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Jane Badger Books

Ruby Ferguson: Jill Has Two Ponies (eBook)

Ruby Ferguson: Jill Has Two Ponies (eBook)

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Jill has been dreaming of getting another pony, and here she is, with her prospective new pony in front of her. There's just one problem. Jill doesn't take to Rapide, and Rapide doesn't take to her. But Jill buys him, and then immediately regrets it. How Jill gets over her dislike of Rapide, while managing with her friends to save Mrs Darcy's riding school, makes this a classic of pony literature.

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Read a sample

“HERE is Rapide,” said Mrs. Penberthy, briskly leading out a bay pony. “Look, he has taken to your little girl at once!”

From my point of view there were several things wrong with these remarks. In the first place, Rapide is a silly name for a pony unless it is going to be in a circus; in the second place, I think it is insulting to refer to a person of fourteen as though she were six; and in the third place, Rapide far from taking to me at once had given me a very dirty look out of his rather disagreeable eyes. The fact was, I didn’t like Mrs. Penberthy, I didn’t like Rapide, and I didn’t know what I was going to do about it. I was worried, because Mummy would be so upset if she knew, after going to all that trouble to get me a show jumper.

Those of you who have read my previous book, A Stable for Jill, will remember that by devious ways I had amassed the sum of forty pounds to buy myself a second pony, and that Mummy had met some people on the boat coming from America who had just the very pony for me that they wanted to sell because their daughter had grown out of him. I was naturally excited about this pony because he was said to have done awfully well for the Penberthy girl, and for nights before we went to Little Grazings, which was the peculiar name of the Penberthys’ house, I dreamed about a pony beautiful to look at and wonderful in action.

So in the end Mummy fixed a Saturday with Mrs. Penberthy and we went down by train, which took about an hour and a half. Mummy read a book in the train as calmly as if we were going to do some mere shopping—I don’t know how grown-ups can be like that—and I fidgeted about and pulled at my gloves and felt like rushing madly up and down the corridor to work off some of my pent-up emotion, and Mummy kept giving me a look which said as plainly as anything, need you let everybody in the carriage think you are completely bats?
I then began to feel sorry for the rest of the people in our carriage because they were obviously not on their way to buy show jumpers but were just having to make this journey for some horribly mere purposes. I hope you will not mind me using the word ‘mere’ again so soon, but it is such a grey sort of word that I think it expresses all the dreary things that grown-up people do all the time, like seeing lawyers and having treatments and meeting people for lunch that they used to know about forty years ago.

There was a woman opposite me who was probably going to meet somebody for lunch, and the man next to me looked as if he was to have a treatment, and the younger man next to Mummy was obviously going to see a lawyer because he kept turning over a lot of type-written papers and gnawing his thumb nail. I thought I was getting quite detective-ish, and then just for fun I started picturing those people mounted on ponies and it was so funny I gave a snort—like you do when you try not to giggle—and Mummy gave me more of a look than ever, so I went very quiet and stared out of the window giving myself marks for fields that had horses in them and taking off marks for empty fields or just cows.
So from this you will have an idea what I felt like all the way to the Penberthys’, and how worked up I was when we got there and Mrs. Penberthy opened the loose box and the pony was actually before my eyes.

Now you had better go back to the beginning of this book and read the first bit again. I looked at Rapide and Rapide looked at me, and we just didn’t register at all. I felt like you do when you miss the vaulting horse at gym and land on the mat sitting down and the form giggles and you have got a crush on the gym mistress and want her to think you are marvellous.

I couldn’t say a word, of course, because it seemed so rude and ungrateful, and Mrs. Penberthy had been so nice—until she made the silly remark I have recorded—and had given us coffee.

So I thought I would put it all into my face like they do on the films. I put it all into my face and looked at Mummy hard, hoping she would understand, but I can’t be very good at expressions, as she told me afterwards that how I looked was as if I had been struck dumb with joy.

When she had looked at me she looked at Mrs. Penberthy, who was hanging on to Rapide’s halter as if she thought he would go up in the air, and said, “I can see that Jill is quite overcome with excitement, Mrs. Penberthy. He does look an awfully nice pony and so well groomed. But what we are interested in is his jumping. Do you think we could see him in action?”

“Oh, of course,” said Mrs. Penberthy. “I’m sure you’ll be delighted with him. Joan has been riding him in the under-sixteens for two seasons and has taken so many prizes and cups we hardly know where to put them. She wouldn’t think of parting with Rapide except that now she is seventeen she’s out of the pony classes. We are going to get her a hunter for Christmas. But she adores Rapide and I’m sure she’ll be heart-broken when he goes.”

I felt like saying, far be it from me to break the heart of even Joan Penberthy, but Mrs. Penberthy went on, “How old are you, Jill?”

“Fourteen,” I said.

“Ah, a lovely age for riding,” she went on. “You still have two years in the children’s classes. I’m sure Joan wishes she was fourteen again.”

I thought Joan must be a very funny person if she did, as it was the dream of my life to be seventeen and have a hunter, but I didn’t say anything because as you go through life you find some people have the weirdest ideas and think them quite right and Joan might be one of those.

All this time Rapide was looking at me with the greatest disdain as if I wasn’t a bit what he had expected, and I was trying not to look at him at all only I was sort of fascinated like they say rabbits are by snakes. I wish I knew if this is true.

Page length: 147

Original publication date: 1952

Who's in the book?

Human:
Jill Crewe, Mrs and Joan Penberthy, Catherine Crewe, Susan Pyke, Mrs Crosby, Mercy Dulbottle, Mrs Darcy, Martin Lowe, Anne Derry, Wendy Mead, James and Diana Bush, Val and Jack Horrington Hobday Heath, Captain Cholly Sawcutt, April, May and June Cholly-Sawcutt
Equine:
Black Boy, Rapide, George, Silvia, Blue Smoke, Petronella

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