Written by Richard Barnum
“That’s fine!” cried George, as Tinkle, after having jumped over the stick, came trotting up to get the sugar. “Soon you’ll be as good as Dido, the dancing bear.”
“Well, I guess I did pretty well for a beginner,” thought Tinkle to himself, as he crunched the sugar in his strong white teeth. “Now I hope they will leave me alone, or else drive me hitched to the cart or ride on my back.”
But George and the coachman were not yet through with Tinkle. They wanted to be sure he understood how to do the trick. So they set up the stick again, and George held out more sugar. This time the pony knew what to do at once, and, with a bound, over the stick he went.
“Oh, I want Mabel to see this!” cried George. “Come on out!” he called to his sister. “Come on out and see Tinkle do a trick!”
Mabel was as much pleased as was her brother. She, too, held out the sugar and Tinkle came to her as he had to George, leaping over the stick. Tinkle would do almost anything for lumps of sugar.
“Well, this is enough for the first day,” said the coachman to the children. “We don’t want Tinkle to get tired. Go take him for a drive now, and to-morrow we can teach him other tricks.”
Off in the pony cart rode the two children. Half-way down the street they met Tommie and Nellie Hall, and invited them to have a drive.
“Did you see the trained bear?” asked Tommie of George. “A man was leading him past our house. He did a lot of tricks.”
“We’re going to teach our pony to do tricks like those,” cried Mabel.
“No! Really?” exclaimed Nellie, in surprise.
“Yes, we are,” added George. “He can do one trick already—jump over a stick,” and he told how Tinkle had been taught.
“I’d like to see him do that,” said Tommie. “But there’s one trick Dido the bear did that your pony can never do.”
“What is that?” Mabel asked.
“Climb a telegraph pole!” said Tommie with a laugh.
“That’s right,” admitted George. “Tinkle never could do that. But I don’t want him to. To-morrow we are going to teach him a new trick.”
The next day George went out to the stable to ask Patrick what trick it would be best next to teach the pony.
“Let us see if he has forgotten his first trick,” said the coachman. Once more the stick was laid across the boxes and, standing on the other side of it, George held out the sugar. Tinkle jumped over at once, higher than he had ever before gone, for, now that he knew jumping was what his little master wanted, the pony made up his mind to do his very best.
“Yes, he hasn’t forgotten that trick,” said Patrick. “Now we’ll teach him to make a bow.”
“How do you do that?” asked George.
“I will show you,” Patrick answered.
He put some soft straw on the ground in front of the pony. Then the coachman tied a rope around Tinkle’s left front leg. Standing off a little way, behind, and to one side of Tinkle, Patrick pulled gently on the rope, at the same time saying:
“Make a bow, Tinkle! Make a bow!”
Of course Tinkle did not know then what the words meant, but when he felt the pull on his leg from the rope it seemed as though his leg was being pulled from under him. And that is what Patrick was doing, only so gently that it did not hurt.
Then the coachman said again:
“Make a bow, Tinkle!”
The pony suddenly felt his leg slipping and as it bent he came down on one knee on the soft straw.
“Oh, he did make a bow!” cried George; and that is just what it looked like.
“Give him a lump of sugar!” said Patrick. “Then he’ll know he is to get a lump when he makes another bow.”
The coachman loosened his hold of the rope and Tinkle quickly scrambled to his feet. He was not in the least hurt, but he was a little confused.
“I wonder what they are trying to do to me?” he asked himself. But he was glad when he found George had another lump of sugar for him. “This part of it is all right, anyhow,” thought the pony.
Once again he heard Patrick call:
“Make a bow, Tinkle. Make a bow!” Again came that tug on the rope which pulled Tinkle’s leg from under him, so that he had to bend down and bow.
“That’s the way to do it!” cried Patrick. “More sugar for the pony, George!”
“Oh! Now I begin to understand!” said Tinkle to himself. “This is just like jumping over the stick—only different. Ah, I have it! These are the tricks Dido was telling me about. Now I know what they are doing it for. I am to be a trick pony! And maybe I’ll be in the circus with Tum Tum and Mappo.”
But you will have to wait a little while to find out if that part came true.
“Now we’ll try it again,” said the coachman as Tinkle got up and stood on the soft straw. “Make another bow, Tinkle!” he called.
The pony heard the word “bow,” he felt the gentle pull on the rope that was tied to his leg. This time he did not wait for his leg to be pulled from beneath him, but he bowed of his own accord, and then George gave him the sugar.
“He is beginning to know what we want of him,” said the coachman. “Now he can do two tricks.”
“And soon I can take him around the country and show him off,” cried George, in great delight.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” laughed Patrick. “I guess your father and mother wouldn’t like that. But you can have him do tricks at home here for your friends.”
Tinkle was a smart little pony and in a few days all George had to do was to say “Jump!” and Tinkle would jump over two or even three sticks laid across boxes. And when George said: “Make a bow!” Tinkle would kneel down almost as politely as some dancers I have seen.
“Are there any other tricks you can teach Tinkle?” asked George of the coachman one day.
“Oh, yes, plenty more,” was the answer. “We’ll try to get him to stand on his hind legs and walk around. It is pretty hard but I guess he can do it.”
Tinkle was longer in learning this trick than he had been in learning how to do the other two put together. Patrick and George were kind and patient, however. Patrick, with another man to help him, put Tinkle in front of a board laid across two water pails. They set Tinkle’s front feet on the board and then with Patrick at one end, and the man at the other, they lifted up the board with Tinkle’s feet resting on it and started to walk. And Tinkle walked too, because George stood in front of him with a nice red apple, and as the pony reached for it George kept backing away.
Of course Tinkle wanted the apple, so he kept on walking. Only, as his front feet were resting on the board, the pony could walk on his hind feet only, but he was soon doing this without knowing it. It took a little time to make him stand up on his hind legs without anything on which to rest his front feet, but after a bit he understood what was wanted of him. Then he remembered how he had seen horses in the green meadow, where he used to live, rear up on their hind legs in play sometimes.
“Why that’s just what I’m doing,” thought Tinkle, and then it came easier for him. He could soon walk half the length of the stable yard on his hind legs, with his forefeet held up in the air.
“That’s three tricks Tinkle can do,” said George in delight as the pony pranced around on his hind legs. “He will soon be able to join a circus.”
“But you won’t let him, will you?” asked Mabel. “You won’t let Tinkle go away, George, I like him too much.”
“And so do I,” answered her brother. “Indeed I won’t let Tinkle go away.”
But one day something happened to Tinkle. Mr. and Mrs. Farley with George and Mabel went on a visit to the country, to be gone three days. They did not take Tinkle with them as they had to travel on the train.
“But I guess he’ll be alright until we come home,” said George as he went out to the stable to bid his pet good-by.
“I’ll be here to watch him,” said Patrick.
Two days after the Farley family had gone away Patrick, who slept in rooms over the stable, had to go to the store for some salve for one of the horses that got a nail in his foot.
Patrick thought he would be gone only a few minutes, so he left Tinkle outside in the stable yard.
“I guess he will be alright until I come back,” said the coachman.
But it took longer to put up the salve than he had supposed, so he was nearly half an hour away from the barn. And there was no one in the house, for the cook and maid had also gone away on visits when the family left.
In that half hour something happened. Two men drove a big, empty moving van down the street past the Farley house. In the side-yard was an old-fashioned pump and, seeing it, one of the men said:
“Let’s stop off and get a drink. It’s a hot day and I’m thirsty.”
“I am too,” said the other man.
They stopped the van in a side street near the stable yard, and pumped some water for themselves. Tinkle walked over near the fence and looked at the men, for he was a bit lonesome.
“That’s a fine pony,” said one of the men, wiping off the drops of water from his mustache.
“He sure is,” agreed the other. “Look at him making a bow; would you!”
For just then Tinkle took it into his head to do one of his tricks. He had not done any in two days because George was away.
“Say, he’s smart!” exclaimed the biggest man, who had red hair.
“He is that. Look at him jump!” for Tinkle did his second trick then. He was showing off, you see.
The two men talked together in low voices. They looked toward the house and saw that it was closed. No one was about. Patrick was down at the drugstore and no one was near the stable.
“We could easily put him in the moving van,” said the red-haired man. “He isn’t heavy.”
“But what would we do with him after we took him?” asked the shorter of the two men.
“Why, a trick pony like him is worth money. We could sell him for a hundred dollars, maybe. Let’s take him. No one will see us.”
Of course it was not right for the men to plan to take Tinkle away, but they did, just the same.
“Come here, pony!” called one of the men, and he whistled. Tinkle came closer, for George had taught him to come at the sound of a whistle to get a lump of sugar.
But the men had no sugar for Tinkle. Instead they opened the gate to the stable yard, and led Tinkle out by his mane. The pony went along willingly enough, for he was not afraid of men. None of them had ever hurt him, so he had no reason to be afraid.
“Lead him right out to the van,” said the red-haired man, “and we’ll toss him in. No one will see him in there.”
Before Tinkle knew what was happening he was led out of the yard, to the side street, and suddenly the two men lifted him up and put him right inside the big empty moving van, which could easily have held two or three big horses, to say nothing of several ponies as small as Tinkle.
Tinkle was not much bigger than a very big dog, and the men, being strong (for they could lift a piano) had no trouble in lifting the pony from the ground. Into the van he went, and he fell down, but, as it happened, there was a pile of soft bags there so he was not hurt.
But he was frightened when the men banged shut the big end doors. Then Tinkle felt himself being taken away. He was closed up inside the dark wagon and could see nothing.