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Authors: Bonnie Bryant

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BOOK: Hay Fever
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Mrs. Lake shrugged. The Saddle Club grinned at one another. Some things you just couldn’t explain to a parent.

“Sure beats green hamburgers, Mom,” Stevie said after a few mouthfuls. They had told Mrs. Lake about most of the day’s events, including Chad’s food-coloring ploy.

“I’m glad you like it, dear. Who knows? I might get
used to cooking and cleaning again—every few weeks or so,” she teased, serving the girls second helpings.

After dinner they went upstairs to hang out in Stevie’s room and rehash the past few days.

“What I can’t believe,” Carole began, “is that we really thought Max wouldn’t be able to find someone for himself. How could we be that dumb?”

“I don’t know, but all the women we invited sure made me feel lower than a snake,” Stevie said.

“Tell me about it!” Carole said, already starting to giggle.

At the thought of the incident Stevie was referring to, the three of them burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. One of the most memorable scenes of the whole day had come after the fireworks had ended. As everyone walked back to Pine Hollow together, the women had begun to thank the girls for inviting them to the picnic. Stevie had turned to the group and said, “Oh, you’re welcome. I’m so glad you could all come. I’m just sorry it didn’t work out with Max.”

“What do you mean?” Nicole asked suspiciously.

“Yes, I thought he enjoyed giving us the talk, and a lot of us are planning to take a few lessons,” Miss Cartwright put in.

Stevie bit her lip. Somehow she didn’t think the truth would go over very well. But the women were staring at her, awaiting an explanation. “I just meant that it’s too
bad that Max had already—uh—met someone because we were kind of hoping—” She stopped, noticing thirteen pairs of flashing eyes.

“We were hoping that one of you might marry Max,” Carole said succinctly.

Sergeant Kiernan stopped short. She put her hands on her hips and drew herself up to her full, highest-ranking-noncommissioned-officer-on-base height. “Carole Hanson, do you mean to tell me that you and your friends staged a manhunt, and we were supposed to chase after Max?”

Carole nodded reluctantly.

“It wasn’t exactly a hunt,” Lisa said defensively. “It was more of a—”

“A beauty contest?” Tiffani asked with a giggle. The women glared at her.

“A sort of an audition,” Lisa finished.

“Well, I can’t speak for the others, but I will tell you girls this: If you think I came here on this beautiful day to waste my time competing for some prize of a guy, then, honey, you have got another think coming.”

At the end of Sergeant Kiernan’s speech, the women had burst into applause.

Stevie reached across Lisa to grab a tissue from the box on the floor of her room. She wiped a tear from her eye. “The funniest part is,” she began when she could stop laughing, “we would’ve said the exact same thing if anyone
had tried to get us to go after some boy, but that never even crossed our minds.”

“I know,” Carole said. “I figured that if they found out what was going on, they’d be flattered to have been asked.”

“One person was—Tiffani. I think she was hoping there would be a swimsuit and evening-gown competition following the picnic,” Lisa joked.

As they talked, the girls changed into their sleepwear—a flowered nightgown for Lisa, striped pajamas for Carole, and an oversize rally T-shirt and shorts for Stevie. They weren’t ready to sleep, but they wanted to continue talking in bed. They were about to get out the sleeping bags and pillows when the phone in Stevie’s room rang.

“I hope it’s not Phil,” Stevie said. “I can’t wait to tell him everything, but I’m too tired to describe today in detail again.” She picked up the receiver and said, “Hello.” After a second she mouthed, “It’s Max.” Carole and Lisa crowded around to try to hear what he was saying.

“Stevie,” Max said gravely, “I have some unfortunate news to share with you.”

“Yes?” Stevie asked nervously, her mind racing. Had Deborah left him again, but for good this time? Had the women been more upset about the picnic than they had acted? Had someone died of green-hamburger poisoning?

“When Deborah and I returned from Washington this evening, I got a call from Mr. Biddle,” Max said.

Stevie let out a huge sigh of relief. She could easily work her way out of this. “Max, I can explain,” she began, but Max cut her off.

“And I told Biddle that he ought to find better things to do with his time than yelling at three of the most gutsy, determined, clever, thoughtful girls I know.” Max paused.

Stevie, Lisa, and Carole were speechless with delight.

“I heard all the details about the search-and-rescue team,” he continued, “and all I can say, on behalf of Deborah and me, is thank you a hundred times.”

Carole and Lisa began to swing each other gleefully around the room. Stevie searched for the appropriate answer to Max’s thanks. She settled on the truth. “Max, there are some things a person has to do for himself—or herself. We really had nothing to do with it,” she said.

“I’ll never believe that for one second,” Max said. “And we can’t wait to thank you in person.”

Stevie tried to protest, but Max would hear none of it.

“Max thinks I was just being modest for us,” Stevie said after hanging up. “But I was telling the truth: There
some things people have to do for themselves.”

With that she yanked open the closet door to get pillows for Carole and Lisa. Instead of her own usual mess, she saw two huge wicker baskets, one filled with
dark laundry, the other with whites. Clipped to one of the baskets was a note, written in her mother’s handwriting, with the heading: “Directions for washing and drying lights and darks.”

At Stevie’s groan Carole and Lisa came to her side and peered in.

“You know what?” Lisa said. “There are also some things that friends have to do together.”

She picked up the dark load. Carole picked up the light load. Stevie grinned, grabbed the detergent, and set off down the stairs. They still had a lot to talk about, but the best thing about being part of The Saddle Club was that they could talk anywhere—Stevie’s room, a stall at Pine Hollow, even the Lakes’ laundry room!


is the author of more than a hundred books about horses, including The Saddle Club series, Saddle Club Super Editions, the Pony Tails series, and Pine Hollow, which follows the Saddle Club girls into their teens. She has also written novels and movie novelizations under her married name, B. B. Hiller.

Ms. Bryant began writing The Saddle Club in 1986. Although she had done some riding before that, she intensified her studies then and found herself learning right along with her characters Stevie, Carole, and Lisa. She claims that they are all much better riders than she is.

Ms. Bryant was born and raised in New York City. She still lives there, in Greenwich Village, with her two sons.

BOOK: Hay Fever
10.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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