112 BLA CK BE A UTY.
" I beg your pardon, sir," he said, " but I think there is something the matter with your horse; he goes very much as if he had a stone in his shoe. If you will allow me, I will look at his feet; these loose scattered stones are confounded dangerous things for the horses."
" He's a hired horse," said my driver. " I don't know what's the matter with him, but it is a great shame to send out a lame beast like this."
The farmer dismounted, and, slipping his rein over his arm, at once took up my near foot.
" Bless me, there's a stone ! Lame! I should think so!"
At first he tried to dislodge it with his hand ; but as it was now very tightly wedged, he drew a stone-pick out of his pocket, and very carefully, and with some trouble, got it out. Then holding it up, he said, " There, that's the stone your horse had picked up; it is a wonder he did not fall down and break his knees into the bargain I"
"Well, to be sure!" said my driver; " that is a queer thing! I never knew that horses picked up stones before."
" Didn't you ?" said the farmer rather contemptuously; " but they do, though, and the best of them will do it, and can't help it sometimes on such roads as these. And if you don't want to lame your horse you must look sharp and get them out quickly. This foot is very much bruised," he said, setting it gently down and patting me. " If I might advise, sir, you had better drive him gently for a while; the foot is a good deal hurt, and the lameness will not go off directly."
Then mounting his cob and raising his hat to the lady, he trotted off.
When he was gone my driver began to flop the reins about and whip the harness, by which I understood that I was to go on, which of course I did, glad that the stone was gone, but still in a good deal of pain.
This was the sort of experience we job horses often tame in for.