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23. A Strike for Liberty
One day my lady came down later than usual, and the silk rustled more than ever.
"Drive to the Duchess of B----'s," she said, and then after a pause, "Are you never going
to get those horses' heads up, York? Raise them at once and let us have no more of this
humoring and nonsense."
York came to me first, while the groom stood at Ginger's head. He drew my head back
and fixed the rein so tight that it was almost intolerable; then he went to Ginger, who was
impatiently jerking her head up and down against the bit, as was her way now. She had a
good idea of what was coming, and the moment York took the rein off the terret in order
to shorten it she took her opportunity and reared up so suddenly that York had his nose
roughly hit and his hat knocked off; the groom was nearly thrown off his legs. At once
they both flew to her head; but she was a match for them, and went on plunging, rearing,
and kicking in a most desperate manner. At last she kicked right over the carriage pole
and fell down, after giving me a severe blow on my near quarter. There is no knowing
what further mischief she might have done had not York promptly sat himself down flat
on her head to prevent her struggling, at the same time calling out, "Unbuckle the black
horse! Run for the winch and unscrew the carriage pole! Cut the trace here, somebody, if
you can't unhitch it!" One of the footmen ran for the winch, and another brought a knife
from the house. The groom soon set me free from Ginger and the carriage, and led me to
my box. He just turned me in as I was and ran back to York. I was much excited by what
had happened, and if I had ever been used to kick or rear I am sure I should have done it
then; but I never had, and there I stood, angry, sore in my leg, my head still strained up to
the terret on the saddle, and no power to get it down. I was very miserable and felt much
inclined to kick the first person who came near me.
Before long, however, Ginger was led in by two grooms, a good deal knocked about and
bruised. York came with her and gave his orders, and then came to look at me. In a
moment he let down my head.
"Confound these check-reins!" he said to himself; "I thought we should have some
mischief soon. Master will be sorely vexed. But there, if a woman's husband can't rule her
of course a servant can't; so I wash my hands of it, and if she can't get to the duchess'
garden party I can't help it."
York did not say this before the men; he always spoke respectfully when they were by.
Now he felt me all over, and soon found the place above my hock where I had been
kicked. It was swelled and painful; he ordered it to be sponged with hot water, and then
some lotion was put on.
Lord W---- was much put out when he learned what had happened; he blamed York for
giving way to his mistress, to which he replied that in future he would much prefer to
receive his orders only from his lordship; but I think nothing came of it, for things went
on the same as before. I thought York might have stood up better for his horses, but
perhaps I am no judge.
Ginger was never put into the carriage again, but when she was well of her bruises one of
the Lord W----'s younger sons said he should like to have her; he was sure she would
make a good hunter. As for me, I was obliged still to go in the carriage, and had a fresh