‘Capten’s the cob with the white star on his forehead’, said Morgan. ‘He’s Bryn’s horse.’ Morgan’s older brother, Bryn, was a haulier in the pit. It was his job to lead the horse, hitch him up to a dram full of coal or timber, and bring him back and forth all day.
Bryn was good with horses, he always made sure they came to no harm in the narrow roadways of the pit. Some roofs in the pit were very low, and Bryn took special care in these areas to protect the horse’s head and back.
‘I remember Capten,’ said the Vicar, ‘Fine Welsh cob. Not a mark on him. Why are they getting rid of him?’
Morgan shuddered at the thought.
‘Bryn says the slope to the new part of the pit is too steep for Capten.He can’t pull like he used to, he hasn’t got the breath for it anymore. Bryn says he’s broken- winded.’
Both Morgan and Mr Price knew that once the lungs filled with dust the strength was gone for good. It was the same for men and animals. Mr Price was very quiet now as they walked back to the rectory.
‘When are they bringing him up?’
‘Tomorrow,’ said Morgan.’ the dealer will take him and you know what will happen, Mr Price. You have got to get them to take him to Tondu house, you just have to!’
At Tondu house near Bridgend, there was a veterinary hospital, the first in Wales for sick horses. Bryn had been very excited last year when it opened and he had even read out pieces from the local paper to his mother at suppertime, Morgan and the Vicar had talked about the place when they were up on the mountain walking.
Every horse had its very own stall, there were vets, and there was even an operating theatre, but so far they knew of no horse from the Ffaldau Colliery ever going there. Mr Price leaned on the wall of the Vicarage garden.
‘Morgan, you have to understand ,I cannot arrange something like this in a few hours. There would be a lot of paperwork, forms to fill out.
Morgans heart sank.
‘Mind you, perhaps there’s something else I could offer,’ said Mr Price, looking over his overgrown garden. Leave it to me Morgan, leave everything to me’.
It was then that Morgan had a feeling that somehow it was all going to work out after all.
Morgan was perched on the Vicarage wall, It was his day off, and he was eating a jam butty he had brought along as his lunch. He was watching Capten. Yes, Capten, who was happily grazing in Mr Price’s garden. Capten didn’t seem to mind that it was mostly nettles and dockleaves, With just the one old crab apple tree in the middle, he walked slowly around it like a king inspecting his castle. Capten wandered over to the wall, as he had sniffed out the carrot that Morgan had brought for him.
Mr Price had been as good as his word; he had indeed offered something else. He had offered Capten a home in the Vicarage garden, and he had made all the arrangements with the Colliery ostler. No one objected , no one at all. They were all glad that faithful old Capten would have a good retirement. Would Mr Price arrange a place for him at Tondu House? Who knows? For the time being, Capten was safe, he was enjoying the sunshine and he was among friends.
How fortunate that Mr Price had never been very keen on growing potatoes!