Chapter 41 Summary

The Butcher

While he is in London, Jack sees many problems that could be prevented by a bit of common sense. Horses do not mind hard work if they are treated reasonably, and being owned by a good-tempered poor man is better than being ill-treated by a lord or a lady. He is most saddened by how poorly some ponies are being treated; he often sees them struggling to pull heavy loads or being whipped by cruel young boys.

Butchers’ horses are forced to move at great speeds, something Jack does not understand until he spent some time waiting on the street near a butcher’s shop. The driver of the butcher’s cart pulls up in front of the shop, and it is clear the horse is exhausted after being driven too hard. The butcher comes out to the cart and scolds the driver, his son, for treating the horse in such a way after many warnings not to drive so recklessly.

His son interrupts his father’s scolding and tells him angrily that none of it is his fault, for every time he has to make a delivery he is told by his father to “be quick” and “look sharp.” Every delivery seems to be an emergency of some sort, due to poor planning, unexpected company, or other so-called crises. In every case, his father wants him to hurry—so he does. The butcher agrees that it is his customers’ problems which cause the need to rush and he wishes things were different. He would even be a better butcher if his customers planned ahead better and did not make such last-minute decisions. He tells his son to go take care of the horse; if there is another delivery today, the boy must take it himself.

All boys are not cruel, treating their horses as they would a family pet. Those horses work willingly and hard for their young masters. One young boy regularly drives past the cab stand with vegetables; his horse is old and not particularly handsome, but he works tirelessly for his young master without the need for a whip. An old man regularly drives a coal cart down the street, and he and his horse work together in silent teamwork. The old horse keeps one ear cocked, listening for the slightest sound of his master’s voice; they are like partners who have been together for a long time and understand one another well. The sight of this pair makes Jack happy, for he sees it is possible for an old horse to be happy in a poor place.