Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 23

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 23

A Strike for Liberty

  • One day, Lady W comes down and tells the groom to raise Beauty and Ginger's heads even higher. Beauty thinks it feels "almost intolerable" (23.3), and clearly there's no "almost" for Ginger—she's done. She rears up, startling York and a groom, and then "went on plunging, rearing, and kicking in a most desperate manner" (23.3). She hits part of the carriage and falls down, and finally York sits on her head and yells at his grooms to detach Beauty. Back at the stable, Beauty is furious, and even though he says he would never kick or rear, he "felt very much inclined to kick the first person who came near me" (23.3). Whoa. Literally.
  • Finally Ginger is led back to the stable by York, who's muttering to himself about the evil bearing reins. York treats the cut Beauty got in the scuffle.
  • Lord W is apparently not pleased, and blames York. Ginger never drives the carriage again, and is given to one of Lord W's younger sons as a riding horse. Beauty gets a new carriage partner named Max, and right off the bat, he asks Max how he deals with the bearing rein.
  • Max says he just does it because he has to, "[…] but it is shortening my life, and it will shorten yours too, if you have to stick to it" (23.9). Yikes.
  • Beauty wonders if horse owners know how bad it is for them, and Max says he isn't sure. He basically says that he's watched horses have their necks strained by the reins, only to be sold or traded as soon as they are unhealthy or worn out.
  • Beauty has to wear the rein for four months, and says that if the ordeal had gone on longer, "[…] either my health or my temper would have given way" (23.12).
  • He recalls having friends like John and Squire Gordon at Birtwick, and says that here at Earlshall he has no friends.

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