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Facts in Black Beauty

Facts Examples in Black Beauty:

Part I - 01-My Early Home

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"Newmarket..."   (Part I - 01-My Early Home)

Newmarket Racecourse is located in Suffolk, England. It is the unofficial home of all thoroughbred horse racing in England as well as many of the largest horse training yards and horse training organizations in the country.

"church-bell tolling..."   (Part I - 02-The Hunt)

Church bells ringing generally signals some important occasion, such as a weddings or a funeral. In this case, it is a funeral.

"one of his legs was broken..."   (Part I - 02-The Hunt)

When a horse breaks a leg, it is generally shot or euthanized because it is a very painful injury; it is difficult for a horse to recover from this injury because of the constant pressure on the leg when the horse walks or even stands.

"blinkers..."   (Part I - 03-My Breaking In)

Blinkers are used to keep a horse from looking to the rear but also often to the sides in order to avoid being startled or distracted.

"smith's forge..."   (Part I - 03-My Breaking In)

The forge at a blacksmith's shop is a hot furnace used to heat and shape metals into useful items, such as horseshoes.

"collar..."   (Part I - 03-My Breaking In)

This is a leather or leather-and-metal collar hung around a horse's neck from which the horse can be attached, with traces, to a plow or wagon.

"break me in..."   (Part I - 03-My Breaking In)

This is the process of preparing a horse to accept a halter, bridle, harness, and saddle so he will be trained and equipped to carry a rider.

"bran mash..."   (Part I - 07-Ginger)

Bran mash is a warmed mixture of wheat bran and water and any number of other things (most often carrots and molasses).

"gypsies..."   (Part I - 09-Merrylegs)

Gypsies once relied almost exclusively on horses for transportation; when that no longer became necessary, they began to breed horses. A gypsy horse is thought to have something magical, or perhaps enchanting, about them. 

"vicar..."   (Part I - 09-Merrylegs)

In the Lutheran or Episcopalian churches, a vicar is a lay (non-clergy) assistant to the pastor. In the Church of England, a vicar is the priest.

"docked..."   (Part I - 10-A Talk in the Orchard)

Docking is the process of shortening done to some animal tails (primarily puppies) mostly when they are young, sometimes for fashion or vanity, but often done for more practical reasons.

"gag bit..."   (Part I - 10-A Talk in the Orchard)

A gag bit (placed in the horse's mouth) is used for horses who need to be restrained or by owners who are determined to maintain control of their horse.

"fifteen and a half hands high..."   (Part I - 10-A Talk in the Orchard)

The height of a horse is measured by hands. A hand is officially four inches (101.6 millimeters), so this horse is 62 inches (just over five feet) tall.

"grays..."   (Part I - 11-Plain Speaking)

A horse known as a "gray" actually does not start out gray; the hair gradually silvers over time due to depigmentation. A gray's nose and skin are usually black. 

"the four crossways..."   (Part I - 12-A Stormy Day)

Four crossways is the place where two roads go in different directions across, like in a four-way intersection.

"have eighteen shillings..."   (Part I - 14-James Howard)

Eighteen shillings is worth about a pound in British currency of the day (twelve pence per shilling, twenty shillings per pound).

"a fox's tail..."   (Part I - 15-The Old Hostler)

The phrase "fox's tail" is a reference to the sometimes reckless things hunters had their horses (and therefore themselves) do when hunting for fox; fox tails were collected rather like sporting trophies.

"Beacon Hills..."   (Part I - 15-The Old Hostler)

Many hills in England are named "Beacon Hills" because warning beacons around the country were placed on them.

"three shillings..."   (Part I - 17-John Manly's Talk)

A unit of British money, the shilling was worth about twelve pence (the equivalent of a penny); three shillings, then, was worth roughly thirty-six cents.

"workhouse..."   (Part I - 17-John Manly's Talk)

Also known as a "spike," an English workhouse was a place where people who could not support themselves had to live and work until they were able to either get out of debt or survive on their own again. It was a hard place to live, so only those who had no choice would go there.

"the fever..."   (Part I - 17-John Manly's Talk)

Many people died in epidemics of different fever outbreaks, such as yellow fever or typhoid fever. The specific fever is unknowable to us here, but people at that time would have been familiar with regional outbreaks of fever.

"Newmarket..."   (Part I - 18-Going for the Doctor)

Newmarket is a small market town in the county of Suffolk in England. It was once considered the second capital of the country and is known as the home of horse racing in England.

"soothing syrups..."   (Part I - 19-Only Ignorance)

Soothing syrups were another kind of quack medicine, made from morphine (among other things) and used to calm (sedate) those who were upset or agitated, including babies.

"Martha Mulwash..."   (Part I - 19-Only Ignorance)

There is no evidence to suggest that this is a real person or a real story, though she may have been a local figure in the author's world.

"bled..."   (Part I - 19-Only Ignorance)

Blood-letting was a medical procedure which was done on both humans and animals. The theory behind the practice was that the four body humors (fluids) had to be in balance for good health. Physicians generally tried to remove the amount of blood which they thought was in the hurt, sick, or diseased area (i.e., leg, arm). For hundreds of years, it was the primary treatment for every kind of disease or ailment.

"cutting turf..."   (Part II - 24-The Lady Anne, or a Runaway Horse)

During the summer, square chunks of the ground (turf) were cut (like sod) and then dried, to be burned like wood during the winter. Peat is the kind of ground which will burn most effectively.

"bay..."   (Part II - 24-The Lady Anne, or a Runaway Horse)

The word "bay' refers to the most common horse color; having a reddish-brown coat with black mane, tail, ears, and feet.

"Union House..."   (Part II - 26-How it Ended)

The Union House is the the local poor house, a place where the needy or dependent (poor) went when they could not support themselves.

"Bath..."   (Part II - 27-Ruined and Going Downhill)

Bath is a city southwest of London known for its hot springs and restorative (healthy) waters.

"curb..."   (Part II - 29-Cockneys)

A curb bit is a horse bit that increases the leverage and therefore the pressure that a rider can put on the horse in order to exert more control of the animal. 

"dun..."   (Part II - 29-Cockneys)

A dun horse can range in color from gray to tan; however, it will always have a dark stripe running down the center of its back and have a face, mane, and tail which are darker than the rest of its coat. It is also likely to have a darker face and legs than the rest of its body. The word "dun" actually refers to the dun gene (a dilution gene) which these horses have.

"lime..."   (Part II - 31-A Humbug)

A powdered active lime (the mineral, not the fruit), when spread over a smelly place, will help eventually eliminate the order.

"apple turnover..."   (Part III - 32-A Horse Fair)

An apple turnover is a folded pastry folded over diced apples and baked, eaten as a dessert.

"Sausage dumpling..."   (Part III - 32-A Horse Fair)

A sausage dumpling is kind of like biscuits and gravy, but the biscuits are baked on top of the gravy.

"governor..."   (Part III - 32-A Horse Fair)

Not a literal governor (elected official); instead a polite greeting given to a gentleman (similar to "sir").

"gas lamps..."   (Part III - 32-A Horse Fair)

Gas lamps were the early version of street lights, gas lanterns were either affixed (attached) to or hung from wrought iron poles, and every evening someone would light them.

"twenty-three pounds..."   (Part III - 32-A Horse Fair)

Twenty three pounds is roughly $38, though that amount would certainly have bought more then that it would today.

"great gray coat..."   (Part III - 33-A London Cab Horse)

A great coat is a long, heavy (warm) overcoat; this one is gray with large white buttons and also has a cape in the back.

"cannon's mouth..."   (Part III - 34-An Old War Horse)

The mouth is the end of the cannon from which cannonballs both enter and exit.

"St. Vitus' dance..."   (Part III - 35-Jerry Barker)

"St. Vitus' dance" refers to the jerky, uncontrolled movements which are typical of those who have one of many diseases; this reference is to a disease called chorea, a movement disorder.

"the commandments..."   (Part III - 35-Jerry Barker)

A reference to the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, given by God through Moses to His people.

"Dover..."   (Part III - 35-Jerry Barker)

Dover is a city on the southeastern coast of England, known for its famous chalk-white cliffs.

"Cheapside..."   (Part III - 35-Jerry Barker)

Cheapside is a street in London, known today as the financial district.

"sovereign..."   (Part III - The Sunday Cab)

The sovereign is a gold coin equal to one pound sterling—a lot of money, in other words.

"pickpockets..."   (Part III - 39-Seedy Sam)

Pickpockets are petty thieves who steal from people's bags, purses, and (of course) pockets.

"knackers..."   (Part III - 40-Poor Ginger)

A knacker is someone who gets rid of dead animal carcasses, especially those which cannot be used for food, by turning them into something more useful. A horse carcass would often have been used to make dog food and glue, for example.

"orange..."   (Part III - 42-The Election)

Orange is the color of the British political party which promotes the unions.

"blue..."   (Part III - 42-The Election)

Blue is the color associated with the conservative party in British politics.

"lunatic asylum..."   (Part III - 44-Old Captain and His Successor)

A lunatic asylum is a psychiatric hospital; a place where people suffering from mental illness are treated and often kept.

"London Bridge..."   (Part III - 44-Old Captain and His Successor)

A bridge in central London which crosses the Thames River; over the years, several bridges have been known as the London Bridge.

"bronchitis..."   (Part III - 45-Jerry's New Year)

Bronchitis is the inflammation and swelling of the respiratory system, including lungs, trachea, and bronchial tubes; usually marked by severe coughing and the inability to breathe.

"three hundredweight..."   (Part IV - 46-Jakes and the Lady)

A hundredweight is equivalent to a hundred pounds, so this weight is three hundred pounds.

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