Chapter 34: An Old War Horse
Captain had been broken in and trained for an army horse;
his first owner was an officer of cavalry going out to the Crimean war.
He said he quite enjoyed the training with all the other horses,
trotting together, turning together, to the right hand or the left,
halting at the word of command, or dashing forward at full speed
at the sound of the trumpet or signal of the officer. He was,
when young, a dark, dappled iron-gray, and considered very handsome.
His master, a young, high-spirited gentleman, was very fond of him,
and treated him from the first with the greatest care and kindness.
He told me he thought the life of an army horse was very pleasant;
but when it came to being sent abroad over the sea in a great ship,
he almost changed his mind.
"That part of it," said he, "was dreadful! Of course we could not walk
off the land into the ship; so they were obliged to put strong straps
under our bodies, and then we were lifted off our legs
in spite of our struggles, and were swung through the air over the water,
to the deck of the great vessel. There we were placed in small close stalls,
and never for a long time saw the sky, or were able to stretch our legs.
The ship sometimes rolled about in high winds, and we were knocked about,
and felt bad enough.
"However, at last it came to an end, and we were hauled up,
and swung over again to the land; we were very glad, and snorted and neighed
for joy, when we once more felt firm ground under our feet.
"We soon found that the country we had come to was very different
from our own and that we had many hardships to endure besides the fighting;
but many of the men were so fond of their horses that they did
everything they could to make them comfortable in spite of snow, wet,
and all things out of order."
"But what about the fighting?" said I, "was not that worse
than anything else?"