Attention Horse-lovers! The young folks edition of Black Beauty, the great classic novel by Anna Sewell, is available for your reading pleasure on Strawberry Shakespeare's site. Check out this wonderful readaloud for the whole family -- from a horse's point of view. Enjoy Chapter 13 right now!
by Anna Sewell
DOLLY AND A REAL GENTLEMAN
The winter came in early, with a great deal of cold and wet. There was
snow, or sleet, or rain, almost every day for weeks, changing only for
keen driving winds or sharp frosts. The horses all felt it very much.
When it is a dry cold, a couple of good thick rugs will keep the warmth
in us; but when it is soaking rain, they soon get wet through and are no
good. Some of the drivers had a waterproof cover to throw over, which
was a fine thing; but some of the men were so poor that they could not
protect either themselves or their horses, and many of them suffered
very much that winter. When we horses had worked half the day we went to
our dry stables, and could rest; while they had to sit on their boxes,
sometimes staying out as late as one or in the morning, if
they had a party to wait for.
When the streets were slippery with frost or snow, that was the worst of
all for us horses; one mile of such traveling with a weight to draw, and
no firm footing, would take more out of us than four on a good road;
every nerve and muscle of our bodies is on the strain to keep our
balance; and, added to this, the fear of falling is more exhausting than
anything else. If the roads are very bad, indeed, our shoes are roughed,
but that makes us feel nervous at first.
One cold windy day, Dolly brought Jerry a basin of something hot, and
was standing by him while he ate it. He had scarcely begun, when a
gentleman, walking toward us very fast, held up his umbrella. Jerry
touched his hat in return, gave the basin to Dolly, and was taking off
my cloth, when the gentleman, hastening up, cried out, "No, no, finish
your soup, my friend; I have not much time to spare, but I can wait till
you have done, and set your little girl safe on the pavement."
So saying, he seated himself in the cab. Jerry thanked him kindly, and
came back to Dolly. "There, Dolly, that's a gentleman; that's a real
gentleman, Dolly; he has got time and thought for the comfort of a poor
cabman and a little girl."
Jerry finished his soup, set the child across, and then took his orders
to drive to Clapham Rise. Several times after that, the same gentleman
took our cab. I think he was very fond of dogs and horses, for whenever
we took him to his own door, two or three dogs would come bounding out
to meet him. Sometimes he came round and patted me saying in his quiet,
pleasant way: "This horse has got a good master, and he deserves it." It
was a very rare thing for any one to notice the horse that had been
working for him. I have known ladies to do it now and then, and this
gentleman, and one or two others have given me a pat and a kind word;
but ninety-nine out of a hundred would as soon think of patting the
steam engine that drew the train.
One day, he and another gentleman took our cab; they stopped at a shop
in R---- Street, and while his friend went in, he stood at the door.
A little ahead of us on the other side of the street, a cart with two
very fine horses was standing before some wine vaults; the carter was not
with them, and I cannot tell how long they had been standing, but they
seemed to think they had waited long enough, and began to move off.
Before they had gone, many paces, the carter came running out and caught
them. He seemed furious at their having moved, and with whip and rein
punished them brutally, even beating them about the head. Our gentleman
saw it all, and stepping quickly across the street, said in a decided
voice: "If you don't stop that directly, I'll have you arrested for
leaving your horses, and for brutal conduct."
The man, who had clearly been drinking, poured forth some abusive
language, but he left off knocking the horses about, and taking the
reins, got into his cart; meantime our friend had quietly taken a
notebook from his pocket, and looking at the name and address painted on
the cart, he wrote something down.
"What do you want with that?" growled the carter, as he cracked his whip
and was moving on. A nod and a grim smile was the only answer he got.
On returning to the cab, our friend was joined by his companion, who
said laughing, "I should have thought, Wright, you had enough business
of your own to look after, without troubling yourself about other
people's horses and servants."
Our friend stood still for a moment, and throwing his head a little
back, "Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?"
"No," said the other.
"Then I'll tell you. It is because people think only about their own
business, and won't trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed,
nor bring the wrong-doer to light. I never see a wicked thing like this
without doing what I can, and many a master has thanked me for letting
him know how his horses have been used."
"I wish there were more gentlemen like you, sir," said Jerry, "for they
are wanted badly enough in this city."
For kids who love stories about horses, a must-read isSaving Bluestone Belle, the award-winning comic-adventure novel by Strawberry Shakespeare. Click here to see the eye-popping book cover and learn more about this rollicking adventure tale! Also be sure to check out Strawberry Shakespeare's new short story collection for kids, The Cloud Horse, containing three enchanting fables that are guaranteed to please the fussiest young reader.