Sparkles Bunks Off!
A Maddie and Torz Adventure
ell, Torz,” said Maddie, “it’s a grand day for a ride. We can
take Sparkles.” Sparkles was just a tiny stuffed purple pony. But at the word “ride” you could have seen her ears stick up, prick up. If you were looking, that is! But nobody was looking.
“We can play hideand-seek”, said Sparkles to herself. But nobody heard. Sparkles was out for a fun day!
Soon Maddie had on her riding gear: black hat and boots, riding jacket, purple jodhpurs and small white gloves (for the morning was cold). She jumped on Torz’s back, and was soon in the saddle. Torz stood quiet, like the sensible mare she was, as Maddie got ready. But where was Sparkles? “Quick”, said Maddie, “Sparkles is up to her tricks again! She’ll rush into the sticks again and then we’ll have to yank her out! It will take a tank!”
was smart. She had made a dash for the track. She had done a bunk! Now they were sunk! “Drat that purple punk,” said Maddie, “She will never stay still.” She let out a loud yell: “Sparkles, don’t be such a brat! You will just make me cross! Come back right now, you little pest! You always think you know what’s best! Just give it a rest.” 2 // A Maddie and Torz Adventure
But that was not the way to get a pony like Sparkles back. Some days she did as she was told, as good as gold. But she had this bit of magic in her, you see, from her Dad. And when the magic took over, look out! It drove them all mad.
“I guess we must go after her, Torz,” Maddie said, “a purple pony should be pretty easy to spot.”
She put Torz into a trot. Off they went, clip-clop, down the long, leafy track, and along by the pub, the ‘Duck and Frog’, where you could clump in from the fog, pull off your hat, just have a chat, and get warm in the back room. They hung about there for a time, hoping. But no way could they stay. “We must get on, I think,” Maddie said. So off they went again down the track. The wind of Spring sang. There was a tang in the scrub. Every fleck, every speck, seemed to say “Don’t delay! Get on your way!” The sun shone in the bare trees. It was a fine day for a hunt. Just the job! The nodding hedges jogged by.
A Maddie and Torz Adventure // 3
pring had not yet sprung. The year was still young. The wind was cold. Suddenly, Torz gave a toss of her mane to the left. She had spotted Sparkles! There she hung from the branch of a low bush.
“How on earth did you get there?” Maddie called. “Come here right away, you daft little chump! I’ll tan your rump, you purple lump!”
But by the time she had got down from Torz, Sparkles had vanished away. “Drat this,” Maddie cried, “she was here a moment ago. You would think that a purple thing like Sparkles would be easy to spot. But she’s like a moving dot, a spot, a blot, an imp, a tiny goblin, a sorceress! Well, she will never win. We will see to that! We must!
Are you up for this, Torz? Good girl! Did you see the way she went?”
4 // A Maddie and Torz Adventure
Torz gave Maddie’s face a little rub with her nose, as if to say: “You bet! Don’t you fret! Jump back on! She’s not long gone! We will sock it to that purple pixie! No problem.” So on they trotted, the sweet wind behind them, for a long time down the track, looking forward, side-to-side and back. Now and
again, Maddie would call out, but it was as if Sparkles had sunk into the ground, never to be found, not a sound, out of the light, out of sight! On still they went, backs bent, eyes intent, a long, tiring way. It was getting near twelve o’clock. The day had turned more windy. Clouds sped across the flat scrub, each like a grand white ship. The sky began to grow dull. She saw a big gull dip down by a rick to pick up hay. Then it sank away. Even with gloves on, Maddie had to tuck her hands into her jacket. That was hard to do when she had to keep holding on to the reins.
Once, Torz saw something purple in a bush to the left. Was it Sparkles? But it was far too late. They had already cantered by, and when Maddie looked back, the purple was there no longer. Suddenly, Torz stopped. Maddie peered ahead. What was that stuck in a brick, behind some plush green nettles? Maddie let out a loud yell: “Sparkles!!!” There she was, the little madam, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth! “COME HERE THIS MINUTE!” Maddie roared.
A Maddie and Torz Adventure // 5
he sprang from Torz’s back, and dashed like a hare toward the brick. Poor girl, she had not seen the other brick, hidden in the long grass. Thud! Splat!
Down she went, bang on her shin into the mud. Maddie bit the dust! She gave a small sob. Her leg had begun to throb. But then she got on with the job. “You little whizzbang,” she yelled, picking herself up, “you made me prang my leg.” She now had the hump. Big-time! “If you don’t come now,” she shouted, “I will...”
But it was too late. Sparkles had vanished like the sun behind a cloud, leaving Maddie as mad as a wet hen. And wet hens, if you didn’t know, are hopping mad!
Maddie was still yelling with rage as she climbed back into the saddle. She was not only cross now, but she was cold. Her leg hurt, and still
far ahead. Never had Maddie felt so frustrated! 6 // A Maddie and Torz Adventure
But Maddie was not the sort of girl to give way and start moaning and groaning. She wasn’t a wimp, and when Maddie set out to do something, it usually got done – if it could be done! Maddie was that kind of girl. The sort who didn’t let things beat her. Take reading, now. She had a problem about reading when she was young. But she never let that get her down. Slowly but surely, taking all the help she could, she got on with the job of learning. And because she was Maddie, she ended up as a fine reader. And a writer! Anger had made Maddie’s eyes sharp. “Look!” she pointed, “over there in the field. Do you see what I see?” Torz trotted on. Yes... there was something in the scrub over to the right. Maddie swung Torz off the track, making for the blob of purple. Squelch! For a nasty moment they were stuck in the muck in a swamp of mud. But Maddie gave Torz a little kick. It did the trick, and Torz had to jump across it with a grand dash, a suck not a splash.
Sparkles was sit-
ting there behind a clump of straw.
A Maddie and Torz Adventure // 7
ot you!” sang out Maddie, and hopped off Torz. But at that very moment, the wind gave a great last gust, the straw blew
up in the air, and when it came down Sparkles was not to be seen. How had that happened? Maddie would have gone on, but her watch told her that they would be late home, and that Mum would be worried. “Come on, then,” she said, biting her lip, “What’s the use of running after Sparkles when she’s under a magic spell? You might as well go looking for the end of a rainbow. Trot on, Torz, we’re going home.”
And so horse and girl went sadly home by the track, by the way they had come. The sun smiled out again, and the wind died down.
They could see other horses grazing peacefully in the fields, glad to sniff the warmer air. Maddie cheered up and gave a grin. “Well, Torz,” she said, “at least we had a great ride.” Torz nodded her head and gave a little, hungry whinny. “Sorry, old girl,” Maddie said, “I guess you feel like some lunch. I do too.” Then she gave a little sigh. “But I wish we had found
Sparkles.” As they neared home, they swung by the farm-yard. And what do you think met their eyes? 8 // A Maddie and Torz Adventure
There, nestling by the red-brick gate-post on a patch of ivy, as snug as you like, was a little purple figure. It was that cheeky scamp Sparkles!
Maddie jumped down, ready to give Sparkles the telling-off of her life! But then, the little purple pony looked so cuddly, soft and innocent, like one of those little icing sugar horses in the cake shop. Maddie’s crossness just melted away. She picked up Sparkles very gently, and carried her over to Torz, who gave them both a fond nuzzle.
“I’m sure you’ll never lead us such a dance again,” Maddie said to her purple friend.
And Sparkles gave them both another “butter-wouldn’tmelt” look, as if to say: “Never! Never! Never! Until next time, that is!” Then off they went to lunch. A Maddie and Torz Adventure // 9
the end! A Maddie and Torz Adventure ther on of. o .. an