Chapter 41: The Butcher
I saw a great deal of trouble among the horses in London,
and much of it might have been prevented by a little common sense.
We horses do not mind hard work if we are treated reasonably,
and I am sure there are many driven by quite poor men who have a happier life
than I had when I used to go in the Countess of W----'s carriage,
with my silver-mounted harness and high feeding.
It often went to my heart to see how the little ponies were used,
straining along with heavy loads or staggering under heavy blows
from some low, cruel boy. Once I saw a little gray pony
with a thick mane and a pretty head, and so much like Merrylegs
that if I had not been in harness I should have neighed to him.
He was doing his best to pull a heavy cart, while a strong rough boy
was cutting him under the belly with his whip and chucking cruelly
at his little mouth. Could it be Merrylegs? It was just like him;
but then Mr. Blomefield was never to sell him, and I think
he would not do it; but this might have been quite as good a little fellow,
and had as happy a place when he was young.
I often noticed the great speed at which butchers' horses were made to go,
though I did not know why it was so till one day when we had to
wait some time in St. John's Wood. There was a butcher's shop next door,
and as we were standing a butcher's cart came dashing up at a great pace.
The horse was hot and much exhausted; he hung his head down, while his
heaving sides and trembling legs showed how hard he had been driven.
The lad jumped out of the cart and was getting the basket
when the master came out of the shop much displeased.
After looking at the horse he turned angrily to the lad.
"How many times shall I tell you not to drive in this way?
You ruined the last horse and broke his wind, and you are going
to ruin this in the same way. If you were not my own son I would dismiss you
on the spot; it is a disgrace to have a horse brought to the shop
in a condition like that; you are liable to be taken up by the police
for such driving, and if you are you need not look to me for bail,
for I have spoken to you till I'm tired; you must look out for yourself."