Chapter 40: Poor Ginger
One day, while our cab and many others were waiting outside one of the parks
where music was playing, a shabby old cab drove up beside ours.
The horse was an old worn-out chestnut, with an ill-kept coat,
and bones that showed plainly through it, the knees knuckled over,
and the fore-legs were very unsteady. I had been eating some hay,
and the wind rolled a little lock of it that way, and the poor creature
put out her long thin neck and picked it up, and then turned
and looked about for more. There was a hopeless look in the dull eye
that I could not help noticing, and then, as I was thinking
where I had seen that horse before, she looked full at me and said,
"Black Beauty, is that you?"
It was Ginger! but how changed! The beautifully arched and glossy neck
was now straight, and lank, and fallen in; the clean straight legs
and delicate fetlocks were swelled; the joints were grown out of shape
with hard work; the face, that was once so full of spirit and life,
was now full of suffering, and I could tell by the heaving of her sides,
and her frequent cough, how bad her breath was.
Our drivers were standing together a little way off, so I sidled up to her
a step or two, that we might have a little quiet talk. It was a sad tale
that she had to tell.
After a twelvemonth's run off at Earlshall, she was considered to be fit
for work again, and was sold to a gentleman. For a little while
she got on very well, but after a longer gallop than usual
the old strain returned, and after being rested and doctored
she was again sold. In this way she changed hands several times,
but always getting lower down.
"And so at last," said she, "I was bought by a man who keeps
a number of cabs and horses, and lets them out. You look well off,
and I am glad of it, but I could not tell you what my life has been.
When they found out my weakness they said I was not worth
what they gave for me, and that I must go into one of the low cabs,
and just be used up; that is what they are doing, whipping and working
with never one thought of what I suffer -- they paid for me,
and must get it out of me, they say. The man who hires me now
pays a deal of money to the owner every day, and so he has to
get it out of me too; and so it's all the week round and round,
with never a Sunday rest."