Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Buying A Horse
by [?]

If one has money enough, there seems no reason why one should not go and buy such a horse as he wants. This is the commonly accepted theory, on which the whole commerce in horses is founded, and on which my friend proceeded.

He was about removing from Charlesbridge, where he had lived many happy years without a horse, farther into the country, where there were charming drives and inconvenient distances, and where a horse would be very desirable, if not quite necessary. But as a horse seemed at first an extravagant if not sinful desire, he began by talking vaguely round, and rather hinting than declaring that he thought somewhat of buying. The professor to whom he first intimated his purpose flung himself from his horse’s back to the grassy border of the sidewalk where my friend stood, and said he would give him a few points. “In the first place don’t buy a horse that shows much daylight under him, unless you buy a horse-doctor with him; get a short-legged horse; and he ought to be short and thick in the barrel,”–or words to that effect. “Don’t get a horse with a narrow forehead: there are horse-fools as well as the other kind, and you want a horse with room for brains. And look out that he’s all right forward.”

“What’s that?” asked my friend, hearing this phrase for the first time.

“That he isn’t tender in his fore-feet,–that the hoof isn’t contracted,” said the professor, pointing out the well-planted foot of his own animal.

“What ought I to pay for a horse?” pursued my friend, struggling to fix the points given by the professor in a mind hitherto unused to points of the kind.

“Well, horses are cheap, now; and you ought to get a fair family horse–You want a family horse?”


“Something you can ride and drive both? Something your children can drive?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Well, you ought to get such a horse as that for a hundred and twenty-five dollars.”

This was the figure my friend had thought of; he drew a breath of relief. “Where did you buy your horse?”

“Oh, I always get my horses”–the plural abashed my friend–“at the Chevaliers’. If you throw yourself on their mercy, they’ll treat you well. I’ll send you a note to them.”

“Do!” cried my friend, as the professor sprang upon his horse, and galloped away.

My friend walked home encouraged; his purpose of buying a horse had not seemed so monstrous, at least to this hardened offender. He now began to announce it more boldly; he said right and left that he wished to buy a horse, but that he would not go above a hundred. This was not true, but he wished to act prudently, and to pay a hundred and twenty-five only in extremity. He carried the professor’s note to the Chevaliers’, who duly honored it, understood at once what my friend wanted, and said they would look out for him. They were sorry he had not happened in a little sooner,–they had just sold the very horse he wanted. I may as well say here that they were not able to find him a horse, but that they used him with the strictest honor, and that short of supplying his want they were perfect.

In the mean time the irregular dealers began to descend upon him, as well as amateurs to whom he had mentioned his wish for a horse, and his premises at certain hours of the morning presented the effect of a horse-fair, or say rather a museum of equine bricabrac. At first he blushed at the spectacle, but he soon became hardened to it, and liked the excitement of driving one horse after another round the block, and deciding upon him. To a horse, they had none of the qualities commended by the professor, but they had many others which the dealers praised. These persons were not discouraged when he refused to buy, but cheerfully returned the next day with others differently ruinous. They were men of a spirit more obliging than my friend has found in other walks. One of them, who paid him a prefatory visit in his library, in five minutes augmented from six to seven hundred and fifty pounds the weight of a pony-horse, which he wished to sell. (“What you want,” said the Chevaliers, “is a pony-horse,” and my friend, gratefully catching at the phrase, had gone about saying he wanted a pony-horse. After that, hulking brutes of from eleven to thirteen hundred pounds were every day brought to him as pony-horses.) The same dealer came another day with a mustang, in whom was no fault, and who had every appearance of speed, but who was only marking time as it is called in military drill, I believe, when he seemed to be getting swiftly over the ground; he showed a sociable preference for the curbstone in turning corners, and was condemned, to be replaced the next evening by a pony-horse that a child might ride or drive, and that especially would not shy. Upon experiment, he shied half across the road, and the fact was reported to the dealer. He smiled compassionately. “What did he shy at?