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Jane Badger Books

Ruby Ferguson: Pony Jobs for Jill (eBook)

Ruby Ferguson: Pony Jobs for Jill (eBook)

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Pony Jobs for Jill is the most controversial Jill book by a long way.

Earlier on in the series, Captain Cholly-Sawcutt offered Jill a job when she left school. That’s not quite what happens when Jill and Ann do leave school. They’re kicking their heels, unsure of what to do next, and fighting off their mothers’ attempts to send them off to do something useful. Domestic science, say. Or floristry.

And then Ann finds an advertisement from someone who wants people to help them break and school ponies. It sounds ideal. It’s the answer to everything. Or so they think.

If you haven’t read it, do, and you’ll see just why the book has shocked generations of pony book readers.

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Read a sample

“CAST your gorgeous orbs on that,” exclaimed my friend Ann Derry, slapping a folded newspaper down in front of me and pointing to a small ad. which she had outlined in red pencil. “Isn’t it the tops? Just what we want.”

With my long and disillusioning experience I did not at once burst into cheers. I had come to take a poor view of what other people thought was the tops.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but other people’s idea of bliss is seldom yours. I once went to stay with my cousin Cecilia (a square if ever there was one) and after whipping up my excitement about a smashing day out, I discovered that her idea of heaven was walking round an art gallery looking at some pictures of women made out of cubes with two eyes on the same side, followed by China tea and toast at a gruesome café called Ye Olde Cathedral Tea Shoppe.

I am not one to bear every wrong with patience, as the hymn says, so I complained loudly, and Cecilia said, “Well, what do you like?”

I said, “What about packing up a picnic hamper and inducing your mother to run us in the car to the nearest beach, and then doing a spot of rock climbing?” and she said, “That suits me.”

Once again I was to be disillusioned.

Cecilia’s idea of a picnic was a glossy hamper full of gleaming cups and plates and knives and spoons, and glass dishes to fill with dainty sandwiches, etc.

It took us over an hour to make the dainty sandwiches and pack the dainty cakes for this outfit, and all the time we were eating Cecilia kept on fussing and counting the knives in case one got lost in the sand, and by then I had lost interest in rock climbing, and we packed the wretched hamper up and lugged it home and spent half the evening washing it up ready for the next time. I took jolly good care that so far as I was concerned there wasn’t going to be any next time. So it just shows.

So when Ann came bouncing in full of girlish enthusiasm to make the remark with which this story begins, I merely said coldly, “Well, what is it, anyway?”

“It’s a job,” she said. “A smasher. Just what you and I are looking for to fill in the next six months.”

I must at this stage explain that Ann and I were at this time in the awful state of being neither one thing nor the other. We had passed (or scraped through) our G.C.E. and left school, and we weren’t ready to go and train for any serious job or profession. Actually we weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do. When we told our parents this they went on like mad about “any girl who isn’t an absolute clot knows what she wants to do at sixteen,” but to our surprise our headmistress backed us up and said that it was because we were so versatile and lively-minded that we couldn’t decide between all the fascinating careers in which we were bound eventually to shine.

However there was still about six months to fill in. If left to ourselves we could have filled it in very nicely, helping in various stables and riding other people’s show jumpers, but that idea was coldly received. No, we had got to do something useful for later life, and what could be more useful to a girl than domestic science? There happened to be a domestic science school in Ryechester and we could go every day.

“Think,” said Mummy, “of the future. A girl can’t learn too young how to run a home.”

Ann and I weren’t excited because, between you and me, we’d much rather have had the prospect of running a stable than a home.

Ann said, “What do we do at this place, for instance?”

“Paper ceilings,” I said. “Very tricky.”

“And cooking, I suppose?”

“Oh gosh yes,” I said. “They chain you to a cooker till your eyebrows fall off into the soup.”

“Well, it isn’t my cup of tea,” said Ann, “and I can’t think it’s yours, Jill. Tell you what, let’s get ourselves a job where we’re at least self-supporting, and then nobody can grumble.”

“Find one,” I said cynically. “Just you find one!”

And now it seems she’d found one.

I read the ad. It said, “Excellent job for two young girls knowledgeable with horses. Live in. Apply Little Chimneys Farm, Blowmore, Hants.”

“There you are,” said Ann. “Made to measure. Live in. We’d be self-supporting and have the time of our lives messing about with other people’s horses, and it wouldn’t cost us a dime.”

“What about my own ponies?” I said.

“Take them with us. I’d ride one and you the other. You’d get them supported too, and no food bills.”

I said I’d think about it.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with you, Jill Crewe,” Ann said. “But I’ll tell you one thing. There’ll be about a million girls knowledgeable about horses after this job, and unless we clinch it here and now we’ll have lost the chance of a lifetime.”

Page length: 136

Original publication date: 1960

Who's in the book?

Jill Crewe, Ann Derry, Captain and Mrs Sound, Catherine Crewe, Mrs Derry, Mrs York, Cecilia, Norrie and Dorrie Cannon
Black Boy, Rapide, George, New Forests: Happy Dawn, Merry Night, Mustard, Petter and Rainbow

Other titles published as

Challenges for Jill

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