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Agnes Taylor Ketchum

Mrs. Washington's Horses

G EORGE WASHINGTON'S mother had a span of iron grey horses of splendid figure and remarkable spirit, of which she was very fond. One of these, though docile by the side of his mate in the carriage harness, had never been broken to the saddle. It was said that the spirited animal would allow no one to mount him. George, though then a lad of but thirteen years of age, was very tall, strong and athletic. One morning, as the colts were feeding upon the lawn, George, who had some companions visiting him, approached the high blooded steed and after soothing him some time with caresses watched his opportunity and leaped upon his back. The horse for a moment seemed stupefied with surprise and indignation. Then after a few desperate but unavailable attempts by rearing and plunging to throw his rider, he dashed over the fields with the speed of the wind. George, glorying in his achievement and inconsiderate of the peril to which he was exposing the animal, gave the panting steed the rein. When the horse began to show signs of exhaustion, he urged him on hoping thus to subdue him to perfect docility. The result was that a blood vessel was burst and the horse dropped dead beneath his rider. George, greatly agitated by the calamity hastened to his mother with the tidings. Her characteristic reply was: "My son, I forgive you because you have had the courage to tell me the truth at once. Had you skulked away I should have despised you."