Chapter 47: Hard Times
My new master I shall never forget; he had black eyes and a hooked nose,
his mouth was as full of teeth as a bull-dog's, and his voice was as harsh
as the grinding of cart wheels over graveled stones.
His name was Nicholas Skinner, and I believe he was the man
that poor Seedy Sam drove for.
I have heard men say that seeing is believing; but I should say
that feeling is believing; for much as I had seen before,
I never knew till now the utter misery of a cab-horse's life.
Skinner had a low set of cabs and a low set of drivers;
he was hard on the men, and the men were hard on the horses.
In this place we had no Sunday rest, and it was in the heat of summer.
Sometimes on a Sunday morning a party of fast men would hire the cab
for the day; four of them inside and another with the driver,
and I had to take them ten or fifteen miles out into the country,
and back again; never would any of them get down to walk up a hill,
let it be ever so steep, or the day ever so hot -- unless, indeed,
when the driver was afraid I should not manage it, and sometimes
I was so fevered and worn that I could hardly touch my food.
How I used to long for the nice bran mash with niter in it
that Jerry used to give us on Saturday nights in hot weather,
that used to cool us down and make us so comfortable.
Then we had two nights and a whole day for unbroken rest,
and on Monday morning we were as fresh as young horses again;
but here there was no rest, and my driver was just as hard as his master.
He had a cruel whip with something so sharp at the end
that it sometimes drew blood, and he would even whip me under the belly,
and flip the lash out at my head. Indignities like these
took the heart out of me terribly, but still I did my best
and never hung back; for, as poor Ginger said, it was no use;
men are the strongest.
My life was now so utterly wretched that I wished I might, like Ginger,
drop down dead at my work and be out of my misery, and one day my wish
very nearly came to pass.