In Italy, in a small park, three sleepy little donkeys pulled three little carts around and around on every sunny day. And there was just one little pony who pulled a small cart, too. The little pony’s name was Picco.
The little donkeys went round and round with their eyes half shut. But little Picco always looked wide awake and very sad as he pulled his cart.
Most of the children wanted to ride in the donkeys’ carts because they went around very slowly and it seemed like a long ride. But Picco the pony trotted around the circle as fast as he could. A ride in his cart was over very quickly!
Two children, Alfredo and his sister Gina, came to the park every sunny day for rides in the little carts. They, too, never rode in the pony’s cart if they could help it ... not because his ride was over so quickly, but because sad little Pico looked even more unhappy when he pulled his cart with children in it.
One day, as Alfredo and Gina stood in line waiting for a ride in the donkey cart, they wondered how they could make the little pony happier.
“Perhaps he wants something,” said Alfredo. “Perhaps he wants something nice to eat.”
“A carrot?” asked Gina.
“Yes, a carrot! That’s it. Perhaps he would like a nice carrot,” said Alfredo.
So they next day Alfredo and Gina brought a fine big fresh carrot to the park.
They offered it to the little pony. He ate the carrot slowly ... but he still looked very sad.
“Perhaps he wants an apple,” said Alfredo, and Gina nodded.
And the next day they brought a fine big red apple to the park. Picco gobbled up the apple in just two bites, but he still looked very sad.
“Do you think he’d rather have a sweet?” whispered Gina. “Some candy ... or a sugared cake?”
“Let’s try them both,” said Alfredo.
The next morning they brought a large pink candy and a pretty coconut cake on a paper plate to the park.
The little pony did not even look at the pink candy and the pretty cake. But he picked them neatly off the plate and looked sadly off into the distance as he slowly chewed them up.
“We must do something else,” said Gina. “Perhaps he’d like some flowers.”
“Oh, no,” said Alfredo, “there are lots of flowers all over the park. He sees them all the time. There, he’s looking at those flowers now and he still looks sad.”
“I mean, to eat,” said Gina.
“O-h-h!” said Alfredo.
The next morning they brought the little pony a fine bunch of flowers from their garden.
Picco sniffed the flowers and then nibbled them a little. Then he turned his head away ... as unhappy as ever.
“What about a funny toy? ... or a picture book?” asked Gina.
Alfredo and Gina brought their funniest toys and their prettiest picture book to the park. The pony looked at the toys, then he looked at the picture book for a long time.
“Read him the story,” whispered Gina. “He may like that.”
Alfredo read the story and turned the pages of the picture book for the little pony. But when had had finished, Picco still looked as sad as ever.
Gina clasped her hands.
“Oh, what shall we do to make him happy?” she asked.
“We will have to think of something,” said Alfredo.
So for two days Gina and Alfredo thought and thought.
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