A Pony Called Pebbles
By Wendy Orr, Patricia Castelao
Henry Holt and Company Copyright © 2012 Wendy Orr
All rights reserved.
The stables on the hill were shadowed and quiet in the moonlight. As the two men in dark clothes crept down the long hall, they could smell the warm scent of clean horses and fresh hay.
"Go right to the end," whispered the leader.
They snuck into the last stall, where Pebbles was sleeping. She was short and stocky, silvery white with some darker gray dapples across her rump. Her eyes were soft and brown in her pretty face.
"That's not a racehorse!" the smaller thief snarled. "We're in the wrong stall!"
A tall black stallion sprang to his feet. The men heard his hooves strike the floor. They felt the rush of his powerful body, and now that their eyes were used to the darkness, they saw his shape.
"That's Midnight!" exclaimed the boss thief. Before the stallion knew what was happening, a rope had been thrown around his neck and looped over his nose into a halter.
The horse's eyes rolled white with fear and rage. He jerked back and reared, his strong front legs slashing the air. The thief holding the halter was thrown into the corner of the stall. He rolled out of the way just as Midnight's hooves thudded down.
"Forget it!" the smaller man screamed. "I'm not going to get killed just to steal a horse!"
"Be quiet!" said the boss thief. He opened the stall door and pushed the other man out.
The stallion pawed the floor, snorting in alarm.
The thief ignored him. He rubbed the silver mare between her ears and breathed gently into her nostrils.
"What are you doing?" the smaller man demanded. "That's not the one we want!"
"I'm guessing this big guy doesn't go anywhere without his little friend. And when you're worth as much as he is, what you want is what you get."
The boss slipped a rope halter over Pebbles's head.
Amy had wanted a horse for as long as she could remember. She liked ponies, but what she really wanted was a horse. She drew horses, painted horses, watched horse shows, and collected horse books, horse ornaments, and horse pictures. She wanted a horse so badly that sometimes she pretended she was one. When she ran barefoot on the lawn, she imagined that her feet were hooves striking the ground. She practiced trotting with her knees high and cantering fast and smooth, with her left leg leading.
Other times, she pretended that her bike was a horse, except that she had to do the pedaling.
But mostly she imagined what it would be like to have her own horse. She would brush its big body and comb its long mane. She would look into its eyes and climb on its back, and ride it everywhere.
"Amy," her mom always said, "you know we can't have a horse. Horses are expensive — and where would we keep it?"
* * *
Hannah had been Amy's best friend since first grade. They did so many things together that Amy's dad called them the Amy-Hannah twins, even though they didn't look the same. Amy's hair was braided into swinging black cornrows, while Hannah had a bouncy brown ponytail that always showed what she was thinking.
What was the same was that they both loved animals. Amy loved horses as much as Hannah loved dogs.
Hannah's parents always used to say there was no way they could have a dog.
But when Hannah became a volunteer at Rainbow Street Animal Shelter and a mother dog arrived with five newborn puppies, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper had said she could keep the one that she loved. So Hannah took home the brown and white puppy she called Peanut, and her mom adopted the puppies' shaggy white mother. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Stolen! by Wendy Orr, Patricia Castelao. Copyright © 2012 Wendy Orr. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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