Beautiful Joe
Chapter 25, Page 2


Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


"Come on, Fleetfoot," said Mr. Harry. And he led the way from the pasture, the colt following behind with me. I waited about the veranda, and in a short time Mr. Harry drove up to the front door. The buggy was black and shining, and Fleetfoot had on a silver-mounted harness that made him look very fine. He stood gently switching his long tail to keep the flies away, and with his head turned to see who was going to get into the buggy. I stood by him, and as soon as he saw that Miss Laura and Mr. Harry had seated themselves, he acted as if he wanted to be off. Mr. Harry spoke to him and away he went, I racing down the lane by his side, so happy to think he was my friend. He liked having me beside him, and every few seconds put down his head toward me. Animals can tell each other things without saying a word. When Fleetfoot gave his head a little toss in a certain way, I knew that he wanted to have a race. He had a beautiful even gait, and went very swiftly. Mr. Harry kept speaking to him to check him.

"You don't like him to go too fast, do you?" said Miss Laura.

"No," he returned. "I think we could make a racer of him if we liked, but father and I don't go in for fast horses. There is too much said about fast trotters and race horses. On some of the farms around here, the people have gone mad on breeding fast horses. An old farmer out in the country had a common cart-horse that he suddenly found out had great powers of speed and endurance. He sold him to a speculator for a big price, and it has set everybody wild. If the people who give all their time to it can't raise fast horses, I don't see how the farmers can. A fast horse on a farm is ruination to the boys, for it starts them racing and betting. Father says he is going to offer a prize for the fastest walker that can be bred in New Hampshire. That Dutchman of ours, heavy as he is, is a fair walker, and Cleve and Pacer can each walk four and a half miles an hour."

"Why do you lay such stress on their walking fast?" asked Miss Laura.

"Because so much of the farm work must be done at a walk. Ploughing, teaming, and drawing produce to market, and going up and down hills. Even for the cities it is good to have fast walkers. Trotting on city pavements is very hard on the dray horses. If they are allowed to go at a quick walk, their legs will keep strong much longer. It is shameful the way horses are used up in big cities. Our pavements are so bad that cab horses are used up in three years. In many ways we are a great deal better off in this new country than the people in Europe; but we are not in respect of cab horses, for in London and Paris they last for five years. I have seen horses drop down dead in New York just from hard usage. Poor brutes, there is a better time coming for them though. When electricity is more fully developed, we'll see some wonderful changes. As it is, last year in different places, about thirty thousand horses were released from those abominable horse cars, by having electricity introduced on the roads. Well, Fleetfoot, do you want another spin? All right, my boy, go ahead."

Away we went again along a bit of level road. Fleetfoot had no check-rein on his beautiful neck, and when he trotted, he could hold his head in an easy, natural position. With his wonderful eyes and flowing mane and tail, and his glossy, reddish-brown body, I thought that he was the handsomest horse I had ever seen. He loved to go fast, and when Mr. Harry spoke to him to slow up again, he tossed his head with impatience. But he was too sweet-tempered to disobey. In all the years that I have known Fleetfoot, I have never once seen him refuse to do as his master told him.

"You have forgotten your whip, haven't you Harry?" I heard Miss Laura say, as we jogged slowly along, and I ran by the buggy panting and with my tongue hanging out.

"I never use one," said Mr. Harry; "if I saw any man lay one on Fleetfoot, I'd knock him down." His voice was so severe that I glanced up into the buggy. He looked just as he did the day that he stretched Jenkins on the ground, and gave him a beating.