As for me, I thought it was time for me to be going.
THE MEETING OF GORDON ORME
I had enough to do when it came to mounting my horse Satan. Few cared to ride Satan, since it meant a battle each time he was mounted. He was a splendid brute, black and clean, with abundant bone in the head and a brilliant eye—blood all over, that was easy to see. Yet he was a murderer at heart. I have known him to bite the backbone out of a yearling pig that came under his manger, and no other horse on our farm would stand before him a moment when he came on, mouth open and ears laid back. He would fight man, dog, or devil, and fear was not in him, nor any real submission. He was no harder to sit than many horses I have ridden. I have seen Arabians and Barbary horses and English hunters that would buck-jump now and then. Satan contented himself with rearing high and whirling sharply, and lunging with a low head; so that to ride him was a matter of strength as well as skill. The greatest danger was in coming near his mouth or heels. My father always told me that this horse was not fit to ride; but since my father rode him—as he would any horse that offered—nothing would serve me but I must ride Satan also, and so I made him my private saddler on occasion.
I ought to speak of my father, that very brave and kindly gentleman from whom I got what daring I ever had, I suppose. He was a clean-cut man, five-eleven in his stockings, and few men in all that country had a handsomer body. His shoulders sloped—an excellent configuration for strength—as a study of no less a man than George Washington will prove—his arms were round, his skin white as milk, his hair, like my own, a sandy red, and his eyes blue and very quiet. There was a balance in his nature that I have ever lacked. I rejoice even now in his love of justice. Fair play meant with him something more than fair play for the sake of sport—it meant as well fair play for the sake of justice. Temperate to the point of caring always for his body’s welfare, as regular in his habits as he was in his promises and their fulfillments, kindling readily enough at any risk, though never boasting—I always admired him, and trust I may be pardoned for saying so. I fear that at the time I mention now I admired him most for his strength and courage.
Thus as I swung leg over Satan that morning I resolved to handle him as I had seen my father do, and I felt strong enough for that. I remembered, in the proud way a boy will have, the time when my father and I, riding through the muddy streets of Leesburg town together, saw a farmer’s wagon stuck midway of a crossing. “Come, Jack,” my father called me, “we must send Bill Yarnley home to his family.” Then we two dismounted, and stooping in the mud got our two shoulders under the axle of the wagon, before we were done with it, our blood getting up at the laughter of the townsfolk.