Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 48

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 48

Farmer Thoroughgood and his Grandson Willie

  • This horse sale is a depressing place: "I found myself in company with the old broken-down horses—some lame, some broken-winded, some old, and some that I am sure it would have been merciful to shoot" (48.1), Beauty says.
  • The patrons at the sale aren't much better, many of them poor and desperate, and Beauty really hopes it will work out with a "tottering old man that took a great fancy to me, and I to him" (48.2). But alas, no dice.
  • Beauty then notices a kind-looking farmer who's there with a young boy. Beauty tries to look alert when they come by, and the farmer comments that Beauty is a horse "[…] that has known better days" (48.3). (Gee, ya think?)
  • The farmer tells the boy, Willie, that he guesses Beauty was once a carriage horse—he can tell Beauty is well-bred. Beauty puts out his nose affectionately when the man pats him, and the boy asks if they can buy him "[…] and make him young again" (48.6).
  • The farmer declines, thinking Beauty's too old, but his grandson argues that Beauty's mane and tail make him seem like a younger horse, and asks his grandfather to look into Beauty's mouth so they can tell how old he is.
  • The man selling Beauty says that Willie is right—Beauty's just been overworked. They examine Beauty, the boy still pleading to bring him home, and then they negotiate until the farmer buys Beauty for five pounds. The boy is ecstatic, and Beauty is ridden to his new home by a servant and brought to a large meadow.
  • Beauty's new master is named Mr. Thoroughgood—another telling name, wouldn't you say?—and he puts Willie in charge of Beauty's care, which is mostly good food and rest. Willie is an excellent caretaker, though he calls Beauty "Old Crony," which is an unfortunate step backwards in naming. But what can you do?
  • With rest, food, and exercise, Beauty improves rapidly, and by springtime, he's able to pull a phaeton—a light, open carriage. Thoroughgood comments that Beauty is "growing young" (48.27), and expects that he will be able to do some work by summertime. They're thrilled that they bought him, and Thoroughgood wants to look for a permanent home for Beauty where he will be well cared for. We don't want to be too hopeful, but it seems like things are looking up at last.

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