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 business.
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 think.” 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 Beauty?” “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 troubled.
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. 06 Liberty 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 spirits.
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. 07 Ginger 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 her. “Well,” said she, “if I had had your bringing up I might have had — 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 Merrylegs.
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. 11 Plain Speaking The longer I lived at Birtwick the more proud and happy I felt at having such a place.
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 roughly. “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 again? 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 him.
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 opinion.” 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. 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 matter.
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 head. “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 stiller.
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 voice.
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 tired. 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 floor.
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.” 14 James Howard
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