Written by Richard Barnum
“Well, I never expected to see you here!” exclaimed a whinnying voice as Tinkle was led into his stall. The little pony looked up in surprise and saw a big horse.
“Oh! Why, hello, Hobble!” cried Tinkle, as he saw the horse that used to live on the stock farm with him.
“My name isn’t Hobble any more—it’s Prince.”
“Oh, well. Hello, then, Prince!” called Tinkle in a cordial, off-hand manner, for he now felt quite grown up. Had he not been hitched up, and had he not carried a boy on his back? “I didn’t know you were here.”
“And I didn’t know you were coming,” observed Prince. “How is everything back on the farm?”
“Oh, there’s not much change. I was sorry to come away and leave my father and mother.”
“Well, that’s the way things happen in this world,” said Prince. “We are colts for a little while, and then some of us grow to be big horses or grown-up ponies and have to go away from our friends. It’s just the same with men and women, I’ve heard. But you’ll like it here.”
“Is it nice?” asked Tinkle.
“Nice? I should say it is! Of course, I miss being out in the big, green, grassy meadow. But I get plenty to eat here, and every day a man scratches my back—”
“Scratches your back?” cried Tinkle. “I don’t believe I should like that!”
“Oh, yes you will,” said Prince. “You can’t imagine how your back begins to itch and ache when you’ve been in the harness all day. And when a man uses a brush and comb on you—”
“A brush and comb!” cried Tinkle. “Come on, you’re joking! I know men and women, as well as boys and girls, use brushes and combs, but ponies or horses—”
“Yes, we really have our own brushes and combs, though they are different from those which humans use,” said Prince. “The brush is a big one, more like a broom, and the comb is made of iron and it’s called a currycomb. But they make your skin nice and clean and shiny. You’ll like them.”
“Maybe,” said Tinkle. “Is anything else different here from what it was on the farm?”
“Oh, lots and lots of things. You have to have shoes on your feet.”
“Oh, now I’m sure you’re fooling me!” cried Tinkle in horse-talk. “Who ever heard of ponies having shoes!”
“Well, of course they’re not leather shoes, such as boys and girls wear,” went on Prince. “They are made of iron, and they are nailed on your hoofs.”
“Nailed on!” cried Tinkle. “Oh, doesn’t that hurt?”
“Not a bit when a good blacksmith does it,” explained Prince. “You see our hoofs are just like the finger nails of boys and girls. It doesn’t hurt to cut their fingernails, if they don’t cut them down too close, and it doesn’t hurt to fasten the iron shoes on our hoofs with sharp nails. Don’t you remember how Dapple Gray used to tell about his iron shoes making sparks on the paving stones in the city when he ran and pulled that funny shiny wagon with the chimney?”
“Oh, yes,” answered Tinkle; “I do remember. Well, I suppose I’ll have to be shod then.”
“Of course,” returned Prince. “If you don’t have the iron shoes on your hooves they would get sore when you ran around on the stony streets. A city is not like our green meadow. There are very few soft dirt roads here. That is one thing I don’t like about a city. Still there is always something going on here, and lots to see and do, and that makes up for it, I guess.”
“I wonder how I shall like it,” thought Tinkle. “But first I must see what my new home is like.”
He looked around the stable. It was a large one, and there were a number of stalls in it. In each one was a horse, like Prince, munching his oats or chewing hay. Tinkle saw that his stall was different from the others. It was like a big box, and, in fact, was called a “box stall.” Tinkle did not have to be tied fast with a rope or a strap to the manger, which is the place where the feed for the ponies and horses is put. There was a manger in Tinkle’s stall and he could walk up to it whenever he felt hungry.
Tinkle did not remember much about the stable at home on the farm, as he was hardly ever in it. Night and day, during the warm Summer, he stayed out in the green meadow, sleeping near his mother under a tree.
Tinkle was kicking the straw around in his stall, making a nice soft bed on which he could lie down and go to sleep, when George, who had gone into the house to get something to eat after driving with his father from the stock farm, came running out to the stable again.
“How’s my pony?” cried George. “How’s my Tinkle?”
Tinkle made a sort of laughing sound—whinnying—for he knew now George’s voice and he liked the little boy.
“Here’s something nice for you!” cried George.
“Oh, what are you going to give him?” asked Mabel, who had come home from school and who had also hurried out to see Tinkle.
“I’m going to give him some sugar,” answered George. “I took some lumps from the bowl on the table. Mother said I might.”
“Are you going to let him eat them out of your hand?” asked the little girl.
“Of course,” answered George.
“Won’t he bite you?”
“Not if you hold out your hand flat, like a board,” said George. “The man at the farm showed me. Put the sugar on the palm of your hand, open it out flat and a horse can pick up a lump of sugar, or an apple without biting you a teeny weeny bit. Look!”
George opened the top half of the door to the box stall where Tinkle had his home and held out on his hand the lump of sugar. Tinkle came over, smelled of the lump to make sure it was good for him to eat, and then he gently took it in his soft lips, and began to chew the sweet stuff.
“Oh, isn’t that cute!” cried Mabel. “Let me feed Tinkle some sugar.”
Her brother gave her a lump, and she held it out on her hand. Tinkle, having eaten the first lump, which he liked very much, was quite ready for the second. He took it from Mabel’s hand as gently as he had taken it from George’s.
“Oh, he is a lovely pony!” cried the little girl. “How soon can we have a ride on him?”
“Well, you can ride him around the yard now,” said her father, who had come out to the stable. “But before he is driven around the city streets he must be shod. I’ll send him to a blacksmith. But for a while now you and George may take turns riding him. I’ll have Patrick saddle him for you.”
Patrick was Mr. Farley’s coachman, and knew a great deal about horses and ponies. The pony cart which Mr. Farley had bought from the stockman, together with a harness and saddle for Tinkle, had been put away. Patrick now brought out the saddle, and, after putting a blanket on the pony, fastened on the saddle with straps.
“Now who’s to ride first?” asked the coachman.
“Let Mabel,” said George, politely. “Ladies always go first.”
“I’d rather you’d go first so I can see how you do it,” said the little girl, and George was glad, for he did want very much to get on Tinkle’s back again. He had ridden a little at the stock farm and, oh! it was such fun!
Patrick helped George into the saddle, and then led Tinkle about the yard, for Mr. Farley wanted to make sure the pony would be safe for his little boy to ride.
“I’ll be very careful,” said Tinkle to himself. “George and his sister are going to be kind to me, I’m sure. I’ll not run away.”
Tinkle remembered what his father and mother had told him about behaving when he was in the harness, or had a saddle on.
“And if I’m good,” thought the pony, “maybe I’ll get more lumps of sugar.”
“Let him go now and see if I can drive him,” said George to Patrick. So the coachman stepped aside and George held the reins in his own hands.
“Gid-dap, Tinkle!” cried George, and the pony knew this meant to go a little faster. So he began to trot on the soft, green grass of the big yard about the Farley home.
“Oh, how nice!” cried Mabel, clapping her hands.
“Yes, it’s lots of fun!” laughed George. “Go on, Tinkle.”
When George had ridden twice around the yard it was Mabel’s turn. At first she was a little afraid, but her father held her in the saddle, and she could soon sit on alone and guide Tinkle, who did not go as fast with her as he had gone with George.
“For she might fall off, and I wouldn’t want that to happen,” thought Tinkle. “They might say it was my fault, and give me no more lumps of sugar.”
While Mabel was riding, another boy and a girl came into the yard. They were Tommie and Nellie Hall, who lived next door.
“Oh, what a lovely pony!” they cried. “Where did you get him?”
“My father bought him for Mabel and me,” explained George. “See how soft his hair is,” and he patted Tinkle. Tommie and Nellie also patted the pony and called him all sorts of nice names.
“My! I think I am going to like it here,” thought Tinkle. “I have four new, good, little friends. I will try to make them love me.”
Every morning, as soon as he had eaten his breakfast, George would run out to the stable to see Tinkle. He would rub the soft, velvety nose of his pet pony, or bring him a piece of bread or a lump of sugar. Sometimes Mabel, too, would come out with her brother to look at Tinkle before she went to school.
“And when we come back from school we’ll have a ride on your back,” said George, waving his hand to Tinkle.
A few days after he had been brought to his new home Tinkle had been taken to a blacksmith’s shop and small iron shoes had been fastened to the pony’s hooves.
At first Tinkle was afraid he was going to be hurt, but he thought of what Dapple Gray and the other horses had told him and made up his mind—if ponies have minds—that he would stand a little pain if he had to. But he did not. The blacksmith was kind and gentle, and though it felt a bit funny at first, when he lifted up one of Tinkle’s legs, the pony soon grew used to it.
It felt strange, too, when the iron shoes were nailed on. And when Tinkle stood on his four newly shod feet he hardly knew whether he could step out properly or not. But he soon found that it was all right.
“I’m taller with my new shoes on than in my bare hoofs,” said Tinkle to himself, and he was taller—about an inch I guess. The clatter and clang of his iron shoes on the paving stones sounded like music to Tinkle, and he soon found that it was better for him to have iron shoes on than to run over the stones in his hoofs, which would soon have worn down so that his feet would have hurt.
“Now Tinkle is ready to give us a ride in the little cart!” cried George when his pony had come home from the blacksmith shop.
“Take Patrick with you so as to make sure you know how to drive, and how to handle Tinkle,” said Mrs. Farley, as George and Mabel made ready for their first real drive—outside the yard this time.
George and Mabel got into the pony cart, George taking the reins, and Mabel sat beside him. Patrick, the coachman, sat in the back of the cart, ready to help if he were needed.
“Gid-dap!” called George, and he headed the pony down the driveway. “Gid-dap, Tinkle,” and Tinkle trotted along.
“Don’t they look cute!” exclaimed Mrs. Farley to her husband as they watched the children from the dining room window. “I hope nothing happens to them.”
“Oh, they’ll be all right,” said her husband. “Tinkle is a kind and gentle pony. Besides there is Patrick. He’ll know just what to do if anything should happen.”
“Well, I hope nothing does,” said Mrs. Farley. “There! they’ve stopped! I wonder what for.”
The pony cart had stopped at the driveway gates, and Patrick, with a strange smile on his face, came walking back.
“What is it?” asked Mrs. Farley. “Did anything happen—and so soon?”
“No,” replied the coachman, “but George wants to know if you’d like to have him bring anything from the store. He says he’d like to buy something for you.”
“Oh!” and Mrs. Farley laughed. “Well, I don’t know that I need any groceries. But I suppose he wants to do an errand in the new cart. So tell him he may get a pound of loaf sugar. He and Mabel can feed the lumps to Tinkle.”
“Very well, I’ll tell him,” and, touching his hat, Patrick went back to George and Mabel.
“Well, I guess everything is alright,” thought Tinkle to himself as he trotted along in front of the pony cart, hauling George, Mabel and Patrick. “It’s a good deal easier than I thought, and my new iron shoes feel fine!”
So he trotted along merrily, and George and his sister, sitting in the pony cart, enjoyed their ride very much. George drove Tinkle along the streets, turning him now to the left, by pulling on the left rein, and again to the other side by pulling gently on the right rein.
“Am I doing all right, Patrick?” asked the little boy.
“Fine, George,” answered the coachman. “You drive as well as anybody.”
“I’ll let you take a turn soon, Mabel,” said George.
“Oh, I don’t want to—just yet,” replied the little girl. “I want to watch and see how you do it. Besides, I’d be afraid to drive where there are so many horses and wagons,” for they were on the main street of the city.
“You’ll soon get so you can do as well as George,” declared Patrick. “Tinkle is an easy pony to manage.”
As George and Mabel traveled on in their pony cart, they met several of their playmates who waved their hands to the Farley children.
“Oh, what a nice pony cart!” cried the boys and girls.
“I’ll give you a ride, some day,” promised George.