Black Beauty HTML version

24. The Lady Anne, or a Runaway Horse
Early in the spring, Lord W---- and part of his family went up to London, and took York
with them. I and Ginger and some other horses were left at home for use, and the head
groom was left in charge.
The Lady Harriet, who remained at the hall, was a great invalid, and never went out in the
carriage, and the Lady Anne preferred riding on horseback with her brother or cousins.
She was a perfect horsewoman, and as gay and gentle as she was beautiful. She chose me
for her horse, and named me "Black Auster". I enjoyed these rides very much in the clear
cold air, sometimes with Ginger, sometimes with Lizzie. This Lizzie was a bright bay
mare, almost thoroughbred, and a great favorite with the gentlemen, on account of her
fine action and lively spirit; but Ginger, who knew more of her than I did, told me she
was rather nervous.
There was a gentleman of the name of Blantyre staying at the hall; he always rode Lizzie,
and praised her so much that one day Lady Anne ordered the side-saddle to be put on her,
and the other saddle on me. When we came to the door the gentleman seemed very
"How is this?" he said. "Are you tired of your good Black Auster?"
"Oh, no, not at all," she replied, "but I am amiable enough to let you ride him for once,
and I will try your charming Lizzie. You must confess that in size and appearance she is
far more like a lady's horse than my own favorite."
"Do let me advise you not to mount her," he said; "she is a charming creature, but she is
too nervous for a lady. I assure you, she is not perfectly safe; let me beg you to have the
saddles changed."
"My dear cousin," said Lady Anne, laughing, "pray do not trouble your good careful head
about me. I have been a horsewoman ever since I was a baby, and I have followed the
hounds a great many times, though I know you do not approve of ladies hunting; but still
that is the fact, and I intend to try this Lizzie that you gentlemen are all so fond of; so
please help me to mount, like a good friend as you are."
There was no more to be said; he placed her carefully on the saddle, looked to the bit and
curb, gave the reins gently into her hand, and then mounted me. Just as we were moving
off a footman came out with a slip of paper and message from the Lady Harriet. "Would
they ask this question for her at Dr. Ashley's, and bring the answer?"
The village was about a mile off, and the doctor's house was the last in it. We went along
gayly enough till we came to his gate. There was a short drive up to the house between
tall evergreens.
Blantyre alighted at the gate, and was going to open it for Lady Anne, but she said, "I will
wait for you here, and you can hang Auster's rein on the gate."
He looked at her doubtfully. "I will not be five minutes," he said.
"Oh, do not hurry yourself; Lizzie and I shall not run away from you."