Chapter 13 Summary

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The Devil’s Trade Mark

One day John is riding Black Beauty on an errand for the Squire. At a distance, they see a boy trying to make a pony jump a gate. The horse refuses to leap, and the boy whips the horse. When the horse continues to refuse to jump, the boy gets even more incensed and begins beating and kicking the pony. Finally, the horse refuses the rider by rearing up and throwing him into a hedge of thorns. With the reins dangling, the pony gallops home leaving the boy in his indignity.

When the boy sees John approaching, he calls for help; however, John thinks a little scratching might teach the boy a lesson about trying to make a pony leap over a fence which is too high for him. John recognizes the boy as the son of Farmer Bushby and drives to their home. He finds the parents worried about the fate of their son after the pony returned without him. John explains what he saw and asks forgiveness for not helping the boy but hopes he will learn something from the experience.

The boy’s mother begins to cry, fearing her son Bill is hurt; however, her husband tells her to go into the house. He intends for the boy to learn something from the experience. This is not the first or even the second time that Bill has abused the pony, and the farmer thanks John for letting him know what happened.

When John and Black Beauty arrive home, John shares the story with James, who laughs because he knows the boy from school and knows he was a bully to the younger children even then. As a farmer’s son, Bill used to believe he was superior to the children of laborers, but the older boys (including James) let him know that on the playground every child was the same.

One afternoon James discovered Bill pulling the wings off of flies. He sneaked up on the boy and boxed his ears, sending him sprawling onto the floor. Though he was angry, James was rather frightened at Bill’s roaring cry in response. Others heard the commotion and came running, thinking that someone had been murdered, at the least. James owned up to his actions and explained why he hit Bill; the teacher saw the evidence and punished Bill by making him sit on a stool for the rest of the afternoon and not allowing him to participate in recess for the rest of the week. They all got a stern lecture about cruelty being the devil’s trade mark and were encouraged to report any instances of cruelty they saw. Conversely, those who treated other with kindness were marked with God’s approval, for “God is Love.”

John agrees with the lesson James learned. He says that any religion which does not teach people to be kind to men and animals is a “sham,” and it will not stand when times are difficult.

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Chapter 12 Summary


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