The Professor's Horse

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"The Professor's Horse," New Orleans (LA) Picayune, November 13, 1849, p. 7.
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New Orleans (LA) Picayune
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The Professor's Horse
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Kristen Huddleston
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

The Professor’s Horse

At a certain college not a thousand miles from the State of Louisiana, there was a few years ago a set of rather wild students. As is usual with collegians, their pranks were annoyance to the whole neighborhood. Many a farmer could bear witness to their nocturnal depredations on beholding his empty henroosts; many a fine turkey destined  for the Christmas dinner of some expectant epicure found his way to the ravenous jaws of the students, and many an unfortunate goose cackled his last in their remorseless and fatal grasp. At that same college there happened to be a professor who by the some means or another had become extremely unpopular. In return for one of his acts which was distasteful to the students, they determined to revenge themselves upon him. For some time, however, no opportunity occurred. Many plans were devised, discussed and abandoned, till at last they resolved to reach the feelings of the professor through the medium of his horse. Every morning he was in the habit of riding a few miles into the country, and on these occasions his horse, which was a very superior animal, was brought up to the large door of the college, when the professor would mount and ride off in a manner that showed his evident high appreciation of his own equestrianism. One night when every thing was silent in the building, and the large majority of its inmates buried in profound slumber, three of the students stole forth on their mission of vengeance. The stable door they found open, and in the loft above they discovered several pots of paint, together with a number of brushes. These were immediately placed in requisition. The unfortunate animal was brought forth, and in a short time, by the aid of the paint, his appearance was so completely changed as to make recognition impossible.

“ I say, Bill,” said one, "haven’t we given him a coat of many colors; I guess the old fellow wont know him in the morning.”

“If he does, I’m no judge of horseflesh. But how shall we paint his tail?”

“Oh, never mind that: the tail aint the main thing about a horse, you know.”

“Come, none of your joking, old Cross Grain will be certain to know him by his tail; it is the longest one in the country; and will be sure to be a telltale.”

“Well, suppose we bestow on it that cerulean hue which the monkey gave to his, when he painted his caudal appendage skyblue.”

“Or better still, suppose we cut it off: the old fellow would have to sell him at wholesale then, for he could not retail him.”

This suggestion was complied with. The tail was cut off, and the horse then taken and tied to the post in front of the college door, when the three students retired to their rooms.

Early in the morning, as usual, the professor came down to take his accustomed ride: but the first thing that met his gaze at the door was the singular apparition of the gaily painted horse.

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed the professor, “Well, that is too good; how the poor fellow that owns that horse will feel when he sees him: ha! ha! ha?” and the professor laughed again till the tears came into his eyes. In truth it was a laughable sight. There stood the horse, bedecked in all the colors of the rainbow: one leg blue, one yellow. one green, and one red; on his sides, the stripes of the zebra and the spots of the leopard contended for predominance, while his face was painted coal black. For some time the professor stood looking at the animal , his sides shaking with laughter, his amusement being shared by a number of students ho had gathered round. Those who had acted the part of artists were especially immoderate in their cachinatory explosions, varying their mirth, however, with expressions of regret that so fine a horse should be ruined; it wasn’t exactly right, though it was rather funny, to be sure. By this time the victim thought he would take its ride. Calling the groom, he bade him to go to the stable and bring out Bucephalus. The man went, but soon returned with the intelligence that bucephalus was not to be found, and said "perhaps this is him, sir.”

“Impossible,” replied the professor; "no one would dare to treat my property in such a manner; besides my horse had a long tail. Look all around the grounds, will certainly find him somewhere.”

The second search, however, proved as unsuccessful as the first, and the professor at last began to entertain some suspicion that the painted horse might in reality be his. A bucket of water was soon brought, and with much trouble, and scrubbing and rubbing, enough paint was removed from the forehead to show a white spot beneath, by which Bucephalus was plainly identified. When the fact became evident, the change in the professor was marvellous to behold. All his mirth vanished in an instant, and was succeeded by the most violent rage: he stormed and swore and raved; declared that he would have the infamous perpetrators expelled from college; and ended by offering a reward of one hundred dollars for their discovery.

It is needless to say that the reward never was claimed. The three students were undetected, and were ever afterwards known among their fellow–collegians as the “horse artists.”


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