Chapter 47: Hard Times
The load was very heavy and I had had neither food nor rest since morning;
but I did my best, as I always had done, in spite of cruelty and injustice.
I got along fairly till we came to Ludgate Hill; but there the heavy load
and my own exhaustion were too much. I was struggling to keep on,
goaded by constant chucks of the rein and use of the whip,
when in a single moment -- I cannot tell how -- my feet slipped
from under me, and I fell heavily to the ground on my side;
the suddenness and the force with which I fell seemed to beat all the breath
out of my body. I lay perfectly still; indeed, I had no power to move,
and I thought now I was going to die. I heard a sort of confusion round me,
loud, angry voices, and the getting down of the luggage, but it was all
like a dream. I thought I heard that sweet, pitiful voice saying,
"Oh! that poor horse! it is all our fault." Some one came and loosened
the throat strap of my bridle, and undid the traces which kept the collar
so tight upon me. Some one said, "He's dead, he'll never get up again."
Then I could hear a policeman giving orders, but I did not even open my eyes;
I could only draw a gasping breath now and then. Some cold water
was thrown over my head, and some cordial was poured into my mouth,
and something was covered over me. I cannot tell how long I lay there,
but I found my life coming back, and a kind-voiced man was patting me
and encouraging me to rise. After some more cordial had been given me,
and after one or two attempts, I staggered to my feet,
and was gently led to some stables which were close by.
Here I was put into a well-littered stall, and some warm gruel
was brought to me, which I drank thankfully.
In the evening I was sufficiently recovered to be led back
to Skinner's stables, where I think they did the best for me they could.
In the morning Skinner came with a farrier to look at me.
He examined me very closely and said:
"This is a case of overwork more than disease, and if you could give him
a run off for six months he would be able to work again;
but now there is not an ounce of strength left in him."