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Norbert, the fat old horse from Farmer Finbar's field has a problem - His teeth are green! Delilah, the pretty pony who lives in the next paddock will surely never speak to him unless something is done. But how can a horse clean its own teeth? With the help of Colin, the grumpy cuckoo who lives in the sycamore tree, Norbert makes a plan. But will he win Delilah's heart? Or will it end in disaster?
Norbert stood sheltering from the rain underneath the large sycamore tree in Finbar’s field. It had stopped raining two days ago but Norbert, who was never the most intelligent of horses, had failed to notice. He gazed thoughtfully at the ground beneath his hooves and it occurred to him that he had eaten every last blade of grass in that particular patch. Suddenly Norbert had a thought, which was something that didn’t often happen; he would ask Colin the cuckoo for some advice about where to find some fresh grass to eat.
Colin the cuckoo lived in the sycamore tree and had known Norbert ever since he was a young foal.
“Are you there Colin?” Norbert whinnied, peering up into the leafy branches above his head.
“Of course I’m here!” Colin warbled from high up in his nest, a bit annoyed at being disturbed from his newspaper. “You know I’m too old to get out much these days.”
“I’m sorry,” said Norbert. “It’s just that I’ve eaten all of the grass under the tree, and I’m still a bit peckish and…”
“Then move out from underneath the tree and eat some of the grass from the rest of the field, you clod-hopping clot!” interrupted Colin. “And don’t come pestering me with any more of your daft questions!”
Norbert waddled sadly out into the May sunshine. Why didn’t he think of that? Fortunately, he was such a forgetful horse that, within moments, he had forgotten all about the unpleasant episode with Colin and was soon enjoying the fresh, green grass at the other end of the field.
After three or four hours of chomping and chewing, Norbert realised that he was very thirsty. He had learnt over the twenty-seven years he had spent in the field that whenever he was thirsty, he had to go to the water trough, so off he went. As Norbert leant over the stone trough to begin his drink he jumped back, terrified. He had seen another horse peering out of the water at him! His first instinct was to trot as fast as his tired old legs would carry him back across the field to the sycamore tree to tell Colin what had happened, but a hazy memory in the back of his mind made him hesitate. The last time he had run to tell Colin all about the strange horse in the water trough, his feathery friend had been very annoyed. Norbert tried and tried as hard as he could to remember why…
Eventually after several minutes of intense pondering, he recalled that Colin had told him that he needn’t be afraid of horse in the water trough because it was only his own reflection.
Aha! Norbert thought to himself. Wait until I tell Colin how clever I’ve been!
Before doing so, he realized that he was still thirsty, not having yet had a drink. He turned back towards the trough and jumped back, petrified… There was a strange horse in there, peering back at him again! Daft old Norbert had already forgotten everything he had just remembered!
The following day, he tried again. “It’s only a reflection… It’s only a reflection…” he muttered as he leaned his head over the trough, closed his eyes, and began to drink the clear, cold water. When his big fat belly was too full to drink any more, he drew his head back and frowned. He waited for the ripples in the water to die down and looked again…
There was no denying the awful truth…
NORBERT’S TEETH WERE GREEN!!!
“Oh Colin! Colin!” he whinnied as he arrived panting and wheezing beneath the sycamore tree “My teeth are green!”
“Your teeth have always been green, Norbert. It’s what comes of a lifetime of chewing grass and never cleaning them,” came the impatient reply from above. “Now will you kindly trot along and leave me in peace whilst I finish my crossword.”
“But what will Delilah think if she sees me?” Norbert pleaded. “Her teeth are always lovely and white!”
Delilah was a pretty young pony who sometimes grazed in the adjacent field. Ever since he had set eyes on her, Norbert had been deeply in love with Delilah, but had always been too shy to say so.
“Delilah is much younger than you, Norbert, and the little girl from the farm grooms her and cleans her teeth before the horse shows each weekend,” Colin croaked unsympathetically. “Anyway, I thought we’d agreed that you were going to forget about that frisky filly. I’ve told you before, Norbert, that women are a deadly and dangerous species which should not be allowed. Everyone knows that!”
Norbert waddled away sadly. Colin was very clever and was always right about everything. He was just a fat old horse. An unintelligent fat old horse. A pretty pony like Delilah would never be interested in him. He would take Colin’s advice and do his best to forget about her. Unfortunately, Delilah was possibly the only thing in the world which Norbert couldn’t forget about, however hard he tried.
“At least Colin is my friend,” he murmured as he plodded away to a remote corner of the field.
“And don’t go thinking that I’m your friend, either,” clucked an irate voice from the nearby sycamore tree.