Chapter 33: A London Cab Horse
Jeremiah Barker was my new master's name, but as every one called him Jerry,
I shall do the same. Polly, his wife, was just as good a match
as a man could have. She was a plump, trim, tidy little woman,
with smooth, dark hair, dark eyes, and a merry little mouth.
The boy was twelve years old, a tall, frank, good-tempered lad;
and little Dorothy (Dolly they called her) was her mother over again,
at eight years old. They were all wonderfully fond of each other;
I never knew such a happy, merry family before or since. Jerry had
a cab of his own, and two horses, which he drove and attended to himself.
His other horse was a tall, white, rather large-boned animal
called "Captain". He was old now, but when he was young
he must have been splendid; he had still a proud way of holding his head
and arching his neck; in fact, he was a high-bred, fine-mannered,
noble old horse, every inch of him. He told me that in his early youth
he went to the Crimean War; he belonged to an officer in the cavalry,
and used to lead the regiment. I will tell more of that hereafter.
The next morning, when I was well-groomed, Polly and Dolly came into the yard
to see me and make friends. Harry had been helping his father
since the early morning, and had stated his opinion that I should turn out
a "regular brick". Polly brought me a slice of apple,
and Dolly a piece of bread, and made as much of me as if I had been
the "Black Beauty" of olden time. It was a great treat to be petted again
and talked to in a gentle voice, and I let them see as well as I could
that I wished to be friendly. Polly thought I was very handsome,
and a great deal too good for a cab, if it was not for the broken knees.
"Of course there's no one to tell us whose fault that was," said Jerry,
"and as long as I don't know I shall give him the benefit of the doubt;
for a firmer, neater stepper I never rode. We'll call him `Jack',
after the old one -- shall we, Polly?"
"Do," she said, "for I like to keep a good name going."