Chapter 39: Seedy Sam
I should say that for a cab-horse I was very well off indeed;
my driver was my owner, and it was his interest to treat me well
and not overwork me, even had he not been so good a man as he was;
but there were a great many horses which belonged to the large cab-owners,
who let them out to their drivers for so much money a day.
As the horses did not belong to these men the only thing they thought of
was how to get their money out of them, first, to pay the master,
and then to provide for their own living; and a dreadful time
some of these horses had of it. Of course, I understood but little,
but it was often talked over on the stand, and the governor,
who was a kind-hearted man and fond of horses, would sometimes speak up
if one came in very much jaded or ill-used.
One day a shabby, miserable-looking driver, who went by the name
of "Seedy Sam", brought in his horse looking dreadfully beat,
and the governor said:
"You and your horse look more fit for the police station than for this rank."
The man flung his tattered rug over the horse, turned full round
upon the Governor and said in a voice that sounded almost desperate:
"If the police have any business with the matter it ought to be with
the masters who charge us so much, or with the fares that are fixed so low.
If a man has to pay eighteen shillings a day for the use of a cab
and two horses, as many of us have to do in the season,
and must make that up before we earn a penny for ourselves
I say 'tis more than hard work; nine shillings a day to get out of each horse
before you begin to get your own living. You know that's true,
and if the horses don't work we must starve, and I and my children
have known what that is before now. I've six of 'em, and only one
earns anything; I am on the stand fourteen or sixteen hours a day,
and I haven't had a Sunday these ten or twelve weeks; you know Skinner
never gives a day if he can help it, and if I don't work hard,
tell me who does! I want a warm coat and a mackintosh,
but with so many to feed how can a man get it? I had to pledge my clock
a week ago to pay Skinner, and I shall never see it again."