Shelly and Pebbles

‘Morning, girl. Come and get your breakfast.’

The Donkey Man leant into the shadow of Pebbles’ stall and tickled the soft skin on the end of her nose. ‘It’s going to be a scorcher today. We need to get to the beach nice and early.’

Pebbles rolled back her lips and stretched her neck over the stable door, sniffing and reaching for the hay in the bucket. In the stall opposite her best friend, Shelly, twitched one long ear in her direction, but kept her nose in her own breakfast.

The Donkey Man was right. The beach was already very hot and very busy. Pebbles loved it! The other donkeys were in teams of three, but she and Shelly walked in front in a pair, with a bright pink rope between them. They had worked together as long as Pebbles could remember and the Donkey Man trusted them to lead the group along the seafront.

All morning long Shelley and Pebbles walked up and down the sand carrying chattering children and wobbly babies held in the saddle by proud mums and dads.

The afternoon was just as busy. All the donkeys worked hard, but Pebbles and Shelly worked non-stop.

They didn’t lead the way home that evening. Slowly they plodded behind. And by the time they reached the stable, the other donkeys were already enjoying their supper or drinking noisily from large buckets of cool water.

‘Don’t worry,’ soothed the Donkey Man, ‘I’ve got big helpings for you two!’ and he brought in two big buckets of food and two large buckets of cool water. He was just about to undo their saddles, take off their bridles and the pink rope that held them together, when the phone rang in the office.

‘Just a minute!’ he said and dashed off.

Pebbles and Shelly waited patiently. They could hear the Donkey Man talking to someone. Shelly stretched lazily towards the big food buckets on her side of the stable. Mmmn, they smelt good!

Pebbles leaned towards the dark clear water on her side. Her throat was dry; the water looked so cool and refreshing. Shelly inched nearer to the food buckets, pulling Pebbles away from the water.

‘I’m so hungry!’ sighed Shelly. ‘I can’t wait any longer!’

But Pebbles was thirsty. ‘I’m so thirsty!’ she brayed. ‘I can’t wait any longer either!’

And she leaned towards the water bucket, pulling Shelly away from the food.

For a moment both donkeys stopped. They looked at each other – then dropped their ears back, gritted their teeth and pulled with all their strength. Shelly snorted and pulled towards the food and Pebbles whinnied and pulled towards the water. The pink rope between them pulled tighter and tighter, until it bit into their necks.

‘Food!’ said Shelly, with her teeth bared and her neck stretched out.

‘Water!’ argued Pebbles, her eyes wide and her ears flat.

Panting and braying, scrabbling and stretching, both donkeys pulled as hard as they could.

‘If it wasn’t for you,’ cried Pebbles, ‘I could have lovely cool water to drink and my throat wouldn’t feel so hot!’

‘And if it wasn’t for you,’ snapped Shelly, ‘I could have all the food I can eat and my tummy wouldn’t ache!’

‘Well! Looks like we’ll both have to do without then, won’t we?’ snorted Pebbles. ‘At least until the Donkey Man comes back!’

‘What will we do? I’m so hungry.’ said Shelly.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Pebbles, nuzzling her friend. ‘He’ll come back soon. I’m sure.’

‘I’m glad we’re friends again,’ sniffed Shelly. ‘It’s always better when we’re together.’

‘Eeyore! That’s it!’ shouted Pebbles. ‘Together! If we work together we can both get food and drink!’

‘Of course!’ laughed Shelly. ‘Like a team. Just like we always work!’

So, as a team, the two donkeys made their way to the food buckets and munched all the sweet hay. Then, together, they made their way to the water and washed it all down with a long, cool drink.

They were just wondering how they were going to get any sleep with their saddles still on, when the Donkey Man burst into the stable looking worried. He looked at the empty food buckets and he looked at the half-drunk water buckets and he started to laugh.

‘You two really do know how to work together, don’t you!’ he said. And he gave them a large carrot each as a reward.

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