Chapter 17: John Manly's Talk
"No, indeed," said John, "where should I and Nelly have been
if master and mistress and old Norman had only taken care of number one?
Why, she in the workhouse and I hoeing turnips! Where would Black Beauty
and Ginger have been if you had only thought of number one? why,
roasted to death! No, Jim, no! that is a selfish, heathenish saying,
whoever uses it; and any man who thinks he has nothing to do
but take care of number one, why, it's a pity but what he had been drowned
like a puppy or a kitten, before he got his eyes open; that's what I think,"
said John, with a very decided jerk of his head.
James laughed at this; but there was a thickness in his voice when he said,
"You have been my best friend except my mother; I hope you won't forget me."
"No, lad, no!" said John, "and if ever I can do you a good turn
I hope you won't forget me."
The next day Joe came to the stables to learn all he could before James left.
He learned to sweep the stable, to bring in the straw and hay;
he began to clean the harness, and helped to wash the carriage.
As he was quite too short to do anything in the way of grooming
Ginger and me, James taught him upon Merrylegs, for he was to have
full charge of him, under John. He was a nice little bright fellow,
and always came whistling to his work.
Merrylegs was a good deal put out at being "mauled about," as he said,
"by a boy who knew nothing;" but toward the end of the second week
he told me confidentially that he thought the boy would turn out well.
At last the day came when James had to leave us; cheerful as he always was,
he looked quite down-hearted that morning.
"You see," he said to John, "I am leaving a great deal behind;
my mother and Betsy, and you, and a good master and mistress,
and then the horses, and my old Merrylegs. At the new place
there will not be a soul that I shall know. If it were not that
I shall get a higher place, and be able to help my mother better,
I don't think I should have made up my mind to it; it is a real pinch, John."