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Authors: Bonnie Bryant

Horse Trade

BOOK: Horse Trade
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EMERGENCY ON THE TRAIL

Phil pointed to a slow gray ribbon that wound itself through the green fields below. “That’s the Silverado River,” he said to Hollie.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. But she didn’t sound right. The words came out slowly and painfully, as if she had to force them.

“Are you okay?” Stevie asked.

Hollie didn’t respond at first. Instead she was taking shallow breaths that didn’t seem to satisfy her.

“I’m fine!” Hollie said, and from the way she said it, with a toss of her head, Stevie knew that she was trying to raise a laugh. But there was nothing to laugh at, because Hollie had turned pale with faint blue shadows under her eyes.

“Can you hear me?” Stevie shouted. “Hollie!”

Hollie focused on her and whispered, “Yes.” It came out as a horrible wheezing sound.…

I would like to thank Mary Kay Tobin, M.D., and Bruce H. Koenig, D.V.M., whose patient explanations about allergies were invaluable to me in writing this book.

I would also like to thank Katie Cooke, who inspired it.

RL5, 009–012

HORSE TRADE

A Bantam Skylark Book / November 1994

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 registered trademark of Bonnie Bryant Hiller. The Saddle Club design/logo, which consists of a riding crop and a riding hat, is a trademark of Bantam Books. “USPC” and “Pony Club” are registered trademarks of The United States Pony Clubs, Inc., at the Kentucky Horse Park, 4071 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40511-8462
.

All rights reserved
.

Copyright © 1994 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller
.

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
.

eISBN: 978-0-307-82521-6

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
.

v3.1

I would like to express my special
thanks to Helen Geraghty for her
help in the writing of this book.

Contents

S
TEVIE
L
AKE LOOKED
around suspiciously at the audience at the high-school auditorium where the Willow Creek Community Theater staged its productions. Was that man in a tweed coat a hotshot Broadway producer? Was the woman with a deep suntan a Hollywood scout? Would this be the last time that the members of The Saddle Club would be together?

When her song ended, Lisa Atwood lowered her arms, and the auditorium was silent for a second. Then the audience erupted into applause.

“To think we know her,” Carole Hanson said as she and Stevie sprang to their feet.

“Maybe she’ll send us an autographed picture from time
to time,” Stevie said. “Maybe we’ll glimpse her on the cover of
People
magazine.”

“We can look at her pictures during Saddle Club meetings,” Carole said sadly.

For some time Lisa, Carole, and Stevie had been spending every minute of their spare time together, riding horses and helping each other solve problems. Lately, after Lisa had landed the lead role in
Annie
, Stevie and Carole had worried that their friend would forget about The Saddle Club and riding at Pine Hollow, and spend all her time on acting.

“Bravo,” the audience shouted as the curtain fell. The crowd stood and began stampeding toward the stage door. The local theater’s production of
Annie
had been a giant hit, and Lisa herself had been a megahit.

By the time the girls finished battling through the crowd and had reached the dressing room where the actors were meeting their public, Carole’s black hair was escaping from her headband, and her silver Saddle Club pin was crooked. Meanwhile Stevie was rubbing her elbow. A man had zonked her on the arm with his briefcase.

But Lisa was totally composed, smiling under her red Annie wig, and looking totally adorable in her red Annie dress.

Stevie put her arms around Lisa and hugged her. “You were fantastic.”

Carole joined the hug. “You were great in last week’s dress rehearsal,” she added, “but this afternoon you were astounding. The Saddle Club is proud of you.”

Lisa sighed and suddenly looked sad, which was the last thing Carole expected.

“What’s the matter?” Carole said. “You got three standing ovations and you feel sad?”

“It’s over,” Lisa said. “This Sunday matinee is the last performance.” Lisa looked so miserable that Carole and Stevie had to laugh.

“It looks like you think there’s no life after
Annie
,” Carole said. “What about The Saddle Club?”

“Remember how you missed us?” Stevie joked. “Remember how you used to save as many as three or four minutes for us at a time?” During rehearsals for
Annie
, Lisa had gotten a little carried away with scheduling herself and organizing her time. She was always efficient and very self-disciplined, but this time she had started scheduling four-minute meetings with her best friends so that she could do two things that were important to her: rehearse for
Annie
and prepare for a Pony Club rally at Pine Hollow Stables. Finally Carole and Stevie had realized Lisa needed their help. They suggested that Lisa become stable manager for the Horse Wise team instead of ride in
the rally, and that had helped her concentrate on
Annie
. In the weeks since then, Carole and Stevie had been looking forward to spending more time with Lisa.

“I mean, I knew
Annie
would be over,” Lisa went on, “but now it’s
really
over, if you see what I mean.”

For the usually clear-headed and precise Lisa, who always got straight A’s, this was such a muddled thing to say that Stevie and Carole exchanged worried looks.

“Don’t you miss Prancer?” Stevie said, referring to the beautiful Thoroughbred at Pine Hollow Stables that Lisa had been working with. “Forget Prancer,” Stevie wailed a second later. “Don’t you miss us?”

“You know I do,” Lisa said. “Actually, I’ve been counting the days.” She pulled off her red wig and said, “I’m going riding tomorrow.” And with that she burst into the first line of the famous song from
Annie
, “Tomorrow.”

“I hate to tell you this,” Carole said, “but even big stars have to go to school. And tomorrow is Monday, and so far as I know, Willow Creek Junior High is planning to be open tomorrow, and Monday is always a monster homework night.”

“So I’ll go riding in Max’s class on Tuesday. That is, if I remember how to ride,” Lisa said with a grin.

Max Regnery was the manager of Pine Hollow Stables, where the girls rode, and also their riding instructor.

“I hate to tell you this,” Stevie said, “but some people have fright wigs. You, on the other hand, have fright hair.”

Lisa turned to look at herself in the mirror and saw that her brown hair, which had been flattened under the wig, was now sticking up in stiff spikes. “Hey,” she said, pulling at one of the spikes. “I may have a new career as a punk rocker.”

“Don’t quit your day job,” said Stevie, smiling at the thought of the neat, responsible Lisa suddenly becoming a rock star.

“I don’t know about that. Lisa has a lot of talent, and she can do just about anything she wants,” said the girl next to Lisa at the makeup table. She was Hollie Bright, Lisa’s best friend in the cast of
Annie
. Now Hollie looked Hire a weird white monster because she had covered her face with cold cream.

“Who’s this?” Stevie said. “The Abominable Snowperson?”

“Very funny, Stevie,” Hollie said. “You’d better get your makeup off right away, Lisa. Pancake makeup can really wreck your skin. I know from experience that if I don’t take it off right away, I break out in blotches.”

“Okay,” Lisa agreed, turning in one of the canvas chairs to face the makeup mirror. She dipped two fingers
into an industrial-size jar of cold cream and sat looking at herself, the glob of cold cream only inches from her face. “Good-bye, Annie,” she said to her face in the mirror. “Good-bye, stardom.” She looked behind her at a couple of orphans who were taking off their rags, and at Daddy Warbucks, who was stripping off his bald pate, revealing a full head of hair underneath. The play was definitely over. She hated to see the actors turn back into ordinary people.

Lisa looked over at Hollie, who was carefully wiping around her nose with a piece of tissue. Hollie went to Lisa’s school, Willow Creek Junior High, and they had kind of known each other before, but when Lisa had joined the cast at Willow Creek Community Theater, they had become fast friends. Hollie, who’d had lots of acting, dancing, and singing lessons—and plenty of stage experience—had been Lisa’s “stage coach,” teaching her the meaning of strange theatrical terms like “torch carrier.” Now that the play was over, Lisa was disappointed that she wouldn’t be seeing as much of the other girl.

Suddenly she had an inspiration.

“Why don’t you come riding with us, Hollie?” Lisa asked eagerly. “Pine Hollow has lots of horses, and I’m sure Max can find one that’s right for you.” Max was an ace at helping new riders.

Hollie looked over at her gratefully, and Lisa guessed
that she must have been suffering from an after-show letdown, too.

“I’m not a total beginner,” Hollie said, applying a fresh layer of cold cream to her face. “I had lessons for a couple of years when I was eight or nine.”

Knowing that Hollie had a knack for dancing, and that she was a fast learner, Lisa figured that she had the potential to be an excellent rider. The first time Lisa went riding at Pine Hollow Stables, she had expected to be a total flop, but she had managed to stay on her horse and even ride half-decently, because she’d had years of ballet lessons.

“So why did you give up riding?” Lisa asked. “I bet you were terrific.”

Hollie shrugged. “The demands of my art, darling,” she joked. “My Muse was jealous. She wouldn’t let me ride.”

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