A Fair Start
The name of the coachman was John Manly; he had a wife and one little child, and they lived in the coachmans 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 its my opinion he has not been frightened or ill-used while he was young.
Thats well, said the squire, I will try him myself to-morrow.
The next day I was brought up for my master. I remembered my mothers counsel and my good old masters, 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 uncles 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 eyewhat do you say to calling him Black Beauty?
Black Beautywhy, yes, I think that is a very good name. If you like it shall be his name; and so it was.
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