The 50 Horse

Ellie S. Thomas

Copyright 2011 by  Ellie S. Thomas


Photo of the head of an old rocking horse.

He was just a battered old playhorse. One ear was long gone and his paint was worn and peeling. You still wondered what secrets he could tell if he could only speak! Sometimes he looked ready to burst with the stories that were undoubtedly stored up in his stout wooden heart. It made you wonder at that strange lop-sided, little grin and your mind would go back to long ago. To the boys and girls who loved him and the gallops they’d had. That was when his paint was new and his saddle was bright and he had two good ears. Ah-h, who would love him now?

For many months the wooden horse had been stored in a dark basement. It was a damp, awful place and his joints began to loosen and grow shaky. Spiders ran over his back and made cobwebs about his neck. He really didn’t deserve such treatment and someone should save him. But who would it be?

Then one day the lady who owned the house came down the basement stairs and seized him by his one good ear. She pushed him towards her daughter.

Here’s this old thing,” she cried. “This might as well go in your sale.”

She handed him to her daughter who was having a garage sale the next day.

Sell it. Get rid of it. Its no good any way!”

Now, wouldn’t you think the lady could have had a kinder attitude? Someone had loved him once by the look of his scraped-off paint and his battered coat. Many ‘someones’ had and he deserved better treatment now, if only for old time’s sake. But he was tossed into the trunk of the car. Dust flew up and covered his face and a brace on the spare tire chipped a couple splinters from his leg. It didn’t look like there would be much of him left to sell when they got done throwing him around.

Early the next morning, the daughter unlocked her trunk and put the toyhorse on the porch with the rest of the things she wanted to sell. The sun was shining and it made his tired old paint sparkle with new life. His dark eyes seemed to dazzle again and his leer was as infectious as ever. She stood him straight and proud—well, as straight and proud as his shaky old joints would allow. People began to come.

Look at that silly old horse,” one lady said. “Who would want THAT piece of junk?”

At a second glance, the horse did look seedy, so someone shoved him behind a basket.

Oh, I don’t know,” another woman replied. “I think he’d cute.”

The horse rolled on the uneven floor and stood before them.

I’ll give you a good buy on that horse,” the owner offered. “I’m not gonna keep him any longer. Everything must go.”

Well, the ladies looked him over and felt his shaky joints and decided against buying him. They walked away.

Another car pulled up and several children got out. Their mother began to look at the items for sale and the children played with the toys and games. One rough boy walked over and kicked the horse. It rolled backwards under the table but a little girl seized his rope and dragged him back out. He was pulled over and dragged along, first one side and then the other scraping over the cement. There was an explosion of slivers as she threw him over the curb into the driveway and then ran off, her chubby legs twinkling. For awhile there appeared a real danger of someone running over the horse. It was a frightening sight to see.

As the day wore on, the toyhorse lay in the gutter. First, it rained on him, making the woos swell with the wet and chill, cars speeding by splashed him and once, he was almost washed away by a huge wave that came racing down the street; then the sun came out.

First its warmth dried his sides but then, it got too hot and more of his paint began to peel and flake off. It was really shake and bake weather. It was doubtful if the poor horse could last through the day.

About lunchtime, a battered and rusty car stopped at the edge of the street. A tired looking mother got out with her little boy. They looked very poor and the mother looked very sad. Even the boy looked sad.

Now you mustn’t coax for things, Freddy,” his mother said gently. “You know Daddys out of work and there’s no money for extras.” But Freddy had already seen the horse.

Look, Mama? Look at the horsey. Oh, I love him, he’s such a fine, brave-looking pony. I’d like to take him home with me.”

The mother smiled at the beat-up old plaything and gently drew Freddy aside. It was only 50c but…

Now, Freddy, you heard what I just said. We can’t!”

Please, lady, let the little fellow have the old thing. I’d be glad to get rid of it,” the owner said.

The tired mother smiled. Really, wasn’t there some good in EVERYONE? Although the lady had been trying to SELL the horse before, here she was giving him to little Freddy. The horse’s tail almost seemed to wave as Freddy carried him out to the car.

For many weeks, Freddy played with the horse and he had wonderful fun. He galloped over the lawn and on rainy days he sat on the porch and talked to the horse as he watched cars passing. Freddy tried to imagine where they were going and what they would do when they got there. Then, one day, disaster struck!

Freddy’s Dad had gotten work far away and they must move again, leaving the horse behind.

Freddy really missed the horse. He was so lonely he rocked to and fro trying to forget his misery. He was sure there was no one in the whole wide world to be friends with now. He and the horse had such good times; there was scarcely any paint left on its body now. Freddy wondered what would happen to his playmate? Who would want a 50c horse?

The lady from the GoodWill came and took away all the things Freddy and his mother had not been able to move, so again, the horse stood with a big FOR SALE sign hung around his neck. It was so hard to keep him upright. He’d roll behind the clothesrack and under the tables until one of the ladies pushed him against a pile of books right up front in the windows. With the added support, the horse stood straight and tall again.

A little, grey-haired lady came down the sidewalk. She paused and looked in the windows. She looked at the lady’s purse, she looked at the sweaters. She clasped her flat little purse to her chest and sighed. Nothing looked very interesting. But then she saw the horse! She hurried into the store.

How much is that horse?” she cried. “He’s just what I want so my grandchildren will h ave something to play with when they come to visit.”

The GoodWill lady looked at the bent over body, the apple cheeks and grey hair. She spoke very softly.

It’s fifty-cents, Ma’am.”

The GoodWill lady sold the rockinghorse and the little old lady took him home with her. She washed him up and patted him tenderly.

We’re two of a kind, horsey,” she told him. “We’ve both known better days but children don’t care. They’ll love you just as they love me.”

And she was right. The grandchildren came often and each time they ran to see who would be first to play with the horse. They didn’t care if his paint was peeling or his ear was gone, they loved him. And the eyes of love made him beautiful again and the battered, beat-up old playmate continued to make children happy.

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