Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 45

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 45

Jerry's New Year

  • The holiday season is a busy time for cab drivers, and not a lot of fun, although they do get tons of work. The weather is also a problem: "Sometimes driver and horse have to wait for hours in the rain or frost, shivering with cold, whilst the merry people within are dancing away to the music" (45.1), Beauty says.
  • Beauty takes most of the evening shifts because Hotspur's still new to the job. Jerry starts to get sick, and his cough gets worse; Polly waits up for him to come home each night.
  • On New Year's Eve, Jerry and Beauty drive two men to a party and are told to come back at eleven. They arrive on time, but the men are late getting back to them, and Beauty and Jerry are forced to wait in the rain and sleet until 1:15AM. The men never apologize, and are angry at having to pay for Jerry's time waiting.
  • When Beauty and Jerry finally get home, Jerry's seriously ill, but he still takes the time to care for Beauty before he goes inside. The next day, Harry and Dolly come to see Beauty, and Beauty finds out that Jerry is "dangerously ill" (45.12). Oh no…
  • Governor Grant comes to visit, and Harry explains that Jerry has bronchitis, and that it's a good thing Jerry doesn't drink because the doctor says that will give Jerry a better chance of living through it. Still, it's a scary situation.
  • The next day, the Governor visits again, and Beauty hears that Jerry will pull through. The Governor advises the family that although Beauty will be okay after a few days of rest, Hotspur will become dangerously restless, and needs exercise. Harry agrees, saying, "[…] he's so full of spirit I don't know what to do with him" (45.24).
  • The Governor arranges to take Hotspur out in his own cab and give Jerry part of the earnings. For over a week he takes Hotspur out, with Jerry's family thanking him for his gesture.
  • One day Dolly brings news of a letter from a place called Fairstowe, where Polly's old mistress, Mrs. Fowler, lives. Mrs. Fowler has written in response to Polly—who asked if any jobs were available for Jerry. Turns out that Mrs. Fowler's coachman is leaving, and she offers Jerry a job to replace him at her house out in the country, which will be a huge improvement for the family.
  • They decide to sell the cab and horses immediately; it's the second time Beauty's been displaced by someone's illness. He's understandably upset by this news, saying, "I was not young now, and could not look for any improvement in my condition. Since I left Birtwick I had never been so happy as with my dear master Jerry" (45.43).
  • Grant agrees to take Hotspur, and although other cabbies offer to take Beauty, Jerry wants to find him a better place. Beauty says he never sees Jerry again after his illness, but his family comes to say a very sad, tearful goodbye.

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