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Strawberry Shakespeare

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Member Since: Feb, 2008

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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 5 right now!




by Anna Sewell








The name of the coachman was John Manly; he had a wife and one child, and lived in the coachman's cottage, 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 water-mill 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 he 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 tomorrow."


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?"


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 the master and mistress had chosen a good sensible name for me, that meant something.  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.


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.













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A Lesson My Cat Taught Me by Saul Weber

In A lesson My Cat Taught Me, Jennifer and her mother find a friedly, abandoned cat. Upon bringing it home, they soon discover that it has only one eye. Jennifer calls the cat Uno,..  
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A Lesson My Cat Taught Me by Saul Weber

In A lesson My Cat Taught Me, Jennifer and her mother find a friedly, abandoned cat. Upon bringing it home, they soon discover that it has only one eye. Jennifer calls the cat Uno,..  
BookAds by Silver, Gold and Platinum Members

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