December 11th, 2006


He whistled softly through his teeth as he rubbed down the dainty mare. She nipped at him playfully; he laughed and swatted her flank. "None o' that, you hussy," he told her. Sprite shook her head; went back to munching her hay.

In the tack room, still whistling, he polished the mare's bridle until it gleamed. The head groom, peevish, told him to leave off the racket.

But hadn't Miss Swann given him, Joe Barnes, the youngest stable boy, a whole silver penny today? "Because," she'd said, "no one takes care of Sprite half so well." Joe whistled louder still.