Study Guide

Black Beauty Chapter 9

By Anna Sewell

Chapter 9

Merrylegs

  • Next up in Beauty's story is Merrylegs, who's used as a playmate for the children who live and visit at Birtwick Park. They take turns riding him, and one day James brings Merrylegs back to the stable and gives him a warning about getting into trouble.
  • Merrylegs says he's "only been giving those young people a lesson" (9.5). See, some of them weren't paying attention to when he'd had enough, so Merrylegs "just pitched them off backwards; that was the only thing they could understand" (9.5).
  • Merrylegs assures Beauty he would never throw Miss Jessie or Miss Flora, Squire Gordon's children, though: "I am the best friend and the best riding master those children have. It is not them, it is the boys" (9.8). He says that the visiting boys must be broken in much like horses—the visiting kids began to whip Merrylegs with sticks, and didn't understand when Merrylegs was exhausted. "They never think a pony can get tired, or have any feelings" (9.8), he says.
  • Merrylegs explains that he gently tipped the boys off his back because he didn't know how else to teach them. He says the children are under his charge while they are riding, and he tries to keep them safe.
  • Merrylegs adds that if he ever did start to misbehave and kick, he'd be sold and certainly enslaved or worked to death by someone else. "I hope I shall never come to that" (8.11). Us too, Merrylegs.

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