13. The Devil's Trade Mark
One day when John and I had been out on some business of our master's, and were
returning gently on a long, straight road, at some distance we saw a boy trying to leap a
pony over a gate; the pony would not take the leap, and the boy cut him with the whip,
but he only turned off on one side. He whipped him again, but the pony turned off on the
other side. Then the boy got off and gave him a hard thrashing, and knocked him about
the head; then he got up again and tried to make him leap the gate, kicking him all the
time shamefully, but still the pony refused. When we were nearly at the spot the pony put
down his head and threw up his heels, and sent the boy neatly over into a broad quickset
hedge, and with the rein dangling from his head he set off home at a full gallop. John
laughed out quite loud. "Served him right," he said.
"Oh, oh, oh!" cried the boy as he struggled about among the thorns; "I say, come and help
"Thank ye," said John, "I think you are quite in the right place, and maybe a little
scratching will teach you not to leap a pony over a gate that is too high for him," and so
with that John rode off. "It may be," said he to himself, "that young fellow is a liar as well
as a cruel one; we'll just go home by Farmer Bushby's, Beauty, and then if anybody wants
to know you and I can tell 'em, ye see." So we turned off to the right, and soon came up
to the stack-yard, and within sight of the house. The farmer was hurrying out into the
road, and his wife was standing at the gate, looking very frightened.
"Have you seen my boy?" said Mr. Bushby as we came up; "he went out an hour ago on
my black pony, and the creature is just come back without a rider."
"I should think, sir," said John, "he had better be without a rider, unless he can be ridden
"What do you mean?" said the farmer.
"Well, sir, I saw your son whipping, and kicking, and knocking that good little pony
about shamefully because he would not leap a gate that was too high for him. The pony
behaved well, sir, and showed no vice; but at last he just threw up his heels and tipped the
young gentleman into the thorn hedge. He wanted me to help him out, but I hope you will
excuse me, sir, I did not feel inclined to do so. There's no bones broken, sir; he'll only get
a few scratches. I love horses, and it riles me to see them badly used; it is a bad plan to
aggravate an animal till he uses his heels; the first time is not always the last."
During this time the mother began to cry, "Oh, my poor Bill, I must go and meet him; he
must be hurt."
"You had better go into the house, wife," said the farmer; "Bill wants a lesson about this,
and I must see that he gets it; this is not the first time, nor the second, that he has ill-used
that pony, and I shall stop it. I am much obliged to you, Manly. Good-evening."
So we went on, John chuckling all the way home; then he told James about it, who
laughed and said, "Serve him right. I knew that boy at school; he took great airs on