Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 47

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 47

Hard Times

  • And now things take a turn for the horrible. Beauty's new master is as evil as they come: Nicholas Skinner, whose "black eyes and hooked nose" (47.1) call to mind a classic Disney villain, was poor deceased Seedy Sam's boss. Are you getting the picture?
  • Beauty is now truly miserable. Skinner is a hard-driving boss, and the horses have no day of rest, even in summer heat.
  • Beauty thinks fondly of the kind treatment he had with Jerry, in contrast to the hellish life he has at Skinner's. Beauty's driver is "[…] just as hard as his master. He had a cruel whip with something so sharp at the end that it sometimes drew blood, and he would even whip me under the belly, and flip the lash out at my head" (47.4). Ouch.
  • Beauty thinks of Ginger now, saying, "My life was now so utterly wretched that I wished I might, like Ginger, drop down dead at my work, and be out of my misery" (47.5).
  • One day, Beauty's wish nearly comes true. His cab is called to take a "noisy, blustering" (47.6) man with his family and lots of luggage.
  • The man's young daughter asks if Beauty is up to the job, saying that he looks very weak, but the driver assures her that Beauty is fine. The girl again asks her father to pay for a second cab, but he refuses.
  • Beauty attempts to pull the cart, although he hasn't had food or rest all day. Now there's a hero.
  • Beauty tries his best, but at last he slips and falls badly. The fall knocks the wind out of him and he's sure he's about to die. In his dream-like state, he hears the little girl lament that it's their fault, and someone else says, "He's dead, he'll never get up again" (47.16).
  • Somehow Beauty is given whatever emergency treatment is available for horses, and he's eventually able to get up and walk to a nearby stable, and then finally makes it back to Skinner's that evening.
  • At Skinner's, a farrier examines Beauty and says he's overworked. Skinner declares that Beauty "[…] must just go to the dogs" (47.19), since he doesn't have any place to nurse sick horses.
  • The farrier insists that if Beauty gets a few days' rest, though, Skinner might be able to sell him off at an upcoming sale.
  • In a stroke of good luck, Skinner actually follows this advice, and Beauty gets ten days of rest and good food. He goes off to the horse sale hoping for some kind of improvement—because anything would be better than Skinner.

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