By Rodney Rountree
Illustrated by Kathleen and Sara Rountree
Once upon a time - It was time for bed. The little girl took off her favorite socks and put them away before putting on her P.J.s and getting into bed. The socks were brightly colored orange, red and white, but the best thing about them was the horse pictures! A white horse with black spots, a tan horse, and a black beauty. She loved to wear her horse socks and pretend she could run like a real horse. The next morning the little girl woke up and right away went to get her horse socks, but they were not there! Just when she was about to get upset, she saw them on the top of her dresser. “How did they get over there” she wondered. Well anyway, she quickly put them on. Something happened when she put her socks on. Her feet kind of tingled and she felt a little funny. “Oh well” she shrugged and ran downstairs to get breakfast.
When she opened the kitchen door, she gasped. The Kitchen was gone! Instead there was a beautiful green meadow of grass with flowers all around. On the other side of the meadow stood three beautiful ponies. One was white with brown spots. One was tan and one was shiny black, just like black beauty. The little girl felt shy at first, but after awhile she decided to walk over and see if she could pet the horses. So she went right over, but as she got closer she could hear the horses talking! She was amazed. How could horses talk? They were laughing and joking together.
After awhile the little girl went closer and the white horse turned her head and saw the little girl. Everyone stopped talking and they all stared at each other for a moment. Finally the black horse said, “Hi, how are you? You must be new here, what’s your name?” The little girl hesitated, but said “My name is Sara, but I’m not new here, I’ve lived in this house all my life. Where are you from and how can you talk?” Well the horses all just stared at the little girl like she was crazy and then the tan one said: “What are you talking about? We’ve lived hear all OUR lives, and we never saw you before. And what house are you talking about? There’s no house here.” Then the white horse laughed and said, “Oh she must be joking, horses don’t live in houses!”
Well, the little girl was all confused. She started to point to her house, but when she turned around, the house was gone! “Where’s my house!” she cried. “It was right over there a minute ago.” The horses crowded around the little girl laughing. “Oh come on now” they said “stop fooling. Do you want to have a race?” The little girl was very mixed up, and a little scared about where she was, but she stammered “No, thank you. How can I race a horse? I’m just a little girl.” The other horses stood looking at her and blinking. They whispered to each other. Then the black horse said nervously “O.k. if you don’t want to play with us, that’s fine, but stop pretending you’re a girl. Everyone can see you’re a horse!” “A horse?” the girl cried. “What do you mean? See I have…” but her voice trailed off, because when she looked down at herself, expecting to see her own two feet, she saw pony legs and hooves instead! She gasped and looked all around herself. “I’m … I’m a horse!” she cried. “Well of course you’re a horse,” said the other horses all together. Come on, lets go race. And with that they all began running across the meadow.
The little girl just stood there for a moment, but then she ran to catch up. She did not want to be left alone. She ran so fast the grass and flowers seemed to flash by. Even though she was worried and scared, it felt good to run. She quickly caught up with the other horses and said to them “but you have to believe me! I’m a little girl, something happened to me.” “Yeah", said the tan horse, "you must have hit your head on a tree,” and all the horses laughed. Suddenly the little girl felt very scared and alone. She stopped running and started to cry. “It's not funny," she sobbed, “I’m scared.” The other horses stopped laughing and looked worried. Soon they came over to her and tried to console her. “Don’t cry anymore,” said the white horse. “Yeah” said the others. “We’re sorry we laughed and we won’t laugh anymore.”
Remmy, the tan horse, whispered to the girl “They say he is the oldest and wisest horse in the kingdom.” Rosebud, the white pony, came over and stood close to the little girl, because she could see her trembling. “Don’t worry,” Rosebud said, "the King is also the kindest horse in the Kingdom. He will know how to help you. The little girl smiled at Rosebud and said in a small voice: "I don’t know what I’d do if it weren’t for you and Sampson and Remmy. Can we be friends?” “Yes” they all said together “Best Friends!”
They all stopped talking when the Horse King began to speak. “Little girl. Come forward” he said. They all gasped. “How did you know I was a girl,” Sara asked. “I know a lot of things,” said the King. “Please your highness. I want to go home. Can you tell me how to turn back into a girl and get home?” she said. The King looked at her for a moment then he said solemnly, “I’m afraid my dear that you can never go back home, and you will stay a horse.” “Oh no!” she cried. “Please, there must be something you can do.” The other horses also cried out “please your majesty isn’t there anything you can do?”
The horse King looked doubtful. Then he turned to the girl “Well” he said slowly “there is one chance. You must find three brave horses to go with you on a journey to find the magic box. Only the magic box can help you.” The little girl lowered her head in sadness and began to cry. “What am I going to do?” she moaned. Then Rosebud spoke up. “I’ll help you,” she said. And then Sampson and Remmy quickly agreed, “Yes, we will all help you.” But the King shook his head. “No, no! You ponies are much too young for such a journey. That won’t do at all.” And with that the King galloped off.
The little girl stood and cried a little more, then went over to her friends and said “Thank you so much for trying to help me.” As the little girl began to walk slowly off Sampson came running up after her. “Wait, wait! I don’t care what the King said. I’m going to help you find the magic box!” Rosebud and Remmy looked at each other, then they both smiled and ran to catch up. Remmy said a little out of breath “Me too! I’m going to help.” “And me too” said Rosebud. The little girl said, “Are you sure? Really?” And they all hugged each other the way horses do. Sampson reared up on his hind legs and let out a long neigh. Then they all galloped off laughing and talking together about their grand adventure.
Rosebud, Sampson, Remmy and the little girl Sara who was now a pony searched for many days. They made lots of new friends and had many adventures. Once they got lost in a giant’s flower garden. The flowers were like trees in a forest. They wandered around for hours before a kind bluebird showed them the way out. That was many days ago, but for a long time now they had been looking and looking without finding anything. No one knew where the magic box was. They were all getting very tired and discouraged. The little girl tried to be brave, but she was beginning to lose hope. She was really homesick. Her friends were losing hope too, but they kept trying to reassure the little girl and encourage her.
One day, they were all walking along, not expecting anything when they came to the top of a small hill. Looking down from the hill they all froze in their tracks. Right down below them was a giant dragon guarding a cave. “What do we do?” they all asked each other. "Maybe the dragon knows where the box is?" said Rosebud. “Great, YOU go ask him about it” said Remmy sarcastically. “I’m not going to ask him. You do it,” said Rosebud. As the three horses were arguing about what to do, the little girl snuck off to ask the dragon herself. After all, it was her problem and she did not want her friends to get eaten by the dragon. So she walked right up to the dragon. By the time her friends noticed it was too late. All they could do was watch in horror. They were quite sure their friend was about to get eaten by the dragon.
“If you please, Mister Dragon. I’m looking for a magic box that will turn me back into a little girl and take me back home. Do you know where it is?” The dragon blinked its large eyes. He was so surprised that he scratched his head and twitched his great tail. “Why yes” he finally said sounding quite perplexed. “Its right here in my cave. But aren’t you going to fight me or try to steal my magic box?” “Oh no” said the girl. “That would not be right. I was taught not to fight or steal. I was hoping that I might borrow it, or maybe trade you it for something."
Well the dragon did not know what to do. No one had ever asked him nicely for the box before. He paced around trying to decide what to do. Should he just eat the girl? Or should he help her? After a while he said slowly “you can’t borrow my box, but I will trade you it for something.” The little girl was disappointed. I was hoping I could borrow it she said. I don’t really have anything to trade.
The dragon looked around. “Hmm” he said, “you could trade me one of those horses up there. Just get one to come down here and I’ll catch it and eat it up for my dinner.” “No! I couldn’t do that!" exclaimed the little girl. "They are all my friends." “Humph” snorted the dragon. “Then I guess you can’t have the box.” And with that he turned around and pouted like a little boy.
Well the little girl was heart broken. She sadly walked back to her friends and told them what happened. They all stood around kicking the dirt and trying to think what to do. Then Rosebud had an idea. She whispered her idea to Remmy and Sampson, who both agreed. Then without a word they marched right down to the dragon, with the little girl trailing behind begging them to stop. “No! Don’t go down there, he’s going to eat you! Don’t! Please come back” she called. But the three horses kept right on going.
Finally they stopped right in front of the dragon. “Hey you! Mister Dragon!” shouted Rosebud. The dragon turned around. This time he was really, REALLY surprised. "Three horses", he said. "I only asked to eat one of you. Well, I’m going to have a really good dinner." And after having said he began to reach down for Rosebud. “Wait” called up Rosebud. "You said you would trade the box to our friend. Will you trade it to us to give to her if we offer you something really special?”
The dragon hesitated. “What kind of special thing do you mean?” he asked curiously. “Well" said Remmy, “you look awful lonely here all by yourself.” “Yeah” said Sampson. “I bet you never have anyone to play with.” The dragon dropped its paws and said a little sadly. “Yes, I’m a little lonely. No one ever comes out here to visit me”. “We will be your friends, and promise to come visit you often if you’ll help our friend,” said the three horses together. “Really?” said the dragon. “Would you really be my friend and visit with me sometimes?” “Why of course” they all said, “we’d be happy to come play with you. In fact, we bet that when we tell all our friends that we have a dragon friend to play with, that they will want to come visit you too.” The dragon looked back and forth at all the horses, then at last he clapped his paws together, slapped his big tail on the ground and made the biggest smile a dragon ever had, and said “I’d love to be your friends, no one has ever been my friend before and I can tell that you are really good friends because you were brave and came to see me to help your friend even when you were scared.” “So you’ll help our friend?” asked Remmy. “Yes!” said the dragon. And with that he turned around and headed into his cave. “Hurray!” All the horses shouted and they hugged each other.
In a moment, the dragon emerged from his cave carrying what looked like a teeny tiny little pink box in his great big paw. He gently handed it down to the little girl. She hesitated and then quickly nudged open the box. “Huh?” she said, for when she looked in the box it was empty. “I don’t understand,” said the girl. “The box is empty.” "Read the message," said the dragon. The little girl looked again, and this time she noticed an inscription inside the lid: “To run like the wind, with your mane blowing free, put on these magic pony socks and a horse you will be. But when you miss your bed, and home you wish, take them off again and a little girl will wake.”
Well the little girl and her friends, and even the dragon were quite puzzled. They did not understand the message at all. They did not see any socks in the box. Then they heard a deep voice from behind them and the Pony King said, “Look at your feet child.”
And when the little girl looked at her front feet, she saw she was wearing her very own special socks with the horse pictures on them. “To go home, just take off your socks and place them in the magic box” continued the King.
“You knew where the box was all along, didn’t you?” asked Rosebud. “Yes” said the King. “And you all have made me very proud. Rosebud, Remmy and Sampson, you have each had a great adventure and have learned the finest lesson. That love and friendship are the greatest gifts and kindness will triumph when strength fails." Everyone marveled at the King’s message, and then the King said “Sara its time for you to go home. Take off the magic pony socks and place them in the box." But the little girl hesitated, and tears came to her eyes. “I want to go home," she said, "but I don’t want to leave my friends. I will miss them too much.” “Yes,” echoed the other horses. “We don’t want her to go either.” “But you don’t have to go home forever” said the King. And with a great smile he said, “Anytime you want to come back and visit your friends and the dragon in my Kingdom, just put on your magic socks and you will again be a horse and run with your friends!”
Everyone was overjoyed at this and they promised to see each other real soon. So the little girl took off her socks and placed them in the box.
Everything turned a little fuzzy and she could hear her friends calling goodbye. Then her eyes opened and she sat up in her bed. It was morning. She rubbed her eyes and thought, "Oh what a wonderful dream I had." Then she got up to go get some breakfast, but as she started to leave her bedroom she froze. There, right on her dresser was a small pink box and when she looked inside she saw her magic pony socks. Could it be true she gasped to herself? And that night before bed, she put on her socks and soon she was playing with her friends. So from that day on, whenever Sara wanted to visit the horse Kingdom, she just put on her magic socks.