Both were so highly praised as just the thing that I took them on faith.
I judge that a woman can lie worse than a man about a horse!
“You will love my Nellie” she wrote. “I hate to part with her, even for the summer. She has been a famous racer in Canada—can travel easily twenty-five miles a day. Will go better at the end of the journey than at the beginning. I hear you are an accomplished driver, so I send my pet to your care without anxiety.”
I sent a man to her home to drive out with this delightful treasure, and pictured myself taking long and daily drives over our excellent country roads. Nellie, dear Nellie; I loved her already. How I would pet her, and how fond she would become of me. Two lumps of sugar at least, every day for her, and red ribbons for the whip. How she would dash along! A horse for me at last! About 1.45 A.M., of the next day, a carriage was heard slowly entering the yard. I could hardly wait until morning to gloat over my gentle racer! At early dawn I visited the stable and found John disgusted beyond measure with my bargain. A worn-out, tumble-down, rickety carriage with wobbling wheels, and an equally worn-out, thin, dejected, venerable animal, with an immense blood spavin on left hind leg, recently blistered! It took three weeks of constant doctoring, investment in Kendall’s Spavin Cure, and consultation with an expensive veterinary surgeon, to get the whilom race horse into a condition to slowly walk to market. I understood now the force of the one truthful clause—“She will go better at the end of the drive than at the beginning,” for it was well-nigh impossible to get her stiff legs started without a fire kindled under them and a measure of oats held enticingly before her. It was enraging, but nothing to after experiences. All the disappointed livery men, their complaisance and cordiality, wholly a thing of the past, were jubilant that I had been so imposed upon by some one, even if they had failed. And their looks, as they wheeled rapidly by me, as I crept along with the poor, suffering, limping “Nellie,” were almost more than I could endure.
Horses were again brought for inspection, and there was a repetition of previous horrors. At last a man came from Mossgrown. He had an honest face; he knew of a man who knew of a man whose brother had just the horse for me, “sound, stylish, kind, gentle as a lamb, fast as the wind.” Profiting by experience, I said I would look at it. Next day, a young man, gawky and seemingly unsophisticated, brought the animal. It looked well enough, and I was so tired. He was anxious to sell, but only because he was going to be married and go West; needed money. And he said with sweet simplicity: “Now I ain’t no jockey, I ain’t! You needn’t be afeard of me—I say just what I mean. I want spot cash, I do, and you can have horse, carriage, and harness for $125 down.” He gave me a short drive, and we did go “like the wind.” I thought the steed very hard to hold in, but he convinced me that it was not so. I decided to take the creature a week on trial, which was a blow to that guileless young man. And that very afternoon I started for the long, pleasant drive I had been dreaming about since early spring.