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!

Old Ned
by [?]

Not many years ago, Farmer Jones had an old horse named “Ned,” who appeared to have almost as much sense as some people. Ned was a favorite with his master, who petted him as if he were a child instead of a dumb animal. The horse seemed to understand every word that the farmer said to him, and would obey him quite as readily and with as much intelligence as Rover, the house dog. If his master came into the field where he was grazing, Ned would come galloping up to meet him, and then caper round as playfully, though not, it must be owned, as gracefully, as a kitten.

Farmer Jones, on these occasions, generally had an ear or two of corn in his pocket; and Ned, whose nose had been many a time in that capacious receptacle of odds and ends, after sweeping around his master two or three times, would stop short and come sideling up, half coquetishly, yet with a knowing twinkle in his eye, and commence a search for the little tidbit that he had good reason for knowing lay snugly stored away in the pocket.

If any one besides his master went into the field and tried to catch Ned, he was sure to have a troublesome time of it; and if he succeeded in his object before circling the field a dozen times in pursuit of the horse, he might think himself lucky. But a word or a motion of the hand from Farmer Jones was all-sufficient. Ned would become, instantly, as docile as a child, trot up to his side, and stand perfectly still to receive the saddle and bridle.

When Farmer Jones was on the back of Ned, or sitting behind him in the old chaise, no horse could be more even in his gait, or more orderly in all his movements. But it wasn’t safe for any one else to try the experiment of riding or driving him. If he escaped without a broken neck, he might think himself exceedingly fortunate; for the moment any one but his master attempted to govern his actions in any way, he became possessed with a spirit that was sometimes more than mischievous. He would kick up, bite, wheel suddenly around, rear up on his hind feet, and do almost every thing except go ahead in an orderly way, as a respectable horse ought to have done.

Ned was too great a favorite with his master for the latter to think of trying very hard to correct him of these bad practices. He would talk to him, sometimes, about the folly of an old horse like him prancing about, and cutting up as many antics as a young colt; but his words, it was clear, went into one of Ned’s ears and out of the other, as people say, for Ned did not in the least mend his manners, although he would nod his head in a knowing and obedient way, while his master was talking to him.

Ned spent at least two thirds of his time, from the period when the grass sprung up, tender and green, until it became pale and crisp with frost, in a three-acre field belonging to his master, where he ate, walked about, rolled himself on the soft sward, or slept away the hours, as happy as a horse could be. Across one corner of this field a little boy and his sister used every day to go to school. The little boy was a namesake of the horse; but he was usually called Neddy. One day Neddy felt rather mischievous, as little boys will feel sometimes. He had a long willow switch in his hand, and was cutting away at every thing that came within his reach. He frightened a brood of chickens, and laughed merrily to see them scamper in every direction; he made an old hog grunt, and a little pig squeal, and was even so thoughtless as to strike with his slender switch a little lamb, that lay close beside its mother on the soft grass.