The little horse had a bug in his ear. He talked every day about the mountains of New Hampshire, the wonderful vistas, the sweet smell of the woods, the taste of wild blue berries and cold mountain streams, the soft pine-needle-covered trails. He wanted to scramble over the granite crags. To feel the wind in his mane and tail.
“But you only just got home,” wailed Bel Canto. “It’s so lonely here when you are gone. And the au pair makes me study twice as hard. She makes me study for two.”
“You can play with the pinto pony, “ said the little horse.
“He’s always napping,” Bel said.
“Well, I can’t stay here on the shelf,” insisted the little horse. “I’ll go mad.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” chided the au pair.
“See what I mean?” he whispered to Bel. “I can’t even say what I think without somebody sticking her long nose where it’s none of her business.” Bel was shocked by how rude the little horse was being.
The little horse became more and more unruly. “I can’t do anything with him,” complained the au pair to his mother. “He just rolls his eyes at me whenever I chastise him. He is unteachable. He reads the most inappropriate books and when I suggest he attend to his lessons he stalks off to the other end of the bookshelf. He won’t even study his French!”
“I’m afraid he is breaking free of this sedentary life,” his mother answered. “I had hoped that a trip to France would put an end to his wanderlust, but it seems to have made it worse. Our little horse is growing up. He wants to seek his fortune.”
The au pair shook her head. “Some little horses should be grateful that they do not need to seek their fortunes. There are big bad wolves in the world still. And this little horse is the type who would build a house of straw and think himself safe.”
Bel Canto listened to this conversation with growing concern. She trotted across the bookshelf to where the little horse stood, next to the waving kitty.
“Promise me,” she said, “that you won’t leave me alone on this shelf again.”
The little horse looked at Bel with his large dark eyes. He blew warm air out of his wide nostrils. “I can’t promise that,” he told her. “I have to go to the mountains in New Hampshire.”
Bel’s ears went limp. Her nose drooped to the ground. She dragged her hooves as she slowly walked back to the other side of the shelf where the au pair was waiting to review her lessons. “Don’t pay him any mind,” the au pair huffed. “He’s just jockeying for attention. Bel did not reply, but she did not think the au pair was right.