The Cab Horses' Story
Now, you wouldn't imagine, to look at me,
That I was a racehorse once.
I have done my mile in - let me see
No matter. I was no dunce.
But you'd not believe me if I told
Of gallops I did in days of old.
I was first in - ah, well! What's the good?
It hurts to recall those days
When I drew from men, as a proud horse should,
Nothing but words of praise:
Oh, the waving hats, and the cheering crowd!
How could a horse help being proud?
My owner was just as proud as I;
I was cuddled and petted and praised.
My fame was great and my price was high,
And every year 'twas raised.
Then I strained a sinew in ninety-nine,
And that's when started my swift decline.
I was turned to grass for a year or so;
Then dragged to an auction sale;
And a country sport gave me a go;
But how could I hope but fail?
'A crock,' said he. And I here began
To learn of the ways of cruel man.
A year I spent as a lady's hack
I was growing old and spent
But she said that the riding hurt her back;
So we parted; and I went
For a while - and it nearly broke my heart
Dragging a greasy butcher's cart.
Then my stifle went. And I, proud horse,
Son of the nobly born,
The haughty king of a city course,
Knew even a butcher's scorn!
So down the ladder I quickly ran;
Till I came to be owned by a bottle man.
And my bed was hard and my food was poor,
And my work was harder still
Dragging a cart from door to door
The slave of Bottle-oh Bill.
Till even he, for a few mean bob,
Sold me into this hateful job.
As I dozed and dreamed in the ranks one day,
Thinking of good days past,
I heard a voice that I knew cry, 'Hey!
Say, cabby, is this horse fast?'
And he looked at me in a way I know.
'Twas the man I'd loved in the long ago.
'Twas my dear, old master of ninety-nine,
And I waited, fair surprised.
But ne'er by a look and ne'er by sign
Did he show he recognised.
Then I heard his words ('twas my last hard knock):
'Why don't you pole-axe the poor old crock?'
And he turned aside to a low-bred mare
That was foaled on some cockie's farm,
And he drove away. What do I care?
I can come to no more harm.
In a knacker's yard I am worth at least
Some pence for a hungry lion's feast.