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Black Beauty

17. John Manly's Talk
The rest of our journey was very easy, and a little after sunset we reached the house of
my master's friend. We were taken into a clean, snug stable; there was a kind coachman,
who made us very comfortable, and who seemed to think a good deal of James when he
heard about the fire.
"There is one thing quite clear, young man," he said, "your horses know who they can
trust; it is one of the hardest things in the world to get horses out of a stable when there is
either fire or flood. I don't know why they won't come out, but they won't -- not one in
twenty."
We stopped two or three days at this place and then returned home. All went well on the
journey; we were glad to be in our own stable again, and John was equally glad to see us.
Before he and James left us for the night James said, "I wonder who is coming in my
place."
"Little Joe Green at the lodge," said John.
"Little Joe Green! why, he's a child!"
"He is fourteen and a half," said John.
"But he is such a little chap!"
"Yes, he is small, but he is quick and willing, and kind-hearted, too, and then he wishes
very much to come, and his father would like it; and I know the master would like to give
him the chance. He said if I thought he would not do he would look out for a bigger boy;
but I said I was quite agreeable to try him for six weeks."
"Six weeks!" said James; "why, it will be six months before he can be of much use! It
will make you a deal of work, John."
"Well," said John with a laugh, "work and I are very good friends; I never was afraid of
work yet."
"You are a very good man," said James. "I wish I may ever be like you."
"I don't often speak of myself," said John, "but as you are going away from us out into
the world to shift for yourself I'll just tell you how I look on these things. I was just as old
as Joseph when my father and mother died of the fever within ten days of each other, and
left me and my cripple sister Nelly alone in the world, without a relation that we could
look to for help. I was a farmer's boy, not earning enough to keep myself, much less both
of us, and she must have gone to the workhouse but for our mistress (Nelly calls her her
angel, and she has good right to do so). She went and hired a room for her with old
Widow Mallet, and she gave her knitting and needlework when she was able to do it; and
when she was ill she sent her dinners and many nice, comfortable things, and was like a
mother to her. Then the master he took me into the stable under old Norman, the
coachman that was then. I had my food at the house and my bed in the loft, and a suit of
clothes, and three shillings a week, so that I could help Nelly. Then there was Norman; he
 
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