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I was born on June 8, 1905, on the farm of Judge J. H. Cartwright, in Oregon, Ill. My mother’s name was Robey, and my father’s, Sidney. While I was a little colt the Judge called me Sid Bell. He used to come to the barn and look me over and recount what he called my “points” to his friends, and when I was in the pasture running to and fro, kicking up my heels, and thoroughly enjoying myself, he would stand looking on, apparently thinking very hard. One day the groom tied me to my mother’s side, and the Judge drove her out over the road, and he seemed very pleased at the way I trotted along. Day after day he did this, for a long time, making me go faster and faster until I heard him, and other people, say that I was going to be a very fast pacer. My lungs expanded with the exercise; my muscles grew strong and firm; my eyes were bright and clear; I had a hearty appetite and enjoyed every mouthful I ate, and every day when they turned me loose in the pasture, I raced up and down just as proud and happy and full of life and exuberant spirits as ever possessed a young horse in all the wide world.
One day the Judge took me out on what was called a “track.” It was a smooth oval place, not very wide, arranged solely for the purpose of driving horses. They fastened a light little cart behind me, hardly big enough for my groom to sit in, and then he made me go around that track as hard as I could go. Of course he let me go easy at first, until I what he called “warmed up,” and then he would say, “Now, Sid Bell, Go to it!” and would give that peculiar clicking sound that men make when they want a horse to hurry up, and I paced ahead as fast as I knew how.
The Judge used to come and watch proceedings nearly every day, and give suggestions to my groom. Some days he would be very proud and boastful about me, and other times, not quite so well satisfied. But one day, when I was feeling particularly good, and had gone around the track at a lively clip, I heard him say “He’ll do! He made it that time in 2:16,” which I afterwards learned meant that I had paced a mile in two minutes and sixteen seconds, and that was accounted pretty fast for a two-year-old colt.
When I was nearly three years old the Judge sold me to Mr. W. A. Sigsbee of Chicago. My mother had told me, one day when Mr. Sigsbee came to the track to watch me pace, that he was a great animal trainer, known all over the country as Captain Sigsbee. I heard the Captain say “He’s a beauty. His action is fine,” and when I was brought up to where he and the Judge were standing he repeated these and many other comments, all of a nature to make a young horse like me think a good deal of himself, so that I looked at him and let him know by my eyes that I liked him to speak in that way about me. Then he began to talk about my “intelligent look” and all at once he exclaimed, quite emphatically: “Judge, I’ve got to have that colt. I want to train him and make him the best known horse in the world.” The Judge didn’t seem to like this idea very much, at first. He said he had trained me for the track, and he didn’t intend to part with me, but Captain Sigsbee urged so strongly that it would be far better for me, to keep me away from the track, and let me be especially trained and then sent out through the country as an educated horse, that finally he consented to sell me.
My mother was very sorry to have me go away from her, and I was sorry to go, but she seemed to find a great deal of comfort in the fact that I should no longer be on the track; I should have a much less strenuous life than racing, and that the education my new owner wished to give me would also be much to my advantage in other ways.
So Captain Sigsbee took me to Chicago. And my! what a noisy, bustling city it was. How different from the quiet country where I was born and so far had spent my life. And the smells! Why, I smelled more horrible smells in one day there, I think, than I had smelled in all my life before. The same with the noises. People think horses don't care about smells and noises. Don’t they? I was jumping and nervous all the time with the new and awful noises that seemed to rush at me from every direction. Street cars, roaring, rushing and their bell clanging; automobiles honking right in my ears; wagons rumbling over the stones; men shouting; women and girls talking with high-pitched voices; babies squalling; policemen whistling at the street crossings; newsboys shouting their papers; beggars grinding away on their pitiful little organs; and a thousand other noises, many of which I had never before heard. As we were crossing one of the streets or avenues a new noise came rushing at me, as fast as an automobile travels, but it was over my head. I looked up, but could see nothing but trestle-work above me, and the noise was loud enough to be felt. Nearer it came, until with a rush and a roar, it seemed to fall on me, and I reared and struggled and even screamed in my terror. Then in a moment the fierce noise of it was gone, and it gradually grew less and less. But in another street I had the same experience. Captain spoke quietingly and soothingly to me and told me I needn’t be scared as it was “only the elevated railway,” but I didn’t know then what he meant. Of course, I learned all about it later, and then I was no longer scared.
At the training-barn I had a fine large box-stall, the floor covered with clean, sweet-smelling hay, where I could lie down and rest whenever I felt like it. My new owner was very kind to me. He came to see me several times a day, and brought his friends, and told them how proud he was of me. He always brought me an apple, a carrot, a lump of sugar or something I liked, and I soon watched for his coming. I learned to love him. But I did not like being left alone in that strange place, and with so many disagreeable smells and noises around me. When he went away I tried to beg him not to go. I would “nose up” to him and even try to hold him, but he only called me “A cunning rascal,” and broke away. Then I would whinny and paw and paw so that I was sure if he had any real horse-sense he would surely know what I meant, and that I was telling him so clearly that even a mule or a donkey would understand that I did not want him to leave me alone. But poor creature, he was only a man, and didn’t have horse-sense, so I was left. When he came again I showed him by my gladness and the reality of my welcome how glad I was he had come.
One day while he was away some rude and noisy men got into a quarrel outside the stable, and they fought, and swore, and made an awful noise. One of them fired a gun or a revolver at the other, and the hubbub was terrible. I was dreadfully alarmed, and when the Captain came, a little while after, I was lathered all over with the sweat that had poured out of me because I was so afraid.
“My, my!” he exclaimed, as soon as he saw me, “this will never do. The poor little fellow’s scared almost to death. I’ll never leave him alone again.”
How glad I was to hear that. I kissed him, just as I had learned to kiss my mother, and tried to show him my gratitude. He kept his word, and that very night he brought a groom to me, whom he called Chili. He told Chili he was never to leave me, day or night. He was to be my companion and caretaker. He must not try to teach me, or anything of that kind, but just simply see that I had plenty of hay and water and my oats regularly, and an abundance of litter to sleep on, that I was kept perfectly clean, my stable also clean and sweet, and be with me all the time. That was a great comfort to me. Few people can know how much, for I really believe, now that I am older, that horses are far more fearful and timid even than women and colts than babies. We are an awfully scary lot. It’s too bad, but it is so!
By this time Captain Sigsbee had decided that I was going to suit his purpose perfectly, so he gave me his own name, that everybody night know I was his horse. He was known all over the country as Captain Sigsbee, and if I bore his name, hundreds of thousands of people would know, as soon as they heard it, who had trained me.
But he never called me “Captain” while he was visiting me in the stable; nor did he ever allow Chili to call me “Captain.” I was always “Boy!” except when he was teaching me. You see there was a reason for that. When he said “Captain,” I soon learned that we were at school and I must attend strictly to business; at other times I used to do as I liked, but when we began “work,” I found out I had to take everything seriously, do just as I was told, and stick to my lessons, trying hard to learn what I was being taught. If I didn’t I failed to get the carrots, apples, sugar or candy that I expected.
Chili used to sleep in the stall next to mine, and I was generally left free, and as there were no doors or bars I could go and see if he was there at any time, if I felt nervous or afraid. One morning he didn’t get up to feed me at the usual time – 6 a. m. – and I waited until I was pretty hungry. Then I decided to go and see what was the matter. He was still sound asleep, so I leaned my head over him and rubbed his face with my nose. That woke him up, right away, and he jumped up and fed me. He laughed and patted me and called me a cute fellow, and said I was a smart horse, so, when he failed to get up and feed me the next time, I didn’t wait but wept right up to his cot and did it again. I did this several times, and always got my feed right away, but one morning, after I woke Chili he must have dropped off to sleep again. When he didn’t come with my oats I went around to see what the matter was and there he was sound asleep again, with the covers pulled up over his head. I felt a little bit angry with him for neglecting me like that, so I just took hold of the bedclothes, gave them a yank, and pulled them right down nearly to the foot of the cot.
My! my! how he jumped! He was out of that cot in a flash, – but he laughed and said there was no beating me, he’d have to give up. I hardly knew just what he meant at the time, but I had learned a good lesson, for ever since then I don’t waste any time in waking my groom, and if he doesn’t bring me my feed on time I go and pull off the bed-clothes from him, and I get my oats without further delay, even though sometimes, after giving me my breakfast he goes back again to bed and takes another snooze. Chili and I soon became good friends, but that did not take away my affection for my master. I was always glad to see him. He used to come and talk to me – man talk, of course – but I soon learned to know a great deal of what he said, and I always paid attention – well, perhaps, to be strictly truthful I would better say nearly always – for he never failed, when I did so, to give me some titbit or other that I much enjoyed. Of all these I liked sugar the best, but he says too much sugar isn’t good for me, so I never get quite as much as I would like.
During all this time I was being educated. I was taught to count with my feet, to pick out numbers and colors, and to know the difference between men, women, boys and girls. I learned to add numbers together, to say Yes and No, to kiss my master, sit on a chair, even on his lap, without hurting him, make change on a cash register, play tunes on the chimes, and lots of other things.
My master was always good and kind to me while teaching me. He never got impatient, and he would stop every once in a while and let me rest, and he always gave me something nice to eat when I did well. So I used to look out of the window of my stable and see other horses dragging heavy loads, sometimes being driven fast by delivery-boys, in hot weather, until they were dripping with perspiration, or in winter-time. out in the snow or where the streets were so slippery that they fell down. I often heard their drivers shouting roughly at them and using foul language, and I have seen them whip their poor animals cruelly, and then I knew how much better off I was than they, and it made me feel very thankful and grateful to my good master.
He always talked nicely while he was training me; told me that if I was good and learned my lessons, people would come to see me, and they would love me, and he and my mistress and Chili would be very proud of me. He told me about some of the boys and girls who went to school, but who refused to learn their lessons, and the misery and wretchedness that often came to them as the result. So I grew more and more anxious to learn, for although I was only a horse, I wanted people to love me and think well of me, and say nice things about me.
For five whole years my master kept me at school. Every day he came to my stable, or took me out into the yard, to give me my lessons. I guess I was a slow learner, and it took a great deal of patience to make me remember, for I was only a horse-not a boy or a girl, with human intelligence. We had to go over the same lessons scores, hundreds of times, until I knew them by heart. But my master was kind all the time, seldom spoke angrily to me, and never whipped me, though he kept a small switch in his hand with which he gave me a gentle reminder, once in a whole, when I was inclined to be a little more frolicsome than usual.
One day he came to me and said: “Now, Captain, you and I are going to travel and see the world. Do you know what I have been educating you for? I am going to let people all over this country see you, and what you can do, so that they will no longer be able truthfully to say that a horse has no intelligence. Chili will go along with us. When we are on the trains he will remain in your stall and travel with you, and when we stop anywhere to ‘show’ he will spend his nights with you as he has done all the time."
Just think what news this was for a horse! How I pricked up my ears! How I looked forward for the day to come when we should start!
At last the eventful day arrived. Quite a number of people came to see us go. Chili led me from my stable to what he called a box-car at the railway station. It had padded ends and sides so that, when the train bumped while the cars were being switched, or at the starting or stopping of the train, I could not get hurt. I am free to confess I didn’t like the idea of going into the car at first and both my master and Chili had to persuade me before I went in.
When the train started I didn’t like it at all, and I was uneasy for a few days whenever we were on the train, but Chili was always there, and he kept telling me there was nothing to be afraid of, so as I had learned to trust him, I soon stopped worrying, and I have never worried since. Some people tell me that in that regard I learned to be wiser than a great many humans, who ought to know that worrying does no good and yet they still go on doing it. How I pity such people that they don’t have a little bit of simple horse-sense.
By and by I learned, as we traveled, to look out of the window and see what there was outside; What a lot of wonderful things I saw. Of course we kept stopping, sometimes for a week, then for only a day or two, and we gave exhibitions all the time, the people coming in large numbers to see me. They all wondered how my good master had succeeded in training and educating me so well. Then sometimes they came up and petted me, and the girls and women, and even the boys and men, kissed me on the nose, and said such nice and flattering things to me. I enjoyed it ever so much, for I like people to like me. And of course, my master never forgot to give me a carrot, or an apple, or a cookie, when I did well, so that he said I grew “fatter and saucier every day.”
My very first public appearance and performance was in the lobby of the Sherman House, in Chicago, in August, 1913, at the Engineer’s Convention. I went from there to the Great Northern Hippodrome, where I stayed for a whole week. Then we started and took the complete circuit of the Miles Theaters, starting from Chicago and going to New York one way, and returning to Chicago another way. I enjoyed it very much, and made lots of friends on that first trip.
When we got back to Chicago it was late in the fall of 1914, and my master told me we were not going to work any more publicly for several months, as he wanted to get me ready for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco, that was to open on the 20th of February, 1915. That great big long name made me nervous at first – I wondered what it meant. But by listening to my master and Chili talking I soon learned that it was a great and wonderful “show,” in honor of the completing of the Panama Canal that united the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, and they called it “International” because all the nations of the earth were invited to take part in it.
Later I learned that there were to be magnificent buildings, bigger than any I had ever seen, even in Chicago and New York, Palaces of Music, and Education, and Fine Arts, and Mining, and Domestic Industries, and Foreign Industries, of Liberal Arts, and Electricity, and Engineering, and Food Products, and that, besides, all the countries that took part, would have their own buildings. Then there were to be magnificent courts and fountains and arches and columns and domes and statues and bas-reliefs and pools and flower-gardens and trees, and at night-time searchlights and fireworks, and steam-works and illuminations more beautiful than anything of the kind men had ever seen before. So, even though I was only a horse, I was anxious to go and see it all.
Then Chili told me there was to be one whole long street devoted to pleasures and amusements, that they were to call the ZONE, and we were to appear there. There was to be a wonderful exhibit showing the appearance and working of the Panama Canal, villages of strange people from all over the world, Cowboy shows, Mining Camps, a representation of the seven days of Creation, and the Battle of Gettysburg, Capt. Scott’s Trip to the South Pole, the fight of the Dreadnoughts and Submarines, an Incubator for babies – human babies, mind, the tiniest little humans you ever saw, – the Grand Canyon, the Pueblo Indian village, the Yellowstone National Park, the Streets of Cairo, Toyland, the Japanese town, and lots of others that I do not now recall. We were to have our show right on the Zone, and be one of these many marvelous and wonderful attractions. The more I heard about these things the more anxious I was to go, and yet I wondered a good deal as to whether I should be as attractive to the crowd among so many other interesting things as I had been where there were not so many. But my master and Chili seemed satisfied, so I stuck to my motto and “Quit Worrying.”
Day after day we rehearsed my performance and went over my lessons, until my master said I was “sure perfect.” That made me feel good. Then one day I heard master tell Chili to go and see that his orders were carried out about the car, and I learned then that the car was ordered that was to take me to San Francisco, and that the workmen were busy at work upon it, padding it and making it comfortable for me as well as Chili. When everything was ready and lots of hay and grain put in the car, Chili took me aboard, and that night we started. Over the plains of Illinois and Iowa, into Nebraska and Wyoming, through Utah and Nevada we rode. What a lot of different country I saw from any I had ever seen before. When we reached the mountains I thought they were wonderful, and how I enjoyed the ride, as we raced down from Summit to Cheyenne. At Reno we began the climb over the Sierras and Chili said we were in California. I had heard it was a land of sunshine and flowers and birds and fruit, but we were in a region of rocks and mountains, precipices and canyons, snow and ice, and while there were plenty of beautiful trees I couldn’t see a single flower. When Chili brought, from one of the streams, several times a day, a bucket of water for me to drink, it was colder than any well-water I had ever been given in my life. My! how it made my teeth ache. But it was so sweet and tasted so good, as if the winds of God had blown over it for months, bringing freshness and sweetness and filling it full of their deliciousness.
As soon as we reached the summit we began to go down, down, down, to lower levels, and long before we left the snow I could smell the sweet growing timothy and clover and alfalfa, and even the blossoms on the fruit-trees, and when we reached Auburn and Newcastle and lots of other towns up there, we were in the real California I had always pictured. Larks and thrushes, linnets and mocking-birds, song-sparrows and warblers were there by the thousands, singing such songs as I had never heard, and flowers! There were flowers of a thousand kinds, all new to me, pushing their way up through the green grass; and as for the fruit-trees, although it was early in February, there were thousands of them already in bloom and as sweet and fragrant and beautiful as a Garden of Eden.
It was the fourteenth of February, 1915, when we reached San Francisco. There Chili took me to a comfortable livery barn, where I remained until March 17. This was owing to the fact that the theater my master was having built for our performances, was not completed until that time. At the rear of it was a fine barn and stable for my use, where Chili could also sleep.
Though we began a month late we soon made up for lost time. The people came by the hundreds and then by the thousands. They petted me, and laughed at my tricks, especially when I felt good and came running onto the platform, kicking’ up my heels and having a general good time. The women called me a “dear,” and a “darling,” and the men said I was “remarkable,” “a marvel,” and “a wonder,” and the boys said I was “a corker,” and “a jim-dandy.” Anyhow those who saw me pick out the good-looking ladies, and the fine-looking men, sort out colors, add, subtract, multiply, give change on the cash register, pump, corkscrew, hobby-horse, sit on my master’s lap, play the chimes and do my various exhibitions of thought, memory and reason, went away and spread my fame. My master, of course, felt very happy over it, for each day the receipts grew larger. But, as more people came, I had to give performances more often, and I soon began to think I was overworked. My master didn’t think so, but he didn’t realize how tired I got. I tried to tell him, as well as I knew how, but he didn’t seem to pay any attention, and I was beginning to feel that he loved money better than he loved me. But all this time he was watching me very closely, and one day, when I was quite tired, he did not let me give so many performances. Then, too, there was another thing that was bothering me. While I loved Chili very dearly, as he was always good to me, somehow he was not so careful and attentive to my needs in San Francisco as he had been hitherto. I began to watch him and found he came in late, very often, and I soon saw that he was getting into bad company. As soon as my master found this out, he let him go, and secured for me a new groom. He is a “cullud genman,” – a real negro gentleman, from the South, who thoroughly understands fine horses, and whose name is Jasper, and we soon became very much attached to each other.
Just about this time a beautiful little woman came right up to my stall and said, as she gave me some sugar: “You beautiful creature. I’ve been watching your performance. You are wonderful. I’m afraid they’re working you too hard. You should have some one to help you. I’m going to ask Captain Sigsbee if he won’t let me come and relieve you.”
I pricked up my ears at this and watched and listened very intently when she went to my master. I then learned that her name was Madame Ellis, and she said she was a mind-reader and telepathist. She explained that she had watched me give the blind-fold part of my entertainment with the greatest interest, and was well satisfied that I understood every word that was said to me. Then came the words that almost made me dance for joy, for she said: “Captain Sigsbee, I give a blind-fold entertainment that would go wonderfully well with your Captain’s exhibition, and at the same time give him plenty of opportunity to rest and take a good. breathing spell between performances.”
My good master seemed as pleased as I was, for he immediately made the arrangement with Mr. Ellis, and the very next day Madame Ellis appeared on my platform. No-one will ever know how much I was interested at this first performance of hers. I watched her every move, for when they wanted me to go to my stable and rest while she performed, I clearly showed them I did not want or intend to go. I stood and saw the whole performance, and I can only say that if Madame Ellis is as pleased with what I do, as I am with what she does, then she is a very pleased woman.
We became the best and dearest of friends and have so remained ever since, for when a horse gives his friendship he is not like some human beings I have seen, fickle and faithless, but is constant and faithful. We have never had the sign of a quarrel, and there is not the slightest jealousy between us. She is as proud of my triumphs and success as I am of hers. And they tell me that as far as earning money is concerned Madame Ellis and I earned more than any other show on the Zone, not even excepting the wonderful Panama Canal and the picture of Stella.
There were a great many very noted people came to see us while we were in San Francisco. Mr. C. C. Moore, president of the Exposition, and Mrs. Moore, together with Mayor and Mrs. Rolfe, and thousands of others from all over the world, as well as those who lived in San Francisco became my good friends. After I had gone away President Moore wrote the following letter to my master, which I am proud to have people read:
PANAMA-PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION, 1915
San Francisco, California
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
CAPTAIN W. A. SIGSBEE.
Dear Sir: It is a pleasure to me to inform you how much I enjoyed the performance of your horse “Captain” at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which I saw a number of times. The performance of this highly intelligent animal was a great attraction to visitors to the Exposition.
Very truly yours,
CHAS. C. MOORE, President.
When the Exposition closed in San Francisco, my master and Jasper took me down to Venice, in Southern California, where we stayed until March 18, 1916, when we moved to the Panama-California International Exposition at San Diego. Of course, there was nothing like the large number of people here that there were in San Francisco, but we made many good friends and had some large audiences. Among those I esteem most highly were President and Mrs. G. Aubrey Davidson and their children; Mr. H. J. Penfold, the secretary, and all the officials. They all used to come and pet me whenever opportunity arose, and many of the leading men and women of the city seemed glad to call themselves my friend. But I am free to confess that I have a few very special friends, and one of these is the great singer, Ellen Beach Yaw. While singing in the San Francisco Exposition she used to come to see me often, and became much attached to me, as I to her, and both there and in San Diego she would sing to me. Some people think I don’t understand music, in spite of my playing accurately different tunes on the chimes, but my master and Jasper both know that when I am nervous and tired, on the other hand, frolicsome and frisky, I am always glad to stand with perfect quietude and restfulness when my dear Miss Yaw comes to sing to me. As soon as she holds up her hand and looks at me I know she is going to pour out a sweet song that will delight me, so I listen with all my attention. And she never has to wait for my appreciation. I go right up to her and kiss her my thanks for her song as soon as she has done singing.
Another thing I enjoy amazingly. Quite as well as I like music, I like to go out and stand in the sun. I think one of my far-away ancestors must have lived in, and loved, a desert country where the sun shone all the time, for I am never so happy as when Jasper allows me to go out and stand where the beams of the sun come straight down upon my back. It feels so good, and it soothes me so that I like to enjoy it and go to sleep enjoying it. And if they would allow me to, I would go out and roll in the sunshine, and then lie ‘down, as a cat does before the fire, reveling in the warmth and going to sleep under its influence.
Sometimes people wonder how I make my wants known, seeing that I can’t speak. With my master and Jasper I seldom have any trouble, for by pawing or whinnying I arrest their attention, and then there are many things I need that they quickly ask about. If they think I want water, they ask: “Water?” If I want it, I nod; if not, I shake my head. And so with going out, untying me, giving me more air – for I like plenty of fresh air – or anything else I may desire.
There are some people who think I don’t like to give performances. I’m sure I don’t know why, except that I do get tired a little once in a while, and sometimes my master wants me to be quiet and good when I feel frisky and frolicsome and want to kick up my heels. I always feel better the busier I am, and I remember one day in San Francisco, when we gave nineteen performances, I was so full of fun and spirits when we got through that Jasper had to be pretty stern with me before I would quieten down.
Another thing that amuses me. People often ask if I ever eat anything besides oats and hay, and things of that kind. It amuses me because I like everything, just as most healthy boys and girls do. I eat bread and butter – and I like it with jam on or sugar or honey – and hard boiled eggs, and nuts, and every kind of fruit, raw, cooked or preserved. Candies I just dote on, and vegetables come as a welcome change. I can eat them raw or cooked, hot or cold, and I don’t object to lettuce put in sandwiches.
Sandwiches? Of course I eat them: ham, beef, chicken or tongue, with mustard or without. And nothing I like better, at times, than a ham bone to gnaw on. Sometimes Prince – Jasper’s pet dog – brings one in and shares it with me, and I enjoy it amazingly.
But one of my special delicacies is cake. My dear mistress, Mrs. Sigsbee, long ago found that out, and whenever she wants to make me feel extra good she makes a cake for me. My! My! She is a fine cake-maker. One day she had made a large cake for a party. I think it was Master’s birthday, and they had invited a lot of friends. That day Master loosed me from the stable and sent me up to the house to see Mistress. Sometimes he does this, and trusts me to go directly there. I did so this time, and when I got into the yard I went right to the kitchen window, which was open, and through which a delicious odor came. Right there on the table was the cake. It was this that smelled so good. I put my nose close to it and it made my mouth water. There was no one there to tell me not to do it, so I just bit right into the middle of it, took a large mouthful, and it – what do the boys say – “went to the right spot.” The trouble was that first mouthful whetted my appetite for more, and I had made a pretty big hole in that cake before Mistress came in and found what I had done. She drove me away, but began to laugh so heartily that when Master came running, in answer to her call, she could scarcely speak. She could just point to the cake and to me. There I was, with cake crumbs and jam or jelly all over my nose and in my whiskers, and Mistress at last managed to gasp out, between laughs, “Captain’s celebrating your birthday. He likes cake, too!”
At first Master was inclined to be mad, but Mistress laughed him out of it, and said why shouldn’t I like birthday cake as well as he. She’d make another, and even if she couldn’t, she would buy one. Then she put the rest of the cake away, and every day for another week I had a chance again to celebrate Master’s birthday.
Do I ever get ugly-tempered?
I think I can truthfully answer that I do not show temper very often. I must confess, however, that now and again I am not as well-dispositioned as I generally am. Sometimes I feel a little out of sorts, and then I act up just as a naughty boy or girl does. I want my Master to hurry up my performance and let me get away, and I bungle and stumble and do the very thing I ought not to do. When I feel like this and have to pick out the colors, I grab the cloth viciously, and sometimes deliberately take the wrong one, or slam the drawer of the cash-register, and when it comes to playing the chimes it is too funny the way I find myself acting. When I reach the last few notes I hit them one after another as fast as I can, and then run around the stage to show Master I am impatient to get away. I suppose boys and girls get that way in school sometimes. Anyhow that is what Master and some of the people who come to see me say, and I can well believe it, for there is not so much difference between my actions and those of boys and girls, if people could only understand them aright.
One day Jasper brought a pigeon into the stable. I heard him say a lady had given it to him. We soon became the best of friends. The pigeon would coo to me and come onto my feeding rack, and I would nuzzle up to her and whinney. She flies about me and lights on my head and struts up and down my neck and back, and I just enjoy it. We often go to sleep together, I with my head close up against the pigeon, she snuggling close to my soft nose. I feel so much better now that I have so nice a companion. I am not so nervous when I hear strange footsteps, or just before we are going to have a show.
Sometimes I am so full of fun and frolic that my Master lets me play awhile. Then I just enjoy running about the stage, kicking up my heels, showing my teeth at people, and making believe I am very savage, hitting a note on the chimes, and dashing across to the cash register, opening the drawer and ringing the bell, and then picking up a colored cloth in my teeth and shaking it as if I were angry. But as soon as I have had enough of this I quieten down, and we go ahead with a “show” as steadily as can be. You see, my Master understands me, and doesn’t all the time feel that he has to hold me in to make me “behave” – as people call it. I’d like to know why I shouldn’t have high spirits and be happy and jolly, if any horse on earth should. I’m well cared for day and night; I have all I want to eat of the very best that money can buy; I am housed in the most comfortable stable that can be hired, with plenty of good, clean bedding, and a rug to keep me warm at night; I have my companions, the pigeon, and Prince, the fox terrier, and Jasper is on hand all the time, so why shouldn’t I be full of frolic. That comes from being happy and healthy, and anyone with sense can see that I am both, for my eyes are clear, my breath is sweet, my skin is clean and I am full of life and spirits.
My Master is good to me and I love him very dearly, but I am free to confess I have a special affection for Madame Ellis’s little girl. She is about ten years old, and we are real chums. Her name is Margaret. She comes nearly every day to see me, and she pets me, and I pet her. She brings me sugar and apples, and then after I have eaten them she sits on my back, and after a while we play circus. She takes her shoes off – so that she won’t hurt me – and stands on me, walks from my shoulders to my tail, standing either looking frontwards or backwards, and I walk around carefully so as not to make her fall. And when we get through she hugs and kisses me, and I like it amazingly and kiss her back, and would hug her if I knew just how to do it.
And now I have told my story. Now that the San Diego Exposition is over my master, I expect, will take me all over the country, so that more people may see me and become interested in my education. He feels that the performances I give will interest children and those who have to handle horses and thus lead them to treat all horses with more respect and kindness. When human beings feel that horses have intelligence, – no matter how small in quantity, or good in quality it may be, – they will act differently towards them. It will lead them to be more tolerant, patient and kind.
We hope to work with all the Humane Associations and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for my master knows, as I also well know, that when children and teamsters see me and watch what I can do, their hearts become more gentle towards all animals, and thus the day is hastened when kindness and love shall reign supreme upon the earth.
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