Chapter 12 Summary
A Stormy Day
One late autumn day, the Squire leaves for a business trip. John goes with him. Black Beauty is hitched to the dog-cart, and they begin their journey. The horse likes the lightweight cart. There has been a lot of rain lately, and the wind has picked up, blowing dried leaves across the road. As they near the river, water comes to the horse’s knees; however, the master drives gently, and the road offers good footing for the horse.
They arrive at a wooden bridge, built low across the river. When the river is high, water can come up to the floor of the bridge. Because there are sturdy rails on the bridge, people generally are not concerned when this happens. The bridge keeper warns them that the river is rising quickly and many of the meadows are under water; he is afraid this will be a bad night. The Squire decides to move forward anyway.
They spend a long time in town, not leaving for home until late in the afternoon. By now the wind is much stronger, and the Squire tells John he has never been out in such a storm. Black Beauty agrees with his master. John wishes they were clear of the woods and remarks that it would be a bad thing if one of the branches fell on them. As soon as the words leave his mouth, a tree crashes to the ground on the road ahead of them. Black Beauty was trained not to react, and he stands still when he hears the thundering crash; however, he is certainly frightened and trembling as John jumps from the dog-cart and goes to the horse to reassure him.
They have no choice but to go back to a crossroads, making the trip to the bridge almost six miles. It is a longer journey than any of them like, but the horse is fresh. It is nearly dark when they reach the wooden bridge. The water is already over the middle of it, something that happens sometimes during floods. The Squire opts to move forward, and they are moving along at a quick pace until the moment Black Beauty puts his foot on the first part of the bridge. The horse instantly knows something is wrong, and he stops completely. The master urges him to keep moving and prods him with the whip, but the horse does not move. Even when the whip cracks smartly, Black Beauty dares not move.
John understands that something is wrong and tries to lead the horse forward, but he still will not budge. Just then the bridge keeper appears on the other...
(The entire section is 668 words.)