Tinkle the Trick Pony P10 🐎

Written by Richard Barnum

Nor were these all the tricks Tinkle learned. Mr. Drake taught him how to add and subtract simple numbers that the trainer wrote on a blackboard with chalk. Tinkle could not really add the numbers in his head, but when the trainer wrote down say a 3 and a 4 and said: “Tell me how much that is, Tinkle,” Tinkle would nod his head seven times. He knew Mr. Drake wanted him to nod seven times by the way the trainer spoke and by the words he used. If the sum were eight, on ten or some other number, the trainer would ask the question in a different way. So that Tinkle got to know numbers by listening to the different ways his trainer spoke the words to him, and it really seemed as though the pony could do sums in arithmetic.

Another trick Tinkle learned to do was to get letters from the “post-office.” Mr. Drake had a box made with partitions in it so that it looked like part of a post-office. Into the little squares, into which the big box was divided, the trainer would put cards with the names of different persons written on them—such as “John Jones,” or “Peter Smith” or “Mary Black.”
Each card was always put in the same place, and Mr. Drake taught Tinkle to trot up to the make-believe post-office. Then when asked: “Is there a letter for John Jones,” the pony would take out the right card. Tinkle learned to do this by listening to the different sounds of Mr. Drake’s voice just as happened when the numbers were called. A pony knows the different sounds of words, else how could he know enough to stop when “whoa!” is called, or that he should go when told to “gid-dap!”

“Well, now you know so many tricks, I think I’ll show you off before the people in the big circus tent,” said Mr. Drake one day. And that afternoon Tinkle was led out all alone. A new white bridle was put on him, and around him was put a red strap, on top of which, in the middle of the pony’s back, was fastened a bright, red, white and blue plume.
Tinkle had looked in, but had never been in the big circus tent before, where all the people were seated, and where the band was playing jolly tunes, with funnily painted clowns jumping here and there making the boys and girls laugh. And at first Tinkle was a bit frightened. But he looked over to where Tum Tum, the jolly elephant, was turning a hand organ with his trunk, and Tum Tum called in his pleasant voice:
“Steady there, Tinkle. Don’t be afraid. You’ll do all right.”

Then Tinkle felt better, and Mr. Drake patted him and gave him a lump of sugar before Tinkle had done even one trick.
“We’ll begin with the easy one—make a bow,” said the trainer.
Tinkle bowed his prettiest, and some boys and girls in the front row of seats clapped their hands and laughed. This made Tinkle feel glad, and he looked around, thinking he might see George or Mabel. But neither was in the tent.
Then the pony went through all his tricks—he added and subtracted numbers, he brought letters from the post-office and then he picked out the differently colored flags or handkerchiefs that Mr. Drake called for.
“Now, Tinkle,” said the trainer, after the pony had done some jumping, “tell the people which flag you love the best.”
Tinkle trotted over to the box where a number of flags of different countries had been put. The United States banner was at the bottom, but Tinkle knew that. He nosed around among all the flags until he found the one he knew he wanted, and with that in his teeth he trotted over to Mr. Drake, while the band played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

My! I wish you could have heard the people clap then. And how the boys and girls shouted with joy! They thought Tinkle was just the finest pony they had ever seen. And Mr. Drake patted him and gave him an extra large lump of sugar for behaving so nicely when he first did his tricks in public.
“I told you he’d make a good trick pony,” said Mr. Drake, as Tom led the little animal back to the tent.
“Yes, he’s a dandy!” replied the man. “I’ll give him a good feed of oats for this.”
And when Tinkle was back in his stall Prancer and Tiny Tim talked to him and told him how glad they were that he had done his tricks so well. Tinkle felt happy, for a while.

As the days went on, and the circus traveled from place to place, Tinkle gave many exhibitions of his smartness. He learned new tricks and he could do the old ones much more easily the more often he practiced them, just as you can with your music lesson.
But though he liked it very much in the circus, Tinkle was sad. His animal friends could tell that by looking at him, and the pony did not eat as well as he had at first.
“Come now, Tinkle, tell me what the matter is,” came a voice behind him one day, and, turning, the pony saw a funny monkey seated in the straw on the ground.

“I am Mappo, the merry chap Tum Tum and Dido told you about,” went the monkey. “I haven’t had time to come and see you before. I’ve been so busy in this circus.”
“Oh, yes, I remember Dido and Tum Tum speaking about you,” said Tinkle. “Thank you for coming to see me.”
“Well, you don’t look very happy about it,” said Mappo. “Come, what is the trouble? Why are you sad? Look at me, I’m merry enough for everyone,” and Mappo turned a somersault that made Tinkle laugh in his pony way.
“Come! That’s better,” said Mappo. “Be jolly like Tum Tum. What is the matter, anyhow?”
“Oh, I feel sad when I think of the nice home I was taken from,” said Tinkle. “I miss George and Mabel, and I’d like to be with them again, to let them ride on my back or pull them about in the pony cart. That is why I am sad.”

Mappo, the merry monkey, picked up a long, clean straw and put it in his mouth, almost as a man might do with a toothpick. Mappo sat chewing on the straw and looking at Tinkle.
“Tell me about that nice home where you used to live, little pony,” said Mappo. “Maybe it will make you feel better to talk about it.”
“Oh, I think it will,” sighed Tinkle. “Oh, I just love to talk about George and Mabel, they were so good and kind to me! And so was Patrick, the coachman.”

So Tinkle told Mappo the story of his home and of having been taken away in the moving van.
“Those were strange adventures,” said Mappo. “Almost as unusual as those I had.”
“Did you have adventures, too?” asked Tinkle.
“Indeed I did,” answered the merry monkey, and he told his story of having once lived in the jungle-forest and of how he had been caught and put in the circus.

But now we will leave him talking to Mappo, if you please, and go back to where George and Mabel live. You will remember that Patrick, the coachman, had gone to the store for salve for one of the horses, and that George and Mabel, with their father and mother, were visiting in the country.
When Patrick came back with the salve the first thing he noticed was that Tinkle was not in his stall.
Patrick searched all around for Tinkle, but, of course, could not find him. He asked the people living in neighboring houses, but none of them had seen Tinkle go away, because the men had shut him up inside the moving van, you see. Some people had seen the big wagon near the stable but none had seen Tinkle put into it.

Patrick even got a policeman and a fireman, whom he knew, to look for Tinkle, but they could not find him. And when, a day or so later, Mr. and Mrs. Farley came back from the country, with George and Mabel, the two children cried when they were told that Tinkle was gone.
“I think I must cheer them up a bit,” said Mr. Farley to his wife one afternoon. “They are thinking too much about Tinkle. I must take their minds off him.”
“How will you do it?” asked Mrs. Farley.
“A circus is coming to town to-morrow,” said her husband. “I’ll take the children to see that, and when they watch the funny monkeys, the clowns and the big elephants they will forget about Tinkle.”

So, when the big show with the white tents came to the city where the Farleys lived, George and Mabel were taken with their father to see the wonderful sight.
“Do you think there’ll be any ponies in the circus?” asked George.
“Why, yes, maybe,” answered Mr. Farley. “Why?”
“I’m not going to look at them,” said Mabel.
“Nor I,” added George. “They’d make me think too much of our Tinkle.”

On the way to the circus with their father, Mabel and George passed through a part of the city where there were not many houses, and in what few homes there were less fortunate people lived.
Many of them owned goats, some for the milk they gave, for the milk of goats is almost as good as that of cows.
“Oh, see that big goat!” cried George as they passed a small house, on the rocks behind which a goat was jumping about. “Look how easy he jumps!”
“You may well say that!” exclaimed a pleasant-faced Irish woman at the front gate. “Sure, Lightfoot is the most intelligent goat that ever was.”
“Is Lightfoot his name?” asked Mr. Farley.
“Sure it is, for it fits him well. He’s that light on his feet you’d never know he was jumpin’ at all. Ah, he’s a fine goat.”
“I had a fine pony once,” said George, “but somebody took him away.”
“That’s too bad,” said the Irish woman, whose name was Mrs. Malony. “Sure but I’d like to see any one, not a friend, try to take Lightfoot away. He’d butt ’em with his horns.”
“Isn’t it too bad Tinkle didn’t have horns?” sighed Mabel, as she walked on.
“A pony with horns would be a funny one,” said her brother.

I wish I had time to tell you all that George and Mabel did at the circus and the many things they saw, from Tum Tum the jolly elephant to Mappo the merry monkey. They laughed at the clowns, ate popcorn and peanuts, giving some to the elephants, feeding a whole bag of peanuts to Tum Tum, though they did not know his name. But they were sure he was nice because he looked at them in such a funny, jolly way.
“Oh, look at the ponies!” cried Mabel, as the little horses trotted into the middle ring. There was Prancer and Tiny Tim, as well as the others, and they were going to do their tricks.
“They are nice ponies,” said George, glancing at them, even though he and Mabel had said they would not look. “But not one of them is as nice as Tinkle.”

The ponies went through their tricks, doing their very best, and then, when the time came, Tinkle himself was led in to do his tricks alone, as of late he always did. Mabel and George were looking the other way just then, watching a man turn a somersault over the backs of Tum Tum and some other elephants, and at first they did not see Tinkle. But as George turned in time to watch the trick pony take the United States flag out of the box, and bring it to Mr. Drake the little boy cried:
“Oh, Mabel! See that pony!”
“Which one?” asked the little girl.
“There,” and George pointed. “Doesn’t he look like Tinkle? He has four white feet and a white star on his head. Mabel, see, isn’t he just like our pony? Why—why!” cried George, standing up in his seat, and very much excited, “it is Tinkle! Oh, Mabel, it is Tinkle!”
“I—I believe it is,” said the little girl slowly.

Persons sitting near the children looked at them, and then at the pony. Mr. Farley, too, was staring at the little trick horse.
“I wonder if it could be Tinkle?” he asked himself.
George was sure he was right—so sure that he jumped from his seat and rushed into the ring where the pony had just finished his tricks.
“Tinkle! Tinkle!” said George. “It is you, isn’t it? And you know me, don’t you?”
Tinkle knew his little master at once though it was several months since he had seen him. The pony trotted across the ring, and while the trainer, the circus folk, and the people in their seats looked on in wonder, George threw his arms around the pony’s neck.
Tinkle whinnied. That was the only way he could talk our language, but it meant he was glad to see George again—very glad indeed.
“Oh, Tinkle, Tinkle!” cried the happy little boy. “I’ve found you again! I’ve found our Tinkle!”

“What does this mean?” asked Mr. Drake. “Do you say this is your pony? I bought him for the circus.”
“Yes, Tinkle is my pony,” cried George. “Mine and Mabel’s. I taught him some tricks, too. Make a bow, Tinkle.” And Tinkle did.
“Well, this is very strange,” said the trainer. “He minds you and does tricks for you. But I bought him from a man, and—”
“Perhaps I can explain,” said Mr. Farley, coming into the ring with Mabel, who not only put her arms around Tinkle’s neck but kissed him on his white star. And Tinkle rubbed his soft nose against her soft cheek. “This looks very much like my little boy’s pony, that was stolen from our stable some time ago,” went Mr. Farley, and he told of having bought Tinkle at the stock farm.

“Well, I guess you’re right, and it is your little boy’s pet,” said the circus man, after Tinkle’s story had been told by Mr. Farley. “I didn’t like the looks of the man from whom I bought the pony, but I never thought he had stolen Tinkle.”
There was no doubt that Tinkle belonged to George. You could tell that by watching how glad the pony was to see his master again. The people in the audience thought it was all part of the circus, and laughed as Tinkle followed George about the ring.
The circus man was sorry to lose Tinkle but, as he said he had no right to him, he agreed to let George and Mabel have the pony back.

“And may we take him now?” asked George eagerly.
“Yes, I guess so,” said Mr. Drake. “There is an old pony cart in one of the tents. You can drive Tinkle home in that and send the cart back by your coachman. But you may keep Tinkle.”
“And we’ll never let him go away again,” said George.
“Never!” cried his sister. “We’ll keep him forever.”

A man took Tinkle away to harness him to the pony cart. Tinkle had a chance to say good-by to Mappo and Tum Tum.
“So you are going back to your old home,” observed the monkey. “I am glad, for you never would have been happy here in the circus, though it just suits me.”
“And me, also,” added Tum Tum, the jolly elephant. “If you see Dido, the dancing bear,” he went on, “tell him to hurry back. We are lonesome without him.”
“I will!” cried Tinkle, who was so excited he could hardly wait to be harnessed. He was very eager to be with George and Mabel again.

The circus men patted the pony, for they liked him. Tinkle called good-by to Tum Tum, Mappo and all his animal friends, and then, the pony cart being ready, he trotted home with Mr. Farley, George and Mabel.
“There is that funny goat, Lightfoot, again,” said George as they passed the home of Mrs. Malony.
“Yes,” said Mabel. “I like him. I wonder if we will ever see him again?”
And they did, several times.

You may well imagine how surprised Mrs. Farley and Patrick were to see the children come driving home with the long-lost Tinkle.
“We found him in the circus!” cried George.
“And he can do ever so many more tricks,” said Mabel, laughing.
“You ought to see him find the flag!” added her brother, and they began to make Tinkle do some of his new circus tricks. So while the children are doing that, and telling their mother how they found Tinkle again, this will be a good chance for us to say good-by to the trick pony.

we bring calm to your bedtime routine

Listen to Sleep Tight Stories

Listen to Sleep Tight Stories on Apple Podcasts Listen to Sleep Tight Stories on Google Podcasts Listen to Sleep Tight Stories on Spotify

Subscribe and join our growing community of listeners

We are social