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Black Beauty

1. My Early Home
The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of
clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the
deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we
looked over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside; at the top of the
meadow was a grove of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep
bank.
While I was young I lived upon my mother's milk, as I could not eat grass. In the daytime
I ran by her side, and at night I lay down close by her. When it was hot we used to stand
by the pond in the shade of the trees, and when it was cold we had a nice warm shed near
the grove.
As soon as I was old enough to eat grass my mother used to go out to work in the
daytime, and come back in the evening.
There were six young colts in the meadow besides me; they were older than I was; some
were nearly as large as grown-up horses. I used to run with them, and had great fun; we
used to gallop all together round and round the field as hard as we could go. Sometimes
we had rather rough play, for they would frequently bite and kick as well as gallop.
One day, when there was a good deal of kicking, my mother whinnied to me to come to
her, and then she said:
"I wish you to pay attention to what I am going to say to you. The colts who live here are
very good colts, but they are cart-horse colts, and of course they have not learned
manners. You have been well-bred and well-born; your father has a great name in these
parts, and your grandfather won the cup two years at the Newmarket races; your
grandmother had the sweetest temper of any horse I ever knew, and I think you have
never seen me kick or bite. I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad
ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite
or kick even in play."
I have never forgotten my mother's advice; I knew she was a wise old horse, and our
master thought a great deal of her. Her name was Duchess, but he often called her Pet.
Our master was a good, kind man. He gave us good food, good lodging, and kind words;
he spoke as kindly to us as he did to his little children. We were all fond of him, and my
mother loved him very much. When she saw him at the gate she would neigh with joy,
and trot up to him. He would pat and stroke her and say, "Well, old Pet, and how is your
little Darkie?" I was a dull black, so he called me Darkie; then he would give me a piece
of bread, which was very good, and sometimes he brought a carrot for my mother. All the
horses would come to him, but I think we were his favorites. My mother always took him
to the town on a market day in a light gig.
 
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