Written by Richard Barnum
“What does all this mean?” thought Tinkle to himself as he got up off the pile of bags in the moving van, and tried to stand. But he found that the motion of the big wagon, as it was rapidly driven away, toppled him about so that it was easier to lie down than to stay on his feet.
So Tinkle stretched out on the bags and tried to think what it all meant. His eyes were getting used to the dark now, and he could see, dimly, that he was in some place like his box stall. Only it was not as nice, and Tinkle could not smell any sweet hay or oats.
“I wonder if they can be taking me where George is?” thought Tinkle, for he had greatly missed the little boy and his sister who were accustomed to ride him or drive him about.
On and on went the moving van with Tinkle locked inside. The horses pulling the big wagon of course did not know they were taking a little pony away from his home. Even if they had known there was nothing they could have done. Poor Tinkle felt very sad and lonely. It was the first time anything like this had ever happened to him.
Up on the seat the two men were talking.
“Well, we got that trick pony all right,” said the red-haired one.
“Yes, but if the folks who own him find out we have him they’ll have us arrested,” said the short man.
“Oh, they’ll never find out. No one saw us take him, nobody but us knows he’s in this van and we’ll soon be far enough away. We can make money on this pony.”
On and on the moving van rumbled, farther and farther away, and pretty soon Tinkle, locked inside, began to feel hungry. He got up, intending to go about looking for something to eat. But the van tossed and tilted about so on the rough road that Tinkle was thrown against the side and bruised.
“I guess I had better stay lying down,” he said. “But I am very thirsty!”
It was hot, shut up inside the big wagon, and Tinkle thought longingly of the trough of cool drinking water in the stable yard and wished he were back there.
The men who had taken Tinkle away made the horses drawing the van hurry along, so they were soon out of the city where the Farleys lived. They drove along a country road and, just as night was coming on, they came to another city where they had their stable, and where they kept the van.
“Well, let’s see how the pony stood the trip,” said the red-haired man as he opened the big end doors.
“He seems to be alright,” replied the other. He held up a lantern and looked inside. Tinkle got up from his bed on the old bags. He saw the open doors and he smelled hay and oats, though the smell was not as good as that which came from his stable at home.
“Lift him out, and we’ll put him in one of the stalls,” said the red-haired man.
But Tinkle did not wait to be lifted out. He knew how to jump, and, giving a leap, he was quickly on the ground. Then, as he did not like the place where he was, nor the men who had taken him from his nice home, Tinkle tried to run away.
But the men were too quick for him. One of them caught him by the mane and the other by the nose.
“Look out! He’s a lively chap!” cried the short man. “He wants to get away.”
“Yes. We must put a halter on him and tie him in the stall,” said the other.
Tinkle again tried hard to get away, but could not. If he had been a big, strong horse he might have broken loose from the men. But, as I have said, he was not much bigger than a large Newfoundland dog. The men easily held him and led him into the barn.
This stable was not at all like the nice place in which Tinkle had lived when he was the pet of George. The straw on the floor was not clean, and when Tinkle was given a pail of water, after he had been tied in the stall, the water was not clean, either. Still Tinkle was so thirsty that he drank it. Then he felt a little better. But oh! how he did want his own, nice, clean box stall.
For now he found himself in an ordinary stall, such as the other horses had. The manger was too high for him to eat from, but one of the men brought a low box and put some hay in it.
“There! he can eat out of that I guess,” said the man. “We’ll likely sell him in a couple of days if we can find someone to buy him. He ought to bring in some money if he can do tricks.”
Poor Tinkle did not understand or pay much attention to this talk. He was too hungry, and, though the hay was not as sweet as that he got at home, still he munched it. Suddenly he heard a voice speaking in a language he understood.
“Hello in there!” was called to him. “Are you a new horse?”
“I’m a pony,” was the answer Tinkle made. “Who are you, if you please?”
“Ha! You’re polite, anyhow, which is more than I can say of some of the horses in this stable,” went on the voice. “Where did you come from, anyhow?”
“I belong to a boy named George,” answered Tinkle. “To George and his sister Mabel. I don’t know where I am, nor why I was brought here. I didn’t want to come. I’d rather be back in my own home.”
“Oh, ho!” exclaimed the voice, and by the light of a lantern hanging in the stable Tinkle could see that it was a horse in the next stall that was speaking to him. “Oh, ho! If you stay here long you’ll find there are lots of things you don’t want to do. I don’t want to pull a heavy moving van about the streets all day, but I have to,” said the horse, and he gave something like a groan.
“Do all the horses here do that?” asked Tinkle, who felt very sad.
“Most of us,” answered his new friend. “Some horses haul big wagons loaded with hay and feed, and the men don’t give us any too much to eat, either. Sometimes, when I’m drawing a load of hay, I’m so hungry I could just eat nearly all that is piled on the wagon. You won’t like it here one bit.”
“Oh, what’s the use of making trouble?” asked a horse in the stall on the other side of Tinkle. “He’s here, and he’ll have to stay.”
“Yes, I guess he will,” agreed the first horse. “But I don’t see what kind of work he can do. He isn’t big enough to be hitched up with any of us, and, if he was, he couldn’t pull the smallest moving van the men have.”
“I can pull a pony cart!” said Tinkle who did not like the other horses to think he was of no use.
“Ha! Pony cart!” exclaimed one horse whose hide was covered in mud. “You’ll find no pony carts around here! Dump carts, more likely. I’ve been hauling dirt in dump carts all day long, until I’m so tired I can hardly stand. And there’s a big sore spot on my back, too!”
“I’m sorry about that,” said Tinkle kindly. “If Patrick were here he’d put something on it to make it all better.”
“Who’s Patrick?” asked the dirt-cart horse. “Is he one of us?”
“Patrick is the coachman who taught me to do tricks for George, the little boy,” answered Tinkle, and he felt rather proud as he said this.
“Tricks, is it?” laughed the horse who had first spoken. “You’ll have no time for tricks here. You must belong in a circus. Tricks indeed!”
“I wish I could go to a circus!” said Tinkle eagerly. “I’ve heard about Tum Tum, the jolly elephant. He is in the circus.”
“Well, eat your supper and be thankful for what you have,” said the dump-cart horse. “I hope they don’t work me so hard to-morrow. If they do I’ll try to run away, though that isn’t much use,” and the horse kept on with his supper of hay.
Tinkle was very sad and lonely. It was not at all nice in the stable where he was tied. It was dirty, and it did not smell good. The horses around him, though kindly, were poor, hard-working animals, and were not like the sleek Prince and other horses in Mr. Farley’s stable. The men who owned the work horses seldom took the time to use the curry comb or brush on them. If a horse fell down in the dirt, as they often did from pulling too heavy loads, the dirt stayed on until it dried and blew off.
For several days Tinkle was kept tied in the stable. The men could not use him on any of their heavy wagons and there was no time for him to do his tricks, and no pony cart for him to ride children about in. Poor Tinkle felt very bad, and many, many times he wished himself back in his old home.
As best he could, in his stall, Tinkle practiced the tricks he had learned from George and Patrick. He bowed and he did a little jumping, but not much, as his stall was too small. And one day, when Tinkle was practicing his bowing trick, the red-haired man suddenly happened to come into the stable.
“Oh, ho!” he cried. “I forgot about that pony doing tricks! We must try to sell him and get the money. I wonder who would buy him?”
“I know,” said the other man, coming into the stable just then.
“Who would?” asked the red-haired man.
“The circus people,” was the answer. “The big circus which came to the city to-day. I have been down on the circus lot just now with a load of hay for the elephants. I saw some little ponies there, and I asked one of the circus men if they ever bought extra ones. He said they did sometimes, and he said they needed a new trick pony just now as one of theirs is sick.”
“That may be just the chance we’re looking for!” cried the red-haired man.
“Good,” said the other. “We’ll take this pony to the circus and sell him.”
Through the city streets one of the men led Tinkle and before long the pony heard music playing. He looked up and saw the big white tents and the gay fluttering flags.
“Oh, this must be the circus Dido, the dancing bear, told me about,” Tinkle said to himself. “I wonder if I shall meet Tum Tum, the jolly elephant?”
“Here’s the trick pony my partner was telling you about,” announced the red-haired man to a man who came out of a tent where many ponies and horses were eating their dinners.
“Can he do any tricks?” asked the circus man.
“Well, I’ve seen him bow and jump. I don’t know what else he can do.”
“I’ll soon find out,” stated the circus man. “He looks like a good pony. I’ll buy him off you.”
So after some talk, the money was paid over and then Tinkle belonged to the circus.
“I wonder what will happen to me now,” thought Tinkle, and very many strange things were to happen. And I am going to tell you all about them.