Something’s wrong with Beware.
Lily knows the minute she spies the mare standing under the trees, the way Beware does in summer to get away from the heat. But today there’s no shade beneath the bare branches, and it’s freezing out. When Lily calls for her, Beware doesn’t come trotting over. She doesn’t move, even when Lily offers her an apple core. She isn’t injured, because Lily can’t find any cuts or bruises on her. But when Lily tells her to walk, Beware’s back legs buckle and she nearly falls down!
Beware is sick, but she has no fever and is still eating a little bit. The vet makes a diagnosis, but the treatments don’t help. Surgery may be the only answer. But it’s expensive—and dangerous.
Will Beware survive? Lily needs more than hopes and prayers—she needs a miracle: Somehow, she has to find a way to save her.
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Be Well, Beware
Beware the Mare, Book Three
By Jessie Haas
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1996 Jessie Haas
All rights reserved.
The school bus sounds as if it's dying by the time it winds up through the hills to Lily's stop. There are hardly any kids left.
Lily waves good-bye to Mandy and jumps down the steps. She runs up the long driveway, swinging her backpack, kicking the crisp, dry leaves. The leaves are like a bowlful of cornflakes before you put the milk in.
At the top of the drive Lily looks toward the horse pasture. She sees the pony grazing. Beware must be nearby. Lily hurries into the house. It gets dark very early now that fall is here. There is just barely time for a ride.
The kitchen smells like apple crisp. Gran turns from the stove. "Hello, Lily. Did you have a good—" But Lily is already past her, running up the stairs.
Quickly, quickly. She pulls off her jeans and her good sweater, pulls on her riding pants and a sweatshirt. Pushes her feet into her riding boots. Down the stairs again.
"It's more polite to say hello!" says Gran.
"Oh, hello, Gran." There is a plate of apple cores on the table. "Can I have these for Beware?"
Gran snorts. "May I, please! Yes, you may. Heaven forbid we should deny anything to a horse ..." Lily lets the door bang behind her.
"Sorry, Gran," she calls.
The sun has gone down behind the mountain. The air feels cold on Lily's hands. Two sweatshirts would be better than one, but Lily doesn't have time to go back upstairs. She gets a halter and walks down to the gate. "Beware!"
The pony lifts his head and looks at Lily.
"Beware!" Lily looks toward the trees along the edge of the pasture. In the summer Beware stands there in the shade. Now the trees are bare, and it's too cold to care about shade.
"Hey, Beware!" Lily yells. Has something happened? Lily puts the apple cores on the ground beside the gate and ducks under the fence. Then she reaches back and grabs one. "Beware?"
From the tree line Beware whinnies.
Now Lily can see her. Beware's dark red coat blends in with the tree trunks, until you know where to look. Lily stands still and whistles. "Apple core! Come and get it!"
Beware whinnies again. But she doesn't move.
All at once Lily knows. Something is wrong. Beware is caught in wire, or she's hurt herself. Otherwise she'd come down the hill. She wouldn't just stand there.... Lily is running. The buckle of the halter whips against her legs. The cold air burns in her chest.
Beware turns her head. She whinnies loudly. But she doesn't move. All four legs stay in exactly the same place, as still as the tree trunks. She must be caught in wire.
But when Lily reaches Beware, she can't see any wire anywhere. Only dead leaves and sticks and Beware's four feet, standing still.
Beware reaches her nose out to Lily. She brushes her upper lip across the apple core and knocks it into the leaves. She stretches for it. But the apple core has rolled past where Beware can reach. She won't go after it, not even one tiny step.
"Oh, Beware!" Lily buckles the halter onto Beware's head. Her fingers are shaking. "Okay now, walk."
Beware doesn't move.
Lily pulls on the halter. "Beware, walk!" She makes her voice loud and stern. If Beware takes even a few steps, maybe Lily can tell what's wrong.
Lily pulls hard on the halter. Beware's neck stretches out straight. When her neck won't stretch any longer, Beware takes a step. And another. Her front feet seem normal, but her back feet stumble and waver. Her back legs aren't working right. When Lily stops pulling, Beware stops walking. But she reaches down and finds the apple core and crunches it slowly.
Lily goes behind Beware and looks at her back legs. There are no cuts and no bumps. When she runs her hands down Beware's legs, Beware does not flinch. But when Lily pushes on Beware's rump and tells her to walk, Beware's back legs buckle, and she almost falls down.
For a moment Lily just stands there, hugging her sides. What can be the matter? Beware isn't rolling or kicking at her stomach, so it can't be colic. She doesn't seem to have a broken leg. But she can't move. Has she hurt her spine? Has she been poisoned?
Gramp would know. But Gramp isn't home yet, and Mom isn't home yet, and Gran doesn't like horses.
There's only one thing to do. "I'll be right back!" And Lily is flying down the hill. There is no time to wait, no time to guess what might be wrong. Lily has to get a vet here. Right away.CHAPTER 2
Gran looks up when Lily bursts through the door. "Lily! What—"
"Beware's sick!" Lily turns the pages of the phone book. She can't remember the vet's name. She can't even remember the alphabet.
"Here." Gran points to a phone number taped on the wall. Lily dials.
"Valley Vet Clinic," a woman's voice says.
"Is one of the vets there?"
"Dr. Shore is out on a call," the woman says, "but I can reach him. Is this an emergency?"
"What's the nature of the problem?"
Suddenly Lily can hardly speak. "My horse—she can't move. She's way out in the pasture, and she can't move her back legs—"
"Is she standing?" The woman's voice sounds sharper. She sounds worried, too.
"Yes," Lily says.
"I'll get through to Dr. Shore and have him call you. Who is this?"
"Woody's granddaughter?" Now the woman sounds even more concerned. "Dr. Shore's at a farm not too far from you. I'll have him call right away. Don't you worry, honey." The woman hangs up without saying good-bye.
Gran is peeling potatoes. Peel after peel flops into the scrap bucket. She doesn't need to look at the potatoes. She looks at Lily.
"Will she eat?"
"She ate an apple core." Lily's eyes want to cry, but she feels too cold inside, too scared. "Dr. Shore's going to call."
"I'll talk to him. You go back to her. Take a handful of hay, Lily, and some water—not a big bucket!"
Giran warns as Lily goes out the door. "Don't you hurt your back!"
It's so cold. Lily shivers inside her sweatshirt. It takes a long time to climb back up the hill with the heavy pail of water. Beware looks tiny and far away.
The pony comes to see what's in the pail. He doesn't want water, but he steals a snatch of hay. He follows behind Lily, crunching, and he steals another mouthful.
Beware whinnies when Lily gets close. Her voice sounds loud and worried. She sniffs the water and takes a sip. Slowly she winds a wisp of hay into her mouth and chews.
If only Beware could speak! If only she could say what's wrong!
Lily looks again for bumps or cuts. She runs her hands down Beware's legs. If Beware had a broken leg, it would hurt when Lily touched it. But Beware doesn't flinch.
Lily presses her fingers along Beware's spine. She presses softly at first and then harder. That doesn't seem to hurt either.
She feels the tips of Beware's ears. Sometimes if a horse has a fever, its ears will feel hot. Or if it is very sick, or dying, its ears will feel cold.
Beware's ears feel normal, and she is eating slowly. Very sick horses usually don't eat at all.
But there is something wrong! It doesn't make sense!
Lily leans on Beware's warm shoulder. She smells Beware's rich horse smell. She reaches under Beware's belly to scratch. Beware loves to have her tummy scratched.
As Lily's hand slides down Beware's side, she notices something. She steps back to look.
A ridge of muscle shows along Beware's round side. Usually Lily can't see that muscle. Now it's hard and tight. Lily goes to Beware's other side. The muscle shows there, too. What could that mean?
A small figure is coming across the field. Gramp? The vet?
No, it is only Gran, wearing Gramp's old coat over her dress and a pair of big black boots. She comes steadily up the hill.
"Dr. Shore is on his way," Gran says. "He'll be here in twenty minutes." She waits a moment to get her breath. "Be about dark by then—don't know how he can work on her when he can't see."
Lily has thought of that. "Could we drive the tractor up and shine the headlights on her?"
"That's an idea," says Gran. "Better to get her down, though. Will walking do her any harm, do you think?"
"I don't know," Lily says. "I don't think she has anything broken."
"Let's try," Gran says. She goes behind Beware, pushing the pony aside. "Out of my way, you foolish thing!" Gran puts her shoulder against Beware's rump. Her cheek is close to Beware's hip, and her glasses gleam as she nods to Lily. "Now pull," she says.
Lily pulls on the halter rope. Gran pushes with her shoulder. Beware takes a wobbly step.
"Again!" says Gran. They push, and pull. Beware steps—two steps. She stops. "Again," says Gran.
After seven steps like this Beware won't go any farther. Her back legs wobble. "Let's let her rest," says Lily. If Beware falls down, how could they ever get her up?
Gran asks, "Are we doing her any harm?"
"She doesn't seem any worse," Lily says. They stand in the growing darkness.
"All right, let's try again," Gran says after a minute.
Ten steps this time. For three of the steps Beware really walks, without their pulling or pushing.
She stops. "That looked better," Gran says. "Come on, girl, let's go!"
Stop and start, push and pull, they go down the hill. By the time they reach the bottom Beware is walking better. She still goes slowly, and she looks unhappy, but her back legs work much better now. What can be wrong with her? Lily has never heard of a sickness like this.
She opens the gate and leads Beware into the barn. Gran snaps the switch, and the cozy yellow light comes on. The light makes the barn look warm, but it isn't really.CHAPTER 3
Lily puts Beware in the crossties. Beware hangs her head until the two ropes are holding her up. Down here in the light Lily can see how sick she looks. Her eyes are dull, her ears droop, and she stands very still. What can be wrong? The only sicknesses Lily can think of are the worst ones. Sleeping sickness. Lockjaw.
Lily's teeth are chattering now, and she can't stop them.
Gran's hand squeezes Lily's shoulder. "Run inside and put a warm coat on."
Lily's legs feel heavy. It is a long climb up the path to the house, and then the kitchen is so warm Lily wants to stay. There is apple crisp smell, and pot roast smell, and heat pouring off the iron sides of the woodstove.
She takes her barn jacket off its peg in the cellarway. The jacket feels tight when she puts it on. The last time Lily wore it was early last spring. She must have been smaller then. She finds her winter hat in the pocket, pulls it on, and goes outside.
Headlights are coming up the driveway—tall headlights. Lily waits. A white truck stops beside her. A short man with a beard steps down from the cab. "Hello, are you Lily? Tom Shore." He takes out his black doctor's bag and a small metal pail. "Can you fill this with warm water for me, Lily?"
Lily fills the pail at the kitchen sink. Then she leads Dr. Shore to the barn. "We got her inside. I hope it was okay to move her."
Gran waits next to Beware, looking out the open barn door. In Gramp's coat and his tall black boots Gran doesn't look like someone who doesn't like horses. She looks like someone who knows just what to do.
"Hello, Tom," she says.
"Hi, Grace," says Dr. Shore. He sounds surprised. "Woody not home?"
"Not yet," says Gran. "You'll have to make do with Lily and me."
Dr. Shore opens his black bag. He takes out a thermometer and a stethoscope.
"She can't move her back legs—" Lily starts to explain.
"Don't tell me yet," Dr. Shore says. "Let me see what I can find."
Dr. Shore takes Beware's temperature. "Not too bad," he says. He looks at her teeth and gums. What can he be looking for there? Beware's teeth don't have anything to do with the way she was walking!
Dr. Shore puts the prongs of the stethoscope in his ears. He puts the flat, listening part on Beware's side, right where the girth of a saddle would go. When the doctor did that to Lily, she got goose bumps. At least the metal isn't cold to Beware, with her fluffy winter coat on.
Dr. Shore moves the stethoscope back along Beware's side, up, down. He listens as he snaps his finger against Beware's side. Then he takes the prongs out of his ears and moves to the other side.
"Maybe it's her back," Lily says. If your back is broken, you can't move.
Dr. Shore shakes his head. He doesn't say anything, just moves along Beware's side: listening, thumping, listening.
Finally Dr. Shore straightens. "Well," he says, "looks like your mare's got colic."
Colic is a stomach ache, Lily knows that. It can be very dangerous. Horses can die of colic.
But it doesn't make sense. "It was her back legs," Lily says. "She couldn't move them! She wouldn't move at all!"
"She's bracing against the pain, Lily. Do you have any idea how long she's been sick?"
"She was all right yesterday," says Lily. Yesterday was Sunday, and she rode in the afternoon. This morning she put out hay for Beware and the pony, but they didn't come because they had grass to eat.
"So it could have been all day?" Dr. Shore holds a bottle up to the light and fills a syringe from it. "See, she's got a lot of gas trapped in the intestine, and it hurts. She was probably afraid to move."
"But look at this!" Lily points to the line of muscle along Beware's side. "Her belly doesn't look like this most of the time!" Beware's belly is round and fuzzy with her long winter hair, and she likes to be scratched. "And she isn't rolling or kicking at herself. I thought that's what horses with colic did!" Then Lily has to stop talking because if she doesn't, she is going to cry.
"Normally that is how horses react to colic," says Dr. Shore. "They kick at the belly because it hurts—just the way they might kick away a fly. If this weren't such a tough little mare, I think she'd be rolling and kicking, too. What she's doing is just bracing her whole body, holding herself super-still and stiff, hoping it'll go away. And it's going to, 'cause I'm going to give her a shot of painkiller right now." He pinches up a roll of skin on Beware's neck and slides the needle in. Beware's ears don't even twitch.
"Now I'm going to give her something to make her sleepy"— he gives Beware another shot—"and then we'll get something inside her to make whatever's blocking the intestine move along." He bends over the pail of water, squirts mineral oil into it, and mixes.
Lily hears Gramp's truck rattle up the driveway. It sounds as if lots of pieces are about to fall off. The engine turns off, and very quickly Gramp's footsteps come down the path.
He comes through the big barn door with his empty pipe upside down in his mouth. His old green hat is squashed down over his eyes. That's how he wears it when he's trading horses and doesn't want anyone to know what he is thinking.
"Oh, heck!" he says. "It's Beware."
Gran is standing against the stall door with her arms crossed. She and Gramp look at each other for a minute. Then Gramp comes to Beware's head and puts one arm around Lily.
"What's the trouble?"
"Oh, hi, Woody. Mare's got colic, lot of trapped gas—you're just in time to help me tube her." Dr. Shore takes a long plastic tube out of his bag, and next, a shiny steel bicycle pump.
Beware's head droops lower and lower. Her eyes are closing. One back leg shifts, and she almost loses her balance. Then the other leg shifts.
"She's getting dreamy," says Dr. Shore. "Couple more minutes."
"How long has she been like this?" Gramp asks.
"I found her after school," Lily says. "She wouldn't walk. Her back legs didn't work." She still feels the way she did alone with Beware on the hill. There is danger; she doesn't understand.
Dr. Shore says, "Now, Woody, you want to hold her head up?"
Lily stands beside Gran and watches Gramp lift Beware's head. He rests her jaw on his shoulder. Dr. Shore slips one end of the long plastic tube into Beware's nose.
Beware's eyes roll. She swallows, and swallows again, as Dr. Shore slides the tube down her throat. Lily reaches for Gran's hand.
"I had a nose tube that time I was in the hospital," Gran says. "Wasn't all that bad. Course, it was smaller."
Dr. Shore puts the other end of the tube into the bucket. He starts pumping with the shiny bicycle pump. The water goes up the tube and down Beware's throat to her stomach. "This is going to make whatever's blocking her shift along," Dr. Shore explains.
When the water is all gone, he gently slides the tube out. "You can let her go, Woody." Gramp lowers Beware's head until the crossties are supporting her.
Excerpted from Be Well, Beware by Jessie Haas. Copyright © 1996 Jessie Haas. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An okay plot, but definitely not that great of a book. The tense confused me, for one; I very rarely read present-tense books, and it seemed like the author had a hard time writing in that tense, as well. And although the parts with the vet were well-written and accurate enough, the book was vague about Beware's illness and we never actually find out if it was colic or not.