had to obey, and box after box was dragged up and lodged on the top of
the cab or settled by the side of the driver.
At last all was ready, and with his usual jerk at the rein and slash of the whip he
drove out of the station.
The load was very heavy and I had had neither food nor rest since morning; but I
did my best, as I always had done, in spite of cruelty and injustice.
I got along fairly till we came to Ludgate Hill; but there the heavy load and my own
exhaustion were too much.
I was struggling to keep on, goaded by constant chucks of the rein and use of the
whip, when in a single moment--I cannot tell how--my feet slipped from under me,
and I fell heavily to the ground on my
side; the suddenness and the force with which I fell seemed to beat all the breath
out of my body.
I lay perfectly still; indeed, I had no power to move, and I thought now I was
going to die.
I heard a sort of confusion round me, loud, angry voices, and the getting down of the
luggage, but it was all like a dream.
I thought I heard that sweet, pitiful voice saying, "Oh! that poor horse! it is all our
Some one came and loosened the throat strap of my bridle, and undid the traces which
kept the collar so tight upon me. Some one said, "He's dead, he'll never get
up again."
Then I could hear a policeman giving orders, but I did not even open my eyes; I
could only draw a gasping breath now and then.
Some cold water was thrown over my head, and some cordial was poured into my mouth,
and something was covered over me.
I cannot tell how long I lay there, but I found my life coming back, and a kind-
voiced man was patting me and encouraging me to rise.
After some more cordial had been given me, and after one or two attempts, I staggered
to my feet, and was gently led to some stables which were close by.
Here I was put into a well-littered stall, and some warm gruel was brought to me,
which I drank thankfully.
In the evening I was sufficiently recovered to be led back to Skinner's stables, where
I think they did the best for me they could.
In the morning Skinner came with a farrier to look at me.
He examined me very closely and said:
"This is a case of overwork more than disease, and if you could give him a run
off for six months he would be able to work again; but now there is not an ounce of
strength left in him."
"Then he must just go to the dogs," said Skinner.
"I have no meadows to nurse sick horses in- -he might get well or he might not; that
sort of thing don't suit my business; my plan is to work 'em as long as they'll go,
and then sell 'em for what they'll fetch, at the knacker's or elsewhere."
"If he was broken-winded," said the farrier, "you had better have him killed
out of hand, but he is not; there is a sale of horses coming off in about ten days; if
you rest him and feed him up he may pick
up, and you may get more than his skin is worth, at any rate."
Upon this advice Skinner, rather unwillingly, I think, gave orders that I
should be well fed and cared for, and the stable man, happily for me, carried out the
orders with a much better will than his master had in giving them.
Ten days of perfect rest, plenty of good oats, hay, bran mashes, with boiled linseed
mixed in them, did more to get up my condition than anything else could have
done; those linseed mashes were delicious,
and I began to think, after all, it might be better to live than go to the dogs.
When the twelfth day after the accident came, I was taken to the sale, a few miles
out of London.
I felt that any change from my present place must be an improvement, so I held up
my head, and hoped for the best.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 48.
Farmer Thoroughgood and His Grandson Willie
At this sale, of course I found myself in company with the old broken-down horses--
some lame, some broken-winded, some old, and some that I am sure it would have been
merciful to shoot.
The buyers and sellers, too, many of them, looked not much better off than the poor
beasts they were bargaining about.
There were poor old men, trying to get a horse or a pony for a few pounds, that
might drag about some little wood or coal cart.
There were poor men trying to sell a worn- out beast for two or three pounds, rather
than have the greater loss of killing him.
Some of them looked as if poverty and hard times had hardened them all over; but there
were others that I would have willingly used the last of my strength in serving;
poor and shabby, but kind and human, with voices that I could trust.
There was one tottering old man who took a great fancy to me, and I to him, but I was
not strong enough--it was an anxious time!
Coming from the better part of the fair, I noticed a man who looked like a gentleman
farmer, with a young boy by his side; he had a broad back and round shoulders, a
kind, ruddy face, and he wore a broad- brimmed hat.
When he came up to me and my companions he stood still and gave a pitiful look round
upon us.
I saw his eye rest on me; I had still a good mane and tail, which did something for
my appearance. I pricked my ears and looked at him.
"There's a horse, Willie, that has known better days."
"Poor old fellow!" said the boy, "do you think, grandpapa, he was ever a carriage
"Oh, yes! my boy," said the farmer, coming closer, "he might have been anything when
he was young; look at his nostrils and his ears, the shape of his neck and shoulder;
there's a deal of breeding about that horse."
He put out his hand and gave me a kind pat on the neck.
I put out my nose in answer to his kindness; the boy stroked my face.
"Poor old fellow! see, grandpapa, how well he understands kindness.
Could not you buy him and make him young again as you did with Ladybird?"
"My dear boy, I can't make all old horses young; besides, Ladybird was not so very
old, as she was run down and badly used."
"Well, grandpapa, I don't believe that this one is old; look at his mane and tail.
I wish you would look into his mouth, and then you could tell; though he is so very
thin, his eyes are not sunk like some old horses'."
The old gentleman laughed.
"Bless the boy! he is as horsey as his old grandfather."
"But do look at his mouth, grandpapa, and ask the price; I am sure he would grow
young in our meadows."
The man who had brought me for sale now put in his word.
"The young gentleman's a real knowing one, sir.
Now the fact is, this 'ere hoss is just pulled down with overwork in the cabs; he's
not an old one, and I heerd as how the vetenary should say, that a six months' run
off would set him right up, being as how his wind was not broken.
I've had the tending of him these ten days past, and a gratefuller, pleasanter animal
I never met with, and 'twould be worth a gentleman's while to give a five-pound note
for him, and let him have a chance.
I'll be bound he'd be worth twenty pounds next spring."
The old gentleman laughed, and the little boy looked up eagerly.
"Oh, grandpapa, did you not say the colt sold for five pounds more than you
expected? You would not be poorer if you did buy this
The farmer slowly felt my legs, which were much swelled and strained; then he looked
at my mouth. "Thirteen or fourteen, I should say; just
trot him out, will you?"
I arched my poor thin neck, raised my tail a little, and threw out my legs as well as
I could, for they were very stiff. "What is the lowest you will take for him?"
said the farmer as I came back.
"Five pounds, sir; that was the lowest price my master set."
"'Tis a speculation," said the old gentleman, shaking his head, but at the
same time slowly drawing out his purse, "quite a speculation!
Have you any more business here?" he said, counting the sovereigns into his hand.
"No, sir, I can take him for you to the inn, if you please."
"Do so, I am now going there."
They walked forward, and I was led behind. The boy could hardly control his delight,
and the old gentleman seemed to enjoy his pleasure.
I had a good feed at the inn, and was then gently ridden home by a servant of my new
master's, and turned into a large meadow with a shed in one corner of it.
Mr. Thoroughgood, for that was the name of my benefactor, gave orders that I should
have hay and oats every night and morning, and the run of the meadow during the day,
and, "you, Willie," said he, "must take the
oversight of him; I give him in charge to you."
The boy was proud of his charge, and undertook it in all seriousness.
There was not a day when he did not pay me a visit; sometimes picking me out from
among the other horses, and giving me a bit of carrot, or something good, or sometimes
standing by me while I ate my oats.
He always came with kind words and caresses, and of course I grew very fond of
him. He called me Old Crony, as I used to come
to him in the field and follow him about.
Sometimes he brought his grandfather, who always looked closely at my legs.
"This is our point, Willie," he would say; "but he is improving so steadily that I
think we shall see a change for the better in the spring."
The perfect rest, the good food, the soft turf, and gentle exercise, soon began to
tell on my condition and my spirits.
I had a good constitution from my mother, and I was never strained when I was young,
so that I had a better chance than many horses who have been worked before they
came to their full strength.
During the winter my legs improved so much that I began to feel quite young again.
The spring came round, and one day in March Mr. Thoroughgood determined that he would
try me in the phaeton.
I was well pleased, and he and Willie drove me a few miles.
My legs were not stiff now, and I did the work with perfect ease.
"He's growing young, Willie; we must give him a little gentle work now, and by mid-
summer he will be as good as Ladybird. He has a beautiful mouth and good paces;
they can't be better."
"Oh, grandpapa, how glad I am you bought him!"
"So am I, my boy; but he has to thank you more than me; we must now be looking out
for a quiet, genteel place for him, where he will be valued."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 49.
My Last Home
One day during this summer the groom cleaned and dressed me with such
extraordinary care that I thought some new change must be at hand; he trimmed my
fetlocks and legs, passed the tarbrush over my hoofs, and even parted my forelock.
I think the harness had an extra polish.
Willie seemed half-anxious, half-merry, as he got into the chaise with his
"If the ladies take to him," said the old gentleman, "they'll be suited and he'll be
suited. We can but try."
At the distance of a mile or two from the village we came to a pretty, low house,
with a lawn and shrubbery at the front and a drive up to the door.
Willie rang the bell, and asked if Miss Blomefield or Miss Ellen was at home.
Yes, they were. So, while Willie stayed with me, Mr.
Thoroughgood went into the house.
In about ten minutes he returned, followed by three ladies; one tall, pale lady,
wrapped in a white shawl, leaned on a younger lady, with dark eyes and a merry
face; the other, a very stately-looking person, was Miss Blomefield.
They all came and looked at me and asked questions.
The younger lady--that was Miss Ellen--took to me very much; she said she was sure she
should like me, I had such a good face.
The tall, pale lady said that she should always be nervous in riding behind a horse
that had once been down, as I might come down again, and if I did she should never
get over the fright.
"You see, ladies," said Mr. Thoroughgood, "many first-rate horses have had their
knees broken through the carelessness of their drivers without any fault of their
own, and from what I see of this horse I
should say that is his case; but of course I do not wish to influence you.
If you incline you can have him on trial, and then your coachman will see what he
thinks of him."
"You have always been such a good adviser to us about our horses," said the stately
lady, "that your recommendation would go a long way with me, and if my sister Lavinia
sees no objection we will accept your offer of a trial, with thanks."
It was then arranged that I should be sent for the next day.
In the morning a smart-looking young man came for me.
At first he looked pleased; but when he saw my knees he said in a disappointed voice:
"I didn't think, sir, you would have recommended my ladies a blemished horse
like that."
"'Handsome is that handsome does'," said my master; "you are only taking him on trial,
and I am sure you will do fairly by him, young man.
If he is not as safe as any horse you ever drove send him back."
I was led to my new home, placed in a comfortable stable, fed, and left to
The next day, when the groom was cleaning my face, he said:
"That is just like the star that 'Black Beauty' had; he is much the same height,
I wonder where he is now." A little further on he came to the place in
my neck where I was bled and where a little knot was left in the skin.
He almost started, and began to look me over carefully, talking to himself.
"White star in the forehead, one white foot on the off side, this little knot just in
that place;" then looking at the middle of my back--"and, as I am alive, there is that
little patch of white hair that John used to call 'Beauty's three-penny bit'.
It must be 'Black Beauty'! Why, Beauty!
Beauty! do you know me?--little Joe Green, that almost killed you?"
And he began patting and patting me as if he was quite overjoyed.
I could not say that I remembered him, for now he was a fine grown young fellow, with
black whiskers and a man's voice, but I was sure he knew me, and that he was Joe Green,
and I was very glad.
I put my nose up to him, and tried to say that we were friends.
I never saw a man so pleased. "Give you a fair trial!
I should think so indeed!
I wonder who the rascal was that broke your knees, my old Beauty! you must have been
badly served out somewhere; well, well, it won't be my fault if you haven't good times
of it now.
I wish John Manly was here to see you." In the afternoon I was put into a low park
chair and brought to the door. Miss Ellen was going to try me, and Green
went with her.
I soon found that she was a good driver, and she seemed pleased with my paces.
I heard Joe telling her about me, and that he was sure I was Squire Gordon's old
"Black Beauty".
When we returned the other sisters came out to hear how I had behaved myself.
She told them what she had just heard, and said:
"I shall certainly write to Mrs. Gordon, and tell her that her favorite horse has
come to us. How pleased she will be!"
After this I was driven every day for a week or so, and as I appeared to be quite
safe, Miss Lavinia at last ventured out in the small close carriage.
After this it was quite decided to keep me and call me by my old name of "Black
Beauty". I have now lived in this happy place a
whole year.
Joe is the best and kindest of grooms. My work is easy and pleasant, and I feel my
strength and spirits all coming back again. Mr. Thoroughgood said to Joe the other day:
"In your place he will last till he is twenty years old--perhaps more."
Willie always speaks to me when he can, and treats me as his special friend.
My ladies have promised that I shall never be sold, and so I have nothing to fear; and
here my story ends.
My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and often before I am quite awake, I fancy
I am still in the orchard at Birtwick, standing with my old friends under the