THIEVING DOGS AND HORSES 329
instantly galloped away. More than once a party of men had set out to catch him, but in the end they had been obliged to give this up, for if they attempted to interfere with him when he was eating, he would first turn round and charge them, and then kick furiously at them ; and if this did not do, he would end by biting them. So, not knowing what to do, they had sent the constable to the magistrate to ask his advice.
It was not of much use when he got it. The magistrate thought it was a very shocking state of things, and directed that the offending horse should be brought into court to answer these grave charges, if he could be caught; but this was exactly the difficulty, and as there is no record at the Shadwell Police Court of the case being tried, it is probable that one of two things happened: either the horse was shot by one of the angry drivers, or he went on stealing hay as long as it pleased him.
The next time we hear of a four-footed robber being charged in a police court it is at Hatton Garden, a part of London that is inhabited by Italians and diamond merchants, and on this occasion it was a dog who was the thief. Two ladies appeared one morning before the magistrate, and one of them stated that as she and her sister were returning from St. Pancras Church the evening before, and were walking down the road to Battle Bridge about six o'clock, a hairy dog, not unlike a collie, had suddenly jumped up from the roadside where he had been lying in wait, and seizing a small bag (or reticule, as it was called in those days) which one of the ladies held in her hand, dashed off with it across the road, and was lost to sight in the darkness. Her loss was heavy, for she was not rich, and the reticule contained a sovereign, eighteen shillings in silver, a silver thimble, a pair of silver spectacles, and two or three other small things. Perhaps she had been spending the afternoon at one of the little card-parties which at that date had hardly ceased to be the fashion.