Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 38

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 38

Dolly and a Real Gentleman

  • Winter in London is brutal and especially hard for cab horses since they have to wait outside for hours for their fares to return from parties and other events. The weather doesn't make things easy: "When the streets were slippery with frost or snow, that was the worst of all for us horses" (38.2).
  • Some of the cab drivers go to pubs to wait, but Jerry prefers sitting in a coffee shop since he doesn't drink. "It was his opinion that spirits and beer made a man colder afterwards, and that dry clothes, good food, cheerfulness, and a comfortable wife at home were the best things to keep a cabman warm" (38.3), Beauty says of his master.
  • Polly and Dolly do their best to make sure Jerry has warm food on cold days, and little Dolly often crosses the street to deliver it.
  • One day, a man looking to hire Jerry's cab sees Dolly cross the street, and waits to make sure Jerry gets Dolly across the street safely before they leave. Jerry tells Dolly, "...that's a gentleman; that's a real gentleman, Dolly. He has got time and thought for the comfort of a poor cabman and a little girl" (38.5).
  • This gentleman becomes a regular customer, and they discover he owns several dogs and is fond of horses. As Beauty remarks, "It was a very rare thing for any one to notice the horse that had been working for him" (38.6).
  • On one outing, the gentleman comes out of a shop to see a man whip his horses for moving forward at the wrong time. The kind gentleman tells the man to stop and threatens to get him arrested. After the man rudely departs, Beauty's gentleman takes down his license number (which apparently you could do in Victorian times). When his friend asks him why he bothered, the gentleman says, "My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt" (38.17). Deep stuff for a cab ride.

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