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AMERICAN STORIES - Lessons from a Pony

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Now, the Special English program -- AMERICAN STORIES. Our story today is "Lessons from a Pony" by Lincoln Steffens. Here is Shep O'Neal to tell you the story in Special English.

Lincoln Steffens
Lincoln Steffens

One day, our neighbor Keno Carter rode his horse over to our house. He had another horse with him. He rode to me and said: "You have helped me a lot during the year. You've been a good boy. Now, here is the horse I promised. It is yours."

At first, I just stood with my mouth open and looked. The horse was a white female -- a mare with brown spots. I have never seen anything so beautiful. And she was mine. All mine.

"What's wrong?" asked Keno Carter, "Don't you like her. She is as fast and brave as a wild horse. And she has a sense of fun."

I did not hear a word he said. The only thing I could say was, "Gee! Thanks, thanks."

Keno Carter got down from his horse. My new horse jumped and lifted her front feet high in the air. Then she put her nose into his coat pocket and took a piece of sugar.

"She knows me," Said Keno Carter with a wide smile, "I am the only person who has touched her. She is a kind animal. Remember this, boy. You can lose her love easily. If you become angry, if you hurt her, she will never obey or love you. You should teach her very gently. It is your job to feed her, clean her and give her water. Put her at the end of a long rope and let her play. Call her name and gently pull on the rope. She will soon learn to come to you when she wants water or food." He talked for half an hour telling me how to train my horse.

When he finished, I said: "Can I have her now? I want to begin right away."

He left me and went to town with my father. I walked away with my horse.

The first thing I did was to give her a name. She was so proud and carried her head so high. I named her Queen. She liked me. I knew it because she obeyed me and seemed to enjoy it.

Later, when Keno Carter came home with my father, he asked me about Queen. "You should not train her hard today," He warned, "She has walked all the way from my farm and it is tired. You must think for her. Be kind to her as kind as you are to your sisters."

Sisters, I thought, and felt guilty. I never tried to be especially kind to my sisters. I did not like girls very much. I did not say that. But Keno Carter laughed as if he knew what I was thinking. He told me that the horse and I had to be like one animal. I was the brains and the horse was the body. I liked that. Queen and me, together!

From then on, I was with my horse every day. I taught her to run around in a circle, to go one way then turn around and go another.

I broke a piece of wood from a tree and used it as my training stick. My small sisters wanted to help me. I let them do some little things but I gave the orders. One sister put the rope around Queen's neck and led her around and around. When I lifted the stick, Queen turned and went the other way. She was a quick horse and learned fast.

A week later, I started to teach her to carry me. This was slow work. I began by gently putting my arm on her back. If she did not like it, I slowly moved my arm away. When she let me leave my arm there, I placed the cloth on her back. I slowly got up and sat on the cloth, then got down again. I did this hundreds of times.

I wanted to hurry and ride her, but I remembered what Keno Carter said about being slow and gentle. I learned how to wait. At last, she let me ride her, just for a few minutes at first, then for a longer time. When she got tired and started to jump, I got off.

One thing about Queen, she was my horse and she did not let my sisters or anyone else ride her. It was always like that, just Queen and me.

(MUSIC)

One day, the circus came to town. Day and night, we could hear the happy circus music. There were many things to see: elephants, lions, men who flew through the air on swinging bars and funny men called clowns.

I wanted to see only one thing, the horses. I went to the tent where the trainer lived. I talked to him. He let me watch him train the circus horses. I learned a lot. I trained Queen until she was better than all of them. She could soon stand up on her back legs, go down on her front legs and even lie down and roll over.

A boy rides a white pony
A boy rides a white pony

The big day came at last when I rode Queen into town. The circus man told me that horses liked to look pretty. So I put a colored blanket on Queen's back and a red flower behind her ear. She loved it. She did not walk. She danced to the circus music. Everyone stopped to look and smile at us. We were happy, my horse and me. It was a day we would never forget.

I started to teach Queen another trick, a difficult and dangerous trick. But I was sure I could do it. I saw the circus horse do it first. He stepped over a clown who lay on the ground. He ran back and forth and did not touch the clown with his feet. The trainer told me how to teach Queen.

First, I got pieces of wood and put them on the ground. I led Queen over them. If she touched one of them, I told her it was wrong and did not give her any sugar. When she learned how to do this, I was ready to let her step over a clown. I did not have a clown. But I did have two sisters. They were happy to be part of my circus act. They lay down on the ground and let Queen step over them. My Queen did it like the circus horses.

This act was our secret. We did not tell anyone about it, not even my mother. It would be a surprise. We decided to show my parents that Saturday night.

I cleaned Queen until she shone. I fixed her hair like they do in the circus with the bright blanket across her back and a flower behind her ear. Queen was ready. My sisters put on their best dresses. We were all ready.

Saturday evening, when dad came home from work, we showed him our trick. A soft summer wind blew the circus music over to our farm. When dad saw the act, he stopped and looked. His eyes grew wide, his face turned white. My mare was running back and forth, her head high jumping over the bodies of my two sisters lying on the ground. I was standing proudly, nearby was the trainer stick in my hand. I thought the look on my father's face was surprise, but it was not. It was fear and anger.

"Stop," he shouted, "stop that."

He ran to me and pulled the stick from my hand. He hit me on the seat of my pants. The girls got up and brushed the dirt from their dresses. We tried to tell him how we had trained the horse. But dad was too angry to listen.

"Don't you know that is dangerous?" He said breathing fast, "You might have killed your sisters." And he hit my bottom good and hard.

I learned something useful from the punishment I got for that horse trick. I learned about the pain in my heart when people did not understand me. I learned that some mothers and fathers do not train their boys as carefully as I trained my horse. Perhaps, they do not have the time. Perhaps, they do not have any reasons.

When dad finished hitting me, he explained to mother why he had punished me. Then, I told my story. I told both of them how long and carefully I had taught my horse to walk over the girls. I showed my father that I could really control Queen. Then, I said something that hurt him very much.

"I taught my mare that trick," I said, "I have taught her all she knows and I never hit her, not once."

Mother gave dad one of her special looks. There was a long silence. I stood there in the middle of the yard gently touching the seat of my pants. I wondered why my dad suddenly looked like a small boy.

You have just heard "Lessons from a Pony" written by Lincoln Steffens. The story is from the book "My Favorite Stories" published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1957. It was read for you in Special English by Shep O'Neal. The Voice of America will bring you another American story next week. This is Susan Clark.

(END)

Lincoln Steffens (April 6, 1866 – August 9, 1936) was a New York reporter who launched a series of articles in McClure's that would later be published together in a book titled The Shame of the Cities. He is famous for investigating corruption in municipal government in American cities and for his early support for the Soviet Union.

网友的学习评论(12条):
作者:YangFaliang
educate a boy is similar with training a horse? I say no.
作者:Joyce
This means that parents should teach their children all they know and never hit them. Educating Children whith patience and love. It dones't mean that training them like horse.
作者:ratfairy
Sometimes punishement is very useful because it is very impressive
作者:lixiangling
It is so useful for me, good.
作者:Ricardo
Not everyone is as patient and skillful as a circus man to train their horses. But parents are parents. They have no intention to risk the lives of their own flesh and blood. I can perceive them.
作者:Lily
The story is so long.But there is so many information in it.
作者:weiwei
it is a good story ,we can learn much from it ,
作者:Jefferson Liu
When I read that the boy trained his queen with the use of his sisters,I felt nervous,but luckily there were no accidents.In my views,his father acted rightly.
作者:Elizabeth
Don't treat your children rudely,that will hurt them deeply.The boy is very gentle to Queen,even if it's only a horse.But his father isn't gentle to him at all,although he's a human being.Don't treat children specially,too good or too bad,they are only human beings like us.
作者:francoll
VELY GOOD!
作者:xiaofenfen
It tells a story that happened between a boy and his horse. he treated her very gently. he never forced her, never scolded her. What he did were all kind. they were together with each other,just themselves.Gradually, Queen similarly became his body and he was her brain. In the boy's eyes, Queen could walk over his sisters, like she was trained. The title is "lessons from a pony". It might tells that parents should treat their children more gently, and the children will be obedient.160200425
作者:xiaofenfen
But in my view, man is different from a horse. We have more thinking than honies. We know the girl lying on the ground is our sister.However, does Queen know? Man is an animal that is more complicate. So gentle parents raising a intractable boy is also possible.(160200425)
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