Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 39

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 39

Seedy Sam

  • Beauty takes a minute to explain that his life with Jerry is much better than the lives of many other cab horses. Jerry owns Beauty, and thus it's in his best interest to treat Beauty well. But other drivers who don't own their horses don't behave the same way—"[…] the only thing they thought of was how to get their money out of them" (39.1). But Jerry and Governor Grey are both kind and concerned when it comes to horses.
  • One day a "shabby, miserable-looking" driver, by the name of "Seedy Sam" (39.2), brings in a sad, unhealthy-looking horse. (Interesting name for a driver, right?) The Governor comments that Sam belongs in the police station, and Sam gives a surprising response: He describes the desperate conditions of cab driving, the high cost of renting a horse and cab, the fixed low fares, and the incredibly long hours. "I am on the stand fourteen or sixteen hours a day" (39.5), Sam explains—what's more, he has six kids to feed.
  • Sam continues to detail the difficulties of making money as a cab driver, ranting, "[…] I say 'tis a mockery to tell a man that he must not overwork his horse, for when a beast is downright tired, there's nothing but the whip that will keep his legs a-going […] you must put your wife and children before the horse" (39.7).
  • The Governor and Jerry are pretty sad after Sam's speech, and admit that Sam's right. "It is hard lines for man, and hard lines for beast, and who's to mend it I don't know" (39.10), the Governor says. But he asks Sam to spare a kind word for his horse once in a while.
  • A few days later, a new man shows up with Sam's cab, and says that Sam is ill. And the next day, he comes back and says Sam is dead. Sam's last words? "I never had a Sunday's rest" (39.18). Poor Sam.
  • The Governor says that Sam's death is a warning to the rest of the cabbies. But what are they supposed to do about it? We're not sure.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...