Chapter 15: The Old Hostler
After this it was decided by my master and mistress to pay a visit
to some friends who lived about forty-six miles from our home,
and James was to drive them. The first day we traveled thirty-two miles.
There were some long, heavy hills, but James drove so carefully
and thoughtfully that we were not at all harassed. He never forgot to
put on the brake as we went downhill, nor to take it off at the right place.
He kept our feet on the smoothest part of the road, and if the uphill
was very long, he set the carriage wheels a little across the road,
so as not to run back, and gave us a breathing. All these little things
help a horse very much, particularly if he gets kind words into the bargain.
We stopped once or twice on the road, and just as the sun was going down
we reached the town where we were to spend the night. We stopped at
the principal hotel, which was in the market-place; it was a very large one;
we drove under an archway into a long yard, at the further end of which
were the stables and coachhouses. Two hostlers came to take us out.
The head hostler was a pleasant, active little man, with a crooked leg,
and a yellow striped waistcoat. I never saw a man unbuckle harness
so quickly as he did, and with a pat and a good word he led me
to a long stable, with six or eight stalls in it, and two or three horses.
The other man brought Ginger; James stood by while we were
rubbed down and cleaned.
I never was cleaned so lightly and quickly as by that little old man.
When he had done James stepped up and felt me over, as if he thought
I could not be thoroughly done, but he found my coat as clean and smooth
"Well," he said, "I thought I was pretty quick, and our John quicker still,
but you do beat all I ever saw for being quick and thorough
at the same time."