Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 17

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 17

John Manly's Talk

  • Crisis over at last, they reach the home of Squire Gordon's friend. The coachman there compliments James on his ability to get Beauty and Ginger out of the burning stable: "It is one of the hardest things in the world to get horses out of a stable when there is either fire or flood" (17.2). So how do you think James made it happen?
  • Back at Birtwick Park, James asks who will be replacing him as stable boy. John tells him that Little Joe Green, only fourteen, will be coming, even though he's still small.
  • When James tells John he's a good man for giving Joe a chance, John begins to talk, giving a rare glimpse of his past. He says he was Joe Green's age when his own parents died of a fever, leaving John and his crippled sister Nelly alone. He and his sister were taken in by a kind farmer and given work, which was fortunate since otherwise they might have gone to the workhouse.
  • John was apprenticed under a coachman named Norman: "He might have turned around and said that at his age he could not be troubled with a raw boy from the plough-tail, but he was like a father to me, and took no end of pains with me" (17.13). Sounds like John sees a lot of himself in Joe Green, maybe?
  • James gets a little emotional at the thought of leaving John.
  • Joe comes to the stables to learn from James, but Joe's still too short to groom Beauty or Ginger, so he takes charge of grooming Merrylegs. Merrylegs isn't so sure at first, but secretly tells Beauty after two weeks that Joe's probably going to work out fine.
  • James leaves at last, with words of encouragement from John; Merrylegs is especially sad.

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