40 BLACK BEAUTY.
Miss Jessie and Flora. One of the girls was as old as Miss Jessie; two of the boys were older, and there were several little ones. When they came there was plenty of work for Merrylegs, for nothing pleased them so much as getting on him by turns and riding him all about the orchard and the home paddock, and this they would do by the hour together.
One afternoon he had been out with them a long time, and when James brought him in and put on his halter, he said:—
" There, you rogue, mind how you behave yourself, or we shall get into trouble."
" What have you been doing, Merrylegs?" I asked.
" Oh!" said he, tossing his little head, " I have only been giving those young people a lesson; they did not know when they had had enough, so I just pitched them off backwards; that was the only thing they could understand."
" What?" said I," you threw the children off? I thought you did know better than that! Did you throw Miss Jessie or Miss Flora?"
He looked very much offended, and said—
" Of course not; I would not do such a thing for the best oats that ever came into the stable; why, I am as careful of our young ladies as the master could be, and as for the little ones, it is I who teach them to ride. WThen they seem frightened or a little unsteady on my back, I go as smooth and as quiet as an old pussy when she is after a bird; and when they are all right I go on again faster, you see, just to use them to it; so don't you trouble yourself preaching to me; I am the best friend and the best riding-master those children have. It is not them, it is the boys; boys," said he, shaking his mane, "are quite different; they must be broken in, as we were broken in when we were colts, and just be taught what's what. The other children had ridden me about for nearly two hours, and then the boys thought it was their turn; and so it was, and I