There was a woman, I soon noticed, that stopped often by the farm. She was a pretty woman; with coppery curls and bright green eyes, with a smattering of freckles across her nose. Farmer Grey was always very happy to see her, I noted, greeting her with a smile and a kiss on the back of her hand. Her name was Mrs. Thompson, and she was a widow- her husband had died of a cough three winters ago. When she came, they would walk together on the grounds, and hours would go by this way, until her oldest brother, James, came back to fetch her once more. Farmer Grey would speak of her often when he came to brush out my coat or go for a ride- he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world: the kindest, and the gentlest, and the strongest. He loved her, he confessed to me once, unable to keep the smile from his face. And one day soon he would make her his wife.
It so happened one day that Mrs. Thompson came by the farm in her Sunday best; her soft floral gown and bonnet with lace that had been a wedding gift from her brother. Farmer Grey greeted her at the gates as James’ carriage doors opened to let her out- he helped her from the doors and down the small steps to the ground. “Good-bye, James, and I will see you this evening!” She waved as the carriage steered away, back up the path. Farmer Grey took her arm and led her to my pasture. “Now, Mrs. Thompson, there’s been someone I’ve been dying for you to meet.”
“Mr. Grey, how many times must I ask you to call me Nora?” Said Mrs. Thompson, smiling radiantly up at him.
“For as many times as I must beseech you to call me Shaun,” replied Farmer Grey, patting the hand safely linked in the crook of his elbow. “Look here.” He stopped at the fence, and gestured toward where I stood, curiously regarding them. “This is Darkie. Handsome little fellow, isn’t he?”
“Oh, beautiful,” sighed Mrs. Thompson, leaning on the fence to look at me. “You almost never see a black horse.” She held out her hand, softly clicking, and forward I stepped to sniff at her knuckles. “Hello,” she cooed, smiling.
Farmer Grey leaned on the fence as well, watching her fondly. Mrs. Thompson turned suddenly to him, grinning mischievously. “May I ride him?”
Farmer Grey stepped back suddenly, putting his hands together; knowing his plan had gone perfectly. “I have just the thing. It’d be perfect. He needs more practice with the sidesaddle as it is.” He began towards the stable. “Wait here!”
“Always,” she called after him. She looked to me once more, petting my nose and fondly rubbing the star on my forehead. “What is he up to, boy?” She mused, somehow frowning and smiling at the same time.
Farmer Grey returned with the sidesaddle, and buckled it easily onto my back- “All right, Darkie,” he murmured, rubbing my nose and patting his pocket. He helped Mrs. Thompson into the saddle and led me for a few circles of the pasture, gathering speed until he at last broke into a run to match my trot, and let me go. Mrs. Thompson laughed as I galloped about, carefree. Her bonnet fell around her neck and her hair streamed out behind her, cheeks tinting pink in the wind. When at last she circled back to where Farmer Grey awaited, she smiled at him from her perch on my back and said, “Squire Gordon is a lucky man. This is a beautiful horse, and he runs so well.”
“A beautiful horse to carry a beautiful lady,” he said, looking up at her as if she held the stars in her eyes. He offered his hand to help her down, and as soon as her feet were on the ground he knelt on one knee before her. She gasped softly, covering her mouth with one hand. “Oh, Shaun.”
“Nora Thompson, I thank God for the grace he showed me in bringing you into my life,” he said from below. “In these past few months I’ve come to love you more than life itself.” He produced a ring from his pocket, holding it up to her. “Will you marry me?”
Mrs. Thompson nodded suddenly, with tears in her eyes. “Yes. Yes, oh, yes, Shaun-” Farmer Grey put the ring on her finger and swept her into his arms, kissing her quite soundly. It wasn’t until I whinnied that they broke apart, suddenly recalling where they were (and that I was there.) They laughed, afterwards, patting my flank as they walked back to the stables, hand in hand.
They were married a short time before I was sold to Squire Gordon, in the early spring. Nora looked stunning in white; and Farmer Grey had his hair neatly combed, wore his best jacket. They were both so very happy, and during the nuptials he affectionately referred to her as Mrs. Grey, and kissed her often. When I left there I thought of them sometimes, then less as the years went on. In fact, it was a long time before I heard of them again, and that was in my beautiful home with the three ladies that Joe Greene came one day and told me he had run into Mr. and Mrs. Grey at the market, that they were very happy, still quite in love, and had two rambunctious boys and a beautiful little girl. It was another happy daydream to entertain. Perhaps they would visit one day.