Black Beauty HTML version

26. How it Ended
It must have been nearly midnight when I heard at a great distance the sound of a horse's
feet. Sometimes the sound died away, then it grew clearer again and nearer. The road to
Earlshall led through woods that belonged to the earl; the sound came in that direction,
and I hoped it might be some one coming in search of us. As the sound came nearer and
nearer I was almost sure I could distinguish Ginger's step; a little nearer still, and I could
tell she was in the dog-cart. I neighed loudly, and was overjoyed to hear an answering
neigh from Ginger, and men's voices. They came slowly over the stones, and stopped at
the dark figure that lay upon the ground.
One of the men jumped out, and stooped down over it. "It is Reuben," he said, "and he
does not stir!"
The other man followed, and bent over him. "He's dead," he said; "feel how cold his
hands are."
They raised him up, but there was no life, and his hair was soaked with blood. They laid
him down again, and came and looked at me. They soon saw my cut knees.
"Why, the horse has been down and thrown him! Who would have thought the black
horse would have done that? Nobody thought he could fall. Reuben must have been lying
here for hours! Odd, too, that the horse has not moved from the place."
Robert then attempted to lead me forward. I made a step, but almost fell again.
"Halloo! he's bad in his foot as well as his knees. Look here -- his hoof is cut all to pieces;
he might well come down, poor fellow! I tell you what, Ned, I'm afraid it hasn't been all
right with Reuben. Just think of his riding a horse over these stones without a shoe! Why,
if he had been in his right senses he would just as soon have tried to ride him over the
moon. I'm afraid it has been the old thing over again. Poor Susan! she looked awfully
pale when she came to my house to ask if he had not come home. She made believe she
was not a bit anxious, and talked of a lot of things that might have kept him. But for all
that she begged me to go and meet him. But what must we do? There's the horse to get
home as well as the body, and that will be no easy matter."
Then followed a conversation between them, till it was agreed that Robert, as the groom,
should lead me, and that Ned must take the body. It was a hard job to get it into the dog-
cart, for there was no one to hold Ginger; but she knew as well as I did what was going
on, and stood as still as a stone. I noticed that, because, if she had a fault, it was that she
was impatient in standing.
Ned started off very slowly with his sad load, and Robert came and looked at my foot
again; then he took his handkerchief and bound it closely round, and so he led me home. I
shall never forget that night walk; it was more than three miles. Robert led me on very
slowly, and I limped and hobbled on as well as I could with great pain. I am sure he was
sorry for me, for he often patted and encouraged me, talking to me in a pleasant voice.
At last I reached my own box, and had some corn; and after Robert had wrapped up my
knees in wet cloths, he tied up my foot in a bran poultice, to draw out the heat and