Disclaimer: Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a horse belongs to Anna Sewell and I am not making any profit with my fan fiction.
Horses speak softly to me
Summary: Based on Sewell's Black Beauty, Winifred Gordon is a 16 year old girl who has the gift of speaking to horses living in the 1800's living the tragedy of her mother's sickness, her arranged marriage, her friendship with Ginger and her love for a young stable boy…
There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse.
-Robert Smith Surtees
"Stand up properly Winifred." Said a middle age woman with golden locks put up in a very tight bun revealing her blue eyes and high cheekbones. "You're sixteen years old and still are learning as if you were Jessica's age."
Winifred straightened her back lowering her shoulders as she felt a black lock drop to her face. She blew on it as she picked up a teacup; her hands were slightly shaky as her mother raised her perfectly plucked eyebrow at her daughter. Seeing that Winifred blew gently and took a sip and brought the cup back down, her mother smiled in approval.
When Winifred's blue eyes turned to the handsome dark haired middle aged man who was coming in. "So, how's the tea going?"
"Perfectly well, Winifred is a late bloomer but it won't be long until she'll be able to join me to the parties and dine with the other young misses her age." Said her mother looking at her husband.
The middle age man put his hand on his wife's shoulder and looked at his daughter affectingly. "That's my Winnie. Now you may go off and join your sisters and your brother. My dear, Sir John will like to see us on the new horse he brought in."
Winnie stood up and did a curtsy before exiting the room. Once the elderly lady saw her daughter gone, she scoffed. "As long as he's not like that ill tempered horse Ginger. The only reason she's still here is because our daughter Winifred fancies her. Jessica and Flora have been crying all week that the horse bit Sir James's arm. They are afraid that she will bite them too. Please dear husband, sell the horse."
Her husband sat down by her side and took her hand. "Ginger is not a bad horse. She came from a horrible home and she's an excellent rider. She obeys perfectly the orders of her master and she's very affectionate with Winnie. She's a handsome one too, she just needs to be shown affection, I'll have her see the animal behavior specialist on how to teach her to let go of that terrible habit."
He kissed his wife on the cheek and helped her stand up. "How are you feeling my dear? You gave me and the children a fright when you passed out."
"O, I'm fine. I probably should start taking some vitamins or drink more water. I'll have old lady Senaida make me something before we go out to see the horse, otherwise I'll feel faint."
Winifred was walking by the gate banging a branch against it when she saw her younger sister Jessie running up to her with Nurse Ellen chasing after her. Jessie was the most beautiful one out of Squire Gordon and Miss Gordon's children. She has long blonde lock with curls that looked like sausages. She had the lightest blue eyes and milky white skin. As she struggled to run with her dress and metal corset she wore under, Winifred wished she had turned out to be Jessie. Smart, young and beautiful. Like her own doll.
When Jessie finally caught up to her. Winnie curled her eyebrows. "What's wrong Jessie?"
Jessie wrinkled her nose and shot it up in the air. "I'm Miss Jessica, mommy said that I am now a young lady and should not have to stand to pet names."
Winifred rolled her eyes. Jessie was a spoiled one. "What is it Miss Jessica?"
Jessie smiled. "That's better. Flora and I want to ride Merry legs, but James is far too busy to attend to our needs and you're the only one that horrific monster won't attack."
Winifred sighed. "That horrid monster you speak of is my pet. You will not speak of her in that matter. Ginger is a good horse, and if you keep that up, mother will convince father to sell her."
"Well that's what she is. She made poor James bleed, and we all know James does far more than needed for the horses and that's how she treats him? That is not a good horse."
"It's a bad habit, father will get a specialist for her soon." Winnie said crossing her arms. "I'll help you, but only if you promise to keep quiet."
Jessie scoffed and nodded her head. "Very well." Nurse Ellen who finally joined them started to fix Jessica's curls which had become untidy with her run.
Winnie started to walk towards the stables. On her way she saw her parents speaking to Sir John, their coachman who had a handsome black horse by his side. Winifred smiled. It was far more handsome than any horse she had ever seen. His coat shone like a rook's wing and he looked quiet clever. She knew her mother would fancy him in a second. As she finally reached the stables she saw young James carrying a load of thick hay.
"Good morning James." Winifred greeted.
"Good day Miss Winifred." James said passing by. Winifred noticed his right arm wrapped, it must be the hand Ginger bit.
As she walked near the boxes, she raised her dress up. Her mother will have her skin if she dirties this dress, but it was her mother's fault. Why must she wear dresses that dragged like a bride's attire?
Finally reaching the boxes she held her dress with one hand as she whispered. "Merry legs?"
Inside the box she saw a little fat white pony with a thick mane and tail. Rising his pretty little head, he perked up his pert little nose. "Winifred?"
Winifred smiled. "Good morning there, my sisters want to go and play with you."
The fat little pony started rising his front hoofs in joy. "Really? I have miss them dearly since Ginger's incident with Sir John."
Winnie opened the door and led Merry legs out to the estate. There she saw her two sisters who screamed with joy as they ran up to the pony. The pony showed the same excitement. Winifred back away from the three and just stared as an animal brought such joy to her sisters.
Flora was the middle sister and even though not as pretty as Jessie carried her mother's traits. Long blonde curly hair and light blue eyes. Tall and slender, she would find a great suitor one day but she was quite mean-tempered at times especially when she didn't get what she wanted. She is known to yell at the maids and workers in the estate and expects to have her hair brushed twice a day with two hundred strokes to make her hair "perfect".
Winifred started to head back to the stables and didn't see Ginger is her box. Looking around she said. "Ginger?"
When her blue eyes turned to a chestnut mare on the stall beyond who stretched her long handsome neck. Winifred smiled. "Ginger!"
Ginger though looked trouble and angered. "Winnie! You would not believe what has been done to me! I have been moved from my home and a colt is now living there. They turned a lady like me out of my own stall for a little thing like him." The chestnut mare shook her head violently letting her mane fly furiously around.
Winifred caressed the horse's nose. "Calm down Ginger, it's not his fault. James put him there so there won't be problems with my sisters. They were missing each other terribly. You should not have bitten James like that…he has been only but good to you."
Ginger rubbed her nose against Winifred's palm. "I'm going to be sold for sure!"
"Don't say such nonsense. Father loves you and so do I. You will see a veterinarian who will help you."
Ginger snorted loudly. "I do not need any human to help me. Men have treated me horribly, I have no reason to treat them right."
Winifred shook her head. "There Ginger, everyone here means well. Especially James."
Winifred saw the next day as her father passed by handsomely riding the new horse. Looking at him close, Winifred notice he was a colt, and probably the colt that Ginger was complaining about. Sometimes Winifred wished to tell someone that she can speaks to horses. When she was younger, it was all a game to her and she thought maybe her imagination was taking a toll on her. But as she got older she noticed it was a gift but she knew no one would believe her. She honestly did not want to end up in a mental hospital.
She saw her mother greet her father. "Well my dear, how do you like him?"
Her father looked proudly at the colt. "A pleasant it was to mount him. I wish for no better horse. He is exactly as John described him."
Her mother smiled caressing the horse. "What shall we name him?" As she passed her fingers through his coat, she turned to her husband excitedly. "Let's call him Ebony. He's black as Ebony." She pouted her lips saying in a baby voice. "Ebony…Ebony." As if making the horse understand his name.
Her husband scoffed. "Dear no. Not Ebony." He sighed. "Let's make it simple, we'll call him Blackbird as my uncle's old horse."
"No, my dear husband. That horse was ugly and ill-tempered." She said wrinkling her nose.
"Beauty is as beauty does." Said her husband petting the horse.
"That's it!" her wife said looking at the horse. "Beauty is as beauty does."
The squire laughed. "My dear that is not a name."
"Yes it is." She said letting some strands fall onto her face pouting her lips making her look like a child. "We shall call him Black Beauty."
As John took away the horse, Winifred saw as her sisters' were riding through the estate quite proudly with their noses shot in the air. Winifred sighed. They got their mother's traits perfectly. Winifred on the other hand got everything her father was. Jet-black hair, light blue eyes and need to be told something to him twice.
Her mother claims she saw in him a beauty of a man, not only because he was inevitably handsome but also even though he was not as bright as the other men, he had a good heart. But that was accompanied by been mischievous, which is what Alfred had.
Speaking of the sly devil, there he was crouching like a cat after the two girls. Alfred was handsome—and he knew he was handsome. He had misses swoon at his feet and he enjoyed it. He was eighteen years old with the mind of a child. He had straight blonde hair and sky blue eyes with his father's signature smiled which made ladies melt to the floor.
Winifred knew what was coming. Once he saw them that they weren't paying attention, he grabbed them both and threw them from the white pony. He jumped on top of the pony and stupidly tried to ride him.
The pony started to gallop and turned wanting to throw him off his back. Her father who had noticed the scene ran up to the boy. "Alfred! Get off that pony!"
But Alfred pulled the reins raising his hand up. "Charge!"
The pony threw himself rolling to the side. Alfred fell off and that moment she saw her father go up to Alfred furiously. Grabbing him by the ear, he stood the boy straight up. "I said not to ride that pony! You are far too heavy for him!"
Alfred squinted his eye complaining. "Ow! Father! That hurts!" Pulling him all the way to the estate, Jessie and Flora giggled. Winifred sighed. Alfred was in for a beating. Father hated for people to disobey him.
Winifred walked back to the stables and saw James with a pail of oats. "Hello James."
"Miss Winifred." James said smiling affectingly at her. "Here to see the new horse no doubt. He's right where Ginger use to be. Your mother fancies him."
"No doubt, he's quite elegant." She looked at his hand again. "Ginger no doubt."
James looked at his hand and smiled. "No need to worry, Sir John is teaching me how to make the Birtwick 'horse balls'." He laughed loudly to see Winifred expression. "Don't think wrong Miss, it's balls than can cure any vicious horse. Its made out of patience, gentleness, firmness and petting. One pound of each to be mixed with a pint of common sense. We give it to the horse every day."
Winifred laughed. "You're too much James."
She walked up to the stable which use to be Ginger's place. There she saw the black horse, handsome and strong for a colt his age.
'Why you're quite handsome for your age Beauty?" Caressing her fur, the moment she spoke, he jumped up.
"I…understood you Miss." He kicked his hoof against the door. "I never understood a human before."
Winifred giggled. "First human you'll ever encounter I guess. I never understood why, but when I was younger I use to talk to horses and they always use to talk back, but I always thought it was my imagination."
"So Miss, what is your name?'
"My name is Winifred. Squire Gordon and Mistress Gordon are my parents. My sisters are Jessie and Flora, who are Merrylegs owners. John and James are your caretakers. Ginger is my pet."
Black Beauty's head rose up at the sound of Ginger. "Ginger…I don't think I'm ever going to win her affection."
Winifred raised her eyebrow. "Ginger…is quite a hard girl to get along with at first, but she is not a bad horse." She caressed Black Beauty's neck.
"But she amazes me. She's ill tempered, mean spirited and vicious! She's the most beautiful creature I have ever seen."
"You'll win her heart, it just takes patience."
After Alfred's beating her father went to ride Sir Oliver, his favorite horse. Riding up to Winifred her father smiled. "Care to ride with me?"
Winnie nodded and turned to Black Beauty. "I'll see you later Beauty."
"You too Miss."
Winnie rode in front as her father guided the horse with the reins. Sir Oliver was far too old to do any work but her father had grown fond of him. Instead of putting the horse to suffer or worst the glue factory, he had decided to keep the horse for his enjoyment. He would ride him to take away the tension. The only thing that hurt Winifred was to see Sir Oliver's tail, it was so short and he explained how from the flesh and bone they cut it off so it can look fashionable. As they rode out to the road, Winifred smiled as she saw the entire place that belonged to her. She loved it and wishes she can just ride freely.
"Father, I wish I can ride Ginger."
Her father stroked her black curls. "Once we get her a specialist, she'll be fine. John says he can help her out and says all there is needed is to give the girl some kindness. After I promise I'll let you ride her, under my supervision though."
Finally out in the woods, her father got off the horse and helped his daughter down. "Now my dear, I wanted to speak to you about something. The vicar, Mr. Blomefield is coming tomorrow with his children. You know perfectly well that you are known of grown age and it's my job to find you a suitor."
Winifred saw as the sun started to set and she turned to her father.
"Well as you know the vicar has two older sons. I believe Ronald is far too young for you, but your mother and I have decided that Andrew is the perfect gentleman. He has just come from the university and is now a certified veterinarian. The vicar was so proud when he heard the news and said Andrew was raised with good morals."
Winifred nodded as she walked through the grass. Her father followed her. "Very well father." Winifred said looking at the sunset. She didn't wish to marry, she felt she was far too young but she would never disobey her father's orders. It was part of a miss's life to eventually get marry with a fine husband. Her father did just that; find her a gentleman who wishes to help animal's lives. Her father was clever knowing her admiration for animals.
Her father smiled at her passing a curl through his finger. "I'm so proud of you Winifred."
He looked at the sunset. "There is also some sad news, James is to leave us tomorrow. See his mother Senaida is getting older and he doesn't wish for her to work anymore at her elderly age. We told him that it's perfectly fine, his mother will have the right to retire and live here happily the rest of her days, but James is very proud. He believes it charity. He was offered a very good amount of money due to his experience and says he'll pay for the room for his mother."
Her father sighed. "James is a good boy. We will miss him dearly."
Holding his daughter in his arms. "I know I'm asking much but I would like to make a wedding as soon as possible. Your mother…I'm telling you and Alfred this because you two are adults and will understand the situation. I wish you not to repeat this to Jessie or Flora. You will upset them. Your mother is ill, she believes it's something that would go away, but I see her Winifred. She doesn't have that bright light in her eyes, she's growing weak and her beautiful color of her complexion is going away. You understand?"
Winifred sighed. She turned to her father and nodded. "Yes father, I'll do as you wish."