Chapter 5: A Fair Start
The name of the coachman was John Manly; he had a wife and one little child,
and they lived in the coachman's cottage, very near the stables.
The next morning he took me into the yard and gave me a good grooming,
and just as I was going into my box, with my coat soft and bright,
the squire came in to look at me, and seemed pleased.
"John," he said, "I meant to have tried the new horse this morning,
but I have other business. You may as well take him around after breakfast;
go by the common and the Highwood, and back by the watermill and the river;
that will show his paces."
"I will, sir," said John. After breakfast he came and fitted me
with a bridle. He was very particular in letting out and taking in
the straps, to fit my head comfortably; then he brought a saddle,
but it was not broad enough for my back; he saw it in a minute
and went for another, which fitted nicely. He rode me first slowly,
then a trot, then a canter, and when we were on the common
he gave me a light touch with his whip, and we had a splendid gallop.
"Ho, ho! my boy," he said, as he pulled me up, "you would like
to follow the hounds, I think."
As we came back through the park we met the Squire and Mrs. Gordon walking;
they stopped, and John jumped off.
"Well, John, how does he go?"
"First-rate, sir," answered John; "he is as fleet as a deer,
and has a fine spirit too; but the lightest touch of the rein will guide him.
Down at the end of the common we met one of those traveling carts
hung all over with baskets, rugs, and such like; you know, sir, many horses
will not pass those carts quietly; he just took a good look at it,
and then went on as quiet and pleasant as could be.
They were shooting rabbits near the Highwood, and a gun went off close by;
he pulled up a little and looked, but did not stir a step to right or left.
I just held the rein steady and did not hurry him, and it's my opinion
he has not been frightened or ill-used while he was young."