Chapter 11: Plain Speaking
The longer I lived at Birtwick the more proud and happy I felt
at having such a place. Our master and mistress were respected and beloved
by all who knew them; they were good and kind to everybody and everything;
not only men and women, but horses and donkeys, dogs and cats,
cattle and birds; there was no oppressed or ill-used creature
that had not a friend in them, and their servants took the same tone.
If any of the village children were known to treat any creature cruelly
they soon heard about it from the Hall.
The squire and Farmer Grey had worked together, as they said,
for more than twenty years to get check-reins on the cart-horses
done away with, and in our parts you seldom saw them; and sometimes,
if mistress met a heavily laden horse with his head strained up
she would stop the carriage and get out, and reason with the driver
in her sweet serious voice, and try to show him how foolish and cruel it was.
I don't think any man could withstand our mistress. I wish all ladies
were like her. Our master, too, used to come down very heavy sometimes.
I remember he was riding me toward home one morning when we saw
a powerful man driving toward us in a light pony chaise,
with a beautiful little bay pony, with slender legs and a high-bred
sensitive head and face. Just as he came to the park gates
the little thing turned toward them; the man, without word or warning,
wrenched the creature's head round with such a force and suddenness
that he nearly threw it on its haunches. Recovering itself it was going on,
when he began to lash it furiously. The pony plunged forward,
but the strong, heavy hand held the pretty creature back
with force almost enough to break its jaw, while the whip still cut into him.
It was a dreadful sight to me, for I knew what fearful pain it gave
that delicate little mouth; but master gave me the word,
and we were up with him in a second.
"Sawyer," he cried in a stern voice, "is that pony made of flesh and blood?"
"Flesh and blood and temper," he said; "he's too fond of his own will,
and that won't suit me." He spoke as if he was in a strong passion.
He was a builder who had often been to the park on business.