44 BLACK BEAUtY*
treatment they feel the slightest movement of the driver's hand, and we know in an instant what is required of us. My mouth had never been spoiled, and I believe that was why the mistress preferred me to Ginger, although her paces were certainly quite as good. She used often to envy me, and said it was all the fault of breaking in, and the gag bit in London, that her mouth was not so perfect as mine; and then old Sir Oliver would say, " There, there! don't vex yourself; you have the greatest honor; a mare that can carry a tall man of our masters weight, with all your spring and sprightly action, does not need to hold her head down because she does not carry the lady; we horses must take things as they come, and always be contented and willing, so long as we are kindly used."
I had often wondered how it was that Sir Oliver had such a very short tail; it really was only six or seven inches long, with a tassel of hair hanging from it; and on one of our holidays in the orchard I ventured to ask him by what accident it was that he had lost his tail.
" Accident!" he snorted, with a fierce look, " it was no accident! it icas a erne!, shameful, cold-blooded act! When I was young I was taken to a place where these cruel things were done; I was tied up, and made fast so that I could not stir, and then they came and cut off my long, beautiful tail, through the flesh and through the bone, and took it away."
" How dreadful!" I exclaimed.
" Dreadful—ah ! it was dreadful; but it was not only the pain, though that was terrible, and lasted a long time; it was not only the indignity of having my best ornament taken from me, though that was bad, but it was this : how could I ever brush the flies off my sides and my hind legs any more f You who have tails just whisk the flies off without thinking about it, and you can't tell what a torment it is to have them settle upon you and sting and sting, and have nothing in the world to lash them off with. I tell