The Old Horse

: Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori

In our village there was an old, old man, Pimen Timofeich. He was ninety

years old. He was living at the house of his grandson, doing no work.

His back was bent: he walked with a cane and moved his feet slowly.

He had no teeth at all, and his face was wrinkled. His nether lip

trembled; when he walked and when he talked, his lips smacked, and one

could not understand what he was saying.

We we
e four brothers, and we were fond of riding. But we had no gentle

riding-horses. We were allowed to ride only on one horse,--the name of

that horse was Raven.

One day mamma allowed us to ride, and all of us went with the valet to

the stable. The coachman saddled Raven for us, and my eldest brother was

the first to take a ride. He rode for a long time; he rode to the

threshing-floor and around the garden, and when he came back, we


"Now gallop past us!"

My elder brother began to strike Raven with his feet and with the whip,

and Raven galloped past us.

After him, my second brother mounted the horse. He, too, rode for quite

awhile, and he, too, urged Raven on with the whip and galloped up the

hill. He wanted to ride longer, but my third brother begged him to let

him ride at once.

My third brother rode to the threshing-floor, and around the garden, and

down the village, and raced up-hill to the stable. When he rode up to

us Raven was panting, and his neck and shoulders were dark from sweat.

When my turn came, I wanted to surprise my brothers and to show them how

well I could ride, so I began to drive Raven with all my might, but he

did not want to get away from the stable. And no matter how much I beat

him, he would not run, but only shied and turned back. I grew angry at

the horse, and struck him as hard as I could with my feet and with the

whip. I tried to strike him in places where it would hurt most; I broke

the whip and began to strike his head with what was left of the whip.

But Raven would not run. Then I turned back, rode up to the valet, and

asked him for a stout switch. But the valet said to me:

"Don't ride any more, sir! Get down! What use is there in torturing the


I felt offended, and said:

"But I have not had a ride yet. Just watch me gallop! Please, give me a

good-sized switch! I will heat him up."

Then the valet shook his head, and said:

"Oh, sir, you have no pity; why should you heat him up? He is twenty

years old. The horse is worn out; he can barely breathe, and is old. He

is so very old! Just like Pimen Timofeich. You might just as well sit

down on Timofeich's back and urge him on with a switch. Well, would you

not pity him?"

I thought of Pimen, and listened to the valet's words. I climbed down

from the horse and, when I saw how his sweaty sides hung down, how he

breathed heavily through his nostrils, and how he switched his bald

tail, I understood that it was hard for the horse. Before that I used to

think that it was as much fun for him as for me. I felt so sorry for

Raven that I began to kiss his sweaty neck and to beg his forgiveness

for having beaten him.

Since then I have grown to be a big man, and I always am careful with

the horses, and always think of Raven and of Pimen Timofeitch whenever I

see anybody torture a horse.