120 BLACK BEAUTY.
had the beans, but bran ivas mixed with them instead of oats, of which there were very few; certainly not more than a quarter of what there should have been. In two or three weeks this began to tell upon my strength and spirits. The grass food, though very good, was not the thing to keep up my condition without corn. However, I could not complain, nor make known my wants. So it went on for about two months, and I wondered my master did not see that something was the matter. However, one afternoon he rode out into the country to see a friend of his, a gentleman farmer, who lived on the road to Wells.
This gentleman had a very quick eye for horses; and after he had welcomed his friend he said, casting his eye over me—
" It seems to me, Barry, that your horse does not look so well as he did when you first had him; has he been well?"
" Yes, I believe so," said my master; " but he is not nearly so lively as he was ; my groom tells me that horses are always dull and weak in the autumn, and that I must expect it."
" Autumn, fiddlesticks!" said the farmer. " Why, this is only August; and with your light work and good food he ought not to go down like this, even if it was autumn. How do you feed him ?"
My master told him. The other shook his head slowly, and began to feel me over.
" I can't say who eats your corn, my dear fellow, but I am much mistaken if your horse gets it. Have you ridden very fast?"
" No, very gently."
"Then just put your hand here," said he, passing his hand over my neck and shoulder, "he is as warm and damp as a horse just come up from grass. I advise you to look into your stable a little more. I hate to be suspicious, and, thank Heaveu, I have no cause to be, for I