Momma heard the sound of Laddie barking excitedly before she saw the cloud of dust coming up the dirt road to the farm. She looked at the clock on the kitchen wall which said 4:30pm, the time Scout and Timmy arrived home from school at Hill Country Elementary. She knew soon she would see Scout and Timmy racing up the driveway to the house, starving as usual.
Momma had one of their favorites, brownies with pecans, waiting on the counter. Timmy burst into the kitchen first, backpack and lunch pail flying across the kitchen counter. Scout was still outside playing with Laddie, books thrown on the porch. Scout had insisted that she was too old this year for a backpack. When Scout and Laddie were finished playing, she ran into the kitchen and grabbed a brownie and sat down at the kitchen table. Timmy was busy telling Momma tall tales of his day at school, (between bites of brownie) which she politely listened to with a patient ear.
Scout interrupted his next story by saying "Momma I have important news!" "Ok Scout tell us, what is your important news?" "Well you know "Becky" the new girl in school?"
"She is having a slumber party and she invited me to come!" "That sounds fun Scout, when is the party?" asked momma. Momma was very happy to hear that Scout and Becky were becoming friends, especially after Scout had to give back Becky's lost pony.
"I want to go too" a hopeful Timmy spoke up. "No way Tim, Becky is my friend not yours!" "Momma, tell Scout she has to take me along right?" "No Timmy, I'm sorry this slumber party is for girls only" Momma said. "I will find you guys" said a defiant Timmy. Momma spoke up, pulling Tim onto her lap "that's enough Tim, when you are older, you can have sleep overs with your friends."
A bored Timmy got off his mothers lap, grabbed another brownie and went out side to dig for worms with Laddie.
Scout excitedly showed momma the invitation to the slumber party. It was this coming Friday night after school. Scout was so excited; she had never been to Becky's ranch. When she found out they raised over a 100 horses, of all sizes she could hardly wait to see for herself!
Friday finally came, and by the time the 4 girls boarded the school bus at 3pm, it had poured down rain all day. The girls giggled excitedly on the bus toward Becky's ranch, planning their evening and already swapping secrets.
The ranch set back off the main road with over a mile of dirt, which now stood under about 2 inches of water making it impossible to pick up the girls at the bus, with the pickup truck. Scout noticed a pickup parked on the side of the main road. Since she grew up on a farm she knew that meant that the road to the ranch was too muddy for a truck to drive on. She asked her new friend "how are we going to make it to your house with all this mud?" Becky noticed Scouts worried look and said "don't worry; my dad will get us to the house." In the distance Scout could barely make out a dark figure through the rain. The girls all went to the side of the bus, looking through the windows down the driveway toward the ranch. Sloshing through the mud and rain, they could see a tall man covered in a yellow rain coat, on a really big black horse coming toward the stopped school bus. "That's my dad!" said Becky with a proud smile. "See I told you he would get us to the house!" All the girls laughed hysterically at the thought of riding a horse to the house! As Becky's dad drew close to the door of the bus, the girls gathered their back packs and stood in line at the doorway of the bus. "Nice weather were having McFadden!" Becky's father joked. Mr. McFadden laughed, and one by one handed the 4 girls to Becky's dad on top of the big black brood mare. Once all four girls arms were snuggly wrapped around each other, Becky's dad said "ok girls, hold on, "Mary Liz" is going to give you a ride home. If one of ya falls, ya'll all fall!" The girls erupted into laughter and held on tightly to each other. The big black mare carefully turned around and plodded her way carefully threw the mud and rain back to the ranch.
That evening the girls made their way to the horse barn and played with Becky's 3 brothers until bedtime. They rode the ponies around the indoor corrals, chasing her brothers, and playing hide and seek in the dark, amongst the hay bales. Scout had never seen so many beautiful horses of every shape, color and size. There were big beautiful brood mares and tiny foals with long legs following them around. Scout loved them all. She especially loved a black pony that Becky said didn't have a name yet. He was black with a white star on his forehead and a pink nose. Scout couldn't understand how anyone could not have names for all their horses. Becky said "Scout these ponies are all for sale except for "Silky" so I don't want to get attached to them." Growing up on a farm Scout certainly understood that, and nodded her head. She whispered into the gentle pony's ear. "If I could choose a pony I would surely pick you, and I would name you "Coaly" because you are so black." The beautiful black pony with the white star on his forehead nuzzled Scouts face as if to say "I like you too." Scout gave him a kiss on his pink nose and told him she hoped she could come back and ride him again some time real soon!" When it was time to go in for the night all the girls took turns getting their baths, each lining up for Becky's mom to braid their "manes". Later, as she unrolled her sleeping bag, Scout said worriedly to Becky "I didn't wash the horse smell off of me did I Becky?" to which Becky whispered, "Nope, me neither!" Giggling uncontrollably they both dove into their sleeping bags side by side with their new shared secret, hoping to dream of ponies.
The next morning Scout and the girls awoke to the scent of pancakes. It was still dark out since the girls had to be ready for the school bus to come by 7:00am. Scout and the other girls had helped Becky set the large dining room table for breakfast, before they went to bed that evening. When Scout was finished getting ready for school, she went into the kitchen just in time to see Becky's mom making homemade caramel syrup. Scout asked if she could help make the syrup. "Of course honey "said Becky's mom. "Grab me the cream from the frig" she said. "ok, next we will add the butter that's sitting on the counter, there next to the toaster." Then Becky's mom told Scout to get the brown sugar from the cupboard. "Pour in the brown sugar ‘til I tell you to stop" she said. Scout carefully poured in the brown sugar and began to stir with a long wooden spoon. She couldn't decide if the syrup looked or smelled better! "How long do we cook it?" she asked. ""til it boils real good" Becky's mom replied with a smile. She could tell Scout really enjoyed cooking. Once the syrup had come to a rumbling boil, she told Scout there was one last secret ingredient. Becky's mom carefully added a teaspoon of vanilla to the bubbling, hot, sweet, concoction and removed it from the stove top. By now Scouts tummy was growling, she could hardly wait to taste the syrup she had helped to make! Becky's mom hollered "breakfast is ready, hurry up or ya'll miss your bus!" Becky's brothers were the first to the table. Scout had never seen pancakes and bacon disappear so fast! They wolfed down their breakfast, cleaned and rinsed off their dishes. After the boys kissed their mom, they were out the door to school, in their beat up 4x4 pickup truck, mud flying everywhere as they spun and slid their way to the main road.
The other sleepy-eyed, pony tailed, slumber party girls shuffled their way into the kitchen to the table. Scout and Becky helped her mom get the girls served. Scout and Becky finally set down and began to eat their breakfast. Scout thought she had died and gone to heaven! "Mrs. Williams, maam, I don't think I have ever tasted anything so wonderful in my whole life!" Scout said with syrup on her chin. "In your big long life, ever?" joked Becky's mom. Scout asked for seconds "could I have extra syrup this time?" She asked shyly. "Of course sweetie, but you girls are going to be extra giggly today at school with all this sugar!" said Becky's mom. This of course caused the girls to erupt into fits of laughter at the table. After the girls could not fit in one more bite, they helped clear the breakfast table. They grabbed their back packs, and headed for the door for their "transport through the mud", back to the school bus at the end of the driveway. Waiting patiently outside next to the porch was Becky's dad on another big brood mare. She was a big beautiful sorrel brood mare just as big as Mary Liz! One by one Becky's mom handed the girls up onto the big mare's broad back. Once the girls were all on board, Becky's dad started to turn the big mare toward the driveway to the bus. Becky's mom said "wait Doug" Becky's dad stopped Star so fast all the girls slid forward bumping into each other, which caused hysterical giggling from them all! "I have to get a picture of this!" yelled Becky's mom to her husband. "Oh ok" Becky's dad said, carefully turning the mare around this time so that he wouldn't dump the girls off into the mud! Becky's mom ran to the house and brought out her camera. "Ok girls, everyone face this direction" she said. All the girls turned her way and waved for the camera, nearly falling off with laughter. After Becky's mom snapped the pictures she waved goodbye to the girls and wished them a good day at school. The girls waved and yelled "Thank you, Mrs. Williams, thank you" into the wind.
Mr. Mcfadden was already waiting at the end of sloshy muddy driveway, school bus motor idling. "Morning Williams" he said. "Looks like you are the cab again this morning eh?" then he laughed a big laugh that jiggled his belly. "Yes from the sounds of things last night I don't think they slept a wink," "but I guarantee you these girls have enough sugar in them to last them at least ‘til recess!" chuckling as he carefully unloaded each girl onto the bus steps from atop old steady Star.
That morning in school the girls talked and giggled about the night before at Becky's house. Scout sat at her desk, smelling her hands, because they still smelled like the horses. She day-dreamed about the day when she would have a horse of her very own. Scout smiled at the thought of having her very own horse, and drew pictures of the little black pony all over her note book.
Little did Scout realize that her dream would come true sooner than she thought, and she wouldn't even have to set a "pony trap!"