‘Wi’ all the pleasure in life, sir. Come in, sir. I know it ain’t becomin’ o’ me for to boast,’ said the groom as they entered the building, ‘but if there’s a better stable o’ hosses than them there, then my name ain’t Mathews, nor is my Christian names William John neither. There ain’t many in England as knows a hoss quicker ’an me, Mr. Selwyn, though I says it that shouldn’t ought to, but I knows a hoss just as soon as I sets eyes on ’im. Milord, ’e’s just a small bit better, though likewise and sim’lar we usually thinks exac’ly the same. Only once we disergreed on a hoss. I says it were wicious, and ’e said as ’ow it weren’t. So we bought it.’
‘And who was right?’
’Well, sir, I sort of estermate as ’ow ’e was, for just arter we got ’im Mas’r Dick, who ain’t afraid o’ any beast as walks on four legs, took ’im out for a airing. Well, sir, that hoss—powerful brute ’e were, with a eye like Sin—goes along like as if ’e ’adn’t a evil thought in ’is ’ead; but all on a sudden ‘e comes to a ditch, and sort o’ rolls Mas’r Dick into it, and bungs ’is ‘ead against a stone.’
‘Then he was vicious, after all?’
’No, sir—that’s the extr’ord’nary part of it. He comes right back to the stables to me and pulls up short. I goes up and looks into that there sinful eye. “You hulk o’ misery,” I says; “you willainous son of a abandoned sire!” You know, sir, I always likes to make a hoss feel real bad by telling him what’s what, for they got intelligence. Mr. Selwyn, I should say, by Criky! a ’uman being ain’t in the same stall as a hoss for intelligence.’
‘I think you may be right,’ said Selwyn decisively.
‘May be? There ain’t no doubt about it nowise.’
‘And what happened to your horse?’
’Ah yes, sir. Well, sir, I gets on ‘im, and pullin’ ’is face around by ’is ear, I give ’im another look in ’is sinful eye. “Where’s Mas’r Dick?” I says. And—criky!—off ’e goes, lickerty-split, like as if we was entered for the Derby, and, sure enough, ’e stops right at the ditch where Mas’r Dick was a-lying all peaceful and muddy like a stiff un. Well, sir, I gets off and lifts ’im up, and then mounts be’ind ’im, and that there hoss ’e never moved until I tells ’im, and then ’e goes home so smooth-like that a old lady could ’ave rid ’im and done ’er knitting sim’lar. And arter that ’e were as gentle as a lamb, ’e were—and there ’e is right afore your eyes, Mr. Selwyn. He’s a old hoss now, and ain’t much to look on, but every morning when I comes in ’e takes a look with that there bad eye o’ hisn and says, just like I says to ’im that day, “Where’s Mas’r Dick?” I sometimes feels so sorry for the old feller that I swears something horrible just to cheer ‘im up.’
With considerable interest, though with a certain doubt as to the strict authenticity of the narrative, the American looked at the horse, which, after a melancholy survey of the visitors, vented its grief in an attempt to bite a large-sized slice from the neck of a neighbour.