Now that school is out, I have been looking through the work that I have done this year and realized that I have something that I have been meaning to post but haven't yet, so hear it is. It is a historical fiction piece about the author of the beloved book Black Beauty, Anna Sewell.
They Have No Words
I opened the carriage door as the driver climbed down from where he sat near the top of the vehicle to offer me a hand.
“Oh, why thank you sir,” I said, while leaning on him for support.
“You are quite welcome, Miss Sewell,” he replied.
“Anna dear, I have your crutches,” said my mother, getting down from the other side of the carriage, holding the crutches on which I relied so heavily of.
“Thank you Mother, I do appreciate it,” I took the crutches and positioned them underneath my arms. I looked around and took a breath of the crisp fall air; as I glanced across the street I saw a maple tree, with only a single leaf on its otherwise barren branches.
“I love autumn, it is so poetic.”
“I do agree with you Anna,” said my mother, “but we mustn’t be late for your appointment with Dr. Smith.”
I turned and began limping towards the doctor’s office, a quaint little cottage where Dr. Smith held all his appointments. I had only gone a couple of feet when a gust of wind blew down the cobblestone street and blowing with it, a copy of the daily newspaper. The newspaper wheeled upward off the street and became caught in one of the horse’s blinkers, causing it to rear and let out a piercing whinny.
“Blast it! You stupid old mare, you’re not worth half the fifty pounds I spent on you!” the carriage driver howled, he then took his whip and struck the horrified horse.
“Stop it! What on God’s great Earth are you doing? I shouted, limping back over to where the driver was.
“Putting this beast in its place, that’s what I’m bloody doing!”
“And that’s how you are doing it?
“You got a better way? It’s just a stupid, dumb animal, what do ya expect it to do? Talk to me?” he apparently found his own statement quite amusing, for he started to laugh exposing some very brown and crooked teeth.
“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but the do not suffer less because the have no words. Good day to you.” I nodded curtly and then continued on toward to the doctor’s office. My mother was waiting for me outside the entrance. “It is simply infuriating how people treat their horses.”
“It is Anna, It is.”
“I only wish there was something I could do about it.”
“I am quite certain you could find a way.”
“How? What possibly could a cripple like me do about it?
“You could write a book, you’re quite the eloquent writer you know. You could write a story that would let people see things as a horse sees them.”
“That is a very good idea Mum!” an idea was forming I my head.
“Let us go in, Dr. Smith is probably expecting us.”
An hour-and-a-half had passed since we arrived at the doctor’s office, and now we were waiting for Dr. Smith to come back with the results. I was reading a book of poems by John Keats. To be frank, I was a little nervous. Dr. Smith did not usually take so long. At long last, he came in.
The first thing I noticed about him was his face. He was an older gentleman, with smile lines around his mouth and eyes. I had never seen him so grim in all the twenty-five years I had known him.
“Miss Sewell,” he said.
He is not looking me in the eyes, I thought nervously, why is he not looking me in the eye?
“Your condition has worsened. There is no easy way for me to tell you this but you may not have very much time left.”
The words rung in my ears, “I am sure I do not understand what you are trying to tell me.” I must have misunderstood. I must of.
“I mean to say that you only have about eighteen months left to live.”
“Oh,” I did not know what else to say. I felt hollow. Not really knowing what I was doing, I put my crutches between my arms and started walking toward the yellow wooden door that led to the street.
The air was chilled outside the first frost coming, but it had already clenched my heart with its cold. Eighteen months to live. I could not believe it. My mother had come out from the doctor’s office now, so I acknowledged her presence by saying, “Well if it is the Good Lord’s will to take me, then it is my fate.”
“Anna I…” my mother trailed off, she surreptitiously wiped a tear off her cheek, but I noticed.
“Let us go home mother, the eve is upon us.”
Two horses pulled the open-top-carriage that we hired to take us home: one was a young bay. The other was an old flea-bitten grey horse. Both of them liked skinny and very muddy. The flea-bitten one was obviously too old to be a carriage horse, and I was perceptive that it had the whip scars of a hard life. The man who drove the carriage now did not use his whip, but forcing that horse to work seemed like a cruelty in and of itself to me. I also saw though, the man’s torn and faded clothing, and realized that he probably could not afford to retire that old horse, whether he wanted to or not.
This is just crazy! I thought, I am going to do something about this; I do not care if I only have eighteen months to live. I am going to make them the most productive eighteen months of my life!
Right there, on that bumpy carriage ride, I started formulating the plot, for what would be my only book. When I reached my house, I rushed in as fast as my crippled legs would carry me. When I reached my room, I pulled out my typewriter, and began to write. I would call my book Black Beauty.