The Rainbow’s End
The rain had finally stopped and Gracie, Susie, and Scotty, or KFC as he now insisted to be called, were sitting on the front porch watching the last of the water trickle off the roof and into the yard forming large puddles. A large rainbow with bright colors appeared over the pasture. It was a spectacular sight running from one end of the farm and beyond the other. Tin Can the goat came splashing up to the gate and gruffly announced, “I’m going to find the end of the rainbow before it goes away. There is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and I’m going to go get it. Want to come?” Both Gracie and Susie smiled at each other wondering how anyone could believe that old story. “No thanks.” They replied in unison. “I’m coming.” KFC yelled and was off the porch and out the gate in a flash. Tin Can and KFC looked like they were in a race as they ran neck and neck down the path in search of a pot of gold.
The girls didn’t want to get wet and muddy so they decided to go inside and play a game. They became so involved in the game of Clue that it seemed only minutes had passed when Mother called them for lunch. “Where is KFC?” Mother chuckled every time she said ‘KFC’ to refer to their brother. “He went off with Tin Can to find the end of the rainbow and capture the pot of gold that is there.” Susie said shaking her head at the idea of actually finding gold at the rainbow’s end. “Will you girls run down to the barn and see if he is there and let him know lunch is ready. It’s Mac N Cheese, his favorite.” The girls put their game away and pulled on their rubber waders, to not get their feet wet, and set out for the barn.
When they entered the barn, all the animals were busy eating the food that Farmer White had placed in the feeding bins and at one end was Tin Can with his nose buried in a trough munching away. The girls looked around and did not see their brother. “Tin Can where is KFC?” Susie walked over and asked. The old goat just shrugged his bony shoulders and kept on eating.
Gracie was becoming impatient and started tapping her foot. Finally she demanded, “Tin Can do you know where KFC is? Mother has our lunch ready.”
Between large bites of food Tin Can mumbled, “He never came out of the rainbow.” “What do you mean he never came out?” Gracie shrieked. It had been hours since KFC and Tin Can had left. Tin Can huffed, stopped eating and turned around, clearly not happy at having his lunch interrupted. Gracie glared at him until Tin Can explained, “I couldn’t get across the fence at the end of the pasture and had to stop. KFC jumped through and kept on running. He is one fast cat! The last I saw of him was when he disappeared into the rainbow. I waited for a long time and finally gave up and came back to the barn.”
The girls were shocked that Tin Can had not said anything to them about KFC disappearing into the rainbow and not coming out. They could have started looking for him hours ago. Mother was not going to be happy with this news. Susie stood with both hands on her hips and had the urge to hit Tin Can right between the eyes for not telling them, but with his hard head it wouldn’t do any good. Tin Can had a short attention span and by the time he got back to the barn, he had probably forgotten all about the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end and was thinking about lunch. The girls headed back home to let their mother know that, once again, their brother had gone missing.
It didn’t take long for the news about KFC disappearing into the rainbow to spread among the farm animals. Twitter was more agitated that usual, running all over stuttering that KFC had been kidnapped by those funny little green guys that hid money in rainbows. Jersey Girl was mooing over and over again, “Poor little lost kitten, that poor little lost kitten.” Big Daddy waddled out of the pig pen and announced that the pigs would do their part to help rescue KFC. Even Tin Can seemed worried that KFC had not found his way home.
After breaking the news to Mother and reassuring her they would find their brother, once again, and bring him home, Gracie and Susie hurried to their room to get their Rescue Girls outfits out of the closet. Quickly they dressed in blue jeans, long sleeved green shirts, and brown boots that laced up. They nodded at each other satisfied they were ready and then did a high-five and said, “Rescue Girls are the best. Rescue Girls pass the test.” They were the Rescue Girls and on the job. Susie slipped the filled backpack on her shoulder and they marched out of the house toward the barn. The first item on the list was to find out from Tin Can the way he and KFC went. That would be their starting point. It was a mad house in front of the barn when the Rescue Girls arrived. All of the animals were milling around in circles and the noise level was deafening; it was like a scene from a scary movie where all the animals had gone crazy.
Gracie cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, “Please be quiet.” It took her a couple of tries before the noise level came down to normal. “Is Tin Can here?” She asked the crowd. Tin Can pushed his way to the front and stopped in front of the girls. Susie asked the old goat, “Will you show us the way you and KFC went this morning?” Tin Can nodded his head and turned to lead the way. The Rescue Girls marched beside Tin Can with the rest of the animals crowding behind. Tin Can stopped at the end of the large pasture beside a white fence. He pointed with his horns across the fence, “He went that way and kept on going.” “Thank you, Tin Can. This gives us a place to start.” Susie and Gracie climbed over the fence with their friends shouting encouragements saying if anyone can find KFC it was the Rescue Girls. “You Go Girls!” Jersey Girl loudly mooed. “Good Luck.” Tin Can gruffed.
Once they were on the other side of the fence, a voice they didn’t recognize said, “You may need more than luck to find your brother. The ground is pretty hard once you are beyond the pasture.” The Rescue Girls whirled around and were startled to see a large cat leaning against the fence and chewing on a piece of straw. He was different looking and unlike any cat they knew. Cats were trim and sleek with long tails. He resembled a box. His large head was squared. His shoulders were as wide as he was tall. He had sturdy legs and large feet and what had happened to his tail? All he had for a tail was a stumpy piece of hair. Both girls just stared and their mouths gaped open. The strange looking cat slowly came toward them. “I’m Bob Cat.” The stranger introduced himself.
Susie had to asked, “Where did you – ah – how did you get here?” She was stunned that there was a new cat on the farm and they didn’t know about it. “I’m just passing through on my way out West. I’ll be glad to help you find your brother. I’ve done a lot of tracking and can follow the faintest of trails.” Bob Cat explained. Susie wasn’t too sure about this stranger and hesitated, “We can track pretty good ourselves. But thanks anyway.” Bob Cat just nodded and replied, “I’ll follow behind, if that’s okay with you ‘all.” He had a Texas drawl when he spoke. The girls finally agreed to let Bob Cat join them on the hunt for the missing KFC and then the three trackers headed out.
At first it was easy to follow KFC’s tracks, but as Bob Cat said the further from the pasture they went, the harder and rockier the ground became. The girls had spent the past several minutes looking around trying to find which direction their brother had gone because his tracks had vanished. Susie sat down on a rock and took off her hat and said, “It’s starting to get hot.” She fanned herself with the hat, unzipped the backpack and took out a bottle of water and noticed Mother had packed two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She called out to Gracie, “Hungry?” “Starving.” Gracie replied and sat down beside Susie. The girls watched Bob Cat as they ate their lunch. Bob Cat was slowly walking in half circles with his head low to the ground. Then he would move a little further out and return in a larger half circle. He was almost out of site when he stood up and called to them, “This way.” The Rescue Girls had to admit that Bob Cat was a good tracker, much better than they were. Susie zipped the backpack and put it over her shoulders and the two girls, refreshed from their break, hurried to join Bob Cat.
Bob Cat pointed down a steep rocky incline, “He went this way and that confuses me. Why would he go off the flat ground and into this ravine?” Which might explain why Tin Can thought KFC vanished into the rainbow and the girls had no answer why their brother did any of the things he did, sometimes he made no sense at all as far as they were concerned. “Watch your step.” Bob Cat cautioned as he made his way down the steep slope. Gracie and Susie carefully followed Bob Cat, knowing one slip could end up in a broken leg. The girls were so intense in making their way down the ravine, they didn’t realize they had reached the bottom and were startled when KFC shouted, “Hey what took you so long?” He was standing next to Bob Cat and not looking one bit hurt, or scared, or had broken a leg from a fall. Why hadn’t KFC made his way home; it was not that far? This was a big mystery to the girls. “I see you met Bob Cat. He’s an expert tracker and is going to teach me.” KFC and Bob Cat seemed to know each other.
KFC acted unconcerned that they had just spent the past few hours in the hot sun searching for him. Gracie was not feeling real sisterly toward her brother and asked, “Why didn’t you return to the farm? Mother is worried that something happened to you.” “I couldn’t and I knew that you would eventually come find me. Boy you took your sweet time.” KFC told her as if it explained anything. Gracie moved in closer ready to strangle her brother and said, “You don’t look hurt or tied up, so what is the big reason you couldn’t find your way back? And I don’t see any pots of gold from the rainbow’s end either.” She looked around motioning with her arm. KFC grinned in his maddening way and said, “I only found Sugar.” Gracie’s mouth opened but she was at a loss for words and decided the sun had fried his brain. Susie stepped close and continued to question, “What do you mean you only found sugar?” KFC shrugged and replied, “I didn’t find any gold just Sugar.” Then he laughed and told them, “Come and see.” He motioned for them to follow him. He went down a few more rocky steps and crawled around a large rock and reached the ground where a small animal lay with its leg trapped in some old barbed wire fencing. The animal had soft brown eyes, a dark brown main and tail, and the rest of him was a lighter shade of brown.
“This is Sugar.” KFC pointed to the trapped animal. “I heard him calling for help when I was chasing the rainbow’s end. Good thing he has a loud voice or I would have never heard him.”
The girls walked over to the small animal and introduced themselves. “What kind of animal are you?” Susie asked. Sugar was about the size of Tin Can and looked sort of old. “I’m a Shetland Pony. We are very small horses and pull carts for children to ride in.” Sugar explained. The girls had seen pictures of miniature horses in their books but had never met one. “How did you get here and in this mess?” Gracie wanted to know but KFC interrupted, “That’s a long story and Sugar can tell you later. Right now we need to get Sugar free from of this trap.”
The Rescue Girls, KFC, and Bob Cat all gathered around Sugar to figure out a plan. Susie suggested, “If we could lift that piece of fence up it might give him enough room to pull his leg out.” They all gathered around the broken fence post and on the count of three lifted with all their strength but the heavy post didn’t budge. After several failed attempts, they knew they would have to find another way to free the small horse. Bob Cat said, “I have an idea but I need to go back to the farm. I know a short cut from here and it won’t take me long. Stay here until I return.” Then he jumped straight up out of the ravine to the rock above and took off toward the farm with strong strides. As fast as he ran he would be there in no time at all.
While they waited for Bob Cat to return, KFC told the girls that Sugar had been part of a pony team that pulled carts for the children at the state fair. Sugar and Spice were the pony names. When the fair closed, Spice was sold but not Sugar. When a large truck came to take the unsold animals away to a last chance animal shelter, Sugar slipped under the high metal rails set up for the larger animals and started running and didn’t quit until he got tangled up in the old fence, tripped and fell into the ravine. He had been here for two days when KFC heard him calling for help. Both girls felt sorry for the small horse, not being wanted or having a home was sad. They were thankful for their home at the farm and their friends and family, even their brother. Actually, they were proud of KFC for staying with Sugar until help came. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
Barely an hour had past when the girls heard Bob Cat say, “Over this way.” He had made it back in record time. Bob Cat came around the large rock with a huffing and puffing Tin Can right behind him. The old goat stopped and panted to catch his breath. “I can’t believe you’re back already.” Susie exclaimed. Then she pointed and asked, “Why did you bring Tin Can?”
“I have an idea and he is the answer.” Bob Cat replied. When Tin Can’s breath returned to normal, Bob Cat explained his plan to everyone. Tin Can would use his large horns and strength to lift the fence from Sugar’s leg and the others would help Sugar pull his leg from the wire snare. Everyone agreed it was a good plan and took their places around the trapped pony. Bob Cat guided Tin Can for the best place to lift the fence post. Tin Can lowered his large head and hooked his horns under the wooden post and lifted with all his might. The fence moved some, but it was not enough to pull Sugar’s leg out. “Try again.” Bob Cat ordered and crowded next to Tin Can. When Tin Can started lifting Bob Cat slipped his large paws under the post and that was enough extra muscle power to lift the post to free Sugar’s leg. “Hurry.” Gracie said as she, Susie, and KFC pulled on Sugar’s leg. The barbed wire was stuck tight but the little horse was determined and pushed against the pronged wire with his other leg. Finally, the leg was freed and Sugar rolled backward and Gracie, Susie and KFC all tumbled into the dirt.
“Good work everyone. You did it!” Bob Cat shouted. The Rescue Girls jumped up and ran to Sugar and asked him if he could stand up. Slowly the small pony stood up but his legs wobbled. “Give me a minute.” Sugar’s voice was shaky. Before they started back to the farm, Susie poured the last of the water into her hat for Sugar to drink. They all hoped the small pony would have enough energy to make it to the farm. It was slow going with the limping pony, but no one was willing to leave Sugar behind. Even Tin Can was being nice. Sugar had said thank you so many times Gracie had lost count. “Do you think Farmer White will let Sugar stay on the farm?” KFC wondered. “I don’t know. We don’t have any other horses on the farm.” Gracie replied.
“Well, he’s only half a horse, but half of a horse is better than no horse at all.” KFC reasoned.
“KFC!” Both girls exclaimed. “That is not a nice thing to say.” Susie scolded her brother.
“Sugar may be sensitive about his size.” Gracie added.
The sun was fading when the Rescue Girls entered the pasture with the limping Sugar. Surprisingly, all the farm animals were waiting for them and someone had remove a part of the fence to allow Sugar to limp through. Everyone crowded around as they slowly made their way to the barn. When they reached the barn, Jersey Girl said there was an empty stall next to hers and she would be glad to share her hay and oats with the small pony. All the animals felt sorry for Sugar and wanted to help him. With his stomach full of hay and oats and drinking all the water he could hold, Sugar snuggled into the soft warm bed of straw and went sound to sleep. He was still sleeping the next morning when Farmer Joe made his early morning rounds. The animals did not make a sound when he stopped in front of Sugar’s stall and stared and scratched his head. When Farmer Joe finished his rounds, he stepped into the kitchen and asked his wife Annie, “Do we have a horse, a really small one?” Annie turned from the stove and said, “No. Not the last time I checked.” And turned back to the eggs and bacon she was cooking for their breakfast. Farmer Joe poured himself a large cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table shaking his head at all the strange things that seemed to happen on their farm and mumbled, “Well, we do now.”