Friday, March 27, 2009
Chapter 2: A New Friend
The next morning, Cassie awoke to someone pulling her out of bed. "Git' up! Now! Git to work now or it's whippin'! Get to work now, you little twirt!"
"Okay, okay, I'm coming..." she said, rubbing her eyes. She was use to them being that mean to her.
During the night, Cassie's mother had moved to another spot to sleep so they would not hurt her in the morning.
Cassie thought she should soon wake her, but, then she thought: Well, she's pregnant and she needs all the rest she can get. But, I doubt she will for long; they'll make her any moment.
The first job of the day was to bring Generel Vicingson, the manager, his beakfast.
Cassie just gazed at the food she brought him, her mouth watering.
When she came back, she got to eat her own breakfast, mush. Her mother was there, hvaing it all ready for her.
"Thank you." she said.
"Oh, nothing it is!" and they began to eat the solid mush.
The next job of the day was the cleaning. Cassie went inside Generel Vicingson's huge fancy white house.
She swept the floor, dusted the shelves, waxed his tea kettle and tea cups, scrubbed the window, and the dirdiest job of all...dusting in the attic. It was full of dust and cobwebs all over the place! But Cassie had tio do it every 4 days.
When all the cleaning was done, she went back to her mother.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Not too good, but thank you." she answered, gardening. That was her job.
"Here, let me help you." said Cassie, starting to pull weeds out of the ground.
"Oh, honey! You're so sweet! Thank you so much!"
"It's nothing at all compared to what you suffer." Then her mother couldn't say anything. When they were done gardening, it was time for dinner. They basicially had nothing to eat. But just then, a girl came walking toward them.
"Hello." she said, "I brought you some food. I know you must be hungry." The girl handed them two rolls and scraps of meat. They both could not believe their eyes.
"Thank you ever so much! You are only too kind! What is your name?" her mother exclaimed, taking the food.
"You are only too welcome. My nmae is Stella. You?" she replied, watching them gobble down the food she gave them.
"I am so sorry. I have not said anything. My name is Cassie. And this here is my mother."
"I see. It's fine. I know how hungry you are." Stella smiled.
"Are you a slave too?" she then asked.
"Oh, no. It's just that sometimes my mother lets me go here and help the slaves."
"Oh, how nice! Um, Stella?"
"Could I please talk to you alone a minute?"
"Sure." and the two girls walked away together.
"Do you suppose you have any medical that could help my mom have the baby?"
"Yes! Indeed I do! Your mother's having a baby?"
"Yes! We need all the help we can get!" cried Cassie, she was so happy. "But, make it a surprise for moter. You can bring us some, right?"
"Yes, of course!"
"Excellent!" Cassie so hoped the medical would work and no one noticed Stella helping them.
Now Cassie knew that they were friends.
"Cassie! Come! It's suppertime break!" Cassie's mother called.
"Coming!" Cassie called, running toward her mother.
Cassie was a twelve-year-old slave. She hated being a slave, of course. But there was no way of escaping it. Her mother, whose name was Addy, was pregnant. So it it was very hard for her to be a slave. Cassie tried the best she could to help her. She was so very excited for the baby, for she was an only child.
Cassie just hated the burning feeling she always got on her back from the whip. She always dreamed of being free but it never happened.
While her mother worked, she always calasped. She always wished she could rest, but that only meant more whipping.
Cassie felt so bad for her mother. Being a slave while pregnant was such a bad thing. But what could Cassie do? She always wished there was at least something.
The worst Cassie hated to think about was ahen her mother had the baby, she might die. They had nothing to make her feel better, no doctors or nurses, and she was a slave. Caassie triednot to think about it, but she couldn't help it. She hated slavery so much.
That night, Cassie cried. There was nothing she could do but cry. Her mother was about to be dead. She was exausted, cold, and hungry. Every part of her hurt. She couldn't help but burst into a fit of crying. Her mother managed to whisper in a kind, soothing, motherly tone, ""Shh, honey...what's bothering you? Just tell me and I can help you."
"Oh, Mama! You are sure to die! I'm just so exausted! And..and...cold and hungry...everything's just so horried!" Cassie burst out crying.
"Deary, it's okay. Don't say that. Everything's gonna be okay. Shh, alright, alright..."
"No! Everyting's gonna be horrible! And you know that!"
"I'm telling you, everyting's gonna be horrible!"
"Cassie! That's enough. If you keep on thinking and worrying about that everything's sue to be horrible. Never give up hope. I know your my strong, girl, Cassie...and, I know that you will be strong even if or when I die. Now stop crying this instant."
"I'm sorry," said Cassie, sniffing, "I just hate slavery Why do people have to be so mean? We don't have to be salves, the just...oh!" her mother heaved a sigh.
"Alright. But I think we both ought to be resting now huh?"
"Yeah." she answered, yawning. Then they both laid their heads on the itchy hay, pulling the blanket over themselves. If anyone asked Cassie what she hated the most, she would answere, "Slavery."
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Chapter Seven: Rainy Saturday
It had been raining for days. The mud was thick and the grass slippery. It was not a good day for riding, but of course, the weather did not stop Kit.
She was out in the ring, wearing her cow-boy hat pulled low, a too tight sweatshirt, and riding Indigo. Her jeans were spattered with mud and her boots just in the edge of the slippery stirrups.
As usual, she locked in her own world, seeing only the horse and the ring. Nobody else was in the yard. Josh was in the barn cleaning his saddle, and Becca and Maggie were in the hayloft playing card games. Julia and Martha were mucking stalls, and Jen was checking on all the pastures. The creek was close to flooding due to all the rain, and she wanted all the horses in the near fields.
Even though the morning was wet and cool, both Indigo and Kit were in a sweat. Both of them were working hard, but they were deathly quiet, except for a few grunts from Indigo, or a quick command from Kit. But Kit didn't say much, because she knew horses listen better to actions then to words.
Back and forth, up and down, gallop, weaving the barrels, trying little jumps. Kit pulled her grubby hat lower, and Indigo listened to her happy words of praise.
After awhile longer, Kit stopped for a break. She dismounted, leading Indigo to the water trough. She flicked the lather from his neck and sides, and laughed.
"Man, you're good!" she said, dipping her blistered hands into the cool water, Kit never wore gloves. "You're so fast and smart!"
Indigo grunted, and began to drink heartily. "But it's true though!" said Kit "You wild thing!" She fingered his mane, now long and glossy. "I could ride you forever and ever and never get tired of it." she whispered, laying her head on his neck.
The sudden sound of footsteps running, made her look up, Indigo too raised his head from the trough, water dribbling down his nose.
It was Josh. "Kit!" he called "Kit, Jen needs you in the barn right now!"
"Why?" asked Kit, grabbing hold of the reins.
"It's Bill. He's got the colic again. Really bad too."
Kit's eyes flashed with concern.
"Here, I'll take Indigo." said Josh, reaching for the reins "Just hurry! Jen needs you now."
Kit nodded, slipped the reins into Josh's hands, and ducked under the fence, running to the barn.
Bill did have the colic badly. The poor horse, that used to be so strong, was nothing but skin and bones. He lay on the floor of his stall, motionless.. Jen was there, kneeling in the wood shavings, massaging his belly. Julia and Martha stood watching, clearly very nervous. Maggie was holding Becca close in the tack room. Becca was crying.
Kit entered the stall. "I'm here." she whispered to Jen. Jen looked up sadly. "What do you want me to do, Jen?" asked Kit
"There's nothing we can do." said Jen painfully
"No! What? No! There's got to be something we can do! Can't we..."
"He's old, Kit. Bill's time has come."
Kit looked wildly about the stall. Jen had tears in her eyes, as did Julia. Martha was clutching a pitch-fork so hard her knuckles were white.
Josh came in the barn leading Indigo, once Indigo was put away in his stall and brushed, Josh joined the sad group.
Kit gently scooped up Bill's great head, and cradled it in her arms. Kit wasn't crying, she showed no emotion. Kit never showed a great emotion over anything that pained her. Kit held Bill's head up to her chest, her dark hair falling on his white fur. She whispered many things to him, and pet his nose.
She didn't let go of him until he died.
When Bill took his last breath Julia began to cry, she was at once joined by Martha and Jen. Maggie too, began to sniffle. Josh silently got up and left the barn, going out into the driving rain.
Kit gave Bill one last kiss, gave a encouraging glace to the three sad women, got up, and left the stall. On the way out she gave a quick hug to Maggie, patted Becca on the back, then went outside.
Once Jen dried her tears, she got to work finding a place to bury Bill. Nobody noticed Kit had left until nearly an hour had passed. Maggie noticed first. The grown-ups were all busy, but she found Josh, and together the two of them went looking for Kit.
They spotted her in the cart ponies' pen. she had her arms wrapped around a pony's neck and was sobbing.
"Shhh, let's leave her alone." said Maggie, knowing Kit would not like to be caught crying. "She'll come back when she she's ready." Josh nodded in agreement.
And Kit did come back later, to help bury Old Bill in a far off pasture. She showed no emotion as she took one last look at Bill.
But the image of Kit crying, and clinging onto the pony never left the minds of Maggie and Josh.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
It was the middle of July, hot and rainless. the sun shone high in the the sky, baking the ground, and burning the grass. The horses stood listless, trying to avoid the awful heat.
Today was Saturday. It was the day Kit was to ride Indigo. She and Jen both agreed he was ready, and Kit, of course, was always ready for a challenge like this.
she stood in the barn stroking the little horse and feeding him carrots she had pulled up from the back garden. She whispered to him and kissed his velvet nose. He just snorted, and sniffed her raggy jean pockets, hoping to find more carrots.
"What are you doing, Kit?" asked a young voice from inside the doorway. It was Becca. Maggie was there also, shielding her eyes from the hot sun.
"Oh, I'm just getting ready to ride indigo." replied Kit "I just wanted to talk with him a bit before I try to though. It's so much easier to ride a relaxed horse!"
Becca gasped. "He's gonna buck you into the next county!" she said seriously, sucking her thumb.
"Is he now?"
"Yup. I'm sure."
"Oh Becca!" cried Maggie, laughing, "The next county is pretty far!" Then, throwing Kit a smile, she said, "Indigo will probably just buck into the next town."
Kit sighed and rolled her eyes. "Does nobody believe in me?" she asked laughing.
"Yeah, I think you'll do it." said Josh, coming in, leading a hot Rapido behind him "You prove us all wrong every time. Usually making us all look pretty foolish!" he added with a laugh. "You can probably stay on."
"Probably?" asked Kit "Just what I though! Nobody really believes in me!"
"Can I watch?" asked Becca, pushing her light hair away from her well-tanned face. "Please?"
"Sure!" replied Kit, reaching for her woolen blanket, "Just as long as you don't get too close, ok?"
"Yeah! So when you fall off, you won't fall on me!" cried Becca
When Indigo was ready, Kit grabbed the reins and led him out into the sunny yard, where Martha, Julia, and Jen, were talking.
"I'm ready!" said Kit "You want me in the round-pen, right?"
"Yup." said Jen, getting up, and heading over to the large pen. She swung open the heavy metal door and waited for them to enter.
Kit turned to Indigo, and gave him a gentle pull with the reins. Indigo stepped forward, and they walked smoothly into the round-pen. They stood there for a minute, Kit focusing on what she had to do, and Indigo eagerly awaiting whatever she had in mind.
Everyone else climbed up the metal rails of the pen, and hung on the sides of it watching.
Kit laid her hands on his saddled back, he didn't care. kit pulled her foot into the stirrup, he turned his head. "Easy. easy. Easy now." she whispered, reaching for the front of the saddle. Then, smoothly, and ever so gracefully, Kit pulled herself up onto Indigo's back, and slipped neatly into the little English saddle.
Indigo flinched, and laid his ears back. Kit gathered up the long braided reins, and slipped her boots into the stirrups.
Indigo stood still, as if thinking about how he should react.
Kit whispered something to him, something soft, and pet his strong neck. He shifted his weight and lifted his head, then snorted loudly.
"Come on, Indigo, walk on." she asked Indigo turned his head, trying to look at Kit. Everyone who was watching, looked quietly upon the horse and rider. Could Kit really have done it?
Indigo then put his hoof forward and took a step. "Good boy!" He took a few more. "Yes, Indigo! Yes!"
The small group watched in awe. Kit cast them all one of her smiles, as if to kindly say, "I told you so!"
"Way to go, cow-girl!" cried Maggie, as Indigo walked about the ring.
Becca just sucked her thumb, watching with admiration. "She did it, Josh." she said, tugging on his shirt "She really did it."
"I know. It's really something isn't it?"
The rest of the afternoon Kit worked with Indigo. Never once did he buck or rear. The next day was even better. And it wasn't too long before Indigo was trotting around and around in the pen. And, after a little while longer, he let Josh ride him, and then Jen, he probably would have let Maggie ride him too, but she didn't dare try.
But there was no doubt who is his favorite rider was. Kit was his best friend.
The second she came walking into the driveway every morning, he would come galloping up to the gate, whinnying and prancing about. Kit could never sneak past Indigo's watchful eyes and ears. Kit was "his girl" and she knew it. It was clear she loved the little horse as much as he loved her.
Lauren Wellch stopped by soon after Indigo was tamed again. She couldn't even recognize him.
"And you did it all by yourself?" she asked Kit in amazement
"Yeah, just about." answered Kit
"And how old are you?"
Lauren shook her head in astonishment.
"There's nothing I can't do with him now." said Kit honestly "The possibilities are endless. He's sweet. Real sweet."
Lauren was at a loss of words. "Well, whatever you're doing, keep doing it!" she paused "You know, Kit, what you just did with Indigo, retraining him, people pay money for that, a lot of money."
Kit laughed. "I'm fourteen!"
"I know, but that's something to think about in the future."
"I'll keep it in mind, ma'am." said Kit, stroking Indigo's neck.
"Do you mind if I ride him real quick? Just to see what he's like?" asked Lauren "He wouldn't mind, would he?"
"Not at all! Go right ahead!" said Kit, handing over the reins.
Indigo behaved like a perfect angel for Lauren, even trotting and cantering. Lauren soon returned after a few laps around the barn-yard.
"Beautiful!" said Lauren, dismounting, "I must admit, I envy you for owning such a wonderful horse! And to think I once considered putting him down!"
"He's not mine." sighed Kit "He's all Jen's."
"Oh! Really?" asked Lauren, clearly puzzled "Just the way he acts around you, and you with him, it all looked like he was yours."
Kit nodded sadly. "Yeah, I know."
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Kit kept her promise and came extra early, and after church on Sundays. Everyone had something to say about how to gentle Indigo, but Kit had her own plan. And it was nothing fancy.
All she did was spend time with him. The first week Indigo was kept in a closed off pasture by himself. Kit kept his water bucket full and brought him a slice of hay every afternoon, then perched up on the gate and watched him.
At first, Indigo refused to go anywhere near the side of the gate Kit was on, but after a few days Kit took to sitting right by his hay and water, then he had to get close to her, and he did. Cautiously. But just the same he was standing right next to Kit.
After a few more days Kit took to talking to Indigo, and walking about his pasture, Indigo didn't seem to care. Kit let this go on for awhile, and slowly, during those cheery spring days, they got to know each other.
"He's learning to trust again." said Kit to Jen "Just you see, I'll get him yet."
Though it was taking awhile for the little horse to heal on the inside, on the outside he was flourishing. Kit, with Jen and Julia's help, had made up a special diet for the little horse, and it was doing wonders.
"He needs a good grooming." remarked Julia one morning
"I know." sighed Kit "But he still won't let me lay a finger on him."
"Don't worry." answered Julia, "That'll soon change. Just you wait."
And it did change. It wasn't long before Kit was rubbing his nose, brushing his mane, and stroking his strong back. Though it had taken awhile. Indigo was not quick to trust anyone right away, and he certainly had a strong hate for humans. He reared and bucked and kicked and squealed. If Kit had not been such an expert, she would have been badly hurt weeks ago. But she was smart, and knew just how to act with a horse like him. So it really was only a matter of time before he learned that Kit was not going to give up because of his silly fights.
Kit spent every day with Indigo, and her work was really showing. Jen was very pleased with how it was all going, even though the horse was far from being ridden, and nobody could go near him but Kit. He trusted Kit and Kit alone.
After a few more, long, work-filled, weeks, the day had come for Indigo to get tacked up. Not to be ridden, but just to try a saddle and bridal on, and let him get used to wearing such things. Kit was out trying to catch the wild little horse, while Jen and Martha watched.
Kit raced after him, with a halter and lead rope wrapped over her shoulder, he saw this and kicked up his hooves and galloped away. Kit was laughing and pretending to get angry. Indigo was just teasing, he was not afraid of Kit or his halter now. But he did like a good game of chase.
Jen and Martha smiled, and tried to hold back laughter. "Those two are quite a pair!" cried Martha "Who would have known there was such a spirit in that horse? Aren't you glad you saved him?"
"Yes." agreed Jen "I am. There's still a long way to go, but I know he and Kit will make it through. Trust me, she'll be up and on his back before you know it."
"And she won't just be riding him" said Martha with a smile "She'll be galloping."
Indigo finally gave in, and let Kit toss the rope around his neck and lead him through the gate. She forced him to walk smartly at her side and took him into the barn, where she tied him to the cross-ties. There she began a long and thorough grooming.
Indigo was a beautiful horse now. His coat was a fiery red-orange, and his mane and tail were blue-black. He had a perfect white diamond in between his dark eyes and neat little hooves.
Kit found her woolen bareback pad and Rapido's hacamore, and, with a lot coaxing, she got them on.
The rest of the morning was spent getting Indigo used to walking with them all on.
"I want to ride him now." said Kit to Jen "He looks good." She pointed to his long, now well muscled legs, "He's going to be fast."
Jen nodded. "Wait awhile longer before jumping in the saddle," she said "You know as well as I do that he's not quite ready yet."
"I know." said Kit "But he's so close. So very close! Can I ride him this Saturday?"
"Maybe." said Jen with a smile
"We'll have to wait and see."
Kit loved working with Indigo, but it was not always easy. Other kids, Jen knew, wouldn't have even begun, and they certainly would have quit after the bitten fingers, extra hours of work, and sudden horse temper tantrums. Kit had given up a lot those last few weeks, and there was still a lot to be done. Jen knew she could count on Kit all the way. Kit wouldn't stop until all the work was done, and done well.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The drive was a long one, and Mary realized with a sigh that their journey was not yet over. The conversation lagged as eyelids slowly drooped to a close and sweet sleep fell on the weary travels. Mrs. Benison, Edmund, and even their grandmother drifted off into a deep sleep, but slumber could not find and relieve Mary, whose mind still flowed with unanswered and perhaps unanswerable questions.
She stared out the car window. Slowly, the city lights disappeared, and different scenery replaced the familiar sight of tall buildings and busy streets. Tall, leafy trees and mountainy terrain flashed by the car window, until slowly the forest seemed to melt away into long, slopping fields and meadows.
Finally, Mary’s grandmother awoke, rubbing her tired eyes and stretching.
“Sarah, Sarah,” she said, nudging her daughter awake. “We’re almost there.”
Mrs. Benison, yawning, looked around a little bewilderedly. “Oh, good. How much longer?” she asked, giving her mother a tired smile.
“Oh, only about fifteen minutes. We have beds set up in the guest rooms for tonight. I didn’t think you’d want to stay in the cottage without having a chance to settle into it a bit first, getting a look around, you know?”
“Oh, great, Mom. That’s perfect, thank you.”
With a feeling of uncertainty and apprehension, Mary stared through the car window as they pulled to a stop in front of a large wooden farmstead. It was two stories high and, to Mary's eyes, huge. There were lights on inside, and she wondered who could be there at this hour. She prayed silently that there were not a hundred aunts and uncles waiting to greet them.
Her grandfather dispelled her worry bewilderment by saying offhandedly, “Elijah’s staying with us right now, Sarah. H’s really looking forward to seeing you again.”
“Elijah? Oh wonderful! Do you remember him, Mary? You saw him last time Grandma and Grandpa visited for Christmas! He’s right around your age.”
Mary remembered vaguely a small, irritating boy with bright red hair and a passion for mischief. She had been eight and so had he, but that, she was sure, had been their only similarity.
As they dragged their tired bodies up the steps and through the front door, the noise of loud, earsplitting music reached their ears.
“That’s Elijah,” their grandma laughed, rolling her eyes. “He was supposed to clean his room – it was quite the pigsty this morning, let me tell you – but somehow I doubt that it got done.”
“Elijah! Elijah!” the shrill voice of their grandmother called, as she wearily settled down into the first chair they came to, a rickety, old stool in the kitchen. Pounding footsteps were heard on the stairs, and a tall boy hurtled into the kitchen.
Mary was right; he did have red hair, though it was now more auburn than bright orange, and on his face was an impish smile, though somehow it looked gallant and winning on his dark face. But he was tall, and had startling blue eyes and tanned, muscular arms. He grinned at the small assembly of people gathered in the kitchen, and flopped into a cushioned chair leaning against the wall.
“Hi all, remember me?” the blithesome individual laughed, his blue eyes twinkling.
“Elijah,” his grandmother scolded, “Sit up straight and act like a gentleman!”
“Sorry,” he said penitently, sending a big wink in Edmund’s direction. “Hello,” he said, crouching down in front of him, “My name’s Elijah. I doubt you remember me though, you were only three when I visited!”
“I think I remember you,” Edmund, who seemed to have taken an immediate liking to this cheery and jocular cousin of his, replied confidently. “You put a spider in Mary’s hair and hid her favorite doll in the azalea bushes.”
Laughing heartily, Elijah turned to Mary with a mischievous smile. “I did, didn’t I? And if I remember correctly, I never adequately apologized for the said transgressions. If you will allow me,” and he bowed gallantly, “I will make amend as I best I can for that incivility tomorrow.”
Almost against her will Mary found her self laughing. With a gracious curtsy, she accepted his offer.
“And now,” their grandmother smiled, I think you all really must go to bed and get some rest. You’re almost fainting from lack of sleep!”
Later, snuggly tucked under a light blanket in a small, pretty quest room on the second storey, Mary pondered the day’s events. Edmund and her mother were sharing the room next to hers, and for a few minutes she had heard Edmund’s happy chatter before he drifted off to sleep. She wondered if her mother was still awake.
She liked Elijah. He seemed friendly and nice. He’s my cousin, she thought happily. She liked the idea of having cousins. Maybe, she pondered, maybe I’m going to like it here. She couldn’t help but laugh a little at her fickleness. Only an hour ago I hated everything about moving here, and now…
She lay in silence for a few moments longer, thinking of her father. How she wished she could talk to him. She wanted so badly to hear his voice, to have him there to speak his words of wisdom to her, to understand her like no one else could. Her heart ached with a longing too great to bear. Tears filled up in her eyes. She angrily brushed them away. Why do I always have to be so weak? she thought angrily. Why can’t I be like Mother? She’s so brave… She doesn’t even miss him. A sob escaped Mary’s throat, and tears rolled down her cheeks. Doesn’t even miss him…
Friday, March 13, 2009
Chapter Four: Meet Indigo
Kit and Maggie lay in the shade of the barn, listening to the radio and relaxing. All the morning chores had been done, and now the only thing left to do was enjoy the beautiful day.
"Mmmmm, don't you love this song?" asked Kit, staring at the blue sky, and tapping her fingers to the beat. A gentle rock song was pouring out of the radio.
"Yeah, sure." answered Maggie, who wasn't really listening. She didn't love music the way Kit did.
"You're not really listening, are you?" asked Kit sitting up.
Maggie pushed her shaggy blond hair out of her eyes, and giggled. "No, not really!"
"Well you should! I think you'd like it, listen, see, he's singing about horses, it's really..."
But a pickup truck pulled into the driveway, cutting her off. Behind the truck was a small horse trailer.
"Hey!" called Kit, jumping to her feet, "What's that all about? We aren't expecting a new horse are we?"
"I don't think so." answered Maggie "There's only one spare stall left. Mom says we're just about all full, can't take in another very easily."
Jen, who heard the truck pull in, at once appeared in the yard.
"Howdy there, Jen!" called a woman stepping out of the cab. "How are you?"
It was Lauren Wellch, a horse-breeder who lived just a ways down the road.
"Lauren! It's good to see you!" cried Jen, "I'm good, thanks, you?"
"Oh alright." answered Lauren "Busy summer as usual."
"Every year it gets a little harder." said Lauren "Especially with the market for horses so unpredictable."
"I know." said Jen grimly "The only things for sure in life are death and taxes." she shook her head. "Anyway, what brings you up? I haven't seen you since the fair last fall! Time sure does fly."
"Well" said Lauren, "I came to ask a big favor of you."
"What?" asked Jen, wondering what it could be. Most likely she needed her tractor for the weekend, or some help with the haying.
"Did you ever hear about Rick Bowing?" asked Lauren
Jen frowned. "The name sure is familiar."
"Yeah, had a farm not too far from here, a way up North, he just passed away a few weeks ago. A fine man, but he left without a Will." she sighed "So all his horses, he had three, got dumped on me. I was able to sell of two of them, fine Morgan mares, but the third one, well, I can't even seem to give him away. Nobody will take him, not even for free!"
Jen laughed. "Why not?"
"He's a wild thing, Jen. Abused. Mistreated. Weak. He hates all people. And I mean he hates them! Rick took him in as a rescue, but died not two weeks after. This horse, he's a real mess. I can't do anything with him."
"That's awful." said Jen sadly, she hated to hear of good animals mistreated, "But how does this all tie in with me?"
"You're the only person I haven't asked yet, do you want him, Jen? I don't suppose you do."
Jen frowned. "What are you planning to do if nobody takes him in?"
"To be honest, Jen, I'm planning on putting him down, if I can't find him a good and steady home. He's a disaster. I don't have the time or money for a horse like that."
Jen nodded. "I'm not much better off, Lauren."
"I know, Jen. I know. I don't want to have to put him down, it's not his fault he was mistreated, but it would take a real miracle to fix him."
Kit and Maggie had been listening in the whole time from the front steps. They both at once shared a look. And Kit flew off the steps to the driveway. "Jen!" she pleaded.
"What is it, Kit?"
"Can't we take him? Please?"
"Oh, Kit, I don't know..."
Kit's eyes flashed with fear. "I can't stand the thought of a poor little horse dying just because some human ruined him! Please, Jan! Can't we take him?" she paused "I'd do all the work, I'd try to train him again. I promise."
Jen shook her head. "Kit, it's not as easy as you think."
But Kit seemed perfectly serious about it all. "I'd come early every day to take care of him. Even on Sundays, I'd come right after Church."
"Is this the Kit I've heard so much about?" asked Lauren.
"Yes, yes it is." said Jen, almost proudly, taking a look at the eager little girl. "Alright, alright, we'll take a look at him, Lauren." she cast Kit a glance, "Just a look, mind you. We'll see what we're dealing with, then I'll decide."
Kit grinned, and followed Lauren to the back of the trailer.
The horse, a little gelding, was a sorry sight. He was nothing but skin and bones, and his coat, which must have been once a very beautiful red, was matted and patchy. His black mane had been cropped short to his neck, and his tail was a tangle.
The horse was short, not much bigger then a pony, though he had very long legs.
"Awwwww." said Kit quietly "Poor thing."
"Yes, I know." said Lauren sadly
"How old is he?" asked Jen
"Almost ten. Young eh? He was raised roughly, that's for sure." she sighed "It'll only make it even harder to try and fix."
"Yes." agreed Jen "Do you have any idea what breeds he has in him?"
"Not a clue." said Lauren "Nobody knows anything about him really. He's a sickly little thing though."
Kit slowly stretched out her hand to the small horse, trying to pet his nose. The horse at once gave a squeal, and tried to bite her hand, Kit pulled it away just in time.
"He hates all humans." said Lauren "He thinks we're all out to hurt him, just like his old master." She shook her head, "It is a shame, no doubt he once was a bright little thing."
There was a still silence, then Jen shrugged. "All right, Lauren, I'll take him."
Kit's eyes shone.
"I don't know what I'll do with him" said Jen "I can't wait to see what you have planned, Kit, bit I'll take the little thing. What's his name anyway?"
"His halter said, Indigo." said Lauren "That's what I've been calling him."
"Jen nodded. "All right then, Indigo, you've found a home."
Indigo squealed, and tried to bite Jen.
"You've got your hands full." said Lauren, looking at Kit.
"I know." said Kit.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
“We’re here at laaaast,” Edmund said, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn. “Where are Grandma and Grandpa?”
“They’re probably outside waiting to pick us up, honey,” Mrs. Benison said, smiling. “You can try to call their cell and ask them where they are if you like,” she added, handing him her cell phone.
“Oh, Sarah!” cried the voice of an elder woman the moment they stepped out of the airport. A short, grey-haired woman hurried over to Mrs. Benison, who threw herself into her mother’s arms. “And you two, oh my, how you’ve grown!” the grandmother turned to Mary and Edmund, wrapping her arms around them and squeezing them in a tight hug.
“I missed you, Grandma!” Edmund cried, burying his head in the elderly woman’s shirt. Mary, watching the scene from a distance, marveled at her brother’s warmth and affection for a woman who he hadn’t seen since he was three years old.
“Oh, I missed you too, sweetie!” her grandmother cried, planting a kiss on Edmund’s cheek. Mary wondered why, if she really had missed him, she hadn’t ever come to visit him or even had any form of contact with him for so many years. “Now come on,” the elder woman continued, “Your grandfather is parked right over here.”
Mary squeezed into the back seat of the car with Edmund and her mother. She scrutinized her grandparents carefully. Her grandmother was short, but sturdy, her blue eyes still sparkling and alive. Her hair was grey, with a few silvery strands shimmering in the dim light. Her grandfather, tall and robust, had a kind, wrinkly face and long, drooping whiskers. They didn’t look so bad, she thought, and yet the distrust and anger that she felt burning in her chest did not abate.
She wondered briefly why she felt so angry at her grandparents. She remembered arguments that had occurred when she was younger between her mother and father, involving her grandparents and, Mary remembered, her mother’s sister Katie. She thought that the long separation that had occurred between her mother and her parents had something to do with a disagreement between Mary’s grandparents and her father. Mary speculated about what the disagreement had been about. Her resentment toward her grandparents grew, and she wondered angrily why, after seven years of practically no contact, they should protrude into her life now just because her father was no longer living?
An indignant fire burned in Mary’s chest. Suddenly questions swarmed up in her mind. Were her grandparents glad that her father was dead? After all, hadn’t it been he who had prevented them from visiting their daughter and grandchildren? Had her father purposefully kept his wife’s parents away from his children, or had the grandparents stayed away from their own choice, perhaps their anger or resentment toward their son-in-law? But what if her father hadn’t wanted her grandparents to be part of her life? Was she betraying him now, by going against his wishes when he was no longer there to let his opinion be known?
Mary, her heart beating thunderously in her chest, watched her mother closely. She seemed so happy, so content to be with her parents after having been away from them for so long. She chatted happily about old friends and old haunts which she couldn’t wait to show to Edmund and Mary. Confusion and uncertainty turned Mary’s sensations into a jumble of chaotic fears and doubts. She didn’t understand how her mother could be so happy, how she could be so cheerful and carefree when her husband could no longer even feel such emotions. And yet Edmund, too, seemed so carefree – they both seemed so blithe.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Mary relinquished her unhappy reflections and tried to join in on the jovial conversation that was going on around her. She had noticed Edmund eying her with concern, and she didn’t want to incite his anxiety or distress on her behalf. Grinning at him, she laughed appreciatively at a joke her grandfather had just told, and launched into one of her own.
* * *
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
"Well, you shan't be calles so!" Paulina cried. First Bell looked sad.
Then Rose cut in, "Of course I'll call you that!"
"Oh, you are so kind!" Rose just smiled. She had not been called that in such a while. Paulina turned her back. Bell sighed. There was a silence between the girls for a bit. Then Rose turned to Bell and whispered, "She does that all the time."
"Alright. But let us not talk so. It is still mean of us to talk of her like that." said Bell. Rose was less shy when she was around Bell. They soon became great friends. Then Rose said, "right. Do forgive me."
"Of course you are forgiven!" Rose smiled.
"I wish we don't have to leave." she said.
"Me too." replied Bell.
"Oh? I wish we could leave this instant!" Paulina pleaded.
"Paulina!" Rose gasped. Bell felt like crying in the case of Paulina's croolness. But, instead, she turned to Rose and smiled. The two girls couldn't help but smile at each other back and fourth. Bell had not gotten so much acauinted with Rose before. She guessed because Rose was older now.
"Well, what would you girls like to do?" Bell soon asked.
"Nothing with you." growled Paulina.
"Stop this foolishness, Paulina! I am not sure, Bell." said Rose.
Bell smiled. "Neither am I."
"Do you like playing outside?" asked Rose.
"Do I!" gasped Bell, "I have so much to tell you! Do come outside with me quickly!"
"Of course." answered Rose, excitedly. They walked outside with Paulina following them angrily. Bell lead them up the meadow. William was there with his sheep.
"Rose, Paulina, I'd like yout to meet William, my feauntsay. William, I'd like you to meet Rose and Paulina."
"Your engaged to him? How lovely! He's so hansome. Hello!" Rose cried with glee.
"Hello." said William,"Any friend of Bell's is a friend of mine."
Monday, March 9, 2009
Chapter Three: Morning Ride
"Good morning!" called Kit, strolling into the barn, where Julia was brushing her Appaloosa mare, Lillian.
"Morning' Kit" replied Julia "How are you today?"
"Just fine. A beautiful day, isn't it? Jen is out to the pasture right now, she said to grab the horse of your choice and get ready to ride. We're all going, I think."
"Alright. Sounds good to me." said Kit, reaching for a halter and lead rope, "What's Jen doing out in the pasture?
"She's with old Bill." sighed Julia "He's not feeling so well today, it's that colic*."
Kit bit her lip. The old draft-horse was close to her heart. "Poor thing." she sighed, then turned away out to the fields.
This was Kit's second year at Bunker Hill Stables. She was fourteen, but just as hard-working and upbeat as ever.
Kit soon returned leading a tall, cherry-bay, Arabian, gelding*.
Julia gasped, and quickly unhitched the cross-ties* to let them pass through. "Sampson? That's who you chose?" she asked, shaking her head.
"Kit grinned, and led the big horse into his stall. "Yeah! Why not?"
"Why not? Because Jen doesn't even dare ride him!"
Kit laughed, and began whispering to the big horse.
Julia sighed and shook her head.
"Will Josh be riding today?" asked Kit "And Maggie?"
"Yes, they're both getting horses right now. Becca won't be coming though, she's with Martha at home."
"Ah yes, that's smart." said Kit "Six is a young age for a long, quick-paced, ride. She's not too fond of staying in the saddle for more then half an hour." Kit went to get Sampson's saddle from the tack room, and soon had it put on the horse's back.
Maggie, now thirteen, entered the barn, leading a gentle, dapple-gray, mare, known as Bella. Maggie, even though she had grown up with horses, was not a daring rider. She still had yet to gallop, and only rode the gentle lesson horses. She and Kit were as different as day and night, but were very close friends.
"Oh, Kit, you wild thing!" cried Maggie, opening the stall door, "Sampson?"
Kit giggled. "Come on, now, Maggie! He's a good boy."
"Oh sure he is." said Maggie, sliding off Bella's halter "He only bucked my mom off last week."
"I won't let him do that to me. You know that, Maggie." answered Kit, trying to coax Sampson to take a bit, but he just arched his head and pawed the floor.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. You're like, inhuman, Kit, really, with horses you're like this supernatural being with them..."
"Maggie you're weird." replied Kit "Hey, I don't suppose you have a hackamore* I could use?" she asked, slinging the English bridal over her shoulder, "He just won't take a bit, and I don't want to force it."
"I don't." answered Maggie "You know I'm too afraid to use one, ask Josh, Rapido's might fit."
"Go ahead and use mine." called Josh, now sixteen, from the next stall over, "I'm going English anyway."
Josh owned Rapido, a black Arabian, gelding. The horse was of the finest bloodlines, and had cost several thousand dollars. Josh's Father, Julia's husband, had struck it rich drilling for oil, and the family could easily afford the horses they owned.
Julia herself owned the finest horses in the barn. All of them from the best lines and very well trained. But the Wayson family was not snooty and focused on their wealth. They acted just like any other family, and Josh, like any other kid.
Kit was soon ready to go, and it wasn't long before they all started out.
Jen had taken care of Bill, then had quickly gotten ready and joined them. She was riding Bullet, who was now one of the finest horses in the stable, thanks to Kit's long hard hours spent working with him.
The late June sun was warm and bright, and the sky was a brilliant blue. The day couldn't have been more beautiful or pleasant.
Kit quickly took the lead, of the group, and went trotting up the old dirt road, posting neatly. It was considered an honor to lead, and Kit had it often. She soon led them off the road to a trail in the woods, an old cross-country ski path, that led into one of Jen's large hay fields, a favorite place of the horses.
Kit quickly made her way, jumping logs and taking quick turns, with ease. She made it look effortless.
It wasn't too long before the group reached the clearing that led out into the wide grassy meadows. The fields were huge, and all of perfectly flat, smooth, land, surrounded by an old rock wall, put there years ago by another farmer. This was one of the horses' favorite places for a gallop.
Kit woahed Sampson, and turned around in her saddle to face the group.
"Mind if I go for for a run?" she asked, the sun casting its warm glow upon her dark wavy hair and strong figure.
"Go ahead." said Jen "You know I wouldn't dare on Sampson, and using a hackamore too! But I think you know what you're doing, so go ahead."
Kit grinned, "Yeah, I'll handle him."
"Just the same I'll be ready to gallop off after you to catch him, just in case." said Jen, laughing. Nobody knew if she was joking or not.
Maggie got pale at the very though of it, and gripped her reins with her gloved hands. "I can't watch."
"Well, here I go!" called Kit, tightening up her reins, in her bare hands. "D'yeah! D'yeah, Sampson! Lets go!"
The two raced out into the field at once, in a heart-breaking gallop. Kit loved nothing more then a good run on a good solid horse.
"She's amazing..." breathed Julia "Just look at em' go."
"Beautiful isn't it?" asked Jen, watching Kit ride Sampson through the rolling green. Every movement was flawless, it was like Kit and Sampson had become one single being. Sampson had always been a tough horse, but galloping with Kit, he looked perfect. And Kit was perfect.
"How can she ride like that?" asked Maggie "Isn't she at least a little scared?"
Josh shrugged. "I don't think so. She never is."
"But how can she just, just, do that with horses? How can she just be so good?"
"She's a natural." said Josh "And she learns so fast." he paused "She's gonna go places." he said, watching her.
"Like where?" asked Maggie
"I don't know. But that's talent for much more then just a country stable-girl."
Kit circled Sampson around, and charged back, her dark hair flying in the wind. She was laughing, you could hear her. Kit was always laughing.
*Colic= A severe pain in the intestines.
*Gelding= A male horses who is "fixed", aka: can't have offspring, and is no longer called a stallion.
*Cross-ties= Two pieces of rope attached to the side of barns, with hooks on the end, using them you can tie a horse tight, so you can saddle or groom them without the animal moving away.
*Hackamore= A bitless bridal. Horses like them better, because they have no bit, but since there's no bit, a horse wearing a hackamore is often much harder to control.
Now they were moving. Moving to Virginia, to a small farm owned by their grandparents. Grandparents who she hadn’t seen in seven years, and who until a month ago didn’t seem to care whether she was alive or dead.
Mary had grown up in L.A.; she was used to the noise and bustle of the city. She couldn’t imagine life in the country, all alone in the middle of nowhere. But Mrs. Benison thought that a change would be good for them, all of them.
“Kids, I got a letter from your grandparents from Virginia today,” she had said one evening as they sat around the table eating their dinner. “They want to know if we’d like to come and stay with them on their farmstead for a while. They have a little cottage nearby that they usually rent out, but it’s empty now, and they say it would be perfect for us.”
At first Mary had been shocked and upset. Moving to Virgin! Never! But she could tell it meant a lot to her mother. She had grown up in the country, and Mary thought that sometimes her mother got nostalgic for her childhood home.
“I think you’ll really enjoy life on a farm,” she had said. “It’s going to be a great experience for you both. Plus you’re grandparents will be there. I think it will be good for us to be closer to family.”
Grandparents? Did they even deserve that name, after only appearing in her life now after simply vanishing for seven long years? Yet, Mary knew that her mother was under a lot of pressure, raising two kids all by herself in a big city. She needed some sort of help and support, and having her parents near would make a world of difference for her.
Even before her husband’s death, Mrs. Benison had spoken often of wanting to get out of the noise and bustle of the city, to spend some time in the calm of the country. She was a writer, and although she had found the diversity and activity of the city a good source of fodder for her writing, she thought that some time in the peace and tranquility of the farm would give her the serenity she needed for her creativity. Mr. Benison, however, had always abhorred the idea of living in the country, particularly, it seemed to Mary, near a certain farmstead in Virginia.
Edmund was of course thrilled at the prospect of living on a farm.
“Do they have horses? And chickens? And goats? And will there be bears in the woods? By Jove, I can’t wait to ride the horses!” he had squealed the moment his mother mentioned the farm. Now, he sat beside Mary, barely able to contain his excitement. Squirming around in his seat, he tried to get a peak through the window out into the blue sky.
“Do you think we’re almost their, Mary?” he asked, a little anxiously.
“We still have the layover in Charlotte,” Mary said, laughing at his impatience.
“Oh man! How long after that?”
“I’m not sure. Not too long, I think.”
“I sure hope not! ‘Farewell we call to hearth and hall, though wind may blow and rain may fall! We must away ere break of day, far over wood and mountain tall!’” He sang, receiving a couple of looks from his fellow passengers in return for his melodious air.
* * *
Hundreds of students filed out of the classrooms, laughter and chatter filling the halls as the final classes ended and the bell rang for the last time. It was the end of the school year, and an entire summer of fun awaited them! Everyone prattled excitedly about their plans and aspirations for their summer vacation, a feeling of excitement and bliss seeming to permeate almost palpably through the halls.
Only one girl seemed unaffected by the pervading feeling of glee, as she lingered by her locker collecting her belongings. Mary Benison did not foresee any enjoyment awaiting her in the almost three months which stretched before her, uncertain and unpredictable. With a sigh, she slipped through the exit and out into the sunlight. As the students rapidly dispersed in different directions, some piling into yellow buses, others jumping into cars, Mary slung her bag onto her shoulder and slumped onto the grimy steps to wait. Glancing at her wristwatch, she frowned a little anxiously. Where in the world can Mom be? she wondered, looking around for any sign of her mom’s old, battered brown car.
“Mary,” a panting voice behind her called. “Sorry we’re late!” Spinning around, Mary saw Edmund rushing toward her, his face flushed and his big blue eyes sparkling. “The moving men just got there, and mom wasn’t sure if she should trust them at the house by themselves. So she got Mr. Loward to come pick you up. Gee, Mary, the moving truck is huge!”
“Mr. Loward? That funny old guy who lives down the street? Well, anyway, how was your day?” Mary asked, smiling a little at Edmund’s excitement.
“I’m just glad it’s finally over!” he laughed, skipping a bit. “No more school for nearly three whole months!”
Mary didn’t reply, but kicked a small stone with her boot, sending it skidding across the pavement before it slowly rolled to a stop in front of a school bus. Edmund looked down, his own glee dissipating a bit at Mary’s glumness. Mary caught his unhappy look, and felt a twinge of guilt prickled at her insides.
“I’m sorry Ed; I don’t mean to be a wet blanket.”
“It’s not your fault, Mary,” Edmund was quick to assert. "Come on, Mr. Loward's waiting for us."
As the two sat side by side in the backseat of Mr. Loward’s pickup truck, they let silence envelope them, both lost in their own thoughts.
“It won’t be so bad,” Edmund said after a few moments, glancing at his older sister. “It’s almost like an adventure.”
Mary tried to muster up some enthusiasm, wishing she could be more like her mother, who always knew how to cheer and hearten people rather than bring them down.
“You’re right,” she said at last, forcing a smile. “Everything’s going to be different. Maybe it will be exciting.”
“A new home, a new school, new friends, a whole new life, Mary!” Edmund cried, encouraged by her slight show of interest.
But Dad won’t be there, Mary thought. She said, “Yes, an adventure!”
When they got home, a moving truck was pulled up in front of their house, and men were loading boxes into the back.
“Oh good, you’re home,” Mrs. Benison cried when she saw her two children. “We have a lot to do before our plane leaves tomorrow morning! Why don’t you two go in and have a snack, and then make sure you have everything you need for tomorrow.”
The next morning, Mary was woken by her bedroom door suddenly being thrown open and someone hurdling onto her bed.
“By Jove, are you still in bed?” Edmund exclaimed, looking down at his sister and shaking his head in mock displeasure. “Up thyself lady, lest thou get left behind in the tumult before we embark on our journey!”
Laughing, Mary kicked Edmund off her bed with her foot. “Get out of here so I can get dressed, you scallywag!” she cried.
Edmund, wagging his head disapprovingly, disappeared down the hall, bounding down the stairs and singing Bilbo’s adventure song from the Hobbit with all his heart. “We must away! We must away! We ride before the break of day!”
* * *
Saturday, March 7, 2009
By Emily Froula
Chapter 1: The Search
Cassie was twelve-years-old. She was a slave in the land of Kasariah. Whenever she didn’t do her work well enough or stopped working and sat down, they made her eat worms. And it was the same with the rest of the slaves. Cassie hated to be a slave. It seemed that she got whipped every moment of her life to her. She hated that burning feeling she always got from General Rottenmeir’s whip. He was the manager of it all.
The next day, Cassie heard mother cry out, “They don’t notice me not working, do they?”
“No, but why?” Cassie looked worried.
“I’m going to have the baby...” she managed to whisper.
“Oh no! Mother! The only thing I can offer is to try to sneak a bucket of water! Oh dear! Oh, mother! You are sure to die!” Cassie didn’t mean to pop those words out, but somehow she just had to say them.
“Now, now, Cassie. It is alright. You are twelve now. If I die, you are old enough to look after yourself. And hopefully the baby....”
“Don’t say that! You’re not gonna die!” She shouted, clinging to her mother. Now her mother could say no more. She screamed in pain. Cassie wiped her face with a clean towel drenched in water.
“Shh, it’s okay. You’re gonna survive! You can do it! Push!” After a long while of stress, she had the baby.
Her mother’s last words were, “Take good care of the baby. His name is Paul. Good-bye, Cassie.” And she closed her eyes.
“No!” Cassie screamed, “Come on! You can stay alive! Please! Don’t leave me...” Cassie burst out crying, almost throwing a fit.
“Hey, you! Out o’ there! Get back to work!” shouted the manager, pulling Cassie back to the gardens. Cassie held the baby in her arms while he whipped her. She tried not to let the baby get hurt.
That night, Cassie slipped out into the dark woods, hoping no one would catch her trying to find someone to adopt the baby. Cassie knew she would be searching for a very long time indeed. But she would not give up trying to find that person whom she could trust, and was kind, caring, loving, and was old enough to take care of a baby.
At last, she found that person. Her name was Hilda Manstockum. She was indeed very kind. After she had heard Cassie’s story she said kindly, “Oh, my goodness! You poor child! Indeed, I will take the baby! I will look after him every moment of my life, I promise you. But only on one condition: if you let me adopt you also.”
“Oh, I only wish I could, but...you see, I’m a slave. They’ll kill me if I’m not back in two seconds! I am so very sorry. I so wish you could adopt me too. I thank you ever so much for adopting Paul.
“Don’t you mention it. I am so sorry to hear that you are a slave. If only you could escape somehow.”
“I only wish I could, but...there is no way I could.” Cassie felt like crying.
“Well, I suppose you should be going.”
“Yes. Thank you so much again! Good-bye!”
“Goodbye, child!” And Cassie went out into the dark night, back to slavery.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Now, here is the preview:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * *
An ordinary boy and girl. A new home. Deep, dark woods. A secret fort. Footsteps in the dark; the sound of crunching leaves. A strange little man. The beginnings of an adventure.
Mary and Edmund Benison are two ordinary kids. One day, as they explore the woods behind their grandparents' farm, they are thrown into the middle of an adventure like none they could have ever imagined. Now they both must face unheard of dangers and overcome their fears. Can they become heroes, or will everything around them fall apart?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** **
lol. DRAMATIC MUCH?!?!!? Yes. But it's going to be good!! I hope!! lol
and when i get the comp back...i want to wait to keep writing. So.....
I need Ideas for a new story, email me with your ideas and i will use the ideas i like. i might not use all the ideas but i will try to use at least one idea from everyone , Thanks :-)
I will Wait until Tuesday for the ideas and by then i should have enough of them to start
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Chapter Two: Stable-Girl
Kit got to work the very next day, and at once proved she was everything she said she was, and more. She rode very very well, and her work was neatly and quickly done. Jen soon found there nothing Kit could not, or would not, do.
And it wasn't just her actions that caught everyone's attention. Her character was just as good. Never was there a more respectful, understanding, humble, little girl.
She got along wonderfully with everyone. Julia, Martha, and Jen all loved working with her, and all the other children, Jen's eleven year old daughter Maggie, four year old daughter Becca, and Julia's fourteen year old son Josh, all enjoyed Kit's company.
Kit soon befriended not only all the people, but all the horses too. When Kit rode any horse, no matter how tough a horse it was, she mad it look easy. There was not a single horse she couldn't ride. Kit was, by far, one of, if not, the best rider in the barn.
And she certainly was the best worker. She did what needed to be done right away.
If the tack room needed cleaning, Kit did it. If a horse needed to be trained out of some nasty habit, Kit did it. If a stall needed to be mucked, Kit did it.
And it was Kit who held the horses still for the vet, got hay from the hay-loft, mended the fence, saddled the horses for the young childrens' summer riding-lessons, switched the pastures, brought the horses into the barn in the rain, cleaned the bridals, gave the horses all baths, caught the ponies for the riding-lessons, scrubbed out the water buckets, and did the daily grooming.
And she did most of it without being told to.
Jen soon couldn't imagine life without Kit. She had really become part of the Bunker Hill Stables group. Jen, Julia, Martha, Maggie, Becca, Josh, and now Kit, were all as close as family.
Kit was the kind of girl whom everyone loved. She was very down to earth, and simply enjoyed life to the fullest. Everyone at the stable slowly began to learn a little more about her, and the more they learned, the more they liked her.
She was indeed the eldest of ten kids, four of whom were adopted, "Yeah, I'm the leader of the pack!" Kit announced proudly.
Both her parents had steady, but very well paying jobs, "So, life is hard sometimes" she admitted "But they're people out there who are a lot worse off! We have a house, clothes, and good food, what else to do we really need?" That explained Kit's well-worn jeans, and simple way of life. She had no cell-phone, no Ipod, not even a computer.
Kit did have a pair of prize-winning sheep that she "loved almost as much as horses." Kit wanted nothing more then a horse of her very own, but, "My family could never, ever, in a million years, afford one" she said sadly "So it looks like I won't get one until I'm all grown up. To be honest, you know what? It hurts! It hurts not having a horse, more then you could ever imagine. If I were given one wish, just one, I'd wish for a horse. One I could call all my own. But, that's never gonna happen."
Kit said all she needed in life was, "God, family, friends, and horses." And she had found all four of those things in Harrisbrough New Hampshire, so, she said she was "all set" and had "finally found home."
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
It is amazing how one person can touch the lives of so many. Sadly, you don't often notice just how much that one person does, until they are gone.
Wanted: A young person to work daily as a stable-hand. Must have equestrian experience and good horse skills. Many payment options available. For more information contact Jen Keens at Bunker Hill Stables.
Part One: The Early Years
Chapter One: Kit
"Woah, boy, woah." whispered Jen Keens, holding a rope that lay loosely around the neck of a young black stallion "Easy, Bullet, easy now..." She reached her hand out the froth-covered horse. All morning Jen had been fighting him, now, at last, it looked like she might have won. "Easy now..." she whispered, looking into the horse's dark eyes "Steady..."
Then, suddenly, there was a loud call of, "Jen! Jen!"
The horse's eyes widened, he squealed and reared. Jen's grip on the rope slipped, and in a flash the unbroken horse galloped away, jumping the corral fence.
Jen groaned. Hadn't she asked for time alone to work the stallion? Who had called her? And why?
Now, Bullet was loose in the barnyard. It would take hours to catch him, if they ever did.
Jen sighed, and coiled up the rope before swinging it over her shoulder. Then she ducked under the fence to go see who had need of her and what they wanted.
Jen was the owner of Bunker Hill Stables, a boarding house for horses. All her life Jen had worked with horses and ponies, and she wasn't planning to ever stop. Her husband, John, also loved them, and worked as the farrier for Harrisbrough New Hampshire. Their two daughters, Maggie and Becca, loved horses as much as their parents, and lived at the barn more then the house.
Bunker Hill Stables was Jen's pride and joy. It was the finest stable in Harrisbrough New Hampshire, and certainly the most popular, housing thirty-four horses and ponies from all over New England.
Though money was tight, the work long and hard, and life anything but easy, Jen greatly enjoyed every minute of it, and wouldn't have traded places with anyone in the world.
"Jen!" called the voice, coming from the barn "Jen! Come over! Quick!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming." said Jen, hurrying to the barn, wondering what this was all about. She soon saw.
It was Julia, one of Jen's closest friends, and the owner of several of the boarding horses. Julia was a kind lady, who loved children, horses, and helping anyone in need. Julia had one son, Josh, who was also a frequent visitor at the barn.
"You called, Julia?" asked Jen dryly, running her fingers through her graying hair.
"Yes, Jen, I'm so sorry! I know you didn't want to be bothered...but...she's come!"
Jen looked strangely at Julia. " Who? What do you mean?"
"The new stable-girl! Remember that ad you ran in the paper last month? Well, somebody saw it, and now she's here to try out for the job!"
Jen laughed. "You're kidding!"
"No! She's not!" cried another voice. It was Martha, another owner who often stopped by at the stable to help with the daily chores. "I just saw her, she's waiting for you in the drive way."
"I told her you'd be right up." said Julia
Jen nodded. "I'll go right up, but do me a favor will you? Bullet jumped the fence, again, he's running around here somewhere, see if you can catch him, will you?"
"Sure." said Julia, grabbing a rope. "With luck we'll get him by sunset!"
Jen at once started up the path leading the driveway. She was still shocked somebody wanted the job.
Bunker Hill Stables had long been in need of another worker. But good stable-hands were hard to find these days. The work was long and hard, and the pay wasn't very good, kids just didn't jump at a job like that, especially when there were so many other good jobs in the city.
A stable-hand was expected to do anything that needed to be done, from mucking stalls, to breaking horses, to cleaning tack, to giving riding-lessons, and from helping with the haying, to holding a horse steady for the vet or farrier, to exercising a lazy horse, or doing all the grooming, anything that needed to be done.
So, of course, a stable-hand had to be good with horses. Very good. It really took a special person to full-fill the job well.
Jen ran up the path, wondering what the girl would be like. Good country girls were so rare these days! She raced into the dusty drive way and glanced around. It was empty.
"Oh no" thought Jen "She got tired of waiting and left. But I didn't take that long, did I?" Jen looked frantically around. Only her own red pickup and Julia's sports car were in the dirty lot. "Hello?" called Jen. No answer.
Then the sound of a horse snorting made her jump. Jen turned around. Bullet, her wild young stallion was standing on the edge of the driveway, but he wasn't alone.
A little girl, no older then twelve, was standing next to him. She had a handful of his mane in one hand, and was stroking his nose with the other. She was whispering something to him, and he stood still, as if really listening to her. Bullet's ears were relaxed, and his eyes gentle, he was standing perfectly still except for the slow swish of his tail now and then.
Jen was amazed. In the three years she had owned the horse she had almost never touched him. And never once had he stood still for her. And he definitely never let her grab his mane and pet his nose. It was awhile before Jen got herself together to speak.
"Hello there!" she called quietly, so she wouldn't startle either the horse or girl "You've come here for the job haven't you? I'm Jen by the way."
The girl turned, still holding the thick black mane, "Yes! I have! My name is Kit." she paused and nodded toward Bullet "This horse, I suppose he's yours? He was just wandering about the yard, so I started talking to him. He's real nice."
Jen nodded. "Yeah, lets take him the barn shall we? Then you and I can talk."
With ease, Kit led Bullet into his stall, locked the door, and followed Jen down the hallway of the barn to Jen's small office.
"Now then, Kit, why don't you tell me about yourself?"
Kit nodded. "Of course."
Kit entered the little, very cluttered, office and sat down on a barrel of oats. Jen took a long look at Kit, and she liked what she saw. She was short, but very muscular, her dark eyes were full of excitement, and energy seemed to be pouring out of her. Kit at once gave you the feeling that you could trust her with anything.
"I've been riding since I was four, I'm twelve now." she said with a smile.
Jen nodded. "That sounds very good. Where did you ride?"
"Oh, all over the place. But mostly at Cleavland Stables. I was there for four years."
"Cleavland? I never heard of them..."
"Yeah, probably not." said Kit "It's in New York."
"Yes, I just moved from there, I was there four years, and before that I was in Virgina, and before that Pennsylvania, and before that Vermont." said Kit laughing.
"Wow." said Jen "So you've been all over haven't you?"
"Yeah, I guess so." said Kit shrugging
"So, for riding" continued Jen "What do you do?"
"Everything." answered Kit, flashing a smile.
"Everything?" Jen laughed. But Kit seemed quite serious.
"I've had a lot of teachers, I've been to many places, met many different horses and people, so, I learned a lot of different things." she paused, then added shyly, "Everyone said I was a very fast learner."
Jen nodded. "Could you tell me real quick, a few of the things you've learned?"
"Oh sure, I can ride English, Western, and bareback, I can jump, barrel-race*, one teacher taught me some dressage*... I can drive a buggy, and I can also..."
"Ok! Ok!" said Jen laughing "You can ride very well!"
Kit slightly blushed and grinned. "I really like horses." she said quietly.
Jen smiled. "And for work? What can you do for work, Kit?"
Kit's eyes lit up. "Oh, Ma'am, I can work!" she cried earnestly "I never paid for my lessons, I earned them by working, and I've been to so many barns, that, well, I've picked up just about everything."
Jen nodded. It all sounded very good. "Do you have a horse of your own?" she asked the young girl.
Kit's smile faded. "No" she said, shaking her head sadly "I sure wish I did have one though. I'd do just about everything for one."
Jen nodded. "You'll get one someday."
"I don't know..." said Kit shrugging.
Jen changed the subject. "When would you be able to work? I'd want you here every day, except Sunday of course, so what time could you get here?"
"Oh, I can come over anytime." said Kit.
"Well, anytime after school, right?" asked Jen
"No, no" said Kit "I'm homeschooled. I can get my lessons done at any time of day, so, I can come here anytime you need or want me to. I live ten minutes away from here."
Jen took all this in. "You're homeschooled?"
"Yeah! All my brothers and sisters too."
"And how many siblings do you have?" asked Jen
"Ten!" cried Jen, shocked. "Ten?"
"Yeah! I'm the oldest!" cried Kit laughing "Crazy huh?"
Jen nodded. This girl was full of surprises, and Jen found herself liking Kit more and more.
"So, Kit, back to the subject, what would you be wanting for pay?"
Kit shrugged. Well, Ma'am, if you don't mind, could I get to ride instead of getting paid with money?"
Jen looked strangely at the young girl. "What do you mean?"
"Could I get to ride some of your horses instead of money?"
Jen smiled. "Well, of course. If that's what you really want..."
"Yes! It is!"
"Well then, Kit, you're hired." said Jen smiling.
Kit grinned shyly. "Thanks." she whispered.
*Barrel-Race= A race in which horses and riders weave in and out of barrels.
*Dressage= The art of training a horse obedience and perfect movement.