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Mark Twain > A Horse's Tale > Chapter XIV

A Horse's Tale

Chapter XIV


It is five months. Or is it six? My troubles have clouded my
memory. I have been all over this land, from end to end, and now I
am back again since day before yesterday, to that city which we
passed through, that last day of our long journey, and which is
near her country home. I am a tottering ruin and my eyes are dim,
but I recognized it. If she could see me she would know me and
sound my call. I wish I could hear it once more; it would revive
me, it would bring back her face and the mountains and the free
life, and I would come - if I were dying I would come! She would
not know ME, looking as I do, but she would know me by my star.
But she will never see me, for they do not let me out of this
shabby stable - a foul and miserable place, with most two wrecks
like myself for company.

How many times have I changed hands? I think it is twelve times -
I cannot remember; and each time it was down a step lower, and each
time I got a harder master. They have been cruel, every one; they
have worked me night and day in degraded employments, and beaten
me; they have fed me ill, and some days not at all. And so I am
but bones, now, with a rough and frowsy skin humped and cornered
upon my shrunken body - that skin which was once so glossy, that
skin which she loved to stroke with her hand. I was the pride of
the mountains and the Great Plains; now I am a scarecrow and
despised. These piteous wrecks that are my comrades here say we
have reached the bottom of the scale, the final humiliation; they
say that when a horse is no longer worth the weeds and discarded
rubbish they feed to him, they sell him to the bull-ring for a
glass of brandy, to make sport for the people and perish for their

To die - that does not disturb me; we of the service never care for
death. But if I could see her once more! if I could hear her bugle
sing again and say, "It is I, Soldier - come!"

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