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Strawberry Shakespeare

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Member Since: Feb, 2008

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Attention horse-lovers! The charming children's book, Minnie's Pet Horse, a 19th century classic by Mrs. Madeline Leslie, is available for your reading pleasure on Strawberry Shakespeare's Authorsden site. Check out this wonderful readaloud for the whole family. The seven chapters of this book are posted in seven installments. Enjoy Chapter 6 right now!

STRAWBERRY SHAKESPEARE INTRODUCES......


MINNIE'S PET HORSE

A novel by Mrs. Madeline Leslie



CHAPTER VI

THE BLIND HORSE


The next day, Minnie was walking through the grounds with her uncle,
while Tiney and Fidelle were following at her heels, when the
express-man drove into the yard. He had a cage, as Minnie called it, in
his wagon, and she ran eagerly to see what it contained. How great was
her delight to see a goat, and two cunning little kids, cuddling down
on the hay at the bottom of the wagon!

When they were put into the stable, Minnie laughed and clapped her
hands, and ran to summon all the family to come and see them.

Captain Lee's wife had accompanied him on this voyage, and had now gone
to see her mother. Her husband had promised to meet her the next day,
and afterwards was coming with her to make them a longer visit.

Minnie obtained directions from him before he left, as to the diet and
care of her new pets, and then, after making him promise to come back as
quickly as possible, consented that he should go.

Her mother found her sitting quiet and sad, looking from the bay window
in the parlor; for the captain was her favorite uncle, and she was
greatly disappointed at his going so soon.

To comfort her, the lady took one of the books on natural history, and
read some anecdotes to her, with a few of which I will close my book of
Minnie's pet horse.

Here is an illustration of the force of habit in a blind horse. He ran
on one of the stages of the great north road for many years, and so
perfectly was he acquainted with all the stables, halting places, and
other matters, that he was never known to commit a blunder. He could
never be driven past his own stable; and at the sound of the coming
coach, he would turn out, of his own accord, into the stable yard. What
was very remarkable, so accurate was his knowledge of time, that, though
half a dozen coaches halted at the same inn, yet he was never known to
stir till the sound of the ten o'clock coach was heard in the distance.

"I think, after all," said Mrs. Lee, "that the docility of the horse is
one of the most remarkable of its natural gifts. Here are some anecdotes
that are very entertaining, in regard to their docility, or readiness to
learn.

"Mr. Astley, of the Royal Amphitheatre, at Westminster Bridge, once had
in his possession a remarkably fine Barbary horse, forty-three years of
age, which was presented him by the Duke of Leeds. This celebrated
animal officiated in the character of a waiter in the course of the
performances at the amphitheatre, and at various other theatres in the
United Kingdom.

"At the request of his master, he would ungirth his own saddle, wash his
feet in a pail of water, and would bring into the riding school a tea
table and the dishes, which feat was usually followed up by fetching a
chair, or stool, or whatever might be wanted. Last of all, he took a
kettle of boiling water from a blazing fire, to the wonder and
admiration of the spectators.

"Another gentleman had a horse which he taught to dance to music."

"Just like Star," shouted Minnie.

"Yes, dear; and at the command of his master he pretended to be lame,
feigned death, lying motionless, with his limbs extended, and allowing
himself to be dragged about till some words were pronounced, when he
instantly sprang to his feet.

"In 1838, there was a wonderful horse presented to the public, who
performed many curious tricks, which seemed to exhibit something far
beyond instinct. Among other things, it cleared six poles, one after
the other, at a distance of not more than four feet between.

"After it had done this, it went limping up to its master, as if to say,
'See; I can do no more to-night.'

"The master lifted the lame foot, searching for the cause of the halt,
but in vain. Still, however, the horse goes on limping. The man then
looked it in the face, and shook his head, as if he would say, 'Ah, you
are shamming, you rogue; aren't you?'

"And a sham it proved to be; for, with a touch of the whip, the creature
bounded away like a fawn, sound both in wind and limb."

"I wish I could see that horse," cried Minnie, laughing.

"The most remarkable instance of docility," added the lady, "was Bank's
famous horse, Morocco.

"This animal would restore a glove to its owner, after his master had
whispered the man's name in his ear; and he could also tell the number
of pence in any silver coin. Morocco danced to the sound of a pipe, and
counted money with his feet."

"O, mamma, wasn't that strange? I wonder whether I could teach Star to
do any funny things!"

"Kindness and perseverance will effect a great deal, my dear," answered
the lady, enjoying her little daughter's delight. "I have heard of a
little farm boy, who was too small to mount the plough horses, he was
required to ride, who taught one of them to put down its head to the
ground, while he jumped astride on its neck, and then, by gently
elevating the head, let him slip backward into his seat on its back.

"The intelligent creature appeared perfectly to understand the wishes of
the boy, and the use of lowering its head for the purpose of his
mounting.

"Perhaps you can teach Star to pump his own water, as a gentleman in
Leeds found his horse doing. The animal had been kept in a stable for a
long time, but was at last turned into a field, where there was a pump,
well supplied with water.

"One day, being thirsty, I suppose, a man saw him go to the pump, and,
taking the handle in his mouth, work it with his head, in a way exactly
similar to that done by the hand of a man, until he had secured a
supply."

"It does seem as if they were guided by reason," remarked Mrs. Harry
Lee, who had entered the room in time to hear the last anecdote.

"Certainly," returned her sister; "their intelligence and sagacity
place them in the highest rank among the brute creation. I have been
myself surprised in reading these accounts of their attachment to man,
and to each other; their courage, faithfulness, and devotion to the
interests of their owner; and I wish every man, woman, and child, who
has any thing to do with these noble creatures, would study their
history, so as to treat them with the kindness and care they deserve. I
have heard my husband say, that even in a wild state, all their
movements are so intelligent, that it seems as if it must be the result
of reason. When the herds wish to change from one vast plain to another,
they choose leaders, and place sentinels along the line of march, thus
recognizing the necessity of obedience and order.

"Then, the readiness with which they communicate to each other when
they have discovered water or fresh pasturage, the adroitness with
which, by their responsive neighings, they express alarm, terror, or
pleasure, are equally wonderful.

"When they pass through a swamp, they test it with the fore foot before
they trust the weight of their whole bodies upon it; and they often
scoop out a hollow place in the sand, expecting it will fill with
water. Even the little Shetland pony, in going through the bogs, puts
its nose to the ground, then pats it with the fore foot, judging from
the feeling of the ground whether it will bear him."




About Strawberry Shakespeare

For kids who love stories about horses, Strawberry Shakespeare's bestselling horse books, SAVING BLUESTONE BELLE and THE CLOUD HORSE, make perfect holiday gifts. These exciting adventure stories for ages 8-12 are adored by boys and girls alike, by both avid and reluctant readers, and by the young at heart.

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