Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 8

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 8

Ginger's Story Continued

  • The next time Beauty and Ginger are alone together, Ginger continues her story. She tells Beauty that she was sold to a "fashionable gentleman" (8.2) and sent to London, where she was driven with something called a bearing rein. For those of us who've never studied horse life in Victorian England, a bearing rein is a mechanism to hold a horse's neck in a high, arched position, which was the height of trendiness at the time. (Gotta keep those animals on trend, right?)
  • Ginger describes how painful it is to have to use a bearing rein: It prevents a horse from moving their head, adds a second bit inside their mouths, and is "enough to drive one mad" (8.3).
  • Ginger says she was ready and willing to work, but her new master gave her "only a surly word or a blow" (8.5) to break her in to the bearing rein. The new rein made her so irritable that she "began to snap and kick" (8.5) when anyone put it on. Finally she lost her temper—who wouldn't?—and was sold to another owner.
  • For a while Ginger was content, as she'd been sold to a country gentleman, but soon her new master hired a groomer who was just as bad as Samson: "Everything he did was rough, and I began to hate him" (8.6), she says. Pushed beyond her limit, Ginger bit him and he beat her. The groomer told her new master, and she was sold again, at last to Birtwick Park.
  • By this time, Ginger is understandably wary of men: "I had then made up my mind that men were my natural enemies and that I must defend myself" (8.7). It's a pretty logical conclusion given her life experiences.
  • Beauty suggests that she not attack John or James, who are excellent with horses, and Ginger agrees with him, and says she'll try not to.
  • Over time, Ginger starts to calm down at Birtwick due to the kindness of the humans there. "Yes, sir, she's wonderfully improved; she's not the same creature that she was" (8.14), John tells Squire Gordon.

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