Chapter 4: Birtwick Park
At this time I used to stand in the stable and my coat was brushed every day
till it shone like a rook's wing. It was early in May, when there came a man
from Squire Gordon's, who took me away to the hall. My master said,
"Good-by, Darkie; be a good horse, and always do your best."
I could not say "good-by", so I put my nose into his hand;
he patted me kindly, and I left my first home. As I lived some years
with Squire Gordon, I may as well tell something about the place.
Squire Gordon's park skirted the village of Birtwick.
It was entered by a large iron gate, at which stood the first lodge,
and then you trotted along on a smooth road between clumps
of large old trees; then another lodge and another gate,
which brought you to the house and the gardens. Beyond this lay
the home paddock, the old orchard, and the stables. There was accommodation
for many horses and carriages; but I need only describe the stable
into which I was taken; this was very roomy, with four good stalls;
a large swinging window opened into the yard, which made it pleasant and airy.
The first stall was a large square one, shut in behind with a wooden gate;
the others were common stalls, good stalls, but not nearly so large;
it had a low rack for hay and a low manger for corn;
it was called a loose box, because the horse that was put into it
was not tied up, but left loose, to do as he liked. It is a great thing
to have a loose box.
Into this fine box the groom put me; it was clean, sweet, and airy.
I never was in a better box than that, and the sides were not so high
but that I could see all that went on through the iron rails
that were at the top.
He gave me some very nice oats, he patted me, spoke kindly,
and then went away.
When I had eaten my corn I looked round. In the stall next to mine
stood a little fat gray pony, with a thick mane and tail, a very pretty head,
and a pert little nose.