See those two horses in the picture down there? The little one is me. That's my mom with me. I was just a young colt back then. I remember those days well. Mom and I would spend every day together, running around the green meadow and eating our fill of the delicious grass that grew there. I loved that farm. I also loved the days when my mom taught me things that would be important as I got older.
"Pay attention to what I'm about to say," she told me once. "The other colts you play with are very nice but they have not learned their manners. To have manners you must be gentle and good, and do your work with a good will."
Mom would always give me good advice, and I tried my hardest to follow it.
As I got older, I heard men talk about how I had grown to become a fine horse. I was kept on the same farm until I was four years old. By that time I had been taught to carry people and pull carts.
It was about then that I learned I was being sold. I didn't know whether this was good or bad, as I'd never left my farm before. I was sad to go, but excited to see what new adventures awaited me. At first things weren't so bad, but eventually, life got pretty rough for me. But I'll get to that in a little bit.
I was sold to an estate called Birtwick Park. It was a beautiful place. There were many other horses in the stable with me, and the trainers were very nice. The owners of the house would take each of us out for daily rides around the grounds.
It was pleasant work.
I grew especially fond of the stable boy, Joe Green. He seemed to like me, too. Joe was in charge of putting up all the horses for the night. But he always seemed to pay extra attention to me.
The time I spent at Birtwick Park was wonderful. But I remember one night
in particular that was not so wonderful. In fact, it was scary.
Late one night, I was asleep in my stall when the stable doors flew open. Joe Green and the head horse trainer, John Manley, came rushing in. John was telling Joe that the lady of the house, Mrs. Gordon, was very sick. If the doctor didn't get to the house immediately, Mrs. Gordon could die.
They opened my stall and led me out of the stable. I was fitted with my harness and saddle. John Manley hopped up onto my back, flicked the reins on my harness, and we were off. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. In no time we arrived at the doctor's.
John Manley leaped from my back and sprang to the door.
"Mrs. Gordon is desperately ill," said John. "We fear that she won't make it through the night if you cannot get there at once."
The doctor gathered his things then hopped on my back. I ran even faster on the return trip. I ran harder than I ever had before. I ran right up the path to the front of the house. The doctor rushed in the front door to tend to Mrs. Gordon. Joe Green was waiting for me. I was sweating and breathing hard. Joe Green looked at me with concern. As it turned out, Mrs. Gordon wasn't the only one to fall ill; apparently, so had I.
I was too weak to stand or eat.
To find out what happened to Black Beauty, go to the next page.