Authors: Bonnie Bryant
Carole turned Spice’s head toward the woods. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong, that Louise and Jessie were already somehow in trouble.
Willing though Spice was, Carole wished she were riding Jiminy, the sturdy Morgan, or Kismet, the stalwart Arabian. She hoped Spice had the courage, ability, and steadiness to do what she needed him to do. Still, he was the best horse she had. She had no choice but to take him.
She gave Spice a cluck and a kick to send him forward. They rode out into the darkness. The wind blew stiff and cold, and the snow was falling hard.…
Other Skylark Books you will enjoy
Ask your bookseller for the books you have missed
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L. M. Montgomery
BIG RED by Jim Kjelgaard
ELVIS IS BACK, AND HE’S IN THE SIXTH GRADE!
by Stephen Mooser
THE GREAT DAD DISASTER by Betsy Haynes
THE GREAT MOM SWAP by Betsy Haynes
THE GREEN MUSKETEERS AND THE FABULOUS FROGS
by Sara St. Antoine
SEAL CHILD by Sylvia Peck
WHAT IS THE TEACHER’S TOUPEE DOING
IN THE FISH TANK?
by Jerry Piasecki
THE WILD MUSTANG by Joanna Campbell
RL 5, 009–012
A Skylark Book
Skylark Books is a registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and elsewhere.
“The Saddle Club” is a trademark of Bonnie Bryant Hiller.
The Saddle Club design/logo, which consists of an inverted U-shaped design, a riding crop, and a riding hat, is a trademark of Bantam Books.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1994 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller.
Cover art copyright © 1994 by Garin Baker.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.
Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada
Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.
I would like to express my special thanks
to Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
for her help in the writing of this book.
slightly as she hurried up the icy dirt driveway of Pine Hollow Stables. It was below freezing—cold for Virginia, even in mid-December—and the wind blew hollowly through the bare branches of the trees that lined the drive.
Carole looked at the trees and smiled to herself. She’d been thinking about trees all day, but not these kinds of trees. Ms. Kendall, Carole’s social studies teacher, had assigned Carole’s class a family-tree project for them to complete over Christmas vacation. “The holidays are a good time for this because most of you will be visiting your relatives,” Ms. Kendall had said. “I want you to talk to them about this project. Learn from your own oral history.”
Carole knew that oral history is history passed down as
stories from one generation to another. They had been studying it in school. Carole was excited about the project. Of course, she wasn’t planning to spend Christmas with her relatives. Carole’s dad was a Marine Corps colonel, and for years they had lived in different places all over the world. Now his assignment at Quantico, the Marine Corps base near Washington, D.C., seemed more or less permanent, but they had gotten out of the habit of spending the holidays with family. With the exception of her Dad’s sister Joanne, who lived in Florida, and her aunt Elaine, who lived in North Carolina, she didn’t know any of her relatives very well.
Carole shook her head to clear her thoughts. She’d had to stop at the library after school, and now she was running late for the riding lesson she took every Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t like Carole to be late for anything—even though she could be spacey sometimes—and it was especially not like her to be late for riding. Carole loved horses more than anything else in the world. When she grew up she planned to spend her life with them, somehow—rider, trainer, vet, horse breeder, she never could decide—but for now she spent every minute she could at Pine Hollow Stables with her horse, Starlight.
Carole rushed through the main door of the U-shaped stable and walked quickly down the aisle, calling greetings to the horses as she went. She swung her book bag off her
shoulder as she hurried into the tack room. “Hello, Lisa, Hello, Stevie!” she said to her two best friends.
Lisa Atwood was already dressed in her neat riding clothes and was settling her hard hat over her medium-length light brown hair. “You’re late,” she said with a slightly worried smile. “Is anything wrong?” Lisa was a straight-A student and the most serious of the three.
“Library book,” Carole answered briefly. She rummaged through the cubby where she kept her riding gear. “Overdue!” She shook out her old rust breeches and began to put them on. Max Regnery, the owner of Pine Hollow, absolutely hated it when his students were late.
“I can’t imagine why you’d think a library book was so important,” joked Stevie. “I don’t worry about mine until they’re months overdue. The last time, I ended up buying
from the library—the book cost less than the fine.”
Stephanie Lake—called Stevie by everyone except her mother—was equally good at riding and at getting into trouble. She was also usually pretty good at getting out of trouble, but no one had ever accused her of paying too much attention to books or to school. It wasn’t that she wasn’t smart. It was just that she could always think of more interesting ways to spend her time—like gluing her twin brother Alex’s shoes to the floor.
months overdue,” Carole said. She pulled a sweatshirt on over the plaid blouse she’d worn to school
and began brushing her black hair into a low ponytail. “I found it under my bed. And what were you doing with
? I read that in the third grade.”
the third grade,” Stevie replied, grinning. “My mom said I should stick with the school library after that. Fenton Hall doesn’t charge fines.”
“Not to interrupt,” Lisa cut in, “but we don’t want Carole to be late, and we certainly don’t want all of us to be late. Carole, we’ve got Barq and No-Name ready. Why don’t we groom Starlight for you?”
“That’d be great,” Carole said gratefully. “I’ll be there as soon as I get my boots on.” Stevie and Lisa left the tack room.
I may not know much about my family, Carole thought, but at least I know a lot about my friends. She knew she could always count on Lisa and Stevie. The three of them were such good friends—and loved horses so much—that they had formed a club they called The Saddle Club. It had only two rules: Members had to be horse-crazy, and they had to be willing to help each other whenever help was needed. Those were the easiest two rules in the world for Carole, Lisa, and Stevie. And although there were other “out-of-town” members of The Saddle Club, including Stevie’s boyfriend, Phil Marsten, the three girls were the only members who rode at Pine Hollow. They had had a lot of adventures and solved a lot of problems together.
FTER THEIR LESSON
, Carole gave Starlight a thorough grooming to make up for the hurried one he’d gotten before class. Starlight was Carole’s pride and joy. He was a tall bay gelding with a lopsided, six-point white star on his forehead, and he had been a Christmas present from Carole’s father. And from her mother, too, sort of … Carole’s mother had died just a few years ago, and Starlight had been purchased with some money she had left for Carole. Starlight was still very young and Carole had been working hard training him. She was delighted with how far he’d come.
When she had finished and Starlight was happily munching hay in his stall, Carole went down to visit the newest horse at Pine Hollow—Stevie’s mare, No-Name. Stevie’s eyes were still glowing with the incredible joy of actually owning a real live horse, and she was brushing No-Name over and over even though the mare’s chestnut coat already shone like a copper mirror. Lisa was standing on a step stool combing No-Name’s mane.
No-Name wasn’t really her name. That was the problem. The horse had arrived without a name, and Stevie wasn’t going to be happy until she’d found the perfect one for her. No-Name was part Arabian, part saddlebred, and lately Stevie had been focusing on Arabian names.
“How about Sarouk?” Stevie was saying as Carole
walked over, picked up a comb, and began to work on No-Name’s tail.
“No.” Lisa shook her head.
“Really, Stevie!” Carole said, laughing. “Where did you come up with those? Princess Jasmine was a better idea!”
“Ick.” Lisa wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think you’ve found it yet, Stevie. Not Sarouk, Tabriz, or Princess Jasmine.”