Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 34

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 34

An Old War Horse

  • Now it's time for a little side trip, this time for Captain's story. Captain, Beauty's new cab-pulling companion, was trained as a war horse, and his first owner was a cavalry officer in the Crimean War. Captain liked the training and loved his master, who treated him very well. Captain "[…] thought the life of an army horse was very pleasant, but when it came to being sent abroad, over the sea in a great ship, he almost changed his mind" (34.1).
  • Captain thought the journey in the ship was "dreadful" (34.2), and found life different and stressful once they arrived, but has good things to say about the way the cavalrymen treated their horses.
  • Beauty wonders if the fighting was awful, and Captain tells him that they liked being called out, and they were not afraid as long as their riders were in control. He says even though he saw many horses die, he was not afraid for himself: "My master's cheery voice […] made me feel as if he and I could not be killed" (34.6). Go team.
  • One day, however, all of that changes. Captain and his officer are called to the front lines, and Captain's master is particularly affectionate before they charge into battle. After a brave charge, Captain's master is struck by a cannonball and falls. Captain wants to stay with him, saying, "I wanted to keep my place by his side, and not leave him under that rush of horses' feet, but it was in vain. And now, without a master or a friend, I was alone on that great slaughter ground" (34.14).
  • Another soldier whose horse has been killed mounts Captain and rides him back, but they have suffered a defeat. Beauty asks about the wounded horses, and Captain says that they were shot so they did not suffer, and only one in four horses returned alive that day.
  • Captain never sees his master again, to his great sorrow; he says, "I never loved any other master so well" (34.17). Aw. 
  • Beauty asks if Captain understood what the war was about, and Captain, of course, never knew: "[…] but the enemy must have been awfully wicked people, if it was right to go all that way over the sea on purpose to kill them" (34.21).

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