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On the Talking Horse Circuit

by Luc Reid

A man and a horse plodded down a road beside the Hudson River. The man was not riding the horse--it was much too valuable--but then, he liked to walk. He had only one arm, having lost the other at Gettysburg, and his sleeve on the right side was neatly folded and pinned.

"People think I'm thome kind of clown," lisped the horse.

The man shook his head. "People come from miles around to see you! It's just the lisp," he said. "I've been working on a spell--"

"No more thpellth!" said the horse. "I'm enough of a freak ath it ith."

The man laughed, patting the horse's neck affectionately. "You're--aagh!" His foot had hit a stone, and he tumbled forward. He reached out with his single arm to stop himself, but it buckled under him, and he smacked his head on a boulder at the side of the road, bouncing off it to sprawl brokenly in the dust. A thick stream of blood began to pool around his head.

"Thamuel?" the horse said in alarm. "Thamuel! Thay thomething! Oh, Chritht!"

He galloped down the road toward the next village, taking a minute or two to remember that they'd passed one only a quarter of an hour before. Swearing, the horse turned and galloped back in the direction it had come. When it came to where Samuel had fallen, a man was standing there with a sack on his back, prodding Samuel with a toe.

"Stone dead," said the man. He dropped his sack in the grass by the road, and a few apples rolled out as he turned toward the horse. "And what's this here?" he said. "A fine beast like you, and no one to claim you?" He looked all around him, smiled with narrow eyes, and grabbed the horse's bridle.

"You're a fancy one, aren't you?" the man said. "Braided mane and all. Well, things are going to change for you now, I'll tell you that. I've been needing a new draft horse. Fancy or not, you'll pull."

Avoiding the sight of Samuel, the horse looked away and fixed on the apples. The man picked up his sack and put the apples back in, except for one, which he held close to him.

"Say please," he said, and he waited for a moment, as though listening for the "please." Then he laughed, put the apple back in the sack, and began leading the horse back toward the village.

The horse didn't say a word.


Think he'll ever get one?

Posted by: Jop | December 12, 2007 1:12 PM

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