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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 01.
My Early Home
The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of
clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes
and water-lilies grew at the deep end.
Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked
over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside; at the top of the
meadow was a grove of fir trees, and at the
bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.
While I was young I lived upon my mother's milk, as I could not eat grass.
In the daytime I ran by her side, and at night I lay down close by her.
When it was hot we used to stand by the pond in the shade of the trees, and when it
was cold we had a nice warm shed near the grove.
As soon as I was old enough to eat grass my mother used to go out to work in the
daytime, and come back in the evening.
There were six young colts in the meadow besides me; they were older than I was;
some were nearly as large as grown-up horses.
I used to run with them, and had great fun; we used to gallop all together round and
round the field as hard as we could go.
Sometimes we had rather rough play, for they would frequently bite and kick as well
as gallop.
One day, when there was a good deal of kicking, my mother whinnied to me to come
to her, and then she said: "I wish you to pay attention to what I am
going to say to you.
The colts who live here are very good colts, but they are cart-horse colts, and
of course they have not learned manners.
You have been well-bred and well-born; your father has a great name in these parts, and
your grandfather won the cup two years at the Newmarket races; your grandmother had
the sweetest temper of any horse I ever
knew, and I think you have never seen me kick or bite.
I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with
a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in
I have never forgotten my mother's advice; I knew she was a wise old horse, and our
master thought a great deal of her. Her name was Duchess, but he often called
her Pet.
Our master was a good, kind man. He gave us good food, good lodging, and
kind words; he spoke as kindly to us as he did to his little children.
We were all fond of him, and my mother loved him very much.
When she saw him at the gate she would neigh with joy, and trot up to him.
He would pat and stroke her and say, "Well, old Pet, and how is your little Darkie?"
I was a dull black, so he called me Darkie; then he would give me a piece of bread,
which was very good, and sometimes he brought a carrot for my mother.
All the horses would come to him, but I think we were his favorites.
My mother always took him to the town on a market day in a light gig.
There was a plowboy, Dick, who sometimes came into our field to pluck blackberries
from the hedge.
When he had eaten all he wanted he would have what he called fun with the colts,
throwing stones and sticks at them to make them gallop.
We did not much mind him, for we could gallop off; but sometimes a stone would hit
and hurt us.
One day he was at this game, and did not know that the master was in the next field;
but he was there, watching what was going on; over the hedge he jumped in a snap, and
catching Dick by the arm, he gave him such
a box on the ear as made him roar with the pain and surprise.
As soon as we saw the master we trotted up nearer to see what went on.
"Bad boy!" he said, "bad boy! to chase the colts.
This is not the first time, nor the second, but it shall be the last.
There--take your money and go home; I shall not want you on my farm again."
So we never saw Dick any more.
Old Daniel, the man who looked after the horses, was just as gentle as our master,
so we were well off.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 02.
The Hunt
Before I was two years old a circumstance happened which I have never forgotten.
It was early in the spring; there had been a little frost in the night, and a light
mist still hung over the woods and meadows.
I and the other colts were feeding at the lower part of the field when we heard,
quite in the distance, what sounded like the cry of dogs.
The oldest of the colts raised his head, pricked his ears, and said, "There are the
hounds!" and immediately cantered off, followed by the rest of us to the upper
part of the field, where we could look over the hedge and see several fields beyond.
My mother and an old riding horse of our master's were also standing near, and
seemed to know all about it.
"They have found a hare," said my mother, "and if they come this way we shall see the
hunt." And soon the dogs were all tearing down the
field of young wheat next to ours.
I never heard such a noise as they made. They did not bark, nor howl, nor whine, but
kept on a "yo! yo, o, o! yo! yo, o, o!" at the top of their voices.
After them came a number of men on horseback, some of them in green coats, all
galloping as fast as they could.
The old horse snorted and looked eagerly after them, and we young colts wanted to be
galloping with them, but they were soon away into the fields lower down; here it
seemed as if they had come to a stand; the
dogs left off barking, and ran about every way with their noses to the ground.
"They have lost the scent," said the old horse; "perhaps the hare will get off."
"What hare?"
I said.
"Oh! I don't know what hare; likely enough it may be one of our own hares out of the
woods; any hare they can find will do for the dogs and men to run after;" and before
long the dogs began their "yo! yo, o, o!"
again, and back they came altogether at full speed, making straight for our meadow
at the part where the high bank and hedge overhang the brook.
"Now we shall see the hare," said my mother; and just then a hare wild with
fright rushed by and made for the woods.
On came the dogs; they burst over the bank, leaped the stream, and came dashing across
the field followed by the huntsmen. Six or eight men leaped their horses clean
over, close upon the dogs.
The hare tried to get through the fence; it was too thick, and she turned sharp round
to make for the road, but it was too late; the dogs were upon her with their wild
cries; we heard one shriek, and that was the end of her.
One of the huntsmen rode up and whipped off the dogs, who would soon have torn her to
He held her up by the leg torn and bleeding, and all the gentlemen seemed well
As for me, I was so astonished that I did not at first see what was going on by the
brook; but when I did look there was a sad sight; two fine horses were down, one was
struggling in the stream, and the other was groaning on the grass.
One of the riders was getting out of the water covered with mud, the other lay quite
"His neck is broke," said my mother. "And serve him right, too," said one of the
colts. I thought the same, but my mother did not
join with us.
"Well, no," she said, "you must not say that; but though I am an old horse, and
have seen and heard a great deal, I never yet could make out why men are so fond of
this sport; they often hurt themselves,
often spoil good horses, and tear up the fields, and all for a hare or a fox, or a
stag, that they could get more easily some other way; but we are only horses, and
don't know."
While my mother was saying this we stood and looked on.
Many of the riders had gone to the young man; but my master, who had been watching
what was going on, was the first to raise him.
His head fell back and his arms hung down, and every one looked very serious.
There was no noise now; even the dogs were quiet, and seemed to know that something
was wrong.
They carried him to our master's house. I heard afterward that it was young George
Gordon, the squire's only son, a fine, tall young man, and the pride of his family.
There was now riding off in all directions to the doctor's, to the farrier's, and no
doubt to Squire Gordon's, to let him know about his son.
When Mr. Bond, the farrier, came to look at the black horse that lay groaning on the
grass, he felt him all over, and shook his head; one of his legs was broken.
Then some one ran to our master's house and came back with a gun; presently there was a
loud bang and a dreadful shriek, and then all was still; the black horse moved no
My mother seemed much troubled; she said she had known that horse for years, and
that his name was "Rob Roy"; he was a good horse, and there was no vice in him.
She never would go to that part of the field afterward.
Not many days after we heard the church- bell tolling for a long time, and looking
over the gate we saw a long, strange black coach that was covered with black cloth and
was drawn by black horses; after that came
another and another and another, and all were black, while the bell kept tolling,
tolling. They were carrying young Gordon to the
churchyard to bury him.
He would never ride again. What they did with Rob Roy I never knew;
but 'twas all for one little hare.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 03.
My Breaking In
I was now beginning to grow handsome; my coat had grown fine and soft, and was
bright black. I had one white foot and a pretty white
star on my forehead.
I was thought very handsome; my master would not sell me till I was four years
old; he said lads ought not to work like men, and colts ought not to work like
horses till they were quite grown up.
When I was four years old Squire Gordon came to look at me.
He examined my eyes, my mouth, and my legs; he felt them all down; and then I had to
walk and trot and gallop before him.
He seemed to like me, and said, "When he has been well broken in he will do very
My master said he would break me in himself, as he should not like me to be
frightened or hurt, and he lost no time about it, for the next day he began.
Every one may not know what breaking in is, therefore I will describe it.
It means to teach a horse to wear a saddle and bridle, and to carry on his back a man,
woman or child; to go just the way they wish, and to go quietly.
Besides this he has to learn to wear a collar, a crupper, and a breeching, and to
stand still while they are put on; then to have a cart or a chaise fixed behind, so
that he cannot walk or trot without
dragging it after him; and he must go fast or slow, just as his driver wishes.
He must never start at what he sees, nor speak to other horses, nor bite, nor kick,
nor have any will of his own; but always do his master's will, even though he may be
very tired or hungry; but the worst of all
is, when his harness is once on, he may neither jump for joy nor lie down for
weariness. So you see this breaking in is a great
I had of course long been used to a halter and a headstall, and to be led about in the
fields and lanes quietly, but now I was to have a bit and bridle; my master gave me
some oats as usual, and after a good deal
of coaxing he got the bit into my mouth, and the bridle fixed, but it was a nasty
Those who have never had a bit in their mouths cannot think how bad it feels; a
great piece of cold hard steel as thick as a man's finger to be pushed into one's
mouth, between one's teeth, and over one's
tongue, with the ends coming out at the corner of your mouth, and held fast there
by straps over your head, under your throat, round your nose, and under your
chin; so that no way in the world can you
get rid of the nasty hard thing; it is very bad! yes, very bad! at least I thought so;
but I knew my mother always wore one when she went out, and all horses did when they
were grown up; and so, what with the nice
oats, and what with my master's pats, kind words, and gentle ways, I got to wear my
bit and bridle.
Next came the saddle, but that was not half so bad; my master put it on my back very
gently, while old Daniel held my head; he then made the girths fast under my body,
patting and talking to me all the time;
then I had a few oats, then a little leading about; and this he did every day
till I began to look for the oats and the saddle.
At length, one morning, my master got on my back and rode me round the meadow on the
soft grass.
It certainly did feel queer; but I must say I felt rather proud to carry my master, and
as he continued to ride me a little every day I soon became accustomed to it.
The next unpleasant business was putting on the iron shoes; that too was very hard at
My master went with me to the smith's forge, to see that I was not hurt or got
any fright.
The blacksmith took my feet in his hand, one after the other, and cut away some of
the hoof. It did not pain me, so I stood still on
three legs till he had done them all.
Then he took a piece of iron the shape of my foot, and clapped it on, and drove some
nails through the shoe quite into my hoof, so that the shoe was firmly on.
My feet felt very stiff and heavy, but in time I got used to it.
And now having got so far, my master went on to break me to harness; there were more
new things to wear.
First, a stiff heavy collar just on my neck, and a bridle with great side-pieces
against my eyes called blinkers, and blinkers indeed they were, for I could not
see on either side, but only straight in
front of me; next, there was a small saddle with a nasty stiff strap that went right
under my tail; that was the crupper.
I hated the crupper; to have my long tail doubled up and poked through that strap was
almost as bad as the bit.
I never felt more like kicking, but of course I could not kick such a good master,
and so in time I got used to everything, and could do my work as well as my mother.
I must not forget to mention one part of my training, which I have always considered a
very great advantage.
My master sent me for a fortnight to a neighboring farmer's, who had a meadow
which was skirted on one side by the railway.
Here were some sheep and cows, and I was turned in among them.
I shall never forget the first train that ran by.
I was feeding quietly near the pales which separated the meadow from the railway, when
I heard a strange sound at a distance, and before I knew whence it came--with a rush
and a clatter, and a puffing out of smoke--
a long black train of something flew by, and was gone almost before I could draw my
I turned and galloped to the further side of the meadow as fast as I could go, and
there I stood snorting with astonishment and fear.
In the course of the day many other trains went by, some more slowly; these drew up at
the station close by, and sometimes made an awful shriek and groan before they stopped.
I thought it very dreadful, but the cows went on eating very quietly, and hardly
raised their heads as the black frightful thing came puffing and grinding past.
For the first few days I could not feed in peace; but as I found that this terrible
creature never came into the field, or did me any harm, I began to disregard it, and
very soon I cared as little about the
passing of a train as the cows and sheep did.
Since then I have seen many horses much alarmed and restive at the sight or sound
of a steam engine; but thanks to my good master's care, I am as fearless at railway
stations as in my own stable.
Now if any one wants to break in a young horse well, that is the way.
My master often drove me in double harness with my mother, because she was steady and
could teach me how to go better than a strange horse.
She told me the better I behaved the better I should be treated, and that it was wisest
always to do my best to please my master; "but," said she, "there are a great many
kinds of men; there are good thoughtful men
like our master, that any horse may be proud to serve; and there are bad, cruel
men, who never ought to have a horse or dog to call their own.
Besides, there are a great many foolish men, vain, ignorant, and careless, who
never trouble themselves to think; these spoil more horses than all, just for want
of sense; they don't mean it, but they do it for all that.
I hope you will fall into good hands; but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who
may drive him; it is all a chance for us; but still I say, do your best wherever it
is, and keep up your good name."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 04.
Birtwick Park
At this time I used to stand in the stable and my coat was brushed every day till it
shone like a rook's wing.
It was early in May, when there came a man from Squire Gordon's, who took me away to
the hall. My master said, "Good-by, Darkie; be a good
horse, and always do your best."
I could not say "good-by", so I put my nose into his hand; he patted me kindly, and I
left my first home. As I lived some years with Squire Gordon, I
may as well tell something about the place.
Squire Gordon's park skirted the village of Birtwick.
It was entered by a large iron gate, at which stood the first lodge, and then you
trotted along on a smooth road between clumps of large old trees; then another
lodge and another gate, which brought you to the house and the gardens.
Beyond this lay the home paddock, the old orchard, and the stables.
There was accommodation for many horses and carriages; but I need only describe the
stable into which I was taken; this was very roomy, with four good stalls; a large
swinging window opened into the yard, which made it pleasant and airy.
The first stall was a large square one, shut in behind with a wooden gate; the
others were common stalls, good stalls, but not nearly so large; it had a low rack for
hay and a low manger for corn; it was
called a loose box, because the horse that was put into it was not tied up, but left
loose, to do as he liked. It is a great thing to have a loose box.
Into this fine box the groom put me; it was clean, sweet, and airy.
I never was in a better box than that, and the sides were not so high but that I could
see all that went on through the iron rails that were at the top.
He gave me some very nice oats, he patted me, spoke kindly, and then went away.
When I had eaten my corn I looked round.
In the stall next to mine stood a little fat gray pony, with a thick mane and tail,
a very pretty head, and a pert little nose. I put my head up to the iron rails at the
top of my box, and said, "How do you do?
What is your name?" He turned round as far as his halter would
allow, held up his head, and said, "My name is Merrylegs.
I am very handsome; I carry the young ladies on my back, and sometimes I take our
mistress out in the low chair. They think a great deal of me, and so does
Are you going to live next door to me in the box?"
I said, "Yes."
"Well, then," he said, "I hope you are good-tempered; I do not like any one next
door who bites."
Just then a horse's head looked over from the stall beyond; the ears were laid back,
and the eye looked rather ill-tempered. This was a tall chestnut mare, with a long
handsome neck.
She looked across to me and said: "So it is you who have turned me out of my
box; it is a very strange thing for a colt like you to come and turn a lady out of her
own home."
"I beg your pardon," I said, "I have turned no one out; the man who brought me put me
here, and I had nothing to do with it; and as to my being a colt, I am turned four
years old and am a grown-up horse.
I never had words yet with horse or mare, and it is my wish to live at peace."
"Well," she said, "we shall see. Of course, I do not want to have words with
a young thing like you."
I said no more. In the afternoon, when she went out,
Merrylegs told me all about it. "The thing is this," said Merrylegs.
"Ginger has a bad habit of biting and snapping; that is why they call her Ginger,
and when she was in the loose box she used to snap very much.
One day she bit James in the arm and made it bleed, and so Miss Flora and Miss
Jessie, who are very fond of me, were afraid to come into the stable.
They used to bring me nice things to eat, an apple or a carrot, or a piece of bread,
but after Ginger stood in that box they dared not come, and I missed them very
I hope they will now come again, if you do not bite or snap."
I told him I never bit anything but grass, hay, and corn, and could not think what
pleasure Ginger found it.
"Well, I don't think she does find pleasure," says Merrylegs; "it is just a
bad habit; she says no one was ever kind to her, and why should she not bite?
Of course, it is a very bad habit; but I am sure, if all she says be true, she must
have been very ill-used before she came here.
John does all he can to please her, and James does all he can, and our master never
uses a whip if a horse acts right; so I think she might be good-tempered here.
You see," he said, with a wise look, "I am twelve years old; I know a great deal, and
I can tell you there is not a better place for a horse all round the country than
John is the best groom that ever was; he has been here fourteen years; and you never
saw such a kind boy as James is; so that it is all Ginger's own fault that she did not
stay in that box."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 05.
A Fair Start
The name of the coachman was John Manly; he had a wife and one little child, and they
lived in the coachman's cottage, very near the stables.
The next morning he took me into the yard and gave me a good grooming, and just as I
was going into my box, with my coat soft and bright, the squire came in to look at
me, and seemed pleased.
"John," he said, "I meant to have tried the new horse this morning, but I have other
You may as well take him around after breakfast; go by the common and the
Highwood, and back by the watermill and the river; that will show his paces."
"I will, sir," said John.
After breakfast he came and fitted me with a bridle.
He was very particular in letting out and taking in the straps, to fit my head
comfortably; then he brought a saddle, but it was not broad enough for my back; he saw
it in a minute and went for another, which fitted nicely.
He rode me first slowly, then a trot, then a canter, and when we were on the common he
gave me a light touch with his whip, and we had a splendid gallop.
"Ho, ho! my boy," he said, as he pulled me up, "you would like to follow the hounds, I
As we came back through the park we met the Squire and Mrs. Gordon walking; they
stopped, and John jumped off. "Well, John, how does he go?"
"First-rate, sir," answered John; "he is as fleet as a deer, and has a fine spirit too;
but the lightest touch of the rein will guide him.
Down at the end of the common we met one of those traveling carts hung all over with
baskets, rugs, and such like; you know, sir, many horses will not pass those carts
quietly; he just took a good look at it,
and then went on as quiet and pleasant as could be.
They were shooting rabbits near the Highwood, and a gun went off close by; he
pulled up a little and looked, but did not stir a step to right or left.
I just held the rein steady and did not hurry him, and it's my opinion he has not
been frightened or ill-used while he was young."
"That's well," said the squire, "I will try him myself to-morrow."
The next day I was brought up for my master.
I remembered my mother's counsel and my good old master's, and I tried to do
exactly what he wanted me to do. I found he was a very good rider, and
thoughtful for his horse too.
When he came home the lady was at the hall door as he rode up.
"Well, my dear," she said, "how do you like him?"
"He is exactly what John said," he replied; "a pleasanter creature I never wish to
mount. What shall we call him?"
"Would you like Ebony?" said she; "he is as black as ebony."
"No, not Ebony." "Will you call him Blackbird, like your
uncle's old horse?"
"No, he is far handsomer than old Blackbird ever was."
"Yes," she said, "he is really quite a beauty, and he has such a sweet, good-
tempered face, and such a fine, intelligent eye--what do you say to calling him Black
"Black Beauty--why, yes, I think that is a very good name.
If you like it shall be his name;" and so it was.
When John went into the stable he told James that master and mistress had chosen a
good, sensible English name for me, that meant something; not like Marengo, or
Pegasus, or Abdallah.
They both laughed, and James said, "If it was not for bringing back the past, I
should have named him Rob Roy, for I never saw two horses more alike."
"That's no wonder," said John; "didn't you know that Farmer Grey's old Duchess was the
mother of them both?"
I had never heard that before; and so poor Rob Roy who was killed at that hunt was my
brother! I did not wonder that my mother was so
It seems that horses have no relations; at least they never know each other after they
are sold.
John seemed very proud of me; he used to make my mane and tail almost as smooth as a
lady's hair, and he would talk to me a great deal; of course I did not understand
all he said, but I learned more and more to
know what he meant, and what he wanted me to do.
I grew very fond of him, he was so gentle and kind; he seemed to know just how a
horse feels, and when he cleaned me he knew the tender places and the ticklish places;
when he brushed my head he went as
carefully over my eyes as if they were his own, and never stirred up any ill-temper.
James Howard, the stable boy, was just as gentle and pleasant in his way, so I
thought myself well off.
There was another man who helped in the yard, but he had very little to do with
Ginger and me. A few days after this I had to go out with
Ginger in the carriage.
I wondered how we should get on together; but except laying her ears back when I was
led up to her, she behaved very well.
She did her work honestly, and did her full share, and I never wish to have a better
partner in double harness.
When we came to a hill, instead of slackening her pace, she would throw her
weight right into the collar, and pull away straight up.
We had both the same sort of courage at our work, and John had oftener to hold us in
than to urge us forward; he never had to use the whip with either of us; then our
paces were much the same, and I found it
very easy to keep step with her when trotting, which made it pleasant, and
master always liked it when we kept step well, and so did John.
After we had been out two or three times together we grew quite friendly and
sociable, which made me feel very much at home.
As for Merrylegs, he and I soon became great friends; he was such a cheerful,
plucky, good-tempered little fellow that he was a favorite with every one, and
especially with Miss Jessie and Flora, who
used to ride him about in the orchard, and have fine games with him and their little
dog Frisky. Our master had two other horses that stood
in another stable.
One was Justice, a roan cob, used for riding or for the luggage cart; the other
was an old brown hunter, named Sir Oliver; he was past work now, but was a great
favorite with the master, who gave him the
run of the park; he sometimes did a little light carting on the estate, or carried one
of the young ladies when they rode out with their father, for he was very gentle and
could be trusted with a child as well as Merrylegs.
The cob was a strong, well-made, good- tempered horse, and we sometimes had a
little chat in the paddock, but of course I could not be so intimate with him as with
Ginger, who stood in the same stable.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 06.
I was quite happy in my new place, and if there was one thing that I missed it must
not be thought I was discontented; all who had to do with me were good and I had a
light airy stable and the best of food.
What more could I want? Why, liberty!
For three years and a half of my life I had had all the liberty I could wish for; but
now, week after week, month after month, and no doubt year after year, I must stand
up in a stable night and day except when I
am wanted, and then I must be just as steady and quiet as any old horse who has
worked twenty years. Straps here and straps there, a bit in my
mouth, and blinkers over my eyes.
Now, I am not complaining, for I know it must be so.
I only mean to say that for a young horse full of strength and spirits, who has been
used to some large field or plain where he can fling up his head and toss up his tail
and gallop away at full speed, then round
and back again with a snort to his companions--I say it is hard never to have
a bit more liberty to do as you like.
Sometimes, when I have had less exercise than usual, I have felt so full of life and
spring that when John has taken me out to exercise I really could not keep quiet; do
what I would, it seemed as if I must jump,
or dance, or prance, and many a good shake I know I must have given him, especially at
the first; but he was always good and patient.
"Steady, steady, my boy," he would say; "wait a bit, and we will have a good swing,
and soon get the tickle out of your feet."
Then as soon as we were out of the village, he would give me a few miles at a spanking
trot, and then bring me back as fresh as before, only clear of the fidgets, as he
called them.
Spirited horses, when not enough exercised, are often called skittish, when it is only
play; and some grooms will punish them, but our John did not; he knew it was only high
Still, he had his own ways of making me understand by the tone of his voice or the
touch of the rein.
If he was very serious and quite determined, I always knew it by his voice,
and that had more power with me than anything else, for I was very fond of him.
I ought to say that sometimes we had our liberty for a few hours; this used to be on
fine Sundays in the summer-time. The carriage never went out on Sundays,
because the church was not far off.
It was a great treat to us to be turned out into the home paddock or the old orchard;
the grass was so cool and soft to our feet, the air so sweet, and the freedom to do as
we liked was so pleasant--to gallop, to lie
down, and roll over on our backs, or to nibble the sweet grass.
Then it was a very good time for talking, as we stood together under the shade of the
large chestnut tree.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 07.
One day when Ginger and I were standing alone in the shade, we had a great deal of
talk; she wanted to know all about my bringing up and breaking in, and I told
"Well," said she, "if I had had your bringing up I might have had as good a
temper as you, but now I don't believe I ever shall."
"Why not?"
I said. "Because it has been all so different with
me," she replied.
"I never had any one, horse or man, that was kind to me, or that I cared to please,
for in the first place I was taken from my mother as soon as I was weaned, and put
with a lot of other young colts; none of
them cared for me, and I cared for none of them.
There was no kind master like yours to look after me, and talk to me, and bring me nice
things to eat.
The man that had the care of us never gave me a kind word in my life.
I do not mean that he ill-used me, but he did not care for us one bit further than to
see that we had plenty to eat, and shelter in the winter.
A footpath ran through our field, and very often the great boys passing through would
fling stones to make us gallop.
I was never hit, but one fine young colt was badly cut in the face, and I should
think it would be a scar for life.
We did not care for them, but of course it made us more wild, and we settled it in our
minds that boys were our enemies.
We had very good fun in the free meadows, galloping up and down and chasing each
other round and round the field; then standing still under the shade of the
But when it came to breaking in, that was a bad time for me; several men came to catch
me, and when at last they closed me in at one corner of the field, one caught me by
the forelock, another caught me by the nose
and held it so tight I could hardly draw my breath; then another took my under jaw in
his hard hand and wrenched my mouth open, and so by force they got on the halter and
the bar into my mouth; then one dragged me
along by the halter, another flogging behind, and this was the first experience I
had of men's kindness; it was all force. They did not give me a chance to know what
they wanted.
I was high bred and had a great deal of spirit, and was very wild, no doubt, and
gave them, I dare say, plenty of trouble, but then it was dreadful to be shut up in a
stall day after day instead of having my
liberty, and I fretted and pined and wanted to get loose.
You know yourself it's bad enough when you have a kind master and plenty of coaxing,
but there was nothing of that sort for me.
"There was one--the old master, Mr. Ryder-- who, I think, could soon have brought me
round, and could have done anything with me; but he had given up all the hard part
of the trade to his son and to another
experienced man, and he only came at times to oversee.
His son was a strong, tall, bold man; they called him Samson, and he used to boast
that he had never found a horse that could throw him.
There was no gentleness in him, as there was in his father, but only hardness, a
hard voice, a hard eye, a hard hand; and I felt from the first that what he wanted was
to wear all the spirit out of me, and just
make me into a quiet, humble, obedient piece of horseflesh.
Yes, that is all that he thought about," and Ginger stamped her foot as if the very
thought of him made her angry. Then she went on:
"If I did not do exactly what he wanted he would get put out, and make me run round
with that long rein in the training field till he had tired me out.
I think he drank a good deal, and I am quite sure that the oftener he drank the
worse it was for me.
One day he had worked me hard in every way he could, and when I lay down I was tired,
and miserable, and angry; it all seemed so hard.
The next morning he came for me early, and ran me round again for a long time.
I had scarcely had an hour's rest, when he came again for me with a saddle and bridle
and a new kind of bit.
I could never quite tell how it came about; he had only just mounted me on the training
ground, when something I did put him out of temper, and he chucked me hard with the
The new bit was very painful, and I reared up suddenly, which angered him still more,
and he began to flog me.
I felt my whole spirit set against him, and I began to kick, and plunge, and rear as I
had never done before, and we had a regular fight; for a long time he stuck to the
saddle and punished me cruelly with his
whip and spurs, but my blood was thoroughly up, and I cared for nothing he could do if
only I could get him off. At last after a terrible struggle I threw
him off backward.
I heard him fall heavily on the turf, and without looking behind me, I galloped off
to the other end of the field; there I turned round and saw my persecutor slowly
rising from the ground and going into the stable.
I stood under an oak tree and watched, but no one came to catch me.
The time went on, and the sun was very hot; the flies swarmed round me and settled on
my bleeding flanks where the spurs had dug in.
I felt hungry, for I had not eaten since the early morning, but there was not enough
grass in that meadow for a goose to live on.
I wanted to lie down and rest, but with the saddle strapped tightly on there was no
comfort, and there was not a drop of water to drink.
The afternoon wore on, and the sun got low.
I saw the other colts led in, and I knew they were having a good feed.
"At last, just as the sun went down, I saw the old master come out with a sieve in his
He was a very fine old gentleman with quite white hair, but his voice was what I should
know him by among a thousand.
It was not high, nor yet low, but full, and clear, and kind, and when he gave orders it
was so steady and decided that every one knew, both horses and men, that he expected
to be obeyed.
He came quietly along, now and then shaking the oats about that he had in the sieve,
and speaking cheerfully and gently to me: 'Come along, lassie, come along, lassie;
come along, come along.'
I stood still and let him come up; he held the oats to me, and I began to eat without
fear; his voice took all my fear away.
He stood by, patting and stroking me while I was eating, and seeing the clots of blood
on my side he seemed very vexed.
'Poor lassie! it was a bad business, a bad business;' then he quietly took the rein
and led me to the stable; just at the door stood Samson.
I laid my ears back and snapped at him.
'Stand back,' said the master, 'and keep out of her way; you've done a bad day's
work for this filly.' He growled out something about a vicious
'Hark ye,' said the father, 'a bad-tempered man will never make a good-tempered horse.
You've not learned your trade yet, Samson.'
Then he led me into my box, took off the saddle and bridle with his own hands, and
tied me up; then he called for a pail of warm water and a sponge, took off his coat,
and while the stable-man held the pail, he
sponged my sides a good while, so tenderly that I was sure he knew how sore and
bruised they were. 'Whoa! my pretty one,' he said, 'stand
still, stand still.'
His very voice did me good, and the bathing was very comfortable.
The skin was so broken at the corners of my mouth that I could not eat the hay, the
stalks hurt me.
He looked closely at it, shook his head, and told the man to fetch a good bran mash
and put some meal into it. How good that mash was! and so soft and
healing to my mouth.
He stood by all the time I was eating, stroking me and talking to the man.
'If a high-mettled creature like this,' said he, 'can't be broken by fair means,
she will never be good for anything.'
"After that he often came to see me, and when my mouth was healed the other breaker,
Job, they called him, went on training me; he was steady and thoughtful, and I soon
learned what he wanted."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 08.
Ginger's Story Continued
The next time that Ginger and I were together in the paddock she told me about
her first place.
"After my breaking in," she said, "I was bought by a dealer to match another
chestnut horse.
For some weeks he drove us together, and then we were sold to a fashionable
gentleman, and were sent up to London.
I had been driven with a check-rein by the dealer, and I hated it worse than anything
else; but in this place we were reined far tighter, the coachman and his master
thinking we looked more stylish so.
We were often driven about in the park and other fashionable places.
You who never had a check-rein on don't know what it is, but I can tell you it is
"I like to toss my head about and hold it as high as any horse; but fancy now
yourself, if you tossed your head up high and were obliged to hold it there, and that
for hours together, not able to move it at
all, except with a jerk still higher, your neck aching till you did not know how to
bear it.
Besides that, to have two bits instead of one--and mine was a sharp one, it hurt my
tongue and my jaw, and the blood from my tongue colored the froth that kept flying
from my lips as I chafed and fretted at the bits and rein.
It was worst when we had to stand by the hour waiting for our mistress at some grand
party or entertainment, and if I fretted or stamped with impatience the whip was laid
It was enough to drive one mad." "Did not your master take any thought for
you?" I said.
"No," said she, "he only cared to have a stylish turnout, as they call it; I think
he knew very little about horses; he left that to his coachman, who told him I had an
irritable temper! that I had not been well
broken to the check-rein, but I should soon get used to it; but he was not the man to
do it, for when I was in the stable, miserable and angry, instead of being
smoothed and quieted by kindness, I got only a surly word or a blow.
If he had been civil I would have tried to bear it.
I was willing to work, and ready to work hard too; but to be tormented for nothing
but their fancies angered me. What right had they to make me suffer like
Besides the soreness in my mouth, and the pain in my neck, it always made my windpipe
feel bad, and if I had stopped there long I know it would have spoiled my breathing;
but I grew more and more restless and
irritable, I could not help it; and I began to snap and kick when any one came to
harness me; for this the groom beat me, and one day, as they had just buckled us into
the carriage, and were straining my head up
with that rein, I began to plunge and kick with all my might.
I soon broke a lot of harness, and kicked myself clear; so that was an end of that
"After this I was sent to Tattersall's to be sold; of course I could not be warranted
free from vice, so nothing was said about that.
My handsome appearance and good paces soon brought a gentleman to bid for me, and I
was bought by another dealer; he tried me in all kinds of ways and with different
bits, and he soon found out what I could not bear.
At last he drove me quite without a check- rein, and then sold me as a perfectly quiet
horse to a gentleman in the country; he was a good master, and I was getting on very
well, but his old groom left him and a new one came.
This man was as hard-tempered and hard- handed as Samson; he always spoke in a
rough, impatient voice, and if I did not move in the stall the moment he wanted me,
he would hit me above the hocks with his
stable broom or the fork, whichever he might have in his hand.
Everything he did was rough, and I began to hate him; he wanted to make me afraid of
him, but I was too high-mettled for that, and one day when he had aggravated me more
than usual I bit him, which of course put
him in a great rage, and he began to hit me about the head with a riding whip.
After that he never dared to come into my stall again; either my heels or my teeth
were ready for him, and he knew it.
I was quite quiet with my master, but of course he listened to what the man said,
and so I was sold again.
"The same dealer heard of me, and said he thought he knew one place where I should do
''Twas a pity,' he said, 'that such a fine horse should go to the bad, for want of a
real good chance,' and the end of it was that I came here not long before you did;
but I had then made up my mind that men
were my natural enemies and that I must defend myself.
Of course it is very different here, but who knows how long it will last?
I wish I could think about things as you do; but I can't, after all I have gone
"Well," I said, "I think it would be a real shame if you were to bite or kick John or
James." "I don't mean to," she said, "while they
are good to me.
I did bite James once pretty sharp, but John said, 'Try her with kindness,' and
instead of punishing me as I expected, James came to me with his arm bound up, and
brought me a bran mash and stroked me; and
I have never snapped at him since, and I won't either."
I was sorry for Ginger, but of course I knew very little then, and I thought most
likely she made the worst of it; however, I found that as the weeks went on she grew
much more gentle and cheerful, and had lost
the watchful, defiant look that she used to turn on any strange person who came near
her; and one day James said, "I do believe that mare is getting fond of me, she quite
whinnied after me this morning when I had been rubbing her forehead."
"Ay, ay, Jim, 'tis 'the Birtwick balls'," said John, "she'll be as good as Black
Beauty by and by; kindness is all the physic she wants, poor thing!"
Master noticed the change, too, and one day when he got out of the carriage and came to
speak to us, as he often did, he stroked her beautiful neck.
"Well, my pretty one, well, how do things go with you now?
You are a good bit happier than when you came to us, I think."
She put her nose up to him in a friendly, trustful way, while he rubbed it gently.
"We shall make a cure of her, John," he said.
"Yes, sir, she's wonderfully improved; she's not the same creature that she was;
it's 'the Birtwick balls', sir," said John, laughing.
This was a little joke of John's; he used to say that a regular course of "the
Birtwick horseballs" would cure almost any vicious horse; these balls, he said, were
made up of patience and gentleness,
firmness and petting, one pound of each to be mixed up with half a pint of common
sense, and given to the horse every day.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 09.
Mr. Blomefield, the vicar, had a large family of boys and girls; sometimes they
used to come and play with Miss Jessie and Flora.
One of the girls was as old as Miss Jessie; two of the boys were older, and there were
several little ones.
When they came there was plenty of work for Merrylegs, for nothing pleased them so much
as getting on him by turns and riding him all about the orchard and the home paddock,
and this they would do by the hour together.
One afternoon he had been out with them a long time, and when James brought him in
and put on his halter he said:
"There, you rogue, mind how you behave yourself, or we shall get into trouble."
"What have you been doing, Merrylegs?" I asked.
"Oh!" said he, tossing his little head, "I have only been giving those young people a
lesson; they did not know when they had had enough, nor when I had had enough, so I
just pitched them off backward; that was the only thing they could understand."
"What!" said I, "you threw the children off?
I thought you did know better than that!
Did you throw Miss Jessie or Miss Flora?" He looked very much offended, and said:
"Of course not; I would not do such a thing for the best oats that ever came into the
stable; why, I am as careful of our young ladies as the master could be, and as for
the little ones it is I who teach them to ride.
When they seem frightened or a little unsteady on my back I go as smooth and as
quiet as old pussy when she is after a bird; and when they are all right I go on
again faster, you see, just to use them to
it; so don't you trouble yourself preaching to me; I am the best friend and the best
riding-master those children have.
It is not them, it is the boys; boys," said he, shaking his mane, "are quite different;
they must be broken in as we were broken in when we were colts, and just be taught
what's what.
The other children had ridden me about for nearly two hours, and then the boys thought
it was their turn, and so it was, and I was quite agreeable.
They rode me by turns, and I galloped them about, up and down the fields and all about
the orchard, for a good hour.
They had each cut a great hazel stick for a riding-whip, and laid it on a little too
hard; but I took it in good part, till at last I thought we had had enough, so I
stopped two or three times by way of a hint.
Boys, you see, think a horse or pony is like a steam-engine or a thrashing-machine,
and can go on as long and as fast as they please; they never think that a pony can
get tired, or have any feelings; so as the
one who was whipping me could not understand I just rose up on my hind legs
and let him slip off behind--that was all. He mounted me again, and I did the same.
Then the other boy got up, and as soon as he began to use his stick I laid him on the
grass, and so on, till they were able to understand--that was all.
They are not bad boys; they don't wish to be cruel.
I like them very well; but you see I had to give them a lesson.
When they brought me to James and told him I think he was very angry to see such big
sticks. He said they were only fit for drovers or
gypsies, and not for young gentlemen."
"If I had been you," said Ginger, "I would have given those boys a good kick, and that
would have given them a lesson."
"No doubt you would," said Merrylegs; "but then I am not quite such a fool (begging
your pardon) as to anger our master or make James ashamed of me.
Besides, those children are under my charge when they are riding; I tell you they are
intrusted to me.
Why, only the other day I heard our master say to Mrs. Blomefield, 'My dear madam, you
need not be anxious about the children; my old Merrylegs will take as much care of
them as you or I could; I assure you I
would not sell that pony for any money, he is so perfectly good-tempered and
trustworthy;' and do you think I am such an ungrateful brute as to forget all the kind
treatment I have had here for five years,
and all the trust they place in me, and turn vicious because a couple of ignorant
boys used me badly?
No, no! you never had a good place where they were kind to you, and so you don't
know, and I'm sorry for you; but I can tell you good places make good horses.
I wouldn't vex our people for anything; I love them, I do," said Merrylegs, and he
gave a low "ho, ho, ho!" through his nose, as he used to do in the morning when he
heard James' footstep at the door.
"Besides," he went on, "if I took to kicking where should I be?
Why, sold off in a jiffy, and no character, and I might find myself slaved about under
a butcher's boy, or worked to death at some seaside place where no one cared for me,
except to find out how fast I could go, or
be flogged along in some cart with three or four great men in it going out for a Sunday
spree, as I have often seen in the place I lived in before I came here; no," said he,
shaking his head, "I hope I shall never come to that."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 10.
A Talk in the Orchard
Ginger and I were not of the regular tall carriage horse breed, we had more of the
racing blood in us.
We stood about fifteen and a half hands high; we were therefore just as good for
riding as we were for driving, and our master used to say that he disliked either
horse or man that could do but one thing;
and as he did not want to show off in London parks, he preferred a more active
and useful kind of horse.
As for us, our greatest pleasure was when we were saddled for a riding party; the
master on Ginger, the mistress on me, and the young ladies on Sir Oliver and
It was so cheerful to be trotting and cantering all together that it always put
us in high spirits.
I had the best of it, for I always carried the mistress; her weight was little, her
voice was sweet, and her hand was so light on the rein that I was guided almost
without feeling it.
Oh! if people knew what a comfort to horses a light hand is, and how it keeps a good
mouth and a good temper, they surely would not chuck, and drag, and pull at the rein
as they often do.
Our mouths are so tender that where they have not been spoiled or hardened with bad
or ignorant treatment, they feel the slightest movement of the driver's hand,
and we know in an instant what is required of us.
My mouth has never been spoiled, and I believe that was why the mistress preferred
me to Ginger, although her paces were certainly quite as good.
She used often to envy me, and said it was all the fault of breaking in, and the gag
bit in London, that her mouth was not so perfect as mine; and then old Sir Oliver
would say, "There, there! don't vex
yourself; you have the greatest honor; a mare that can carry a tall man of our
master's weight, with all your spring and sprightly action, does not need to hold her
head down because she does not carry the
lady; we horses must take things as they come, and always be contented and willing
so long as we are kindly used."
I had often wondered how it was that Sir Oliver had such a very short tail; it
really was only six or seven inches long, with a tassel of hair hanging from it; and
on one of our holidays in the orchard I
ventured to ask him by what accident it was that he had lost his tail.
"Accident!" he snorted with a fierce look, "it was no accident! it was a cruel,
shameful, cold-blooded act!
When I was young I was taken to a place where these cruel things were done; I was
tied up, and made fast so that I could not stir, and then they came and cut off my
long and beautiful tail, through the flesh and through the bone, and took it away.
"How dreadful!" I exclaimed.
"Dreadful, ah! it was dreadful; but it was not only the pain, though that was terrible
and lasted a long time; it was not only the indignity of having my best ornament taken
from me, though that was bad; but it was
this, how could I ever brush the flies off my sides and my hind legs any more?
You who have tails just whisk the flies off without thinking about it, and you can't
tell what a torment it is to have them settle upon you and sting and sting, and
have nothing in the world to lash them off with.
I tell you it is a lifelong wrong, and a lifelong loss; but thank heaven, they don't
do it now."
"What did they do it for then?" said Ginger.
"For fashion!" said the old horse with a stamp of his foot; "for fashion! if you
know what that means; there was not a well- bred young horse in my time that had not
his tail docked in that shameful way, just
as if the good God that made us did not know what we wanted and what looked best."
"I suppose it is fashion that makes them strap our heads up with those horrid bits
that I was tortured with in London," said Ginger.
"Of course it is," said he; "to my mind, fashion is one of the wickedest things in
the world.
Now look, for instance, at the way they serve dogs, cutting off their tails to make
them look plucky, and shearing up their pretty little ears to a point to make them
both look sharp, forsooth.
I had a dear friend once, a brown terrier; 'Skye' they called her.
She was so fond of me that she never would sleep out of my stall; she made her bed
under the manger, and there she had a litter of five as pretty little puppies as
need be; none were drowned, for they were a
valuable kind, and how pleased she was with them! and when they got their eyes open and
crawled about, it was a real pretty sight; but one day the man came and took them all
away; I thought he might be afraid I should tread upon them.
But it was not so; in the evening poor Skye brought them back again, one by one in her
mouth; not the happy little things that they were, but bleeding and crying
pitifully; they had all had a piece of
their tails cut off, and the soft flap of their pretty little ears was cut quite off.
How their mother licked them, and how troubled she was, poor thing!
I never forgot it.
They healed in time, and they forgot the pain, but the nice soft flap, that of
course was intended to protect the delicate part of their ears from dust and injury,
was gone forever.
Why don't they cut their own children's ears into points to make them look sharp?
Why don't they cut the end off their noses to make them look plucky?
One would be just as sensible as the other.
What right have they to torment and disfigure God's creatures?"
Sir Oliver, though he was so gentle, was a fiery old fellow, and what he said was all
so new to me, and so dreadful, that I found a bitter feeling toward men rise up in my
mind that I never had before.
Of course Ginger was very much excited; she flung up her head with flashing eyes and
distended nostrils, declaring that men were both brutes and blockheads.
"Who talks about blockheads?" said Merrylegs, who just came up from the old
apple-tree, where he had been rubbing himself against the low branch.
"Who talks about blockheads?
I believe that is a bad word." "Bad words were made for bad things," said
Ginger, and she told him what Sir Oliver had said.
"It is all true," said Merrylegs sadly, "and I've seen that about the dogs over and
over again where I lived first; but we won't talk about it here.
You know that master, and John and James are always good to us, and talking against
men in such a place as this doesn't seem fair or grateful, and you know there are
good masters and good grooms beside ours, though of course ours are the best."
This wise speech of good little Merrylegs, which we knew was quite true, cooled us all
down, especially Sir Oliver, who was dearly fond of his master; and to turn the subject
I said, "Can any one tell me the use of blinkers?"
"No!" said Sir Oliver shortly, "because they are no use."
"They are supposed," said Justice, the roan cob, in his calm way, "to prevent horses
from shying and starting, and getting so frightened as to cause accidents."
"Then what is the reason they do not put them on riding horses; especially on
ladies' horses?" said I.
"There is no reason at all," said he quietly, "except the fashion; they say that
a horse would be so frightened to see the wheels of his own cart or carriage coming
behind him that he would be sure to run
away, although of course when he is ridden he sees them all about him if the streets
are crowded.
I admit they do sometimes come too close to be pleasant, but we don't run away; we are
used to it, and understand it, and if we never had blinkers put on we should never
want them; we should see what was there,
and know what was what, and be much less frightened than by only seeing bits of
things that we can't understand.
Of course there may be some nervous horses who have been hurt or frightened when they
were young, who may be the better for them; but as I never was nervous, I can't judge."
"I consider," said Sir Oliver, "that blinkers are dangerous things in the night;
we horses can see much better in the dark than men can, and many an accident would
never have happened if horses might have had the full use of their eyes.
Some years ago, I remember, there was a hearse with two horses returning one dark
night, and just by Farmer Sparrow's house, where the pond is close to the road, the
wheels went too near the edge, and the
hearse was overturned into the water; both the horses were drowned, and the driver
hardly escaped.
Of course after this accident a stout white rail was put up that might be easily seen,
but if those horses had not been partly blinded, they would of themselves have kept
further from the edge, and no accident would have happened.
When our master's carriage was overturned, before you came here, it was said that if
the lamp on the left side had not gone out, John would have seen the great hole that
the road-makers had left; and so he might,
but if old Colin had not had blinkers on he would have seen it, lamp or no lamp, for he
was far too knowing an old horse to run into danger.
As it was, he was very much hurt, the carriage was broken, and how John escaped
nobody knew."
"I should say," said Ginger, curling her nostril, "that these men, who are so wise,
had better give orders that in the future all foals should be born with their eyes
set just in the middle of their foreheads,
instead of on the side; they always think they can improve upon nature and mend what
God has made."
Things were getting rather sore again, when Merrylegs held up his knowing little face
and said, "I'll tell you a secret: I believe John does not approve of blinkers;
I heard him talking with master about it one day.
The master said that 'if horses had been used to them, it might be dangerous in some
cases to leave them off'; and John said he thought it would be a good thing if all
colts were broken in without blinkers, as was the case in some foreign countries.
So let us cheer up, and have a run to the other end of the orchard; I believe the
wind has blown down some apples, and we might just as well eat them as the slugs."
Merrylegs could not be resisted, so we broke off our long conversation, and got up
our spirits by munching some very sweet apples which lay scattered on the grass.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 11.
Plain Speaking
The longer I lived at Birtwick the more proud and happy I felt at having such a
Our master and mistress were respected and beloved by all who knew them; they were
good and kind to everybody and everything; not only men and women, but horses and
donkeys, dogs and cats, cattle and birds;
there was no oppressed or ill-used creature that had not a friend in them, and their
servants took the same tone.
If any of the village children were known to treat any creature cruelly they soon
heard about it from the Hall.
The squire and Farmer Grey had worked together, as they said, for more than
twenty years to get check-reins on the cart-horses done away with, and in our
parts you seldom saw them; and sometimes,
if mistress met a heavily laden horse with his head strained up she would stop the
carriage and get out, and reason with the driver in her sweet serious voice, and try
to show him how foolish and cruel it was.
I don't think any man could withstand our mistress.
I wish all ladies were like her. Our master, too, used to come down very
heavy sometimes.
I remember he was riding me toward home one morning when we saw a powerful man driving
toward us in a light pony chaise, with a beautiful little bay pony, with slender
legs and a high-bred sensitive head and face.
Just as he came to the park gates the little thing turned toward them; the man,
without word or warning, wrenched the creature's head round with such a force and
suddenness that he nearly threw it on its haunches.
Recovering itself it was going on, when he began to lash it furiously.
The pony plunged forward, but the strong, heavy hand held the pretty creature back
with force almost enough to break its jaw, while the whip still cut into him.
It was a dreadful sight to me, for I knew what fearful pain it gave that delicate
little mouth; but master gave me the word, and we were up with him in a second.
"Sawyer," he cried in a stern voice, "is that pony made of flesh and blood?"
"Flesh and blood and temper," he said; "he's too fond of his own will, and that
won't suit me."
He spoke as if he was in a strong passion. He was a builder who had often been to the
park on business.
"And do you think," said master sternly, "that treatment like this will make him
fond of your will?"
"He had no business to make that turn; his road was straight on!" said the man
"You have often driven that pony up to my place," said master; "it only shows the
creature's memory and intelligence; how did he know that you were not going there
But that has little to do with it.
I must say, Mr. Sawyer, that a more unmanly, brutal treatment of a little pony
it was never my painful lot to witness, and by giving way to such passion you injure
your own character as much, nay more, than
you injure your horse; and remember, we shall all have to be judged according to
our works, whether they be toward man or toward beast."
Master rode me home slowly, and I could tell by his voice how the thing had grieved
He was just as free to speak to gentlemen of his own rank as to those below him; for
another day, when we were out, we met a Captain Langley, a friend of our master's;
he was driving a splendid pair of grays in a kind of break.
After a little conversation the captain said:
"What do you think of my new team, Mr. Douglas?
You know, you are the judge of horses in these parts, and I should like your
The master backed me a little, so as to get a good view of them.
"They are an uncommonly handsome pair," he said, "and if they are as good as they look
I am sure you need not wish for anything better; but I see you still hold that pet
scheme of yours for worrying your horses and lessening their power."
"What do you mean," said the other, "the check-reins?
Oh, ah!
I know that's a hobby of yours; well, the fact is, I like to see my horses hold their
heads up."
"So do I," said master, "as well as any man, but I don't like to see them held up;
that takes all the shine out of it.
Now, you are a military man, Langley, and no doubt like to see your regiment look
well on parade, 'heads up', and all that; but you would not take much credit for your
drill if all your men had their heads tied to a backboard!
It might not be much harm on parade, except to worry and fatigue them; but how would it
be in a bayonet charge against the enemy, when they want the free use of every
muscle, and all their strength thrown forward?
I would not give much for their chance of victory.
And it is just the same with horses: you fret and worry their tempers, and decrease
their power; you will not let them throw their weight against their work, and so
they have to do too much with their joints
and muscles, and of course it wears them up faster.
You may depend upon it, horses were intended to have their heads free, as free
as men's are; and if we could act a little more according to common sense, and a good
deal less according to fashion, we should
find many things work easier; besides, you know as well as I that if a horse makes a
false step, he has much less chance of recovering himself if his head and neck are
fastened back.
And now," said the master, laughing, "I have given my hobby a good trot out, can't
you make up your mind to mount him, too, captain?
Your example would go a long way."
"I believe you are right in theory," said the other, "and that's rather a hard hit
about the soldiers; but--well--I'll think about it," and so they parted.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 12.
A Stormy Day
One day late in the autumn my master had a long journey to go on business.
I was put into the dog-cart, and John went with his master.
I always liked to go in the dog-cart, it was so light and the high wheels ran along
so pleasantly.
There had been a great deal of rain, and now the wind was very high and blew the dry
leaves across the road in a shower. We went along merrily till we came to the
toll-bar and the low wooden bridge.
The river banks were rather high, and the bridge, instead of rising, went across just
level, so that in the middle, if the river was full, the water would be nearly up to
the woodwork and planks; but as there were
good substantial rails on each side, people did not mind it.
The man at the gate said the river was rising fast, and he feared it would be a
bad night.
Many of the meadows were under water, and in one low part of the road the water was
halfway up to my knees; the bottom was good, and master drove gently, so it was no
When we got to the town of course I had a good bait, but as the master's business
engaged him a long time we did not start for home till rather late in the afternoon.
The wind was then much higher, and I heard the master say to John that he had never
been out in such a storm; and so I thought, as we went along the skirts of a wood,
where the great branches were swaying about
like twigs, and the rushing sound was terrible.
"I wish we were well out of this wood," said my master.
"Yes, sir," said John, "it would be rather awkward if one of these branches came down
upon us."
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when there was a groan, and a crack, and a
splitting sound, and tearing, crashing down among the other trees came an oak, torn up
by the roots, and it fell right across the road just before us.
I will never say I was not frightened, for I was.
I stopped still, and I believe I trembled; of course I did not turn round or run away;
I was not brought up to that. John jumped out and was in a moment at my
"That was a very near touch," said my master.
"What's to be done now?"
"Well, sir, we can't drive over that tree, nor yet get round it; there will be nothing
for it, but to go back to the four crossways, and that will be a good six
miles before we get round to the wooden
bridge again; it will make us late, but the horse is fresh."
So back we went and round by the crossroads, but by the time we got to the
bridge it was very nearly dark; we could just see that the water was over the middle
of it; but as that happened sometimes when the floods were out, master did not stop.
We were going along at a good pace, but the moment my feet touched the first part of
the bridge I felt sure there was something wrong.
I dare not go forward, and I made a dead stop.
"Go on, Beauty," said my master, and he gave me a touch with the whip, but I dare
not stir; he gave me a sharp cut; I jumped, but I dare not go forward.
"There's something wrong, sir," said John, and he sprang out of the dog-cart and came
to my head and looked all about. He tried to lead me forward.
"Come on, Beauty, what's the matter?"
Of course I could not tell him, but I knew very well that the bridge was not safe.
Just then the man at the toll-gate on the other side ran out of the house, tossing a
torch about like one mad.
"Hoy, hoy, hoy! halloo! stop!" he cried. "What's the matter?" shouted my master.
"The bridge is broken in the middle, and part of it is carried away; if you come on
you'll be into the river."
"Thank God!" said my master. "You Beauty!" said John, and took the
bridle and gently turned me round to the right-hand road by the river side.
The sun had set some time; the wind seemed to have lulled off after that furious blast
which tore up the tree. It grew darker and darker, stiller and
I trotted quietly along, the wheels hardly making a sound on the soft road.
For a good while neither master nor John spoke, and then master began in a serious
I could not understand much of what they said, but I found they thought, if I had
gone on as the master wanted me, most likely the bridge would have given way
under us, and horse, chaise, master, and
man would have fallen into the river; and as the current was flowing very strongly,
and there was no light and no help at hand, it was more than likely we should all have
been drowned.
Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for
themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason,
and which was much more prompt and perfect
in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.
John had many stories to tell of dogs and horses, and the wonderful things they had
done; he thought people did not value their animals half enough nor make friends of
them as they ought to do.
I am sure he makes friends of them if ever a man did.
At last we came to the park gates and found the gardener looking out for us.
He said that mistress had been in a dreadful way ever since dark, fearing some
accident had happened, and that she had sent James off on Justice, the roan cob,
toward the wooden bridge to make inquiry after us.
We saw a light at the hall-door and at the upper windows, and as we came up mistress
ran out, saying, "Are you really safe, my dear?
Oh! I have been so anxious, fancying all sorts of things.
Have you had no accident?"
"No, my dear; but if your Black Beauty had not been wiser than we were we should all
have been carried down the river at the wooden bridge."
I heard no more, as they went into the house, and John took me to the stable.
Oh, what a good supper he gave me that night, a good bran mash and some crushed
beans with my oats, and such a thick bed of straw! and I was glad of it, for I was
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 13.
The Devil's Trade Mark
One day when John and I had been out on some business of our master's, and were
returning gently on a long, straight road, at some distance we saw a boy trying to
leap a pony over a gate; the pony would not
take the leap, and the boy cut him with the whip, but he only turned off on one side.
He whipped him again, but the pony turned off on the other side.
Then the boy got off and gave him a hard thrashing, and knocked him about the head;
then he got up again and tried to make him leap the gate, kicking him all the time
shamefully, but still the pony refused.
When we were nearly at the spot the pony put down his head and threw up his heels,
and sent the boy neatly over into a broad quickset hedge, and with the rein dangling
from his head he set off home at a full gallop.
John laughed out quite loud. "Served him right," he said.
"Oh, oh, oh!" cried the boy as he struggled about among the thorns; "I say, come and
help me out."
"Thank ye," said John, "I think you are quite in the right place, and maybe a
little scratching will teach you not to leap a pony over a gate that is too high
for him," and so with that John rode off.
"It may be," said he to himself, "that young fellow is a liar as well as a cruel
one; we'll just go home by Farmer Bushby's, Beauty, and then if anybody wants to know
you and I can tell 'em, ye see."
So we turned off to the right, and soon came up to the stack-yard, and within sight
of the house.
The farmer was hurrying out into the road, and his wife was standing at the gate,
looking very frightened.
"Have you seen my boy?" said Mr. Bushby as we came up; "he went out an hour ago on my
black pony, and the creature is just come back without a rider."
"I should think, sir," said John, "he had better be without a rider, unless he can be
ridden properly." "What do you mean?" said the farmer.
"Well, sir, I saw your son whipping, and kicking, and knocking that good little pony
about shamefully because he would not leap a gate that was too high for him.
The pony behaved well, sir, and showed no vice; but at last he just threw up his
heels and tipped the young gentleman into the thorn hedge.
He wanted me to help him out, but I hope you will excuse me, sir, I did not feel
inclined to do so. There's no bones broken, sir; he'll only
get a few scratches.
I love horses, and it riles me to see them badly used; it is a bad plan to aggravate
an animal till he uses his heels; the first time is not always the last."
During this time the mother began to cry, "Oh, my poor Bill, I must go and meet him;
he must be hurt."
"You had better go into the house, wife," said the farmer; "Bill wants a lesson about
this, and I must see that he gets it; this is not the first time, nor the second, that
he has ill-used that pony, and I shall stop it.
I am much obliged to you, Manly. Good-evening."
So we went on, John chuckling all the way home; then he told James about it, who
laughed and said, "Serve him right.
I knew that boy at school; he took great airs on himself because he was a farmer's
son; he used to swagger about and bully the little boys.
Of course, we elder ones would not have any of that nonsense, and let him know that in
the school and the playground farmers' sons and laborers' sons were all alike.
I well remember one day, just before afternoon school, I found him at the large
window catching flies and pulling off their wings.
He did not see me and I gave him a box on the ears that laid him sprawling on the
Well, angry as I was, I was almost frightened, he roared and bellowed in such
a style.
The boys rushed in from the playground, and the master ran in from the road to see who
was being murdered.
Of course I said fair and square at once what I had done, and why; then I showed the
master the flies, some crushed and some crawling about helpless, and I showed him
the wings on the window sill.
I never saw him so angry before; but as Bill was still howling and whining, like
the coward that he was, he did not give him any more punishment of that kind, but set
him up on a stool for the rest of the
afternoon, and said that he should not go out to play for that week.
Then he talked to all the boys very seriously about cruelty, and said how hard-
hearted and cowardly it was to hurt the weak and the helpless; but what stuck in my
mind was this, he said that cruelty was the
devil's own trade-mark, and if we saw any one who took pleasure in cruelty we might
know who he belonged to, for the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and a
tormentor to the end.
On the other hand, where we saw people who loved their neighbors, and were kind to man
and beast, we might know that was God's mark."
"Your master never taught you a truer thing," said John; "there is no religion
without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if
it does not teach them to be good and kind
to man and beast it is all a sham--all a sham, James, and it won't stand when things
come to be turned inside out."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 14.
James Howard
Early one morning in December John had just led me into my box after my daily exercise,
and was strapping my cloth on and James was coming in from the corn chamber with some
oats, when the master came into the stable.
He looked rather serious, and held an open letter in his hand.
John fastened the door of my box, touched his cap, and waited for orders.
"Good-morning, John," said the master.
"I want to know if you have any complaint to make of James."
"Complaint, sir? No, sir."
"Is he industrious at his work and respectful to you?"
"Yes, sir, always." "You never find he slights his work when
your back is turned?"
"Never, sir." "That's well; but I must put another
Have you no reason to suspect, when he goes out with the horses to exercise them or to
take a message, that he stops about talking to his acquaintances, or goes into houses
where he has no business, leaving the horses outside?"
"No, sir, certainly not; and if anybody has been saying that about James, I don't
believe it, and I don't mean to believe it unless I have it fairly proved before
witnesses; it's not for me to say who has
been trying to take away James' character, but I will say this, sir, that a steadier,
pleasanter, honester, smarter young fellow I never had in this stable.
I can trust his word and I can trust his work; he is gentle and clever with the
horses, and I would rather have them in charge with him than with half the young
fellows I know of in laced hats and
liveries; and whoever wants a character of James Howard," said John, with a decided
jerk of his head, "let them come to John Manly."
The master stood all this time grave and attentive, but as John finished his speech
a broad smile spread over his face, and looking kindly across at James, who all
this time had stood still at the door, he
said, "James, my lad, set down the oats and come here; I am very glad to find that
John's opinion of your character agrees so exactly with my own.
John is a cautious man," he said, with a droll smile, "and it is not always easy to
get his opinion about people, so I thought if I beat the bush on this side the birds
would fly out, and I should learn what I
wanted to know quickly; so now we will come to business.
I have a letter from my brother-in-law, Sir Clifford Williams, of Clifford Hall.
He wants me to find him a trustworthy young groom, about twenty or twenty-one, who
knows his business.
His old coachman, who has lived with him thirty years, is getting feeble, and he
wants a man to work with him and get into his ways, who would be able, when the old
man was pensioned off, to step into his place.
He would have eighteen shillings a week at first, a stable suit, a driving suit, a
bedroom over the coachhouse, and a boy under him.
Sir Clifford is a good master, and if you could get the place it would be a good
start for you.
I don't want to part with you, and if you left us I know John would lose his right
"That I should, sir," said John, "but I would not stand in his light for the
world." "How old are you, James?" said master.
"Nineteen next May, sir."
"That's young; what do you think, John?"
"Well, sir, it is young; but he is as steady as a man, and is strong, and well
grown, and though he has not had much experience in driving, he has a light firm
hand and a quick eye, and he is very
careful, and I am quite sure no horse of his will be ruined for want of having his
feet and shoes looked after."
"Your word will go the furthest, John," said the master, "for Sir Clifford adds in
a postscript, 'If I could find a man trained by your John I should like him
better than any other;' so, James, lad,
think it over, talk to your mother at dinner-time, and then let me know what you
In a few days after this conversation it was fully settled that James should go to
Clifford Hall, in a month or six weeks, as it suited his master, and in the meantime
he was to get all the practice in driving that could be given to him.
I never knew the carriage to go out so often before; when the mistress did not go
out the master drove himself in the two- wheeled chaise; but now, whether it was
master or the young ladies, or only an
errand, Ginger and I were put in the carriage and James drove us.
At the first John rode with him on the box, telling him this and that, and after that
James drove alone.
Then it was wonderful what a number of places the master would go to in the city
on Saturday, and what queer streets we were driven through.
He was sure to go to the railway station just as the train was coming in, and cabs
and carriages, carts and omnibuses were all trying to get over the bridge together;
that bridge wanted good horses and good
drivers when the railway bell was ringing, for it was narrow, and there was a very
sharp turn up to the station, where it would not have been at all difficult for
people to run into each other, if they did
not look sharp and keep their wits about them.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 15.
The Old Hostler
After this it was decided by my master and mistress to pay a visit to some friends who
lived about forty-six miles from our home, and James was to drive them.
The first day we traveled thirty-two miles.
There were some long, heavy hills, but James drove so carefully and thoughtfully
that we were not at all harassed.
He never forgot to put on the brake as we went downhill, nor to take it off at the
right place.
He kept our feet on the smoothest part of the road, and if the uphill was very long,
he set the carriage wheels a little across the road, so as not to run back, and gave
us a breathing.
All these little things help a horse very much, particularly if he gets kind words
into the bargain.
We stopped once or twice on the road, and just as the sun was going down we reached
the town where we were to spend the night.
We stopped at the principal hotel, which was in the market-place; it was a very
large one; we drove under an archway into a long yard, at the further end of which were
the stables and coachhouses.
Two hostlers came to take us out. The head hostler was a pleasant, active
little man, with a crooked leg, and a yellow striped waistcoat.
I never saw a man unbuckle harness so quickly as he did, and with a pat and a
good word he led me to a long stable, with six or eight stalls in it, and two or three
The other man brought Ginger; James stood by while we were rubbed down and cleaned.
I never was cleaned so lightly and quickly as by that little old man.
When he had done James stepped up and felt me over, as if he thought I could not be
thoroughly done, but he found my coat as clean and smooth as silk.
"Well," he said, "I thought I was pretty quick, and our John quicker still, but you
do beat all I ever saw for being quick and thorough at the same time."
"Practice makes perfect," said the crooked little hostler, "and 'twould be a pity if
it didn't; forty years' practice, and not perfect! ha, ha! that would be a pity; and
as to being quick, why, bless you! that is
only a matter of habit; if you get into the habit of being quick it is just as easy as
being slow; easier, I should say; in fact it don't agree with my health to be hulking
about over a job twice as long as it need take.
Bless you! I couldn't whistle if I crawled over my
work as some folks do!
You see, I have been about horses ever since I was twelve years old, in hunting
stables, and racing stables; and being small, ye see, I was jockey for several
years; but at the Goodwood, ye see, the
turf was very slippery and my poor Larkspur got a fall, and I broke my knee, and so of
course I was of no more use there. But I could not live without horses, of
course I couldn't, so I took to the hotels.
And I can tell ye it is a downright pleasure to handle an animal like this,
well-bred, well-mannered, well-cared-for; bless ye!
I can tell how a horse is treated.
Give me the handling of a horse for twenty minutes, and I'll tell you what sort of a
groom he has had.
Look at this one, pleasant, quiet, turns about just as you want him, holds up his
feet to be cleaned out, or anything else you please to wish; then you'll find
another fidgety, fretty, won't move the
right way, or starts across the stall, tosses up his head as soon as you come near
him, lays his ears, and seems afraid of you; or else squares about at you with his
Poor things! I know what sort of treatment they have
If they are timid it makes them start or shy; if they are high-mettled it makes them
vicious or dangerous; their tempers are mostly made when they are young.
Bless you! they are like children, train 'em up in the way they should go, as the
good book says, and when they are old they will not depart from it, if they have a
"I like to hear you talk," said James, "that's the way we lay it down at home, at
our master's." "Who is your master, young man? if it be a
proper question.
I should judge he is a good one, from what I see."
"He is Squire Gordon, of Birtwick Park, the other side the Beacon Hills," said James.
"Ah! so, so, I have heard tell of him; fine judge of horses, ain't he? the best rider
in the county."
"I believe he is," said James, "but he rides very little now, since the poor young
master was killed." "Ah! poor gentleman; I read all about it in
the paper at the time.
A fine horse killed, too, wasn't there?" "Yes," said James; "he was a splendid
creature, brother to this one, and just like him."
"Pity! pity!" said the old man; "'twas a bad place to leap, if I remember; a thin
fence at top, a steep bank down to the stream, wasn't it?
No chance for a horse to see where he is going.
Now, I am for bold riding as much as any man, but still there are some leaps that
only a very knowing old huntsman has any right to take.
A man's life and a horse's life are worth more than a fox's tail; at least, I should
say they ought to be."
During this time the other man had finished Ginger and had brought our corn, and James
and the old man left the stable together.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 16.
The Fire
Later on in the evening a traveler's horse was brought in by the second hostler, and
while he was cleaning him a young man with a pipe in his mouth lounged into the stable
to gossip.
"I say, Towler," said the hostler, "just run up the ladder into the loft and put
some hay down into this horse's rack, will you? only lay down your pipe."
"All right," said the other, and went up through the trapdoor; and I heard him step
across the floor overhead and put down the hay.
James came in to look at us the last thing, and then the door was locked.
I cannot say how long I had slept, nor what time in the night it was, but I woke up
very uncomfortable, though I hardly knew why.
I got up; the air seemed all thick and choking.
I heard Ginger coughing and one of the other horses seemed very restless; it was
quite dark, and I could see nothing, but the stable seemed full of smoke, and I
hardly knew how to breathe.
The trapdoor had been left open, and I thought that was the place it came through.
I listened, and heard a soft rushing sort of noise and a low crackling and snapping.
I did not know what it was, but there was something in the sound so strange that it
made me tremble all over. The other horses were all awake; some were
pulling at their halters, others stamping.
At last I heard steps outside, and the hostler who had put up the traveler's horse
burst into the stable with a lantern, and began to untie the horses, and try to lead
them out; but he seemed in such a hurry and
so frightened himself that he frightened me still more.
The first horse would not go with him; he tried the second and third, and they too
would not stir.
He came to me next and tried to drag me out of the stall by force; of course that was
no use. He tried us all by turns and then left the
No doubt we were very foolish, but danger seemed to be all round, and there was
nobody we knew to trust in, and all was strange and uncertain.
The fresh air that had come in through the open door made it easier to breathe, but
the rushing sound overhead grew louder, and as I looked upward through the bars of my
empty rack I saw a red light flickering on the wall.
Then I heard a cry of "Fire!" outside, and the old hostler quietly and quickly came
in; he got one horse out, and went to another, but the flames were playing round
the trapdoor, and the roaring overhead was dreadful.
The next thing I heard was James' voice, quiet and cheery, as it always was.
"Come, my beauties, it is time for us to be off, so wake up and come along."
I stood nearest the door, so he came to me first, patting me as he came in.
"Come, Beauty, on with your bridle, my boy, we'll soon be out of this smother."
It was on in no time; then he took the scarf off his neck, and tied it lightly
over my eyes, and patting and coaxing he led me out of the stable.
Safe in the yard, he slipped the scarf off my eyes, and shouted, "Here somebody! take
this horse while I go back for the other." A tall, broad man stepped forward and took
me, and James darted back into the stable.
I set up a shrill whinny as I saw him go. Ginger told me afterward that whinny was
the best thing I could have done for her, for had she not heard me outside she would
never have had courage to come out.
There was much confusion in the yard; the horses being got out of other stables, and
the carriages and gigs being pulled out of houses and sheds, lest the flames should
spread further.
On the other side the yard windows were thrown up, and people were shouting all
sorts of things; but I kept my eye fixed on the stable door, where the smoke poured out
thicker than ever, and I could see flashes
of red light; presently I heard above all the stir and din a loud, clear voice, which
I knew was master's: "James Howard!
James Howard!
Are you there?"
There was no answer, but I heard a crash of something falling in the stable, and the
next moment I gave a loud, joyful neigh, for I saw James coming through the smoke
leading Ginger with him; she was coughing violently, and he was not able to speak.
"My brave lad!" said master, laying his hand on his shoulder, "are you hurt?"
James shook his head, for he could not yet speak.
"Ay," said the big man who held me; "he is a brave lad, and no mistake."
"And now," said master, "when you have got your breath, James, we'll get out of this
place as quickly as we can," and we were moving toward the entry, when from the
market-place there came a sound of galloping feet and loud rumbling wheels.
"'Tis the fire-engine! the fire-engine!" shouted two or three voices, "stand back,
make way!" and clattering and thundering over the stones two horses dashed into the
yard with a heavy engine behind them.
The firemen leaped to the ground; there was no need to ask where the fire was--it was
rolling up in a great blaze from the roof.
We got out as fast as we could into the broad quiet market-place; the stars were
shining, and except the noise behind us, all was still.
Master led the way to a large hotel on the other side, and as soon as the hostler
came, he said, "James, I must now hasten to your mistress; I trust the horses entirely
to you, order whatever you think is needed," and with that he was gone.
The master did not run, but I never saw mortal man walk so fast as he did that
There was a dreadful sound before we got into our stalls--the shrieks of those poor
horses that were left burning to death in the stable--it was very terrible! and made
both Ginger and me feel very bad.
We, however, were taken in and well done by.
The next morning the master came to see how we were and to speak to James.
I did not hear much, for the hostler was rubbing me down, but I could see that James
looked very happy, and I thought the master was proud of him.
Our mistress had been so much alarmed in the night that the journey was put off till
the afternoon, so James had the morning on hand, and went first to the inn to see
about our harness and the carriage, and then to hear more about the fire.
When he came back we heard him tell the hostler about it.
At first no one could guess how the fire had been caused, but at last a man said he
saw Dick Towler go into the stable with a pipe in his mouth, and when he came out he
had not one, and went to the tap for another.
Then the under hostler said he had asked Dick to go up the ladder to put down some
hay, but told him to lay down his pipe first.
Dick denied taking the pipe with him, but no one believed him.
I remember our John Manly's rule, never to allow a pipe in the stable, and thought it
ought to be the rule everywhere.
James said the roof and floor had all fallen in, and that only the black walls
were standing; the two poor horses that could not be got out were buried under the
burnt rafters and tiles.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 17.
John Manly's Talk
The rest of our journey was very easy, and a little after sunset we reached the house
of my master's friend.
We were taken into a clean, snug stable; there was a kind coachman, who made us very
comfortable, and who seemed to think a good deal of James when he heard about the fire.
"There is one thing quite clear, young man," he said, "your horses know who they
can trust; it is one of the hardest things in the world to get horses out of a stable
when there is either fire or flood.
I don't know why they won't come out, but they won't--not one in twenty."
We stopped two or three days at this place and then returned home.
All went well on the journey; we were glad to be in our own stable again, and John was
equally glad to see us.
Before he and James left us for the night James said, "I wonder who is coming in my
place." "Little Joe Green at the lodge," said John.
"Little Joe Green! why, he's a child!"
"He is fourteen and a half," said John. "But he is such a little chap!"
"Yes, he is small, but he is quick and willing, and kind-hearted, too, and then he
wishes very much to come, and his father would like it; and I know the master would
like to give him the chance.
He said if I thought he would not do he would look out for a bigger boy; but I said
I was quite agreeable to try him for six weeks."
"Six weeks!" said James; "why, it will be six months before he can be of much use!
It will make you a deal of work, John."
"Well," said John with a laugh, "work and I are very good friends; I never was afraid
of work yet." "You are a very good man," said James.
"I wish I may ever be like you."
"I don't often speak of myself," said John, "but as you are going away from us out into
the world to shift for yourself I'll just tell you how I look on these things.
I was just as old as Joseph when my father and mother died of the fever within ten
days of each other, and left me and my cripple sister Nelly alone in the world,
without a relation that we could look to for help.
I was a farmer's boy, not earning enough to keep myself, much less both of us, and she
must have gone to the workhouse but for our mistress (Nelly calls her her angel, and
she has good right to do so).
She went and hired a room for her with old Widow Mallet, and she gave her knitting and
needlework when she was able to do it; and when she was ill she sent her dinners and
many nice, comfortable things, and was like a mother to her.
Then the master he took me into the stable under old Norman, the coachman that was
I had my food at the house and my bed in the loft, and a suit of clothes, and three
shillings a week, so that I could help Nelly.
Then there was Norman; he might have turned round and said at his age he could not be
troubled with a raw boy from the plow-tail, but he was like a father to me, and took no
end of pains with me.
When the old man died some years after I stepped into his place, and now of course I
have top wages, and can lay by for a rainy day or a sunny day, as it may happen, and
Nelly is as happy as a bird.
So you see, James, I am not the man that should turn up his nose at a little boy and
vex a good, kind master. No, no!
I shall miss you very much, James, but we shall pull through, and there's nothing
like doing a kindness when 'tis put in your way, and I am glad I can do it."
"Then," said James, "you don't hold with that saying, 'Everybody look after himself,
and take care of number one'?"
"No, indeed," said John, "where should I and Nelly have been if master and mistress
and old Norman had only taken care of number one?
Why, she in the workhouse and I hoeing turnips!
Where would Black Beauty and Ginger have been if you had only thought of number one?
why, roasted to death!
No, Jim, no! that is a selfish, heathenish saying, whoever uses it; and any man who
thinks he has nothing to do but take care of number one, why, it's a pity but what he
had been drowned like a puppy or a kitten,
before he got his eyes open; that's what I think," said John, with a very decided jerk
of his head.
James laughed at this; but there was a thickness in his voice when he said, "You
have been my best friend except my mother; I hope you won't forget me."
"No, lad, no!" said John, "and if ever I can do you a good turn I hope you won't
forget me." The next day Joe came to the stables to
learn all he could before James left.
He learned to sweep the stable, to bring in the straw and hay; he began to clean the
harness, and helped to wash the carriage.
As he was quite too short to do anything in the way of grooming Ginger and me, James
taught him upon Merrylegs, for he was to have full charge of him, under John.
He was a nice little bright fellow, and always came whistling to his work.
Merrylegs was a good deal put out at being "mauled about," as he said, "by a boy who
knew nothing;" but toward the end of the second week he told me confidentially that
he thought the boy would turn out well.
At last the day came when James had to leave us; cheerful as he always was, he
looked quite down-hearted that morning.
"You see," he said to John, "I am leaving a great deal behind; my mother and Betsy, and
you, and a good master and mistress, and then the horses, and my old Merrylegs.
At the new place there will not be a soul that I shall know.
If it were not that I shall get a higher place, and be able to help my mother
better, I don't think I should have made up my mind to it; it is a real pinch, John."
"Ay, James, lad, so it is; but I should not think much of you if you could leave your
home for the first time and not feel it.
Cheer up, you'll make friends there; and if you get on well, as I am sure you will, it
will be a fine thing for your mother, and she will be proud enough that you have got
into such a good place as that."
So John cheered him up, but every one was sorry to lose James; as for Merrylegs, he
pined after him for several days, and went quite off his appetite.
So John took him out several mornings with a leading rein, when he exercised me, and,
trotting and galloping by my side, got up the little fellow's spirits again, and he
was soon all right.
Joe's father would often come in and give a little help, as he understood the work; and
Joe took a great deal of pains to learn, and John was quite encouraged about him.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 18.
Going for the Doctor
One night, a few days after James had left, I had eaten my hay and was lying down in my
straw fast asleep, when I was suddenly roused by the stable bell ringing very
I heard the door of John's house open, and his feet running up to the hall.
He was back again in no time; he unlocked the stable door, and came in, calling out,
"Wake up, Beauty!
You must go well now, if ever you did;" and almost before I could think he had got the
saddle on my back and the bridle on my head.
He just ran round for his coat, and then took me at a quick trot up to the hall
door. The squire stood there, with a lamp in his
"Now, John," he said, "ride for your life-- that is, for your mistress' life; there is
not a moment to lose.
Give this note to Dr. White; give your horse a rest at the inn, and be back as
soon as you can." John said, "Yes, sir," and was on my back
in a minute.
The gardener who lived at the lodge had heard the bell ring, and was ready with the
gate open, and away we went through the park, and through the village, and down the
hill till we came to the toll-gate.
John called very loud and thumped upon the door; the man was soon out and flung open
the gate.
"Now," said John, "do you keep the gate open for the doctor; here's the money," and
off he went again.
There was before us a long piece of level road by the river side; John said to me,
"Now, Beauty, do your best," and so I did; I wanted no whip nor spur, and for two
miles I galloped as fast as I could lay my
feet to the ground; I don't believe that my old grandfather, who won the race at
Newmarket, could have gone faster. When we came to the bridge John pulled me
up a little and patted my neck.
"Well done, Beauty! good old fellow," he said.
He would have let me go slower, but my spirit was up, and I was off again as fast
as before.
The air was frosty, the moon was bright; it was very pleasant.
We came through a village, then through a dark wood, then uphill, then downhill, till
after eight miles' run we came to the town, through the streets and into the market-
It was all quite still except the clatter of my feet on the stones--everybody was
asleep. The church clock struck three as we drew up
at Dr. White's door.
John rang the bell twice, and then knocked at the door like thunder.
A window was thrown up, and Dr. White, in his nightcap, put his head out and said,
"What do you want?"
"Mrs. Gordon is very ill, sir; master wants you to go at once; he thinks she will die
if you cannot get there. Here is a note."
"Wait," he said, "I will come."
He shut the window, and was soon at the door.
"The worst of it is," he said, "that my horse has been out all day and is quite
done up; my son has just been sent for, and he has taken the other.
What is to be done?
Can I have your horse?" "He has come at a gallop nearly all the
way, sir, and I was to give him a rest here; but I think my master would not be
against it, if you think fit, sir."
"All right," he said; "I will soon be ready."
John stood by me and stroked my neck; I was very hot.
The doctor came out with his riding-whip.
"You need not take that, sir," said John; "Black Beauty will go till he drops.
Take care of him, sir, if you can; I should not like any harm to come to him."
"No, no, John," said the doctor, "I hope not," and in a minute we had left John far
behind. I will not tell about our way back.
The doctor was a heavier man than John, and not so good a rider; however, I did my very
best. The man at the toll-gate had it open.
When we came to the hill the doctor drew me up.
"Now, my good fellow," he said, "take some breath."
I was glad he did, for I was nearly spent, but that breathing helped me on, and soon
we were in the park. Joe was at the lodge gate; my master was at
the hall door, for he had heard us coming.
He spoke not a word; the doctor went into the house with him, and Joe led me to the
stable. I was glad to get home; my legs shook under
me, and I could only stand and pant.
I had not a dry hair on my body, the water ran down my legs, and I steamed all over,
Joe used to say, like a pot on the fire.
Poor Joe! he was young and small, and as yet he knew very little, and his father,
who would have helped him, had been sent to the next village; but I am sure he did the
very best he knew.
He rubbed my legs and my chest, but he did not put my warm cloth on me; he thought I
was so hot I should not like it.
Then he gave me a pailful of water to drink; it was cold and very good, and I
drank it all; then he gave me some hay and some corn, and thinking he had done right,
he went away.
Soon I began to shake and tremble, and turned deadly cold; my legs ached, my loins
ached, and my chest ached, and I felt sore all over.
Oh! how I wished for my warm, thick cloth, as I stood and trembled.
I wished for John, but he had eight miles to walk, so I lay down in my straw and
tried to go to sleep.
After a long while I heard John at the door; I gave a low moan, for I was in great
pain. He was at my side in a moment, stooping
down by me.
I could not tell him how I felt, but he seemed to know it all; he covered me up
with two or three warm cloths, and then ran to the house for some hot water; he made me
some warm gruel, which I drank, and then I think I went to sleep.
John seemed to be very much put out.
I heard him say to himself over and over again, "Stupid boy! stupid boy! no cloth
put on, and I dare say the water was cold, too; boys are no good;" but Joe was a good
boy, after all.
I was now very ill; a strong inflammation had attacked my lungs, and I could not draw
my breath without pain.
John nursed me night and day; he would get up two or three times in the night to come
to me. My master, too, often came to see me.
"My poor Beauty," he said one day, "my good horse, you saved your mistress' life,
Beauty; yes, you saved her life."
I was very glad to hear that, for it seems the doctor had said if we had been a little
longer it would have been too late. John told my master he never saw a horse go
so fast in his life.
It seemed as if the horse knew what was the matter.
Of course I did, though John thought not; at least I knew as much as this--that John
and I must go at the top of our speed, and that it was for the sake of the mistress.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell CHAPTER 19.
Only Ignorance
I do not know how long I was ill. Mr. Bond, the horse-doctor, came every day.
One day he bled me; John held a pail for the blood.
I felt very faint after it and thought I should die, and I believe they all thought
so too.
Ginger and Merrylegs had been moved into the other stable, so that I might be quiet,
for the fever made me very quick of hearing; any little noise seemed quite
loud, and I could tell every one's footstep going to and from the house.
I knew all that was going on. One night John had to give me a draught;
Thomas Green came in to help him.
After I had taken it and John had made me as comfortable as he could, he said he
should stay half an hour to see how the medicine settled.
Thomas said he would stay with him, so they went and sat down on a bench that had been
brought into Merrylegs' stall, and put down the lantern at their feet, that I might not
be disturbed with the light.
For awhile both men sat silent, and then Tom Green said in a low voice:
"I wish, John, you'd say a bit of a kind word to Joe.
The boy is quite broken-hearted; he can't eat his meals, and he can't smile.
He says he knows it was all his fault, though he is sure he did the best he knew,
and he says if Beauty dies no one will ever speak to him again.
It goes to my heart to hear him.
I think you might give him just a word; he is not a bad boy."
After a short pause John said slowly, "You must not be too hard upon me, Tom.
I know he meant no harm, I never said he did; I know he is not a bad boy.
But you see, I am sore myself; that horse is the pride of my heart, to say nothing of
his being such a favorite with the master and mistress; and to think that his life
may be flung away in this manner is more than I can bear.
But if you think I am hard on the boy I will try to give him a good word to-morrow-
-that is, I mean if Beauty is better."
"Well, John, thank you. I knew you did not wish to be too hard, and
I am glad you see it was only ignorance." John's voice almost startled me as he
"Only ignorance! only ignorance! how can you talk about only ignorance?
Don't you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness?--and
which does the most mischief heaven only knows.
If people can say, 'Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,' they think it is
all right.
I suppose Martha Mulwash did not mean to kill that baby when she dosed it with Dalby
and soothing syrups; but she did kill it, and was tried for manslaughter."
"And serve her right, too," said Tom.
"A woman should not undertake to nurse a tender little child without knowing what is
good and what is bad for it."
"Bill Starkey," continued John, "did not mean to frighten his brother into fits when
he dressed up like a ghost and ran after him in the moonlight; but he did; and that
bright, handsome little fellow, that might
have been the pride of any mother's heart is just no better than an idiot, and never
will be, if he lives to be eighty years old.
You were a good deal cut up yourself, Tom, two weeks ago, when those young ladies left
your hothouse door open, with a frosty east wind blowing right in; you said it killed a
good many of your plants."
"A good many!" said Tom; "there was not one of the tender cuttings that was not nipped
I shall have to strike all over again, and the worst of it is that I don't know where
to go to get fresh ones. I was nearly mad when I came in and saw
what was done."
"And yet," said John, "I am sure the young ladies did not mean it; it was only
I heard no more of this conversation, for the medicine did well and sent me to sleep,
and in the morning I felt much better; but I often thought of John's words when I came
to know more of the world.