One day, during this summer, the groom cleaned and dressed me with such
extraordinary care that I thought some new change must be at hand; he
trimmed my fetlocks and legs, passed the tar-brush over my hoofs, and
even parted my forelock. I think the harness had an extra polish. Willie
seemed half-anxious, half-merry, as he got into the chaise with his
grandfather. "If the ladies take to him," said the old gentleman,
"they'll be suited and he'll be suited; we can but try."
At the distance of a mile or two from the village, we came to a pretty,
low house, with a lawn and shrubbery at the front, and a drive up to the
door. Willie rang the bell, and asked if Miss Blomefield or Miss Ellen
was at home. Yes, they were. So, while Willie stayed with me, Mr.
Thoroughgood went into the house. In about ten minutes he returned,
followed by three ladies; one tall, pale lady, wrapped in a white shawl,
leaned on a younger lady, with dark eyes and a merry face; the other, a
very stately-looking person, was Miss Blomefield. They all came and
looked at me and asked questions. The younger lady--that was Miss
Ellen--took to me very much; she said she was sure she should like me, I
had such a good face. The tall, pale lady said she should always be
nervous in riding behind a horse that had once been down, as I might
come down again, and if I did she should never get over the fright."
"You see, ladies," said Mr. Thoroughgood, "many first-rate horses have
had their knees broken through the carelessness of their drivers,
without any fault of their own, and from what I see of this horse, I
should say that is his case; but, of course, I do not wish to influence
you. If you incline, you can have him on trial, and then your coachman
will see what he thinks of him."
"You have always been such a good adviser to us about our horses," said
the stately lady, "that your recommendation would go a long way with me,
and if my sister Lavinia sees no objection, we will accept your offer of
a trial, with thanks."
It was then arranged that I should be sent for the next day. In the
morning a smart-looking young man came for me; at first, he looked
pleased; but when he saw my knees, he said in a disappointed voice: "I
didn't think, sir, you would have recommended a blemished horse like
"'Handsome is that handsome does,'" said my master; "you are only taking
him on trial, and I am sure you will do fairly by him, young man; if he
is not safe as any horse you ever drove, send him back."
I was led to my new home, placed in a comfortable stable, fed, and left
to myself. The next day, when my groom was cleaning my face, he said:
"That is just like the star that Black Beauty had, he is much the same
height, too; I wonder where he is now."
A little further on, he came to the place in my neck where I was bled,
and where a little knot was left in the skin. He almost started, and
begun to look me over carefully, talking to himself. "White star in the
forehead, one white foot on the off side, this little knot just in that
place"; then, looking at the middle of my back--"and as I am alive,
there is that little patch of white hair that John used to call
'Beauty's threepenny bit.' It must be Black Beauty! Why, Beauty!
Beauty! do you know me? little Joe Green, that almost killed you?" And
he began patting and patting me as if he was quite overjoyed.
I could not say that I remembered him, for now he was a fine grown young
fellow, with black whiskers, and a man's voice, but I was sure he knew
me, and that he was Joe Green, and I was very glad. I put my nose up to
him, and tried to say that we were friends. I never saw a man so
"Give you a fair trial! I should think so, indeed! I wonder who the
rascal was that broke your knees, my old Beauty! you must have been
badly served out somewhere; well, well, it won't be my fault if you
haven't good times of it now. I wish John Manly was here to see you."
In the afternoon I was put into a low Park chair and brought to the
door. Miss Ellen was going to try me, and Green went with her. I soon
found that she was a good driver, and she seemed pleased with my paces.
I heard Joe telling her about me, and that he was sure I was Squire
Gordon's old "Black Beauty."
When we returned, the other sisters came out to hear how I had behaved
myself. She told them what she had just heard, and said: "I shall
certainly write to Mrs. Gordon, and tell her that her favorite horse has
come to us. How pleased she will be!"
After this I was driven every day for a week or so, and as I appeared to
be quite safe, Miss Lavinia at last ventured out in the small closed
carriage. After this it was quite decided to keep me and call me by my
old name of Black Beauty.
I have now lived in this happy place a whole year.
For kids who love stories about horses, a must-read is Saving 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.