Chapter 27: Ruined and Going Downhill
As soon as my knees were sufficiently healed I was turned into a small meadow
for a month or two; no other creature was there; and though I enjoyed
the liberty and the sweet grass, yet I had been so long used to society
that I felt very lonely. Ginger and I had become fast friends,
and now I missed her company extremely. I often neighed when I heard
horses' feet passing in the road, but I seldom got an answer;
till one morning the gate was opened, and who should come in
but dear old Ginger. The man slipped off her halter, and left her there.
With a joyful whinny I trotted up to her; we were both glad to meet,
but I soon found that it was not for our pleasure that she was brought
to be with me. Her story would be too long to tell, but the end of it was
that she had been ruined by hard riding, and was now turned off
to see what rest would do.
Lord George was young and would take no warning; he was a hard rider,
and would hunt whenever he could get the chance, quite careless of his horse.
Soon after I left the stable there was a steeplechase, and he determined
to ride. Though the groom told him she was a little strained,
and was not fit for the race, he did not believe it,
and on the day of the race urged Ginger to keep up with the foremost riders.
With her high spirit, she strained herself to the utmost;
she came in with the first three horses, but her wind was touched,
besides which he was too heavy for her, and her back was strained.
"And so," she said, "here we are, ruined in the prime of our
youth and strength, you by a drunkard, and I by a fool; it is very hard."
We both felt in ourselves that we were not what we had been. However,
that did not spoil the pleasure we had in each other's company;
we did not gallop about as we once did, but we used to feed,
and lie down together, and stand for hours under one of the shady lime-trees
with our heads close to each other; and so we passed our time
till the family returned from town.
One day we saw the earl come into the meadow, and York was with him.
Seeing who it was, we stood still under our lime-tree,
and let them come up to us. They examined us carefully.
The earl seemed much annoyed.