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Maggie's Wish

Herbert Strang

  Produced by Marilyn D. Anderson



  Marilyn D. Anderson

  Illustrated by Dennis E. Miller

  Copyright 2010 by Marilyn D. Anderson

  Originally published 1984 by School Book Fairs as _But Maggie Wanted aPONY_

  Published 1987 by Willowisp Press, Inc. under the title _Maggie'sWish_

  Revised Printing 2009 published by Whispering Pines Publishing11013 Country Pines Road, Shoals, Indiana 47581

  Chapter One

  Mom called to Maggie over the whine of the vacuum cleaner. "Please gosee why Corky is barking."

  Maggie put down her toy horses and looked out the window. She saw agray car in the driveway. "It's Tim and Jodi," she cried as she ran tothe door.

  Mom shut off the vacuum and pulled in the cord. "Oh, my," she said."What will I give them for lunch?"

  Maggie didn't care what they ate. She was excited that she would havesomeone to play with. Being an only child on a dairy farm could getlonely.

  The Johnson's small brown and white dog was jumping all over Maggie'scousins before she reached them. "Corky, stop that," she ordered, butthe dog paid no attention.

  Tim leaned over to pet Corky. "We don't mind," he said.

  "We like dogs," added his younger sister, Jodi.

  "Hello, Andersons," Mom called from the front door. "It's good to seeyou." Maggie's mom hugged her sister.

  "We've got a new bow and arrow set," Tim told Maggie. "Wait until yousee it."

  Maggie hesitated. Tim was a year younger than she was, but he alwayshad some new toy she had never tried. It seemed she could never keepup with him.

  "A bow and arrows?" she repeated. "When did you get those?"

  "The day school let out," he said with a grin. "Mom wanted us to stayout of her hair for awhile."

  "Well, did you?" Maggie asked.

  "Sure," said Tim.

  Jodi shook her head and said, "You still put a hole in her lawnchair."

  "Tattletale," Tim said, frowning. "Come on, Maggie. Let's see ifyou're a good shot."

  Maggie was not a good shot. Her arrows always dropped right in frontof her. She kept forgetting to let go of the bowstring when she let goof the arrow. After dozens of tries, she had only hit the cardboardtarget once. Even Jodi, who was only 6, did better than that. Tim hitthe target almost every time.

  After lunch the cousins climbed trees. Maggie was good at that, butshe never took crazy chances like Tim did. She often held her breathand waited for him to fall, but he never did.

  Later Maggie and the other kids found some old skis in the garage.They skied around the grass until Maggie's dad yelled, "Hey, you guys.Does that look like snow to you? Put those skis away, and Maggie, goget the cows."

  "We'll help," Tim said eagerly. "Where are they?"

  "In the pasture," Maggie said, pointing out beyond the barn.

  "Good, let's go," said Tim, starting off at a run. Maggie and Joditried to keep up.

  "Wait," Jodi begged. "My legs are too short."

  Tim slowed down. "Okay," he agreed. "Maggie, it's a long ways to yourpasture. Do you do this every night?"

  "Sure," said Maggie. "And it will be a fun job when I get my pony."

  Tim stopped dead in his tracks, and Jodi hung back to stare at Maggie."A pony?" he gasped. "Did your dad say you could get one?"

  Maggie had stopped, too. "Well ... not exactly," she admitted. "Buthe's been saying 'when you're older' for a long time. Now I'm older."

  Tim snorted and moved on. "Big deal," he said. "My dad says that toowhen I'm never going to get something."

  Now they could see the herd of black and white Holsteins ahead. "I_am_ going to get a pony," Maggie almost shouted. "You'll see."

  Chapter Two

  Several mornings later Maggie heard her parents talking in thekitchen. Dad said, "Well, you know she wants a pony."

  "Yes," said Mom. "But I didn't think you'd spend so much money withoutdiscussing it."

  "You buy what you want," he shot back. "And this was what I want."

  They stopped talking when Maggie entered the room.

  "Time for breakfast," said Mom. "Maggie, please wash up and set thetable."

  They started breakfast. Then Dad said, "Maggie, I bought somethingspecial yesterday. I think you're going to like it."

  "A pony?" she asked eagerly.

  "I'm not telling," he said, grinning. "But it's coming today ... in atruck."

  "Fred," Mom scolded. "Don't get her all excited. She might bedisappointed."

  "But _I'm_ excited," he said with a broad grin. "I just had to saysomething."

  After breakfast Maggie sat on the front step watching the driveway. Iwonder what color my pony will be, she thought. I wonder what its eyeswill be like. I wonder if Dad bought me a saddle.

  Hours later, a blue truck turned into their driveway. It was bigenough to haul about six or seven cows. The truck stopped in the frontof the house, and a man with a beard got out. Corky barked at him.

  "Corky, stop," Maggie demanded, and she ran toward the truck. "Is mypony in there?"

  The man laughed and said, "Something like that. Is your father home?"

  "Yes, he's in the barn," said Maggie. "I'll get him for you."

  But Dad stuck his head out the barn door and waved. Meanwhile Maggiecircled the truck trying to see inside. But the openings between theboards were too high up.

  "Hi, Chuck," said Dad, offering his hand. "Let's unload right here."

  "Fine," said Chuck. He reached up below the truck's back door andpulled out a ramp. He and Dad brought gates from the sides of thetruck and fitted them into slots on the sides of the ramp. Chuckwalked up the ramp into the back of the truck.

  Maggie saw a flash of gold and heard a nicker. It sounded like a pony.

  But it _wasn't_ a pony. Chuck appeared at the top of the ramp with ...the BIGGEST horse Maggie had ever seen. It was gold with a white maneand tail and white blaze down its nose.

  The ramp shook as the huge animal tromped down it. The horse toweredover even Dad's head. Maggie could have almost walked under theanimal's belly.

  Dad took the horse's halter, and Chuck went back into the truck. Hereappeared leading another horse as big as the first.

  Maggie wailed, "Hey, I only asked for one pony." She felt like crying.

  Mom got there just then and put her arm around Maggie. "Well, yourfather always liked driving his grandfather's team, so he bought hisown."

  Dad walked by, leading the horses and Chuck to the barn. "Neat, eh?"he said, eyes sparkling.

  "Yeah, neat," said Mom, and she and Maggie followed.

  The men tied the horses in wooden stalls in a very old part of thebarn. The horses sniffed their feed boxes and the walls. Then theyfound hay in the feed boxes and started to eat.

  "They look happy now," said Chuck. "I'm sure they'll work just finefor you."

  Dad nodded. "I know they will. I just hope I can tell them apart."

  Chuck laughed. "Molly is lighter colored than Polly. That's Molly." Hepointed to the smaller of the two horses.

  "I'll remember that," said Dad.

  "Did you talk to Larry Croon?" asked Chuck.

  "Yes," said Dad. "I bought some equipment from him, and it should behere later today."

  "Good," said Chuck. "You'll love working with horses. They're a lotmore fun than tractors."

  "Come on," said Dad. "I'll write you a check."

  When the men left, Mom looked down at Maggie. "So, what do you thinkof our new horses?"

  Maggie sniffed. "They're too big."

  Mom sighed and nodded. "I know. Sometimes you're father gets socarried away with things I just can't talk to him."

  Mom left too, and Maggie studied the horses in si
lence. Dad came back.He said, "Well, do you like your surprise?"

  "They aren't _my_ surprise," she replied. "I wanted a horse I couldride."

  Dad's grin faded. "You can ride them," he said. "In the olden days allthe kids rode draft horses like these."

  "No way," Maggie said under her breath.

  * * * * *

  Later Dad brushed the horses. Maggie watched, but she didn't offer tohelp. They weren't _her_ horses.

  When Dad went to milk the cows, Maggie walked around to the front ofthe new animals. At least they're more interesting than cows, she toldherself.

  Molly had dropped a piece of hay over the side, so Maggie handed it tothe horse. The huge nose sniffed. The long lips popped, taking in thewisps of hay.

  Maggie went to the oats bin and got some for both horses. She gavethem each a handful and patted their noses. They wanted more, but shesaid, "That's enough. Dad already fed you."

  The horses seemed very disappointed, and Maggie decided to pat theirnecks. She started to crawl into Polly's feed box. But Polly rolledher eyes and threw herself back against the end of her rope. Maggiequickly got down.

  Instead, she got into Molly's feed box. Molly gave Maggie a friendlysniff and waited. Maggie scratched Molly's ears, and the big horseclosed her eyes with pleasure.

  "Well," Maggie said at last. "I'd still rather have a pony, but you'repretty nice. I guess you can't help being so big."

  Chapter Three

  At breakfast the next morning, Dad said, "Maggie, do you want to rideone of the horses?"

  "Fred!" cried Mom. "They're so big. What if she gets stepped on?"

  "Relax," said Dad. "Maggie has been around big animals all her life.She knows how to watch out for herself."

  "She never tried to _ride_ a cow," Mom shot back.

  Dad laughed. "How about that, Maggie? Ever try to ride a cow?"

  Maggie smiled and said, "Sure. You put me up on Jeannie once, but herback was really bony."

  "I might have known," Mom said with a sigh.

  "Well, these horses' backs are nice and soft," Dad said. "So how aboutit?"

  "Okay," said Maggie. "But only if we use Molly."

  Dad looked surprised. "What difference does it make?"

  "Polly is spooky," said Maggie.

  "Hmm," said Dad. "You know that already? Well, come on." He got to hisfeet and so did Maggie.

  Mom said, "Corky better stay in the house. He could frighten thehorse." She grabbed her barn jacket.

  Maggie and her parents went out to the barn. Dad bridled Molly and ledher out the door. Polly whinnied frantically and jumped around in herstall. Molly ignored Polly.

  "I'll go first," said Dad. "Just to be sure it's safe."

  He led Molly to a hay wagon and crawled on from there. He clucked toMolly and rode off. He turned Molly right and left, and they eventrotted a little. Dad slid off again.

  "This is a good horse," said Dad. "She handles as well as most ridinghorses. Ready, Maggie?"

  Maggie looked up at the huge horse and gulped. "I guess so," she said.

  Dad boosted her on, and she looked down. Yipes, it was like being on atall building that breathed. And Molly's back was so wide thatMaggie's legs were doing the splits. She was scared.

  "Slide up by her neck," said Dad. "She's not so wide in front."

  Maggie slid forward and grabbed a big handful of mane. She felt alittle safer, but then Dad led Molly forward a few steps. The wholehuge body twisted under Maggie. She held on for dear life.

  "Relax," said Dad. "Let your body go with the horse."

  Maggie tried, but it was hard. Finally she realized that she hadn'tfallen off yet, and let out her breath. She felt sort of proud. Notmany kids had ridden a horse this big, she told herself.

  When Dad said it was time to stop, Maggie looked down. It was too farto jump, but Dad grabbed her around the middle and lifted her off.

  Just then a green truck drove up hauling a wooden wagon. Dad grinnedand waved at the driver of the truck. "That's Larry with the wagon hesold me."

  "Good morning," called Larry as he got out of the truck. "That's amighty nice horse you've got there." His tent-like bib overalls rockedas he considered the horse from every angle.

  "Thank you," said Dad. "I'm glad you brought the wagon so I can startdriving my team."

  Larry turned to Dad. "Ever drive a team before?" he asked.

  "Well, not since I was a kid," Dad admitted. "I did more riding thandriving, but my grandpa had a team."

  "I see," said Larry. "A fellow can get in a lot of trouble with horsesif he doesn't know what he's doing."

  Dad frowned. "Did you bring the harnesses?"

  "Yes," said Larry. "Where do you want them?"

  "Follow me," said Dad, and he and Molly led the way to the barn.

  Larry brought in a huge armload of straps and buckles and two bigleather collars. Then he studied Polly. He said, "This horse is evenbetter than the first one. Let me know if you ever want to sell them."

  "Okay," said Dad. "Now let's get that wagon unloaded."

  The green pickup was barely out of sight when Dad said, "Girls, let'sgo for a wagon ride."

  Mom looked at him sideways. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

  "Of course," said Dad. He picked up a harness and dropped it on Molly.He straightened out the pieces of leather, but then he just stoodthere for a long time.

  "Gosh," Dad said at last. "I think I've forgotten a few of thedetails." Mom shook her head. "That's what I thought," she said."Let's just forget about the ride for today."

  Maggie said, "A pony would have been cheaper."

  "Never mind," Dad snapped. "Tomorrow I'll go ask Chuck about theharnesses."

  Chapter Four

  After breakfast the next morning Dad said, "I'm going to let thehorses out in the barnyard. I want to see how they get along with thecows. Coming, Maggie?"

  "Yes," she said and followed him.

  Dad told Maggie to open the barn door while he untied the horses.Molly charged out and stopped to look around. Polly was right atMolly's heels and ran into her. Both horses pranced around thebarnyard with nostrils flaring.

  Polly's head went up, and she slid to a stop. Her ears pointed at thecows standing by the water tank. Polly blew air through her nose. Sheturned to "talk things over" with Molly. Both horses trotted towardsthe cows.

  The cows looked worried, and then they galloped off. All the animalsran for awhile, but soon they stopped to stare at each other.

  "What if they go through a fence?" Maggie worried.

  "I don't think they will," said Dad. "But you stay here and watch themwhile I clean the barn."

  Maggie watched until all the animals settled down.

  * * * * *

  That afternoon Mom went to get groceries. She dropped Maggie in townat her friend Kelly's house. The girls didn't see each other muchduring the summer, and Maggie was excited.

  When Kelly opened the door, she squealed, "Maggie, wait until you seewhat Dad made for me."

  The girls raced up to Kelly's room, and Kelly showed Maggie a smallwooden stable. "See, it has box stalls, places to hang bridles andsaddles, and even hay." Sure enough Easter-basket grass waited in themangers.

  "Wow," said Maggie. "I love it." She dropped to her knees and said,"We've got something new at our house too."

  "A pony?" asked Kelly.

  "No," said Maggie. "Something much bigger. Dad bought two big workhorses."

  "Really?" said Kelly. "What are their names?"

  "Polly and Molly," Maggie reported. "They're golden brown with blondmanes and tails."

  "Neat," said Kelly. "Maybe we can each ride one."

  "Maybe," said Maggie. "At least Dad thinks so."

  "When can I see them?" Kelly wondered.

  "Well, not tomorrow," said Maggie. "Dad is taking us to visit the farmwhere our horses came from. Want to come along?"

  "Sure," said Kelly.
/>   The girls asked Maggie's mother, and she said, "Yes."

  * * * * *

  The next afternoon Mom and Dad and the girls got to see Chuck's wholeherd of horses. Maggie thought the foals were sweet, even though thedraft horse babies were as big as full grown riding horses.

  Finally Chuck said, "Okay, Fred, let's see how you put on a horseharness."

  "All right," said Dad, "but don't laugh."

  Dad picked up the armload of harness and threw it on the back of ahuge animal named Babe. He pushed and pulled all the straps for a fewminutes. Then he stopped and looked at Chuck.

  Chuck laughed and slapped his leg. "You've got it on sideways," hesaid.

  Mom and the girls laughed too.

  "You weren't supposed to laugh," said Dad with a grin.

  "We couldn't help it," said Chuck. "Here let me show you how."

  * * * * *

  When the Johnsons got home, they were late with the milking. Dad said,"Maggie, I'll help you get the cows. They might be silly with thosehorses running with them." He picked up a bucket of oats and a bridleand set off with Maggie on his heels.

  The horses came right to Dad and started eating oats. He slipped thebridle over Molly's ears, climbed on a rock, and jumped up on Molly.

  "Can I ride, too?" asked Maggie.