Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 16

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 16

The Fire

  • Later on at the hotel's stable, a young man helping the ostler accidentally leaves his lit pipe in the hayloft. Beauty wakes up in the middle of the night to find the stables filled with smoke; he describes the noise of fire, but has no idea what it is.
  • The horses in the stable are very frightened, and an ostler rushes in to try to get the horses outside, though in sensing the ostler's fear, Beauty's fear only grows. In fact, none of the horses will leave the stable—they're too frightened by the panicked ostler.
  • The old, experienced ostler finally comes in and manages to lead a horse out, and then James comes for Beauty, his voice "quiet and cheery" (16.8). James ties his scarf over Beauty's eyes and leads him out of the stable, then goes back inside for Ginger as Beauty gives a loud whinny. Thankfully Ginger hears Beauty outside—"had she not heard me outside, she would never have had courage to come out" (16.11), she tells him later.
  • After a long delay, James makes it out with Ginger, although both have inhaled a lot of smoke.
  • As they all watch, the fire engine arrives pulled by two horses, and the rest of the horses and their caretakers hurry away to the Marketplace near the hotel.
  • Tragically, Beauty can hear the horses left in the stable shriek with pain; some of them never make it out.
  • The next morning Beauty hears James talking about the fire, which is blamed on Dick Towler, the boy with the pipe. Okay, no pipes in the stable, everyone. Got it?
  • The hotel stable has been destroyed in the fire, and the two horses unable to escape were buried under the debris.

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