“Among the horses there was one that I had bought, I must confess, particularly on account of his coat, which was beautiful. The catalogue did not attribute to him any special qualifications for hunting, but limited itself to ‘Brutus, riding horse.’ He was a large dapple-gray horse, but never, I think, have I seen gray better dappled; the white coat was strewn almost regularly with beautiful black spots, which were well distributed and well marked.
“I left town the next day for Roche-Targe, and the following day, early, they announced to me that the horses had arrived. I at once went down to see them, and my first glance was at Brutus. He had been trotting in my head for forty-eight hours, that devil of a gray horse, and I had a singular desire to know what he was and of what he was capable.
“I had him taken out of the stable first. A groom led him to me with a strap. The horse had long teeth, hollows in the chest, lumpy fetlocks—in short, all the signs of respectable age; but he had powerful shoulders, a large breast, a neck which was both strong and supple, head well held, tail well placed, and an irreproachable back. It wasn’t, however, all this that attracted most my attention. What I admired above all was the air with which Brutus looked at me, and with what an attentive, intelligent, and curious eye he followed my movements and gestures. Even my words seemed to interest him singularly; he inclined his head to my side as if to hear me, and, as soon as I had finished speaking, he neighed joyously in answer.
“They showed me successively the seven other horses; I examined them rapidly and absent-mindedly. They were horses like all other horses. Brutus certainly had something in particular, and I was anxious to make in his company a short jaunt in the country. He allowed himself to be saddled, bridled, and mounted like a horse who knows his business, and so we both started in the quietest way in the world.
“I had at first ridden him with the snaffle, and Brutus had gone off at a long easy gait, with rather a stiff neck and projected head; but as soon as I let him feel the curb, he changed with extraordinary rapidity and suppleness, drawing his head back to his breast, and champing his bit noisily; then at the same time he took a short gait, which was light and even, lifting well his feet and striking the sod with the regularity of a pendulum.
“Cheri’s catalogue had not lied; the horse was a good rider—too good a rider, in fact. I made him trot, then gallop; the horse at the first suggestion gave me an excellent little trot and an excellent little gallop, but always plunging to the ground and pulling my arms when I tried to lift his head. When I wished to quicken his gait, the horse broke at once. He began to rack in great style, trotting with the fore-feet and galloping with the hind ones. ‘Well,’ I said to myself, ’I see now; I’ve bought some old horse of the Saumur or Saint-Cyr school, and it’s not on this beast that I’ll hunt in eight days.’