THE GUNDAROO PONY

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by

LIBBY ANDERSON

Drawings by Ronald Revitt


It was just a normal, rather dull, day. The old
Gundaroo school seemed to be asleep - but not
for long!
Mr Marconi, the teacher, announced to the
school that in four weeks' time the school would
be helping to put on an historical picnic.
There were excited giggles and gasps from the
twenty-five boys and girls who attended the school.
'Great!'
'What can I go as?'
'My Grandma has some old-fashioned clothes.'
'I think I'll go as an explorer.'
The most excited girl in the whole school was
Dianne. Dianne had spent all her eight years in
Gundaroo. She knew lots of its history and loved
it.
That afternoon, as soon as the big brass
school bell rang at going-home time, Dianne took
off like a flash, running down the stone path to
the bike shed where she quickly collected her red
and white bike. Soon she was pedalling furiously
out of the school grounds and onto the main road
through town. She was gone almost before the
other children had left the classroom.

Dianne cycled down the main street of
Gundaroo, past the old bakery, the wine bar, the
Court House and the Gundaroo store. She had
seen them so many times before that she really
did not notice them.

Dianne rode hard down the gentle slope
leading out of town and towards her home, an
eighty-year-old timber cottage.
'Hullo' Dianne's Mother waved from the
doorway.
'I've got some really exciting news,' Dianne
gasped, nearly falling off her bicycle.
'Steady there,' Mother said. 'Let me help you
'Thanks, you can take my bag.' Dianne
handed over a rather tattered brown school bag
far too big for the few books it ever carried.
'Come inside and tell me all about it,' Mother
suggested.

Soon they were sitting down on the thick
wooden chairs beside the warm wood fire in the
kitchen. Mother was pouring a glass a fresh milk
from a half gallon jug, while Dianne buttered
some hot scones which her Mother had made in
the big oven.
'Now tell me,' Mother repeated after they had
had as much afternoon tea as they could eat.
'Mr Marconi is helping with an historical
picnic here in Gundaroo. We can all go dressed
up in costumes, old fashioned clothes and
things ....' Dianne burst out, words running a
over each other.
'Now that's an idea!' approved Dianne's
Mother.

'We can dress in any period costume we want
to,' Dianne continued. 'It'll be tremendous fun,
though I can't think of what to go as.'
'It shouldn't be hard to think up a costume'
said Mother, as she began to gather up the plates.
Later that afternoon Dianne had a bright idea.
'Mummy, Mummy!' she called. 'Could No-name
be part of the historical picnic?'
'No-name! Why not?' Mother laughed,
thinking of Dianne's little grey pony grazing
outside near the cottage.
'What could we get No-name to do?' Dianne
asked.
'I'll have to think about it,' Mother said
thoughtfully. 'Let's look in the old photograph
albums tonight and we may get some ideas.'
'We could go and visit the Gundaroo
historical library too,' Dianne added.
'Good,' agreed Mother who was rather
looking forward to getting ideas for the historical
picnic.
'Now I must go and tell No-name all about it,'
Dianne said, running out the back door and up
the path to the grey pony's paddock.

On her way outside, Dianne greeted the
blue heeler cattle dogs. She tickled Purr the
ginger cat under his chin until he purred out his
name. Then she leapt the low wooden fence into a
small paddock where No-name grazed happily.
'How are you today?' Dianne called, as No-
name came up to her. 'You're a nice boy,' Dianne
whispered into his large grey ear.
No-name muzzled Dianne with his nose. He
was always pleased to see her.
'Mr Marconi is having an historical picnic at
Gundaroo,' Dianne explained. No-name nodded
his head wisely and started to nibble Dianne's
fingers.
'No-name, would you like to be part of the
historical picnic?' Dianne asked.
No-name nodded his head again. It sounded
like a lot of fun.

For as long as Dianne could remember, she had
loved horses. When she was little she adored the
big furry legged draught horses and the pretty
white circus ponies in the picture books. Later, on
'her fifth birthday, Dianne was given a little clay
donkey, five inches high, which carried two water
buckets, one on each side of his back. Dianne had
kept the tiny clay donkey and it clip-clopped all
all day long on her dressing table. Secretly she had
imagined that the donkey was real. Each evening
they used to have all sorts of adventures before
Dianne had to go to bed.

Later still, on Dianne's seventh birthday, her
dreams came true. All clean and shiny, mane and
tail carefully combed and gleaming, with a large
red birthday card hanging around his neck tied by
a piece of yellow ribbon, stood the grey birthday
pony. When Dianne read the card, 'To Dianne
with all our love, Mummy and Daddy', she did not
know who to cuddle first, Mummy, Daddy or the
little grey pony.
'What a terrific birthday present!' Dianne said
over and over.
'The Blacksmith at Gundaroo bred him,'
Daddy explained. 'Do you remember the old grey
mare that used to pull the dray?'
'A long time ago,' Dianne said, remembering
back some years. 'I remember the picture hanging
in the forge of old Mr Jedd with a grey mare.'
'That's the one,' Daddy said. 'Well, this pony
is one of her foals.'
'Golly, golly, am I lucky!' Dianne shouted.

Then she took her grey pony by the halter
and led him all around his new home. She led him
past Daddy's old timber truck, past her own red
and white bike, past the hens, the dogs and, of
course, past Purr the ginger cat. Soon the pony
felt right at home with this new family.
Dianne could not think of a name for her
pony. She thought and thought ....Grey Boy,
Dew Drop, Snowflake, White Cloud, Grey
Wave, ....
'No! No!' Dianne exclaimed, 'I don't like any
of those names.'
Dianne thought and thought again, for name
are very important and must be just right.
Finally the little grey pony was called No-
name because Dianne simply could not think of
the perfect name for him.

'You'll need a bridle and saddle now,' Father
said. 'I'll pick them up tomorrow in town, after I
deliver that big load of timber.'
Next day, Father arrived home very late. He
had had a long, tiring day delivering timber. But
he hadn't forgotten about the saddle and bridle.
Under his big arm he carried a small saddle and
over his shoulder he carried a pony-sized snaffle
bridle.
Dianne stopped only to give her Father a bear
hug, before running off to fetch No-name. She led
him up under the porch light in front of the
cottage.
'What a lovely saddle and bridle!' Mother
exclaimed.
'I hope the saddle fits him,' Daddy said in
worried voice. Then he gently lifted the small
saddle and placed it firmly across the pony's back
It fits him perfectly,' Dianne breathed
happily. 'Now I can take No-name for wonderful
rides all around Gundaroo.'

Father spent a long time fitting the saddle and
bridle so that they sat comfortably in the correct
position. Then Father showed Dianne how to
saddle and bridle the pony all by herself.
'It is no good owning a pony,' said Father
firmly, 'if you can't tend to it yourself'
Soon Dianne became quite good at saddling
up, until at last Mother said, 'You're good enough
now Dianne.'
'You're ready to go riding now,' Father smiled
at his daughter with approval.
'Remember that riding with a saddle is
different from riding bareback,' Mother reminded.
'I'll be careful when I go riding tomorrow
morning,' Dianne promised.
'Good girl,' Mother said. 'Now put No-name
back in his paddock and come in and have some
tea.'

Since the birthday No-name and Dianne had
become good friends and life continued along
pleasantly enough until the exciting news of the
Gundaroo historical picnic.
From the time that Mr Marconi had told the
schoolchildren about the picnic Dianne could
think of nothing else. Mother pulled out her old
photograph albums from the hall cupboard.
Together she and Dianne pored over the old,
dulled prints. Dianne loved looking at the pictures
which showed life in Gundaroo sixty to seventy
years before.
'There are my Grandma and Grandpa,'
Mother said, pointing to an old couple standing
beside a wooden cottage. 'They are your great-
grandparents.'
'They look so old fashioned!' Dianne
exclaimed.
'They would think that you look pretty silly in
your blue jeans and tee shirts,' Mother said
quickly.

'I suppose so,' Dianne laughed. 'I'd love to
live in olden times and be a pioneer.'
'Really?' Mother questioned.
'Really,' Dianne sighed.
'Look at this picture,' Mother said.
'It is nice,' Dianne said. 'Was your Grandma
about to go off shopping in the pony trap?'
'She's wearing a purple linen skirt with an
embroidered lace cotton blouse,' Mother told
Dianne, remembering way back into her past,
when her Mother had told her about the photo-
graphs.
'Here's another,' Dianne pointed to another
photograph.

'That's my Grandpa doing the ploughing,'
Mother said.
'Work was hard then,' Dianne said, looking at
the draught horse straining in his harness and
Grandpa in his gum boots trudging after it down
the long furrows.
'Life certainly was harder then than it is now,'
Mother agreed.
'Grandma had to make everything for herself,'
Mother told Dianne.
'I know she had no electricity,' Dianne said.
'That means no washing machines, not even
electric light.'
'Electricity didn't come to Gundaroo until
1954,' Mother said.
'Then you can remember when there was no
electricity here then?' Dianne asked.
'Indeed I can.' Mother smiled. 'Grandma used
the old copper for washing and the steel wheat
grinder for grinding flour for our bread.'
'You make our bread,' Dianne said. 'But now
you buy the flour in the supermarket.'
'Yes,' Mother sighed. 'Life is much easier now.
We certainly ought to remember the pioneers who
set up Gundaroo.'
'Then it's a jolly good idea to have an
historical picnic to help us to remember the
pioneers,' Dianne said.

The next Monday Mr Marconi took the
children down to the Gundaroo historical library.
It wasn't a proper library. It was where the old and
precious documents and photos about the town's
history were carefully stored in the town's oldest
building, in glass cased cabinets.
They walked down the main street of town to
the library. It had stood proud and strong since
1869, although now the wooden shingles of its
roof needed some attention. Everyone was silent
in the library. If they had to speak they spoke in
soft voices. It did not seem proper to yell or laugh
in the library. The books lay in dusty silence in
their cupboards. Mr Marconi opened the bookcase
with a special key and laid the photographs and
papers out on the big oak table for the children to
read.
The children happily spent over an hour
looking at the pictures.


There were ladies kneading dough and other
ladies driving pony carts, all dressed in heavy
clothes which were the fashion of the time.
There were men driving drays, ploughing
fields and cutting timber with sharp edged axes.
There were houses, many of which, like the
library, are still standing. Others had become
cowsheds and others had disappeared altogether.
The children could not believe it when the
hour was up. 'Please, can't we stay longer?' they
asked.
'Not this time,' Mr Marconi smiled at them.
'Go home and think how you would like to
represent our pioneers at the historical picnic.'
'It's all too difficult,' Dianne sighed to herself
'I'll never think up what to wear.'



That evening Dianne, with her Mother and
Father, went to the Gundaroo Hall for a party to
celebrate the ninety-second birthday of Mrs
Thorne. Mrs Thorne was by far the oldest lady in
Gundaroo and was still very gay and spritely.
Dianne and Mrs Thorne had always got on
well. Every Saturday morning, as Dianne trotted
past Mrs Thorne's stone cottage on No-name, she
would give the old lady a big wave. Sometimes
Mrs Thorne would ask her inside for milk and
peanut biscuits. Dianne really enjoyed these visit
when Mrs Thorne would tell her about the early
days of Gundaroo.
'Come and sit next to me,' Mrs Thorne said to
Dianne. 'I would like to show you some photos.'

Soon a small crowd had gathered around the
old lady. Dianne was sitting on a cushion at Mrs
Thorne's feet. She busied herself helping to turn
the pages of the aged photograph album for Mrs
Thorne.
'That is Mr Jedd, the grandfather of young
Sam Jedd, the Gundaroo blacksmith.'
'I can remember Grandpa,' Sam Jedd said
thoughtfully, taking a careful look at the
photograph. 'Look at that old grey mare in the
shafts of the sulky. She was a good mare that one,'
he continued. 'An ancestor of your grey pony,
Dianne.'
'Oh, truly?' Dianne gasped.
'Do you still have that sulky?' asked Mrs
Thorne.
'Why, yes, Mrs Thorne,' replied Sam. 'It's in
the stone shed at the back of the forge.'
Dianne sat quietly as a wonderful idea began
to dawn on her.
'Does the sulky still work?' Dianne asked Sam
at last.

'Yes, indeed it does,' Sam said. 'Just needs a
little work on her and lots of elbow grease to
polish her up like new again.'
Mrs Thorne, who knew that Dianne had been
thinking hard for ages about what to wear at the
historical picnic, suddenly thought of the same
idea as Dianne.
'Dianne,' said Mrs Thorne, 'You can go to the
historical picnic dressed as my grandmother! No-
name can pull the sulky, if that is all right with Mr
Jedd, and you can pretend to be off for a day at
the market.'
'Fine by me,' said Mr Jedd.
'Hooray!' Dianne cried and she threw her
arms around Mrs Thorne and smacked a juicy kiss
on her cheek.
Everyone clapped and agreed it was a terrific
idea.
Once all that had been decided Dianne's
Father called everyone to attention. 'Please come
across to the big table,' he said. 'Mrs Thorne must
try to blow out all the ninety-two candles on her
beautiful birthday cake.'

Early the next morning Dianne ran out of the
cottage to tell No-name about the interesting
birthday party of the previous evening.
'No-name,' Dianne called. 'You can go to the
historical picnic as a pioneer's pony, pulling Mr
Jedd's sulky.'
No-name nickered a greeting to Dianne.
Pulling a sulky could be a lot of fun. He didn't
want to miss the Gundaroo historical picnic for
anything.
'Why you are a part of Gundaroo history
yourself,' Dianne told the grey pony. 'You were
born and bred here. Your parents and
grandparents worked hard pulling carts and drays
full of timber and things. They had to pull
ploughs as well and take the family into town
once a week.'

No-name rubbed his nose along Dianne's
arm. He understood all that. He knew that he was
a part of Gundaroo. He did not need to be told.
'Gundaroo, Gundaroo, Gundaroo,' Dianne
whispered over and over. 'You are part of the
history of Gundaroo.'
No-name shook his head. What was his
mistress going on about!
'I hereby re-name you Gundaroo,' Dianne
declared suddenly, leaning over the water trough
and sprinkling a few drops of cold water over the
surprised pony.
'Gunnie for short,' Dianne continued. 'You
are now known as Gunnie, my very own
Gundaroo Pony.'
The grey pony listened hard, raised his upper
lip and gave a great long pony laugh. He liked his
new name too.
'Come on Gunnie,' Dianne said. 'Let's go for
ride before breakfast.'

Dianne quickly groomed and saddled the
Gundaroo Pony and was soon cantering down one
of the soft grassed tracks which criss-crossed the
township.
The grass felt soft and springy under the grey
pony's hooves. The tall trees swayed and
whispered strange tunes to them as they passed
underneath.
The everyday world in the township was still
asleep. At first, only the roosters were awake and
crowing loudly. Then the birds were stirring as the
sun sent early warmth across the valley. One old
man kangaroo loped into the shelter of the
timber
'We had better go home now Gunnie,'
Dianne said, 'or I will be late for school.'
Obediently the Gundaroo Pony turned
homewards. He quickened his pace just a little, in
hope of a juicy breakfast of oats.

'Look Gunnie,' Dianne cried. 'Be careful!
Don't hurt it!'
Gunnie came to a rather startled halt. A dark
brown, fluffy koala bear was hurrying across the
bush track. On her back she was carrying her
baby. The baby koala bear was clinging very
tightly so as not to fall. Mummy bear had been
making a peaceful crossing until disturbed by
Gunnie and Dianne. She was after the fresh,
young gum trees on the other side of the track.
'Hurry now, Mrs Bear,' Dianne called to the
disappearing koala as she scampered up into
welcoming branches of a gum tree.

There was an air of excitement over the
township of Gundaroo all the next week.
Father and Mr Jedd worked each evening after
work on the old sulky. They oiled all the moving
parts, put on a new shaft and replaced the torn
rubber tyres. They polished the brass and leather
until it gleamed. Finally, they loaded it into
Father's timber truck and took it back home.
Now it was ready for the Gundaroo Pony to try.
Dianne was very worried that the Gundaroo
Pony might not like his new sulky. However, she
need not have been worried. The Gundaroo Pony
loved all the attention and fuss of being harnessed
to the sulky. Finally he was fully harnessed and
Father climbed into the sulky. He helped Dianne
up. Then he picked up the reins, and said, 'Get up
now Gunnie.' The Gundaroo Pony moved forward
willingly, bracing himself against the traces as if he
had been born to it. Together they trotted off
down the road.

'This is fun,' Dianne laughed as the wind
caught up her hair and tossed it high.
'My father drove to town each week in a sulky
just like this,' Father told Dianne.
'What a shame everyone has cars and
motorbikes nowadays,' Dianne sighed.
'Yes, indeed,' Father agreed.
The Gundaroo Pony trotted gaily down the
Gundaroo road, his head and tail held high and his
eyes bright with happiness.
Mother, Mrs Thorne and Dianne had many
talks over lots of cups of tea about what Dianne
would wear to the historical picnic.
Many of the other children from the
Gundaroo School had thought up terrific
costumes too. They were going as farmers, bakers
timber-cutters, horse-breakers, and shopkeepers.

One little girl was going dressed as a fine lady with
real pearls and a lace shawl which had been
handed down in the family for generations
Another girl, a friend of Dianne's called Jody, was
going to the picnic dressed in old fashioned
formal riding habit. She would be riding side-
saddle on her Mother's old stock horse. The side-
saddle had been borrowed from the Gundaroo
historical association. Jody was not a very good
rider so her Mother would have to lead her
everywhere. Anyway, Jody would be feeling most
peculiar perched high up on her side-saddle.
Dianne was glad she and the Gundaroo Pony were
going in the sulky.

It was finally decided that Dianne should wear
a dress which had been Mrs Thorne's daughter's
best 'going to town dress'. Mrs Thorne had washed
it ever so carefully and Dianne's Mother had taken
it home and ironed it painstakingly, so that the
linen and lace felt as fine and as crisp as when it
was new. The dress was long and pink, fringed
with white lace. Dianne felt beautiful in it- very
grown up for an eight-year-old.
To Dianne's delight, Mother found a white
lace apron with a matching lace bonnet, just ideal
to add the finishing touches to the old fashioned
costume. When Dianne was finally dressed in her
pioneer outfit, she really looked like an early
Australian settler's child.
'That is how Grandma must have looked as a
child!' Mother exclaimed. 'She was one of the old
pioneers too.'
'Pioneers,' Dianne said thoughtfully, 'were the
people who came out to Australia a hundred or
more years ago.'
'That's right,' Mother said, 'they had a very
hard and difficult life. They had first to discover
and then develop this big island we call Australia.'

'Pioneers must have been very tough and
brave,' Dianne said.

The day before the historical picnic Dianne
helped her Father to clean all the leather harness
for the sulky. First, she polished the lovely brass
buckles and studs on the bridle. Then she wiped
clean all the leather straps and reins. Last of all
she rubbed leather polish over the gear and wiped
it off with a clean cloth so that the harness shone
like new.
After all that was done Dianne remembered
that the Gundaroo Pony needed a clean up too.
Dianne borrowed her Mother's shampoo and filled
a bucket of warm water from the stove. Soon the
Gundaroo Pony was covered in frothy white
bubbles - from the tip of his nose to the tip of his
tail. The Gundaroo Pony turned his head in
amazement to look at himself

By the time Dianne had finished, the
Gundaroo Pony looked a picture. All clean and
bright, he shone in the afternoon sun. Dianne
cleaned his hooves with hoof oil so they shone
black and she combed out his mane and tail until
they sparkled like waterfalls. The Gundaroo Pony
looked like the most beautiful animal in Dianne's
favourite picture book.
'You've certainly done a good job!' Mother
exclaimed. 'I'm proud of both of you.'
It was a beautiful morning on the day of the
historical picnic. Dianne woke up very early.
She ran down to see the Gundaroo Pony and
to give him his bowl of oats for breakfast.
'Goodness!' Dianne exclaimed in horror. 'You've
slept on the dirty old grass and roughed up your coat
the wrong way.'
The Gundaroo Pony looked around and his
ears drooped sadly.
'I expect you can't help lying down to sleep,'
Dianne comforted the Gundaroo Pony, who
looked so sad. The Gundaroo Pony brightened up
and began to nibble away at his breakfast.
'Never mind,' Dianne said. 'It won't take a
minute to brush you all clean again.'

Both Mother and Father helped Dianne and
the Gundaroo Pony to dress in time for the
historical picnic.
'Whatever you do, don't get dirty,' Mother
repeated as she arranged the last frill on Dianne's
pretty lace apron.
'The Gundaroo Pony is nearly ready,' Father
said, pausing for a minute to admire the effect.
Soon all was finished and they were ready to
leave for the picnic. Father lifted Dianne into the
sulky and handed her the reins. Mother ran inside
the cottage to fetch her camera.
'We must take a picture of you both,' she
said.
'Now smile,' Father laughed.
Click, click went the camera.
Then Mother and Father waved goodbye to
the pioneer girl and her pony as they slowly
trotted out of the drive and down the road
Mother and Father would follow later in the truck

Dianne felt so proud as they went along the
main road through Gundaroo. The Gundaroo
Pony had his ears pricked forward happily. Every
so often he would flick them back, to listen to
Dianne when she spoke to him. Friends along the
road came out to wave as they trotted past. Soon
they, too, would pack up and pile into their cars
and head off to the historical picnic as well.
Dianne waved back at them with her white lace
handkerchief. She really felt like a pioneer lady
from long ago. What fun it was!
They rounded a bend in the road and came
upon the Gundaroo sports ground, where the
picnic was to be held.
All the school-children were there, together
with many parents and friends. When they saw
Dianne and the Gundaroo Pony trotting through
the gate, they ran over to greet them.

Everyone was beautifully dressed, Jody
mounted side-saddle on her Mother's horse, Tom
dressed as a farmer, Mary as a dairy maid and
James as a baker. Even Mr Marconi looked the
part, dressed as the town mayor. In long flowing
red robes, he looked very grand. It was only when
he smiled that he became the friendly school
teacher again.
Mr Marconi himself welcomed Dianne and
offered his hand to help her down from the sulky.
Then he shook her hand very solemnly and said
'We are so glad that we have the honour of
welcoming an original pioneer girl- and of course
her pony,' he added, smiling kindly at the
Gundaroo Pony.
After all that the children clapped and
clapped.

After the historical parade the young pioneers
put on their old jeans and tee shirts for games and
play.
What a lovely day they had! After hours of
running and jumping, skipping and hopping,
Dianne felt very tired at the end of the day. There
were many prizes to be won - boxes of lollies and
chocolates, packets of nuts and potato chips, ice-
creams and cans of soft drink.

The Gundaroo Pony felt content. He had
made friends with Flicker, the horse with the side-
saddle, and together they spent a busy day visiting
the families picnicking at the sports ground. They
helped themselves to all the picnic goodies such as
chocolate cake with lots of icing and hundreds and
thousands on fairy bread.
Finally, Mr Marconi gave both the Gundaroo
Pony and Flicker a big ice-cream cone each.
'You have earned it,' he told them, as he
patted each warm nose in turn
When the sun began to set, all the families
packed their picnic hampers, picked up their tired
pioneer children and headed off to their homes.

Mother and Father helped to harness the
Gundaroo Pony. Soon, he too, was trotting down
the road towards home, carrying his mistress
safely in the sulky.
'Gunnie,' Dianne called softly to the grey
pony.
The Gundaroo Pony flicked his ears back to
listen. 'It's been a wonderful day. Thank you my
friend.'
The Gundaroo Pony shook his head gaily. He
had had a lovely day too, quite the nicest day of
his whole life.

'What a surprise!' Mother exclaimed the next
day when she read the daily newspaper
'What is it?' Dianne called out from her
bedroom.
'Get dressed quickly and I'll show you,'
Mother said. 'Hurry now, or you'll be late for
school.'
Dianne pulled her clothes on and, with shoe
laces still undone and trailing, ran out into the
kitchen.
'See.' Mother showed Dianne a picture right
on the front page.
'Oh!' Dianne gasped. 'It's me!'
There was a striking picture of the Gundaroo
Pony harnessed to the sulky. Mr Marconi was
shaking hands with Dianne, who was dressed in
her beautiful period costume. The writing under
the picture said, 'This is how the children of our
forefathers, the pioneers, looked when our
country was being settled and developed'. Beneath
that was a short note telling the readers all about
Dianne and the Gundaroo Pony.

'What a super picture,' Dianne breathed.
'It's lovely,' Mother agreed.
'Oh! Gosh!' Dianne gasped. 'I must go and
show the Gundaroo Pony.'
With that Dianne ran outside and held the
picture up in front of the Gundaroo Pony.
The grey pony sniffed at the paper, then
looked hard at the picture. He closed his eyes a
rubbed his soft nose against Dianne's shoulder
'We made a terrific pioneer team,' Dianne
laughed. 'Your picture makes you look really
handsome . '
The Gundaroo Pony whinnied. He approved
of the picture too.


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