BLACK BEAUTY - online book

The Autobiography Of A Horse, With Fifty Illustrations.

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AN OLD WAR HORSE.                           137
on the field, or dying in the agony of their wounds, 1 don't think I feared for myself. My master's cheery voice, as he encouraged his men, made me feel as if he and I could not be killed. I had such perfect trust in him that while he was guiding me I was ready to charge up to the very cannon's mouth. I saw many brave men cut down, many fall mortally wounded from their saddles. I had heard the cries and groans of the dying, I had can­tered over ground slippery with blood, and frequently had to turn aside to avoid trampling on wounded man or horse, but, until one dreadful day, I had never felt terror; that day I shall never forget."
Here old Captain paused for a while and drew a long breath; I waited, and he went on.
" It was one autumn morning, and, as usual, an hour before daybreak our cavalry had turned out, ready capari* soned for the day's work, whether it might be fighting or waiting. The men stood by their horses waiting, ready for orders. As the light increased there seemed to be some excitement among the officers, and before the day was well begun we heard the firing of the enemy's guns.
" Then one of the officers rode up and gave the word for the men to mount, and in a second every man was in his saddle, and every horse stood expecting the touch of the rein or the pressure of his rider's heels, all animated, all eager; but still we had been trained so well that, ex­cept by the champing of our bits and the restive tossing of our heads from time to time, it could not be said that we stirred.
" My dear master and I were at the head of the line, and as all sat motionless and watchful, he took a little stray lock of my mane which had turned over on the wrong side, laid it over on the right, and smoothed it down with his hand ; then patting my neck, he said, * We shall have a day of it to-day, Bayard, my beauty ; but we'll do our duty as we have done.' He stroked my neck that
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