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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 11
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    BRIGHT AND BROAD



    Farmer Green had a yoke of oxen called Bright and Broad. They were huge, slow-moving fellows, as different from Johnnie Green's pony, Twinkleheels, as any pair could be. They never frisked about in the pasture. They never ran, nor jumped, nor kicked. They seldom even trotted. And when they did move faster than a walk they lurched into a queer, shambling swing.

    The first time Twinkleheels saw them travelling at that gait he couldn't help giggling.

    "They look as if their legs were going to knock down all the fence posts on the farm," he exclaimed.

    Despite their clumsiness, Bright and Broad did many a day's hard work in an honest fashion for Farmer Green. Of course he never drove them to the village when he was in a hurry. But whenever there was a heavy load to pull he depended on Bright and Broad to help him. If the pair of bays couldn't haul a wagon out of a mud hole Farmer Green would call on Bright and Broad. And when they lunged forward the wagon just had to move--or something broke.

    Though Twinkleheels admired their strength, he didn't care much for Bright and Broad's company. They were too sober to suit him. They were more than likely to stand and chew their cuds and look out upon the world with vacant stares and say nothing.

    "I used to think Ebenezer was a slow old horse," Twinkleheels remarked to the bays on a winter's day as they stood in the barn. "I thought I could beat him easily until he showed me that I was mistaken. But I can certainly beat Bright and Broad. They're the slowest pair I ever saw."

    The bays glanced at each other.

    "You can't always tell by a person's looks what he can do," one of them remarked. "Let Bright and Broad choose the race course and they'd leave you behind."

    "Nonsense!" Twinkleheels cried. "They couldn't beat anybody unless it's Timothy Turtle, who lives over in Black Creek."

    The bays winked at each other over the low partition that separated their stalls.

    "Maybe you'll find out that you're wrong," they told Twinkleheels. "Maybe you'll learn that Bright and Broad are faster than you think they are. We've known Farmer Green to take them and leave us here in the barn--when he was in a hurry to go somewhere, too."

    "Ha! ha!" Twinkleheels laughed. "You're joking. You're trying to fool me."

    "Oh, no!" the bays cried. "Ask Bright and Broad themselves."

    So Twinkleheels spoke to Bright and Broad the very next day, when he met them in the barnyard. While he told them what the bays had said to him they chewed their cuds and listened with a dreamy look in their great, mild eyes.

    Twinkleheels paused and waited for them to speak. But they said nothing. Their jaws moved steadily as they chewed; but they said never a word.

    "Can't you answer when you're spoken to?" Twinkleheels cried at last.

    "Yes!" they said, speaking as one--for they always did everything together. "Yes! But you haven't asked us a question."

    "Is this true--what the bays told me about you?" he snapped.

    "We can't deny it," they chanted.

    Twinkleheels was never more surprised.
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