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WHITE WILLIE
or
The Horse That Wouldn’t Give In
by
Arthur Caighton

It was Snigson who told me the story, just as I tell it to you
And he told it with simple candour, and swore it was perfectly true
It certainly sounds most amazing, you’ll think so as well, I expect
And if anyone else had informed me, I’d have doubted if it was correct.

“Tell you a yarn” murmured Snigson, when I met him at Splashton-on-Sea
“Well I’ll tell you of poor White Willie, a horse that belonged to me
If no other good it answers, my story will show to you
When faithful and brave and willing, what a trusty old horse can do.”

“It was out in the veldt where it happened, in the course of the African War
And I was sent out - special orders - to capture a trouble-some Boer
He’d been making himself a great nuisance, and as we were short of men
They gave me the job to surprise him, and bring him back home again.”

“I mounted my charger, White Willie, so called from his snow white skin
And leaving the blockhouse behind me, I set off to bring the Boer in
But I hadn’t gone far on my journey, my senses all on the alert
When away on a neighbouring kopje a cannon began to spurt.”

“Hidden away on the hillside those rascals had watched with glee
And anxious to test their cannon had started to practise on me
And, as I turned round in a hurry, and started for home once more
A shell landed near to White Willie and burst with a terrible roar.”

“I dug my spurs in his haunches and he answered by extra pace
He knew just as well as I did, we were in for a terrible race
But we’d hardly gone more than a furlong when quicker than one could see
A shot took away his right fore leg and left my poor horse with three.”

“Now when they were minus a front leg most horses would give the job best
But Willie was not of that kind though, and galloped on home with the rest
But in spite of his plucky endeavours, hardly a pole had he gained
When another shot took off his hind leg and so only two remained.”

“His pace was now very much slackened, and Willie was breathing hard
But still never once did he falter, though his beauty was sadly marred
And when we were getting near safety, another leg fell to that gun
And will you believe what I tell you, White Willie hopped onwards with one.”

“A hind leg was all he possessed now, and the strain was beginning to tell
And he’d hard work keeping his balance, with me on his back as well
But he carried me right to the entrance, like a terrier learning to beg
Just as a shot came behind us, and took off his last poor leg.”

“We carried him into the blockhouse and patched him as well as we could
And a doctor much touched by his conduct made him four stumps out of wood
They were only a length of twelve inches, but they helped him to get about
And we had such a day of rejoicing, the first time that Willie went out.”

“Well, I brought him back home to England, I couldn’t quite leave him you see
And he hobbled about with the children as happy as he could be
Though barely as high as a donkey, he was treated with care and pride
And I’d show him to you with pleasure, if he hadn’t have gone and died.”

 
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