Chapter 47 Summary
Jack’s new master has black eyes, a hooked nose, and harsh, grating voice. His name is Nicholas Skinner, and he is the same man for whom Seedy Sam had driven a cab. Though he had seen and heard some of the suffering such horses must bear, Jack only now learns the “utter misery” of a cab-horse’s life.
Skinner’s drivers and cabs are both of a low sort—he is hard on the men and the men are hard on the horses. There is no rest on Sundays and often Jack is so used and worn he can hardly eat. The drivers are cruel and Jack is regularly and harshly whipped. Jack longs to go back to his time with Jerry. This undignified treatment takes the heart out of the poor horse, but Jack continues to do his best. Ginger was right: it is of no use to fight back, for men are stronger. Now he, like Ginger, wishes his life and his misery were finally finished. One day he nearly gets his wish.
Halfway through a productive day, Jack and his driver take a passenger to the train station. The driver hopes to pick up a return fare, and a family of four with an excessive amount of luggage hires Jack’s cab. As the luggage is being loaded, the young daughter looks at the horse more closely and tells her father the animal looks too weak and worn to take their heavy load very far. The driver assures them the horse is strong enough, despite the porter’s recommendation that the family hire a second cab.
The load is so heavy the cab’s springs are noticeably stressed. The daughter beseeches her father to take a second cab, but he tells her to get in the cab and be quiet. The gentle girl has no choice but to obey. All the boxes are loaded, and the driver lashes the whip to jerk the horse into action. The load is quite heavy and the horse has had no food or rest since the morning, but Jack does his best—as he always does, even in the face of injustice and cruelty. He does fairly well until he gets to Ludgate Hill. There his exhaustion and the strain of the heavy load are too much and, as he is being whipped mercilessly, his feet slip from under him and he lands heavily on the ground.
He lands on his side, and the fall takes his breath away. Jack is powerless to move and is certain he is going to die. There is confusion around him, as well as loud, angry voices. The luggage is being removed from the cart, and a sweet, pitying voice exclaims it is all their fault. Someone loosens the straps which harness him, and another says the horse is dead. A policeman gives orders as Jack struggles to draw an occasional gasping breath. Cold water is thrown over the horse’s head, a cordial is poured into his mouth, and a cover is placed over him.
Jack does not know how long he lays there before he begins to feel his life returning to him. A man...
(The entire section is 808 words.)