When Brown-Eyes overheard us saying that the rains had made the grass grow so long in the garden that it must be cut, he led out his hobby-horse to eat it down, and so save the trouble; and there it stood the whole day, a grotesque figure in the centre of the green blades, its maneless wooden head a foil in the background to the dainty spring flowers.
At night he declared that the grass was all nipped close, but, like many more perverse little boys he wouldn’t bring in his horse. “Naw! Davy couldn’t catch ‘obby ‘oss. It would kick Davy.” He gleefully assented, however, to accept my assistance, and on the way round (Blue-Eyes at our heels) he impressed upon me the difficulty of the enterprise, how fast this horse could run, how it could jump — “jump ovah stacks, an’ trees, an’ ouses.” The eyes of the young adventurer flashed and glowed as he pictured the wild nature of the horse stolidly awaiting our arrival round the corner ……..
All glorious things come too swiftly to an end, and Brown-Eyes had to come to earth in order that his fiery steed might be led homewards. It took the three of us to trundle the ridiculous wooden wheels over the gravel. Once on the road leading to the back regions Brown-Eyes and Blue-Eyes felt themselves released from labour and, hands clasped behind their backs, marched one on each side, critically watching my none too successful efforts to keep the clumsy wheels out of the ruts.
Occasionally, two pairs of small hands had to assist in lifting the thing bodily on to a more level surface. “‘Obby-Oss tired, I think, Davy?” I ventured to remark to its owner. For a brief minute the glorious vision of a prancing horse appeared to fade from the young eyes, and he saw the reality — an absurdly ugly, paintless, hairless, inanimate wooden thing. Not often does our sweet imaginative Brown-Eyes see things as they are, and I was a little grieved — half comically— at the grave expression of his face.
“Davy did tink somesing ze matta wiz it,” he mused, and, coming closer, he examined the nails which had once fastened its mane, while Blue-Eyes’ tiny forefinger felt where the tail had been. “So’ in its inside,” continued the amateur doctor; “Davy s’ouldn’t bring it out. Davy will give it a fizzick ball, and ‘bolic oil.”
The procession moved on once more, bumping awkwardly over the stones. We reached a stable at last, and after tying up the sick horse, Brown-Eyes administered a black ball, while I held the front wheels in the air; then he requested me to pass the (invisible) “‘bolic oil,” which he poured into the naily-wounds. He spread some hay beneath, covered the wooden back with an old sack, and so left his beloved hobby-horse to the healing influences of the night.