Short Stories » How the Horse Was Persuaded
How the Horse Was Persuaded
NOT many days ago a gentleman told me a story which I think is so good I will tell it to you, and I hope that any of you who have the care of a horse will follow the example given. Said he : I was crossing a sandy ridge when I observed ahead of me a load of hay which the horses were vainly endeavoring to move. A man stood on one side with a stout stick beating one of the animals, but stopped just before I reached them. I asked, " Friends, what is the matter ? " " We've been pounding this horse for not pulling, and we're going to take him out of the harness and pound him more." " See here, my friends, don't do that ; let me advise you my way, and then if he won't pull, I'll take your load to the next town myself." The man looked surprised and asked, " What would you do ? " " Give him a feed of oats, and after he has eaten them curry and brush him, then harness him to the load and start off as though nothing had happened." The man considered a moment as though he hated to do it, but finally answered, "Very well, I'll do it just to satisfy you, but I'm doubtful." We talked while the horse was eating, then we curried and brushed him, talked kindly in the meanwhile, then hitched onto the load again. The driver mounted, merely said, " Get up," in an ordinary tone, when, to his surprise (we helping on the hind wheels at the time for a starter), the horses started off all right. "I'll try your plan every time after this," said he. " If you do, he'll be grateful for your kindness and do all he can for you in return." So they went along each with a better opinion of the other, and one with the sense of having avoided a great wrong and performing a good part instead.
A JOKING HORSE.
Did anyone ever before hear of such a thing as a joking horse? I never did until about four years ago. I was enjoying the favor of what is, in my neighborhood, called " a chance ride, " that is, a ride in your neighbor's and not your own conveyance. The good brother placed me in the care of his two boys for a ride from town home, and I can truly say that it was a most enjoyable one, for I learned how manly small boys may become through a life of industry and business. These country boys had a great deal of character and independence of spirit, that are truly admirable and are very entertaining. Many a good thing have I heard from these boys, who get up at three o'clock in the morning to take their produce to town; so, on this particular occasion, I listened to the boys' narrations, and at last one of them remarked: " These are both good horses, but they ain't nothing like old Billy; he was the jokingest horse anybody ever saw." This interested me, so I inquired what kind of jokes old Billy indulged in. " Well, he was full of fun all the time, but winter was when he had the best of us boys. One of his summer jokes was to let us fellows load up the single wagon with melons (and him looking so solemn with his head hanging down), but no matter how quiet he'd be while we were piling them in, he seemed to know when we were going to get the last ones, and while we were picking our way through the vines, Billy'd start off for home, and when we'd hurry, he'd hurry, and when we were about tired out running to catch him, he'd slow up and let us get our breath, then off he'd go again, and blessed if we ever got a ride -home behind that horse if he could cheat us. I believe he heard us laughing all the time." " Was he a run-away, then? " " Bless you, no ! He couldn't be made to run away, he'd just take them melons home all right. He'd whinner at us when we caught up, just like he enjoyed it." " Did you ever whip him ?" " Whip old Billy ? Not much! But I was going to tell you his best joke. You see, in winter we go to school, and after school if there was a good deep snow we'd pile onto old Billy and go down to where there was good coasting. How many of us would pile on? Oh, four or five ! How could we? Why, he was the longest-built horse you ever saw. Pretty near as long as this wagon-box. By getting onto his neck, six of us could get on. Well, we had to look out for him, for just as sure as he came to a good snow-drift he'd duck his head, and the feller in front would go over, and then before you could say 'scat! 'he'd sit down on his hind legs and the rest would slide off backwards ; then old Billy'd get up and look at us laughing and scrambling out of the snow." "But didn't any of you ever get hurt?" " No, ma'am ! old Billy never dumped us on hard ground; he was just a-joking." "What became of him?" "Died of eating apples. I tell you us boys lost a friend when old Billy died. Have to get out here? Wish you were going further, ma'am. Just let me cramp this wheel so your dress won't get dusty.
All right! Good-by!" The lash cracked, the boys struck up a song, and a cloud of dust haloed their vanishing outlines. I often think of the happy-hearted boys and old Billy.