The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Pasture Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and it was painted white and had green blinds; and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One afternoon Uncle John found little John playing about near the kitchen door, and he said, "John, I want you to go to the big pasture and get the horse." That was before a rail-fence was put across the big pasture, and one of the horses was in that pasture, that day, to eat the grass.

And little John said, "All right, I will. And father, will you let me ride him home?"

Uncle John thought that would be all right, so he said little John might ride the horse home from the pasture, but that he mustn't ride him anywhere else.

So little John started running to the barn. He went to the stall that horse belonged in, and there was the horse's name, Joe, painted on the side of the stall. It wasn't very well painted, but it was good enough. And the harness and the halter were hanging on a peg at the end of the stall. They were too high for little John to reach, so he got a stick, and knocked the halter off the peg. The halter was a kind of a loose bridle that the horse wore when he was in the stall. It didn't have any bit, but only a loose strap that went around his nose and another that went behind his ears and buckled under his neck. And a rope was fastened to the strap that went around his nose, and they tied the horse to anything by the other end of the rope.


When little John had the halter, he went over to the feed box, where they kept the oats and the meal and the bran, and he found a middle-sized measure. And in this measure he put some oats, but only a little. Then he ran out of the wide door and down the little track, past the shed and past the kitchen door and out the wide gate into the road, and along the road until he came to the big pasture. And in one hand he had the halter, and in the other hand he had the measure with the oats.

When he got to the bars, there was the horse, waiting at the bars, to go home. But little John was sorry to see the horse waiting there, because he thought it would be a very short ride home. So he thought for a minute, and then he cried out, "Get along, Joe!" And he shooed Joe away from the bars. Joe didn't know what to make of that, so he went a little way and then stopped, to see what he ought to do next. And besides, he saw the measure of oats, and he wanted some.

Then little John let down the bars at one end, and he went in and shooed Joe farther away and made him go far off to the farthest corner of the field that there was, and that was pretty far, because it was a very big field. Joe wasn't the horse that chased him, so little John wasn't afraid of him.

When Joe had gone as far as he could, he stood in the corner, beside the stone wall, and he bent his ears forward and stretched his head out to get the oats. And little John put the measure of oats on the top of the wall, on a flat stone, and then, while Joe was eating the oats, he put the halter over Joe's nose, and pulled it up and put the strap behind his ears and buckled it under his neck. Little John had to stand up on the wall to do that, because he wasn't tall enough to do it while he stood on the ground.

When little John had the halter all buckled on, he put the rope over Joe's neck and tied the end to the other side of the loose strap that went around the horse's nose. Then he got on Joe's back, and he reached down and took the measure and held it in front of him, and he said, "Get up, Joe."

Then Joe started walking along over the field, and little John held on to the rope, that was just the same as reins, because it was fastened at both ends. And walking wasn't fast enough for little John, so he kicked his heels on Joe's sides, and Joe started to trot. That made little John bob up and down very much, because he hadn't any saddle nor any stirrups. So he held on tightly by the rope, and his elbows stuck out straight and waved up and down at every step, and his feet stuck out almost straight, and he had hard work to keep the measure from falling off. It wasn't very comfortable, but little John thought it was great fun.

When they came to the bars, Joe stopped trotting and stepped very carefully over the bars, so that little John shouldn't fall off, and then little John said "Whoa," and Joe stood still. Then little John got down. He had to just slide down, because there wasn't any other way. And he kept hold of the halter and put the bars up in the holes. Then he climbed up on the bars and got on Joe's back again, and Joe didn't wait for him to say anything, but he started right off.

So Joe trotted along the road and came to the farm-house, and he went in at the wide gate and up the little track, past the kitchen door and past the shed, and in at the wide door of the barn. And he didn't stop, but he walked right into his own stall and looked around at little John.

Then little John slid down off his back, and Joe held his head down while little John untied the end of the rope from the halter and tied it to a ring in the front of the manger. Then Joe moved over to one side of the stall, so that little John could go out. And little John put the measure back where it belonged and ran out of the barn.

After that, when little John went to the pasture, to get Joe, Joe saw him coming and ran as fast as he could over to the farthest corner of the big field. And he always waited there for little John to come and get on his back.

And that's all.