Joe Green went on very well; he learned quickly, and was so attentive and careful that John began to trust him in many things; but as I have said, he was small of his age, and it was seldom that he was allowed to exercise either Ginger or me; but it so happened one morning that John was out with Justice in the luggage cart, and the master wanted a note to be taken immediately to a gentlemans house, about three miles distant, and sent his orders for Joe to saddle me and take it, adding the caution that he was to ride steadily.
The note was delivered, and we were quietly returning when we came to the brick-field. Here we saw a cart heavily laden with bricks; the wheels had stuck fast in the stiff mud of some deep ruts, and the carter was shouting and flogging the two horses unmercifully. Joe pulled up. It was a sad sight. There were the two horses straining and struggling with all their might to drag the cart out, but they could not move it; the sweat streamed from their legs and flanks, their sides heaved, and every muscle was strained, while the man, fiercely pulling at the head of the fore horse, swore and lashed most brutally.
Hold hard, said Joe; dont go on flogging the horses like that; the wheels are so stuck that they cannot move the cart.
The man took no heed, but went on lashing.
Stop! pray stop! said Joe. Ill help you to lighten the cart; they cant move it now.
Mind your own business, you impudent young rascal, and Ill mind mine! The man was in a towering passion and the worse for drink, and laid on the whip again. Joe turned my head, and the next moment we were going at a round gallop toward the house of the master brick-maker. I cannot say if John would have approved of our pace, but Joe and I were both of one mind, and so angry that we could not have gone slower.
The house stood close by the roadside. Joe knocked at the door, and shouted, Halloo! Is Mr. Clay at home? The door was opened, and Mr. Clay himself came out.
Halloo, young man! You seem in a hurry; any orders from the squire this morning?
No, Mr. Clay, but theres a fellow in your brick-yard flogging two horses to death. I told him to stop, and he wouldnt; I said Id help him to lighten the cart, and he wouldnt; so I have come to tell you. Pray, sir, go. Joes voice shook with excitement.
Thank ye, my lad, said the man, running in for his hat; then pausing for a moment, Will you give evidence of what you saw if I should bring the fellow up before a magistrate?
That I will, said Joe, and glad too. The man was gone, and we were on our way home at a smart trot.
Why, whats the matter with you, Joe? You look angry all over, said John, as the boy flung himself from the saddle.
I am angry all over, I can tell you, said the boy, and then in hurried, excited words he told all that had happened. Joe was usually such a quiet, gentle little fellow that it was wonderful to see him so roused.
Right, Joe! you did right, my boy, whether the fellow gets a summons or not. Many folks would have ridden by and said it was not their business to interfere. Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybodys business to interfere when they see it; you did right, my boy.
Joe was quite calm by this time, and proud that John approved of him, and cleaned out my feet and rubbed me down with a firmer hand than usual.
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