Bobby the Horse

A story of Ye Peacock Inne (by Mernda)
In the year 1867 it was my lot to meet with an accident that clouded to a certain extent my future life.

I had the misfortune to be blown up by a blast on a contract that I had on the Bridge Road, Mernda, and it was only after a series of operations by that clever oculist, the late Dr. Aubrey Bowen, that I regained my sight, and only then after a period of eight years, with 11 operations, the first of which took place at the Peacock Inn, Northcote.

I have a very grateful remembrance of the kindness to me by Mrs. Plant and her late husband. My stay there was not at all dull, as numerous things occurred.

Among others one strikes me as being worth telling.

The late Cr. Thomas Mitchell, who was then a butcher at Northcote, and a well-known Greensborough identity, came across the street to the Peacock Inn, and I was sitting in the little room next to the bar when I heard every word that passed. It appeared an argument had arisen over the skin of one animal being transplanted to another, and Mr Mitchell, said it was possible, whilst the sturdy farmer said it was all bosh. Mr Mitchell, to show the soundness of his argument, told the tale of a doctor in the old country who rode a noted horse called Bobby. It appears the doctor lived next door to a brewery, and some of the grains from the brewery found their way into the doctor’s yard. Result, Bobby, like many free imbibers of brewery products, was soon dead to the world; and when the doctor came home after being out attending a patient he found Bobby as he thought dead, and he had him skinned whilst warm, as he wished to preserve the skin of his old pet. Bobby was left on the manure heap until morning when he was to be sent to the Bone Mills.

The good doctor and his wife went to bed, but during the night the doctor was roused by a horse whinnying, and on going to the door there was Bobby walking about without any skin.

The doctor had four sheep, which he at once killed and wrapped the warm skins on Bobby, with the result that they grafted on, and the next year Bobby produced 48lbs of wool.

Mr Mitchell was particular to say it was a tale that he had heard and that he believed was feasible. The farmer, who is still alive, said it was a so-and-so lie. Mr Mitchell took £5 from his pocket and said – “To prove the truth of what I say I will bet £5 if the farmer will allow me to skin about 15 inches on the side of his horse (and animal, by the way, worth about £10) that I will kill a sheep and cover the place with warm sheep skin and it will grow thereon.”

The farmer replied – “I will knock the head off any man who attempts to skin my horse for any such purpose.”

In fancy I can hear the laughter of Crs Bastings and Plant and I think Cr Smith was also there. I know, although not too well after my experience of chloroform, I could not help laughing heartily, and it did me good, but so far I have never heard who was right in the argument.

Transcribed from Northcote Leader:

NORTHCOTE AND PRESTON REMINISCENCES. (1918, January 26). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - ), p. 2.