Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 614
A Fair Start
John Manly is the Squire’s coachman. He has a wife and one small child, and they live in the coachman’s cottage near the stables. The morning after he arrives, Darkie is groomed in the yard. Just as John is about to return him to his stall, the Squire comes to see him and looks pleased with the horse. He intended to ride Darkie that morning but is too busy; he tells John to ride Darkie around the grounds to check his training.
After breakfast, John fits Darkie with a bridle, allowing the horse to adjust and ensuring a comfortable fit. The first saddle he brings is too small, but he brings another, and soon they are trotting and then cantering in the yard. Once they reach the common, John touches the horse lightly with a whip and they gallop. As they come back though the park, they are met by the Squire and Mrs. Gordon. John gives a positive report: Darkie responds to the slightest touch, he is not frightened by other horses or sudden movements, and he was obviously not ill-treated or frightened as a colt.
The next day the Squire rides his new horse. Darkie remembers everything his mother taught him and treats his new master well. The Squire is a good rider and thoughtful of his horse, as well. When they ride to the house, Mrs. Gordon meets them, and the Squire tells her the horse is exactly as John described. Then he asks her what they should name their new horse. They consider calling him Ebony or Blackbird, but they choose Black Beauty because he is beautiful, intelligent, and even-tempered.
When John returns the horse to the stables, he tells James the Squire has named the new horse Black Beauty. James thinks the horse could have been named Rob Roy, if the thought were not so sad, because the two horses looked so alike. John reminds him that both horses were the sons of Farmer Grey’s old horse, Duchess. This is the first time Black Beauty has heard about a brother and now understands why his mother was so troubled by Rob Roy’s death. Black Beauty now understands that horses have no relatives, or at least they do not know each other after they have been sold.
John seems quite proud of Black Beauty, keeping him meticulously groomed and talking to him all the time. The horse does not always understand the words, but he comes to know what John means when he talks. Black Beauty grows very fond of John, for he is kind and gentle, seeming to know just what a horse needs and wants. James Howard, the stable boy, is just as kind and gentle. Black Beauty feels quite content in his new home.
A few days later, Black Beauty is hitched to the carriage with Ginger. He is apprehensive about her bad habits, but she behaves well and does not shirk her share of the work. In many ways, Black Beauty finds working with the older mare pleasant, and so does John. The two horses grow friendly and sociable as they work together. Merrylegs is also a good friend to the new horse, for he is good-natured and friendly. Two other horses reside in another stable. Justice is a roan cob used for riding or pulling the luggage cart; Sir Oliver is an old brown hunter past the time for hunting. Sir Oliver has the run of the estate, and he sometimes carries children on his back as Merrylegs does. While Black Beauty enjoys Justice’s company, he is closer to Ginger because they live in the same stable.