"Black Beauty" is the autobiography of a horse. Written by Anna Sewell, it was published in 1877, had a big readership by man and beast, and didn't fool anybody. I tried to read it in my youth, but at the second spavin I shifted to more spicy stuff and began to study "Little Women." "Black Beauty" and "The Faerie Queen" are a couple of my blind spots.
I mention "Black Beauty" now because I got to thinking about Earl Buck. Nothing has ever made me think again about "The Faerie Queen." I was told one time that only two people are known to have read "The Faerie Queen," but I didn't hear why.
Mr. Buck was an elderly resident of the Down-East town where I was fetched up, and to all appearances might have been described by Thoreau as living in quiet desperation. He and Mrs. Buck lived at the end of Cushing Street, next beyond Will Fish, the undertaker, and I believe there were no children. I think I never saw her. She didn't socialize and probably never joined anything or met with other ladies.
Mr. Buck, however, was easy to meet and could be seen almost any time about the village watching somebody paint a shed or helping to get a cat down from a tree. He had been variously employed during his working days and retired from the job of gate tender for the Maine Central Railroad at the important Bow Street crossing.
He was an eager conversationalist and yarn spinner. He knew everybody, and everybody knew him, and I found him helpful as I gathered news items for the paper. As crossing tender, he was also in charge of hanging the daily postal pouch on the yardarm to be caught at 90 miles an hour by Train 8 just short of midnight.
Train 8 also hove an incoming pouch out the mail-car door just after catching the outgoing bag, and this one came to rest somewhere within four to six miles. Mr. Buck's search for it up and down the tracks gave me many items.
Mr. Buck was a good source. He had been a town constable in his time and a volunteer fireman, dog officer, truant officer, and sealer of weights and measures, hence a public official to be respected.
He was also the owner of a somewhat famous racehorse named Evelyn W. Evelyn W. was long since retired from the track, but as a trotter held something like l7 world records and was in the books.
Let me explain.
Our town had several sporty gentlemen who kept and raced trotting-hosses, and it was not something that didn't raise eyebrows from time to time.