‘He went beautifully !’ said Velvet, and laying down a tiny paper horse on the table she wrenched at the gold band that bound her teeth back and laid it beside the horse.
‘Father’ll be in in a minute’, said Edwina warningly.
‘It’s going in again directly I hear a sound’, said Velvet and sitting down she swept the band into her lap.
‘Look at him’, she said lovingly, taking up the paper horse. ‘I must unsaddle him and rub him down’. The heads were bent on the lesson books again and Velvet took a tiny briddle of cotton threads from the horse. Then going to a shell-box on the sideboard she brought it to the table.
‘It’s just supper’, said Mally. ‘You’ll have to clear’.
Velvet opened the box and took out a stable rubber two inches square, a portion of her handkerchief, hemmed around. Laying the little horse flat on the table she rubbed him with delicacy in circular motions, after having taken a paper saddle from his back.
The horse was a racer cut from the Bytstander. He stood three inches high and had a raking neck and a keen, veined face. By dint of much rubbing the paper had given off a kind of coat, and now Velvet rubbed there came a suède-like sheen on the horse’s paper body. He was dark, most carefully cut out, and pasted upon cardboard. The bridle was made by the fingers of a fairy, noseband, chinstrap and all, in black cotton.
‘He has a high action’, said Velvet. ‘A lovely show canter, but a difficult trot. I didn’t jump him today as he need to settle down’.
In the shell-box others horses lay.
Enid BAGNOLD, National Velvet , in Greatest Horse Stories, HarperCollins publishers, 1998, pp. 2-3.