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Chapter 24 Summary

The Lady Anne, or a Runaway Horse

Early that spring, Lord W— [sic] takes part of his family to London, and he takes York with them. Black Beauty, Ginger, and several other horses are left behind in the care of the head groom. Lady Harriet remains at home; an invalid, she never goes out in the carriage. Lady Anne, who also stays at home, is a “perfect horsewoman," as fun and gentle as she is beautiful. She chooses the black horse for her own and names him “Black Auster”; he enjoys his rides with Lady Anne, sometimes accompanied by Ginger and other times by a thoroughbred mare named Lizzie. Lizzie is a favorite of the gentlemen, but Ginger knows her best and tells Black Auster that Lizzie is a rather nervous horse.

A gentleman named Blantyre is staying at Earlshall Hall. When he and Lady Anne go riding together, he always rides Lizzie. He praises Lizzie so much that one day Lady Anne orders a sidesaddle placed on the horse so that she can ride her, while Blantyre rides Black Auster. Blantyre seems uneasy with this change. She would like to try the charming mare, Lady Anne says, for in size and appearance, Lizzie is more a lady’s horse than her beloved Black Auster. The gentleman advises her against the switch one last time, saying Lizzie is much too nervous for her to ride; however, Lady Anne will not be dissuaded, and Blantyre reluctantly helps her mount.

As they are leaving, a footman brings a note with a question Lady Harriet wants the doctor to answer, so Lady Anne and Blantyre ride to Dr. Ashley’s. When they arrive, Lady Anne says she will wait for Blantyre at the gate for the five minutes he will be gone on the errand. After draping Black Auster's reins over an iron spike in the gate, Blantyre walks up the short path to the doctor's house. Lady Anne waits, "sitting easily with a loose rein, humming a little song." Black Auster stands a few paces away. Just as the gentleman knocks on the doctor's door, some cart horses and young colts come toward the gate. A young boy is cracking a whip, and the cart horses are “wild and frolicsome.” One of them inadvertently bumps up against Lizzie’s hind leg. She gives a violent kick and dashes off in a headlong gallop. The sudden move nearly unseats Lady Anne, but she manages to stay in the saddle.

The black horse begins neighing for help, trying to shake his reins loose from the gate. Blantyre comes running and sees Lady Anne and Lizzie far down the road. Riding Black Auster, he pursues them. Black Auster needs no spurring to run, but at a bend in the road, the gentleman and the black horse lose sight of the mare and Lady Anne. A woman standing in her garden points them in the right direction, and they make some progress, but soon Lady Anne is again out of sight. An old road-mender then directs Blantyre to the common, a terrible place for a headlong gallop.

At the common they see Lady Anne. She has lost her hat, and her hair is streaming down her back; she is pulling on the reins with all her strength and appears nearly exhausted. Lizzie has slowed down a bit, and it seems the black horse might be able to overtake her. Blantyre is now in control of his horse and guides him through the commons after Lizzie. Suddenly they see the mare leap a recently cut dyke, and Lady Anne is thrown to the ground. When they approach, she is not moving; when...

(The entire section is 935 words.)