Author: Melville, Velma Caldwell
Horses — Fiction
White Dandy; or, Master and I: A Horse’s Story
“White Dandy OR Master and I“
A HORSE’S STORY
BY VELMA CALDWELL MELVILLE.
A COMPANION BOOK TO “BLACK BEAUTY.”
J. S. Ogilvie, Publishing Co.
57 Rose st. New York.
MASTER AND I.
A Horse’s Story.
VELMA CALDWELL MELVILLE.
Author of “Queen Bess.”
A Companion Story to “Black Beauty.”
THE SUNNYSIDE SERIES. No. 102. July, 1898. Issued Quarterly.
$1.00 per year. Entered at New York Post-Office as second-class matter.
(Copyright 1898 by J. S. Ogilvie Publishing Co.)
J. S. OGILVIE PUBLISHING COMPANY,
57 Rose Street.
MASTER AND I.
Master is Dr. Richard Wallace and I am Dandy, the doctor’s favorite horse, long-tried companion and friend.
Neither of us are as young as we once were, but time seems to tell less on us than on some others, though I have never been quite the same since that dreadful year that Master was out West. He often strokes my face and says: “We’re getting old, my boy, getting old, but it don’t matter.” Then I see a far away look in the kind, blue eyes—a look that I know so well—and I press my cheek against his, trying to comfort him. I know full well what he is thinking about, whether he mentions it right out or not.
Yes, I remember all about the tragedy that shaped both our lives, and how I have longed for intelligent speech that I might talk it all over with him.
He is sixty-two now and I only half as old, but while he is just as busy as ever, he will not permit me to undertake a single hardship.
Dr. Fred—his brother and partner—sometimes says: “Don’t be a fool over that old horse, Dick! He is able to work as any of us.” But the latter smiles and shakes his head: “Dandy has seen hard service enough and earned a peaceful old age.”
Fred sneers. He says he has no patience with “Dick’s nonsense;” but then he was in Europe when the tragedy occurred, and besides I suppose it takes the romance and sentiment out of a man to have two wives, raise three bad boys and bury one willful daughter, to say nothing of the grandson he has on his hands now; and I might add further that he is a vastly different man from Dick anyway.
It is a grand thing to spend one’s life for others; that is what my master has done, and it is what we horses do. Of course he is looking forward to his reward, but we are not expecting anything, though he insists that there will be a heaven for all faithful domestic animals. Fred says there is no Bible for it, but Dick says that they could not mention everything in one book. He says, too, that while he believes everything to be true that is in the Bible, at the same time he knows many things to be true that are not there; then he tells about a good old minister, who, when asked to lend his influence in the organization of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, replied that if Paul had written a chapter on the subject he would consider it worth his while to countenance the movement, but as he didn’t, he must be excused.
For the benefit of such men, Master says he wishes the apostle had had time and inclination to write a chapter, and since he did not—with due reverence for Paul—it would have suited him better, and met a nineteenth century need closer, if he had omitted suggestions on ladies’ toilets and dealt a few of his sledge-hammer blows at the man who oppresses the defenseless. Of course I know nothing about such things myself, but Dr. Dick has always had a fashion of talking all sorts of things to me, and I have a retentive memory.
But I must begin my story, for I have set out to give you a history of “Master and I” and, incidentally, of many another man and beast.
I will begin shortly after the tragedy; maybe before I get through I will tell you about that, but to-day I do not feel equal to it.
Well, he came into my stall, where I had literally shivered with terror ever since that dreadful morning four days before, and, throwing his arms about my neck, burst into tears. A long while he sobbed there, and then growing calmer, he began caressing me, and said:
“Dandy, boy, you are going home with me, to live with me while I live, to walk beside my coffin, and to be shot beside my grave, if so be you outlive me.”
Sad words, but they were a comfort to me, feeling as I did.
Presently the boy came in and groomed me until my snowy coat shone like silk.
“I hate to part with ye, Dandy, fer fact I do!” he said, standing off and looking me over, “but then ye’d a gone anyhow, I s’pose.” Then he put a halter on me and led me out to where the doctor’s horses were standing hitched to a buggy and tied me fast to the back.
All the folks came out of the house and surely they cried harder than on either of those other days, but the doctor, with his lips white and set close together, hurried into the buggy and, with a backward nod, drove off. I glanced back and neighed good-by, then took up my journey with a heavy heart. I wanted to go and yet I wanted to stay. Certainly it was not enlivening to have to watch my master’s agony all that weary seventy miles to his home.
Of course we stopped over night, and my first night it was away from home. I assure you that I felt lonely and wretched enough.
“Give all my horses the best of care,” Master said to the hostler, “especially the white one.”
The man promised and led us away.
“Don’t s’pose they’re any better’n other nags,” he muttered, the minute we were out of hearing, and he took us to the pump, tired and heated as we were, and gave us all the water we could drink.
“What would Dr. Dick say?” Queen, one of the span of bays, said, as we turned away.
Of course the man did not understand, but thinking she was calling for more water he pumped another pailful and offered it to her. In surprise she turned her head aside, which so angered him, that he dashed the whole of the water right on to her.
Then he led us into dark, dirty stalls, roughly removed the harness from the bays and threw us some hay. When he was gone, at least we could not hear him, Queen said:
“I am all of a shiver; I believe it was the cold water inside and out. Dear me, I wish Master would come out.”
“So do I,” said Julie. “One thing is sure, we will have to stand up all night, I can never lie down in this filthy place.”
“I don’t think I could if I wanted to,” responded Queen, “I am tied so short.”
Meanwhile, I was nosing the hay, but it smelled so musty and something in it tickled my nostrils.
Presently I asked them if they could eat it.
“Oh, yes,” Julie answered, “if you are going to be a doctor’s horse you’ll get worse than this.”
Being pretty hungry, I nibbled away at it until a groan from Queen startled me. “Ain’t you any better?” queried Julie. “No, I am shaking so I can hardly stand; how I do wish I had a blanket!”
“Wonder he don’t see to rubbing us down,” I said.
“Rubbing us down!” Julie spoke with scorn. “Unless Master comes out himself, as he generally does, there’ll be no rubbing down to-night. About daylight they’ll come around with an old currycomb and all but take the skin off us, along with the mud that will be formed out of the sweat and dust that ought to be rubbed off to-night.”
“Oh, I wish Master would come!” moaned Queen; “I am almost burning up now.”
“Got fever,” remarked her mate, who seemed to have been around the world a good deal and grown used to everything.
After what seemed an age, a light flashed into the barn and two strange horses were tied in the next stalls. The same man led them. After throwing them some hay he came into my stall.
“Here, you fool, why don’t you eat your hay, not muss over it?” he cried angrily, pushing it together with one hand while with the other he dealt me a blow across the nose. It was the first blow that I had ever received, and it hurt me in more ways than one. Just then a boy came in with a peck measure of oats.
“There hain’t none o’ these critters tetched their hay hardly; ‘nd their boss hez gone to bed sick, so I guess we’ll ‘conomize on the oats till mornin’.”
“Humph!” said Julie, but Queen groaned and I felt like it.
Before morning of that wretched night I lay down; I could not help it, I was so tired, hungry and sad.
Sure enough, by daylight (or lantern light in that windowless barn) the man and boy were at us with currycombs as if we had had no more feeling than barn doors. Then we each had a meager portion of oats. Julie and I ate ours readily enough, but poor Queen was too ill.
When the man noticed this he swore a little, then lengthened her halter strap and ordered the boy to scatter some straw over the filth in all our stalls.
By and by Master came out looking wan and haggard in the dim light. “Poor girl!” he said, tenderly, running his fingers along the edge of Queen’s jaw to the pulse.
“Mercy, Queenie, what a pulse—ninety!” Then he questioned the man as to his care of us, but never a word of truth he got in reply, but we could not tell.
“Lead her out into the daylight,” Dr. Dick ordered, adding: “Haven’t you a lot or yard where all my horses can be turned in for awhile?”
The man demurred, but Master soon brought the landlord and we were taken out into the sunlight. So busy was the former administering a dose of aconite to Queen that he did not at first notice me, but when he did an angry ejaculation escaped his lips as he pointed to my side. I was astonished, too, when I saw instead of my spotless coat, a great yellow stain.
“Is that the kind of beds you provide?” he cried, turning to the landlord.
“I am sure there seemed to be clean straw in the stalls,” the latter replied, “I’ll ask the man.”
“No need,” answered the doctor, curtly, “I am the one to blame for trusting any man to take care of these good servants who cannot speak for themselves.”
It was almost noon before we started and then the bays walked every step of the way.
Just before leaving, the span of horses that came in after us the night before were brought out, one of them limping painfully.
The owner unconcernedly seated himself in his buggy and took up the lines.
The doctor spoke of the animal’s lameness.
“Oh, that is nothing, Jerry is always lame when he first starts, and nearly all the rest of the time, for that matter,” he added, as if it were a good joke.
“Why don’t you have the trouble investigated?”
“Oh, I don’t know; never thought much about it; he’s an old horse,” and with this he drove off.
Dr. Fred’s first wife and her two boys were waiting to—but you can’t understand what for yet. There were not so many railroads and lines of telegraph then, and no intimation of the news we brought had reached her. She cried and petted Dr. Dick as if he had been her own child. She put her arms about my neck and kissed me, too, making me think of other arms and other kisses. Ah me!
That Mrs. Fred was a lovely woman, more fit for Dr. Dick than his brother.
The Wallaces lived in the small country village of K—— and controlled a large practice. The brothers were ambitious, but had started poor, and not until the year before had they felt that either could spend a few months abroad. Fred was the elder, and there were other reasons why Dick preferred to go later, so it happened that the former was the last of the family for me to know.
The Wallace barn was a large frame building, warm in winter, cool, from having perfect ventilation, in summer, and well lighted.
Dr. Dick would have no hay mowed to be dropped into the mangers, nor would he have it stored directly above us all. He insisted that the dust would inevitably sift down and be the cause of various diseases of the eye, ear, throat and lungs.
He was particular about the stalls and feed boxes, too. He said it was a shame for an animal with a low body and short neck to be expected to take any comfort eating from a box put up for a high horse with a long neck. He had each stall fitted up with reference to its occupant, nor would he allow us to be put where we did not belong.
Queen and Julie were regular long, clean-limbed roadsters and their feed boxes were much higher than mine. I am of heavy build, with short legs and neck. The first time Dr. Fred looked me over—when Dr. Dick was absent—he remarked: “A pretty horse for a doctor! Slow and clumsy! No endurance!”
Besides the bays, the Wallaces owned one other horse, old Ross, a somewhat worn and battered veteran, who entertained me for hours at a time, when we were standing alone in the shady pasture or in the barn, with tales of what he had seen, known and experienced.
“You look like a nice young fellow,” he said on the second day of my arrival; “but I’d rather be myself, all battered up as I am, than you, for I have the satisfaction of knowing that I can’t live many years longer and you may happen to suffer through a long lifetime yet.”
“Why,” I said, “is it so bad as that to live? I have always had a good time.”
“Yes, it is very bad to live if you are owned by some people. Of course I am happy and contented here, only I know I shall be sold by and by. I am about worn out, and Dr. Fred said before he went away that I was getting too stiff for a doctor’s horse.”
“But my Master is never going to sell me!”
“How do you know that?”
“He says I am going to live with him always, and be shot on his grave.”
“Well, Dr. Dick is an exception among men; but he don’t always get his way.”
The season following my coming to K—— proved to be a never-to-be-forgotten one. Cholera raged for many weeks, and I had to take my share of the work, especially as Queen was not strong. She was never as well again before that night in the livery stable. She took cold easily and could not endure fatigue. Days and nights together Master never rested and scarcely ate anything, but in one sense it was a good thing; it helped him forget.
One day he had had the bays out since just after midnight and Ross had fallen terribly lame the day before, so when a call came for him to go a dozen or more miles in a pouring rain he was obliged to saddle me.
“Poor little Dandy!” he said, “your legs are too short for such a journey, but it is life or death to the mother of seven little ones.”
That was enough for me; my legs might be short but they were strong, and though the doctor was heavy I felt equal to the task. I started off on a swift canter but Master drew rein, telling me to husband my strength for the last half of the way.
It had long been dark when we arrived—inky dark, too, with no cessation of the rainfall. A trembling hand held out a lantern while a hollow voice fairly sobbed: “I’m afeard ye’re too late, doctor, my woman is sinking fast.”
“Now, see here, my man, you take good care of my noble little horse here and I’ll pull the wife through, or fail doing my best.”
By the uncertain light of the lantern I saw that I was being tied in a sort of shed. My saddle was removed, but its place was soon supplied by a stream of water that trickled through a hole in the roof. Move which way I would, a leak was directly over my back. The man laid some newly-cut grass across some poles, barely within my reach, and went away.
All the while I was aware that the place had another occupant, though I could see nothing. Presently a horse’s voice in the darkness asked if I had come far. From the first tone I noticed a sadness, but I replied to the question, adding that I would rather be out of doors than in this leaky place.
“Oh,” she said, “this ain’t bad now, but it is a dreary place in winter with the snow drifting in and the wind whistling through.”
I was too much surprised to answer at first, and in a minute she gave a long, piteous whinny.
“Whom are you calling?” I asked.
“My baby, my pretty, little roan colt; they took him from me last week and have not brought him back. It seems as if my heart must break! We were never separated an hour before, and I don’t see how he will get along alone. My baby, oh, my baby!”
I expressed my pity for her, and she said it did her good to have some one to talk to.
“Oh, it is a dreadful thing to be a mother, loving your offspring as much as human mothers do, and yet be speechless and helpless,” she moaned.
“They tied me in here and drove Selim into a corner and caught him. I jerked and neighed until master kicked me and bade me shut my head. By this time the others had got Selim out, and I could hear him calling to me. His voice grew fainter and fainter and then all was still.”
“I suppose your master sold him. Ross, the old horse at our place, says he was taken from his mother and sold.”
“Oh me! if colts must be taken from their mothers in that way, why can’t they get us used to the separation by degrees, not tear us apart without a moment’s warning or word of farewell?”
“Why can’t they?” I repeated, then added: “But I guess your master is getting pay now for his cruelty. His wife is almost dying with cholera, and my master says there are seven little children.”
“I shall certainly pity the children if they are deprived of a mother’s care, but they will feel no worse than little Selim does.”
After awhile Dr. Dick came out to the shed. I suppose the rain had ceased by that time, at least the stream of water on my back had, but I was standing in some sort of filth, with the mud hardening on my legs. A long while he scraped and rubbed my legs and back, then turned me out into a little pasture.
“It will be better than this dirty place, Dandy,” he said, and it was.
It was just growing gray in the morning when a man rode past the pasture on a horse that fairly swayed from side to side, he was so exhausted, and blood and foam poured from his mouth and nostrils.
In a minute more Dr. Dick was calling me.
“Likely you’ll have a time to ketch the colt,” the owner of the premises was saying as I came up. The doctor laughed.
“Why, that is queer,” the man said. “I can never get near the old mare even, when she’s out.”
“Well, sir,” replied Master, looking very serious, “I would be ashamed to treat a dumb animal so badly that it would fear to come at my call. My horses know that I am their friend, and that, though I may have to work them hard, I will not require more of them than they can do, and that they can trust me in all things.”
Then he stroked my face, and I put my cheek against his.
“Dandy and I love each other,” he added. Then he went for the saddle and bridle. My companion of the evening before was still neighing pitifully, and Master inquired the cause.
“Sir, if your wife or any of your children die,” he said severely, when the other had told about the colt, “just remember that you deserve it, for having no regard for the feelings of a dumb mother. The God who noteth the sparrow’s fall, will measure unto you as you measure unto the helpless. There is a merciful and humane way of dealing in all these matters. If I were in your place, I’d send one of the boys to bring that colt where its mother can see it for a day and then let her watch it go away. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.'”
We now joined the other man standing beside his heaving horse at the gate.
“Follow at your leisure; that poor beast is well-nigh done for; I will hurry on and do all I can,” Dr. Dick said to the stranger, whose sister had been attacked by the epidemic; and away we flew.
My training had all been for the saddle, and, whether built right or not, I was at home under it. We turned in at the Wallace gateway just forty-eight hours after going out of it.
“How did the colt s