Merrilyn Merryweather lived in a small house on Hillendale Road, approximately a mile and a half past the square in the little town of Poppem, Connecticut. She and her husband Arthur had lived there for several years, ever since they both had retired from jobs at the feather factory in town. It was a nice house, with a very big yard. Merrilyn and Arthur had named their place “The Pony Ranch,” and a small but distinct sign that said just that hung on the same post that held their bright green mailbox.
The name was Merrilyn’s idea. When she had been a young girl, she wanted a pony in the worst way. Her parents had not thought it such a good idea. They had given her many toys and dolls and games, and were great parents in every way. But no matter how she begged and cajoled, they would never get her a pony. Eventually Merrilyn’s pony urge passed, and she hadn’t really ever thought about it again until she and Arthur bought this place. “I never got to have a pony,” she would tell people. “But at least I can live on a pony ranch.”
Merrilyn was busy one morning making Christmas cookies. Arthur had walked to town to the post office, to mail off their Christmas cards and to pick up some more chocolate chips and other baking supplies at Pederoski’s store, which was on the way. Just as Merrilyn was putting a tray of cookies into the oven, the doorbell rang. She grabbed a dishtowel, wiped her doughy hands, and went to see who could be calling at this time of day.
Looking out the small window beside their front door, Merrilyn saw an old man standing at the doorway. He seemed to be dressed like a farmer. She opened the door and inquired of his business.
“Is this the Pony Ranch?” the man inquired. When Merrilyn told him that yes it was, he introduced himself as Johnson Trebelhorn, the man who owned the Rocky Hill Farm over toward Morgansville. He said that he was getting out of the farming business, that he was just too old to keep up with it anymore. Since none of his children seemed to be interested,he was selling his livestock. “I have one old pony,” he continued.”Got it for my grandkids when they were small, but now they are grown and aren’t interested anymore either.”
Merrilyn said she didn’t think they could afford to buy a pony at this time of year. “Oh, I wouldn’t think of selling her. She’s too old for that,” said Mr. Trebelhorn. “I just want her to have a good home, and where better than at a pony ranch?”
Merrilyn was just about to tell Mr. Trebelhorn that she really didn’t have a pony ranch, that it was just a name, when something stopped her. That old urge that she had hidden deep inside herself was saying, “Take the pony; take the pony; take the pony!”
It was all she could do to hold back the giggles. “Won’t Arthur be surprised?” she snickered to herself. And so she told Mr. Trebelhorn, “We would be pleased to take your pony. We will see that it is very happy here at the ranch!” Mr. Trebelhorn promised to bring the pony over on Thursday, and then he was on his way. Merrilyn could hardly contain herself. “A pony at last!” she shouted out loud. “After all these years!”
Arthur returned from the store about a half-hour later. As he unpacked his shopping bag, Merrilyn came into the kitchen. “Arthur,” she told him, “you’ve got to build a barn out in the back. It has to be ready by Thursday.”
Quickly getting the feeling he had missed something, even though he had only been gone for an hour, Arthur asked his wife, “Why, what is going on?” He hadn’t seen his wife this excited since she accidentally dropped their daughter Annabelle’s pet hamster off the upstairs balcony into the pool, and that had been a long time ago. “Have you finally bought a pony or something?”
“No, but old Mr. Trebelhorn from over at Rocky Hill is giving me a pony, “Merrilyn answered. “But,” she had suddenly realized what Arthur had asked, “how did you know?”
“You never really got over wanting to have a pony. Ever since we moved here, and especially after you insisted on naming the place ‘The Pony Ranch’, I just knew that someday you would come home with a pony.”Merrilyn had never loved Arthur more than she did at that very moment.
Arthur thought it was a great idea, but he hadn’t the foggiest notion of how to build a barn, especially by Thursday, since that was the day after tomorrow. The first thing Wednesday morning he went right on down to the lumber yard on Route 284 and purchased one of those little already-built sheds. The shed was delivered that very afternoon, as well as a few new fence posts that Arthur and old Mr. Graham from next door put up across the back of the yard (he was always eager to work in his neighbor’s yard). So the “ranch” was ready for its first and only pony.
“Folks, meet ‘Muffin,'” Mr. Trebelhorn said on Thursday,as he unloaded her from his trailer. Muffin was reddish-brown, with a white mark on her forehead, and as friendly as could be. She was a good old pony and was never a lick of trouble for Merrilyn or Arthur. They would let the neighborhood children ride her on special occasions, and one year they even entered her in the county fair. Although Muffin was too old, and Merrilyn was too big to take a ride herself, it was just so wonderful finally having a pony to call her own!