There is a story told of George Washington's boyhood,—unfortunately there are not many stories,—which is to the point. His father had taken a great deal of pride in his blooded horses, and his mother afterward took pains to keep the stock pure. She had several young horses that had not yet been broken, and one of them in particular, a sorrel, was extremely spirited. No one had been able to do anything with it, and it was pronounced thoroughly vicious as people are apt to pronounce horses which they have not learned to master.
George was determined to ride this colt, and told his companions that if they would help him catch it, he would ride and tame it.
Early in the morning they set out for the pasture, where the boys managed to surround the sorrel, and then to put a bit into its mouth. Washington sprang upon its back, the boys dropped the bridle, and away flew the angry animal.
Its rider at once began to command. The horse resisted, backing about the field, rearing and plunging. The boys became thoroughly alarmed, but Washington kept his seat, never once losing his self-control or his mastery of the colt.
The struggle was a sharp one; when suddenly, as if determined to rid itself of its rider, the creature leaped into the air with a tremendous bound. It was its last. The violence burst a blood-vessel, and the noble horse fell dead.
Before the boys could sufficiently recover to consider how they should extricate themselves from the scrape, they were called to breakfast; and the mistress of the house, knowing that they had been in the fields, began to ask after her stock.
"Pray, young gentlemen," said she, "have you seen my blooded colts in your rambles? I hope they are well taken care of. My favorite, I am told, is as large as his sire."
The boys looked at one another, and no one liked to speak. Of course the mother repeated her question.
"The sorrel is dead, madam," said her son, "I killed him."
And then he told the whole story. They say that his mother flushed with anger, as her son often used to, and then, like him, controlled herself, and presently said, quietly:—
"It is well; but while I regret the loss of my favorite, I rejoice in my son who always speaks the truth."