Chapter 44 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 778

Old Captain and His Successor

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Jack and Captain are great friends, for he is a noble horse and very good company. The younger horse never thinks about the Captain dying, but one day he does.

After taking some passengers to the railway station, Jerry and Captain are on their way back to the cab stand when Jerry sees a brewer’s empty cart coming their way. The driver is lashing his horses with a thick whip and they are moving at a furious pace. The street is full of traffic and the driver clearly has no control of his animals. The next instant the carriage smashes into the cab.

Both wheels are torn off and the cab is overturned. Captain is dragged to the ground. The shafts connecting the horse to the cab are splintered and one of them is driven into Captain’s side. Though Jerry is thrown from the cab, he is merely bruised—a true miracle. The horse is badly hurt, and Jerry walks him home slowly as the blood drips from his side and shoulder. The driver of the cart was drunk and got fined; the brewer had to pay damages to Jerry for the cab; but there was no one to pay damages for Captain.

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Latest answer posted September 9, 2015, 1:58 pm (UTC)

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Jerry and the farrier do their best to make the horse comfortable, and for several days Jerry is unable to work. When the cab is repaired and Jerry and Jack return to the cab stand, Governor asks about Captain. Jerry knows the old horse will never recover from this accident. He is furious at the drivers who are drunk and careless, wishing they could all be put in a “lunatic asylum” where they would not do any harm to sober people. If they ruin their own horses and their own carts and no one would care; however, they hurt innocent people and animals and there is never suitable compensation for such a thing. He wishes alcohol could be banned.

Governor sheepishly admits he occasionally partakes, and Jerry tells him he can simply choose to quit, for he is too good a man to be a slave to liquor. Governor has tried to quit drinking without success and asks Jerry how he did it. Jerry tells him he never used to get drunk, but he did not like being a slave to liquor so he struggled to put the habit of drink behind him. It was difficult, but he did it, thanks to God and his wife. He has no lingering wish for liquor after ten years. Governor thinks perhaps he will try it, becoming his own master once again.

At first it seems as if Captain might recover; however, he is an old horse and has only stayed strong this long through the good care of his master. The farrier says Captain might heal enough to be sold to someone else, but Jerry refuses to send an old servant into a life of hard work and misery and thinks the greatest kindness he can do for Captain is to “put a bullet through his heart” to end the poor creature’s suffering.

The day after this has been decided, Harry takes Jack to the blacksmith for new shoes. When they return, Captain is gone. Jerry is looking for a new horse and hears of one through an acquaintance. The horse is young and had smashed into another cart, throwing his master from the carriage. He is scarred but still strong; however, he is no longer fit for a gentleman’s stables and must be sold. Jerry does not mind high spirits as long as a horse is neither vicious nor hard-mouthed.

Jerry is convinced Hotspur is a good horse who was goaded into the accident. Five-year-old Hotspur is a fine, brown horse, as tall as Captain and handsome. Jack greets him in a friendly way but does not ask the new horse any questions. He is restless the first night, jerking his halter rope most of the night. After working in the cab the next day, Hotspur comes back quiet and sensible. Jerry talks to him and pats him regularly, and soon the two of them understand one another. Jerry believes Hotspur will be a very good horse with plenty of strength to be used.

Hotspur, on the other hand, sees Jerry and the cab business as a come-down in his life and is disgusted at standing around with other horses, at the beck and call of paying customers. By the end of the first week, though, Hotspur confesses to Jack that this is a relatively easy position. He soon settles in and Jerry likes him very much.

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