Chapter 14: James Howard
Early one morning in December John had just led me into my box
after my daily exercise, and was strapping my cloth on
and James was coming in from the corn chamber with some oats,
when the master came into the stable. He looked rather serious,
and held an open letter in his hand. John fastened the door of my box,
touched his cap, and waited for orders.
"Good-morning, John," said the master. "I want to know
if you have any complaint to make of James."
"Complaint, sir? No, sir."
"Is he industrious at his work and respectful to you?"
"Yes, sir, always."
"You never find he slights his work when your back is turned?"
"That's well; but I must put another question. Have you no reason
to suspect, when he goes out with the horses to exercise them
or to take a message, that he stops about talking to his acquaintances,
or goes into houses where he has no business, leaving the horses outside?"
"No, sir, certainly not; and if anybody has been saying that about James,
I don't believe it, and I don't mean to believe it unless I have it
fairly proved before witnesses; it's not for me to say who has been trying
to take away James' character, but I will say this, sir, that a steadier,
pleasanter, honester, smarter young fellow I never had in this stable.
I can trust his word and I can trust his work; he is gentle and clever
with the horses, and I would rather have them in charge with him
than with half the young fellows I know of in laced hats and liveries;
and whoever wants a character of James Howard," said John,
with a decided jerk of his head, "let them come to John Manly."