The Bell-Ringer of Angel's and Other Stories HTML version

Chu Chu
I do not believe that the most enthusiastic lover of that "useful and noble animal," the
horse, will claim for him the charm of geniality, humor, or expansive confidence. Any
creature who will not look you squarely in the eye—whose only oblique glances are
inspired by fear, distrust, or a view to attack; who has no way of returning caresses, and
whose favorite expression is one of head-lifting disdain, may be "noble" or "useful," but
can be hardly said to add to the gayety of nations. Indeed it may be broadly stated that,
with the single exception of gold-fish, of all animals kept for the recreation of mankind
the horse is alone capable of exciting a passion that shall be absolutely hopeless. I deem
these general remarks necessary to prove that my unreciprocated affection for "Chu Chu"
was not purely individual or singular. And I may add that to these general characteristics
she brought the waywardness of her capricious sex.
She came to me out of the rolling dust of an emigrant wagon, behind whose tailboard she
was gravely trotting. She was a half-broken colt—in which character she had at different
times unseated everybody in the train—and, although covered with dust, she had a
beautiful coat, and the most lambent gazelle-like eyes I had ever seen. I think she kept
these latter organs purely for ornament—apparently looking at things with her nose, her
sensitive ears, and, sometimes, even a slight lifting of her slim near fore-leg. On our first
interview I thought she favored me with a coy glance, but as it was accompanied by an
irrelevant "Look out!" from her owner, the teamster, I was not certain. I only know that
after some conversation, a good deal of mental reservation, and the disbursement of
considerable coin, I found myself standing in the dust of the departing emigrant-wagon
with one end of a forty-foot riata in my hand, and Chu Chu at the other.
I pulled invitingly at my own end, and even advanced a step or two towards her. She then
broke into a long disdainful pace, and began to circle round me at the extreme limit of her
tether. I stood admiring her free action for some moments—not always turning with her,
which was tiring—until I found that she was gradually winding herself up ON ME! Her
frantic astonishment when she suddenly found herself thus brought up against me was
one of the most remarkable things I ever saw, and nearly took me off my legs. Then when
she had pulled against the riata until her narrow head and prettily arched neck were on a
perfectly straight line with it, she as suddenly slackened the tension and condescended to
follow me, at an angle of her own choosing. Sometimes it was on one side of me,
sometimes on the other. Even then the sense of my dreadful contiguity apparently would
come upon her like a fresh discovery, and she would become hysterical. But I do not
think that she really SAW me. She looked at the riata and sniffed it disparagingly, she
pawed some pebbles that were near me tentatively with her small hoof; she started back
with a Robinson Crusoe-like horror of my footprints in the wet gully, but my actual
personal presence she ignored. She would sometimes pause, with her head thoughtfully
between her fore-legs, and apparently say: "There is some extraordinary presence here:
animal, vegetable, or mineral—I can't make out which—but it's not good to eat, and I
loathe and detest it."