~ Dancing Star finds that his long-time enemy is not the only dangerous thing about this island ~


Deep within the backwoods of Arkansas, somewhere on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River, is a deserted island.  

It is called Wild Horse Island because there lives on it a herd of beautiful young horses. There are many horses on this island, mainly because the only way to leave the island is to swim to the mainland.  And although the young horses see the deer that live on the island, swim back and forth, the young horses do not trust the swift flowing river; so they just remain on the island.

This island is home also too many dangerous creatures that pose a threat to any animal that they can catch: including young horses.  When the young horses were very little, their parents would teach them not to stray from the herd, it was too dangerous.  As long as they stayed together, they would be safe.  But often the young horses would forget their teachings and sometimes they would just get stubborn and stray: for the adventure of it.  

Either way, danger was never far away.

There were also on this island some very special horses.  Dancing Star is a young stallion that wanted to do what was right—in all things.  He had a sweetheart, called, True Heart.  

His mother, Moonbeam, was always there, looking out for Star’s good.  All the horses loved one another and protected each other in hard times.

There was also one young stallion by the name of Nick that was a bully and a troublemaker.  You know the kind. There’s usually one in every neighborhood.

Nick was always teasing Star and called him a ‘mamma’s boy’, because Star was obedient to his mother, Moonbeam, in all things.  Nick was never one to be obedient to his mother and was always trying to stir up trouble.

One day, Star told Nick,

---If you don’t leave me alone Nick, there is going to be trouble.  And I mean it.  Nick just laughed and said,

---You think you can handle me, mamma’s boy?

---If I must, replied Star. But I would rather be your friend.

---Give me True Heart, taunted Nick, and I’ll be your friend. Nick stood so close to Star he could feel his breath.  Star just huffed and said,

---I doubt True Heart would have anything to do with you.  All you do is cause trouble and I, for one, have had all that I care to put up with.  If this is the part of the pasture that you want, then True Heart and I will go to the other side.

Star could tell that Nick was getting mad.  He had hit a nerve by saying that True Heart would have nothing to do with him. Nick was wild and had a lot of scars that turned the beautiful young fillies away from him.

This rejection made Nick even meaner.

Without Star realizing it, true heart had heard everything and spoke up,
---Don’t pay any attention to him, Star. Besides your mother has told you to stay away from him, before he gets you into trouble.

Nick would not back down.

---He is already in trouble, huffed Nick. This side of the pasture is where I want to stay and I’m not going to allow him to pass to the other side either.  Wherever he goes I’ll be there. I’m sticking to him like glue. He’ll never be free of me!

---Let’s go True Heart, said Star. They slowly turned and headed toward the heard.

A few days later, Star, True Heart and some of their friends were enjoying the cool of the day in their favorite meadow.  When, Nick, all of a sudden, thundered in and began to tease Star as in times past.  This time however, Nick was successful in stirring up a little anger in Star.

Star did not want to be angry with Nick.  Star did not want to fight Nick either, but Nick would not leave him alone.  Star and True Heart tried to leave the meadow, but Nick would not let them pass.

He began stomping around them, his tail arched high, giving a sign of warning.

Every creature in the meadow became afraid.  They knew what this warning sign was all about.

Nick challenged Star to a fight.

The other horses wondered what would happen; but they did not have long to wonder because Nick ran at Star – with his mouth open and standing on his hind feet.

Everyone thought Star would get hurt because they had never seen him fight before and Nick was  always in a fight: kicking others around just for the fun of it.

Just about the time Nick got close to Star, star spun around and let Nick have it with his two hind hooves, right in the hip so hard that Nick fell on his side.  When he got up Star kicked him again, this time in the jaw, then in the stomach.  Star could have done more but he waited to see if Nick had any more fight left in him.

Nick was stunned.  He shook his head and said,

---I have had enough.  You are too fast for me.  I don’t know anything about your kind of fighting.

Star looked pained at the sight of Nick being hurt and said,

---I am sorry that I hurt you, Nick.  My mother has always taught me not to get angry, but I did, and I am sorry.  Just don’t try biting me any more.

Nick gave no answer – just slowly walked away.

True heart looked sad and nuzzled up to Star and said,

---I am sorry that you had to fight Nick, but it seemed he left you no other choice. All the other young horses gathered around Star and True heart. The other horses asked Star, where he learned to fight like that? Star said,

---I do not know how to fight, but my mother, once taught me how to dance. That’s how I got my name.  In order to dance one has to be very agile. I was able to move faster than Nick.  That’s how I beat him to the punch.

Star apologized to his friends for setting a bad example in front of them.  He told them that it was never good to get angry because anger has a tendency of causing one to do things they might not do otherwise.  He asked them all to forgive him.

Now hidden away in the backwoods was a very old horse by the name of Old Browney.  He was all scarred up and was a loner: staying by himself most of the time.  But he had seen the fight between Star and Nick.  He called out to star,

---Star, come here lad.

---I don’t have the time right now old boy, said Star.  I must go home.  Perhaps we’ll talk some other me.

Star didn’t see Nick again for about a week. At which time Nick told Star,

---You may be able to fight better than I, but I know I can run faster than you can.  I am faster, on my feet, than you could ever be.  So, I challenge you to a race and should you accept my challenge, and win, I won’t ever bother you again or cause anyone else here any more problems.

Leaving the herd, Star walked around Nick, slowly, sizing him up and said,
---I got into trouble with my mother the last time you and I tangled and I don’t want anymore trouble.

Now leave me alone.  Star stared at Nick hard.

---Like I said before, Nick continued, if you race me and win; I will never bother you or anyone else around here anymore.  The air grew silent among the herd.

---Don’t listen to him, said True Heart. You know that your mother has warned you to stay away from Nick and his tricks.  She would be upset if she knew you were considering this race.

---But the chance for peace is too great to pass up, True Heart.  I don’t think my mother would object to a deal like that.  Do you?

---Yes, I do, said True Heart.  It is just a trick.

---Nick, said Star.  I will race you…to the other side of the pasture and back.

---Oh no, replied Nick, I have something greater in mind.  The pasture is too smooth, really no challenge at all.  I shall race you, but it will be around the Devil’s Trail.  I have been around it several times and it takes only about five minutes, but the going is rough, so you will not be able to run as fast.  So what do you say, mamma’s boy?  

The smirk on Nick’s face made Star’s anger rise.

---I accept your challenge, Nick, and I will even give you a head start.  Let’s get this thing done with.

Just before the race was to begin, Old Browney called again to Star,

---Come here lad and let me speak to you before the race.  I have some things to tell you that will help you around the Devil’s Trail.

---No time, Old Browney.  As he spoke he saw Nick take off like lightning to the starting line. Star yelled over his shoulder,

---I’ll see you in a little while, old fellow.

If Star had only known how Old Browney had gotten all of his ugly scars he would have listened to his advice.  But it seemed that no one paid much mind to Old Browney.

All the other horses, with the exception of True Heart, wanted Star to race Nick.  Right before the race, True Heart spoke softly into Star’s ear,

---You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, Star.  Please reconsider.

Star looked into True Heart’s soft eyes.  He was searching for the right words to express just how he felt.  He said,

---True Heart, whatever is out there on the Devil’s Trail will be worth it- just to have Nick leave everyone alone.  I’ve got to at least try.  The herd is depending on me.

As they stood at the starting line, Nick was kicking up dust something fierce.  It took all Star had within himself to hold back his energy. He had to win.  He just had to.

The race was on.

After allowing Nick a head start, Star was off to the Devil’s Trail.  Star could hear the other young horses cheering him on, but he couldn’t hear exactly what they said.  Star’s mind was only set on beating Nick in the race.

Even with the head start that Star gave Nick, he didn’t have to jack up his speed too much.  He traveled with the wind and passed Nick just before they entered the Devil’s Trail.

As Star entered the Devil’s Trail, he found it to be very narrow and bushy.  At that moment one of his shoulders struck a bush that had about a dozen Wasps on it. The wasps swarmed over him, landing on his hip, stinging him hard. The stings hurt so badly.  He had to keep going for he knew if he turned back now they would get him again. 

Star just ran faster.

Star rounded a curve and there in the trail stood a large Black Bear eating berries. But Star was moving so fast that he couldn’t stop.  He tried to dodge the bear but ran into him anyway, which knocked the bear into the bushes.  One paw of the bear lashed out and ripped long gashes in Star’s side.  This knocked Star into a thorn bush.  Star cried out in pain; oh, how the thorns hurt.  But Star couldn’t stop now because the bear was hot on his tail, roaring out his anger. Star did not know that a bear could run so fast.  Star gave a yell of fright and tried for a little more speed.

Then he started smelling a strange odor. Star had smelled that smell before and knew it was a Panther.  He looked up and saw, there on a large tree limb over the trail, a large Black Panther: which looked ready to jump.  What do I do now, Star thought?  He knew that if he went back, the bear would be there.  He also knew that if the panther jumped on him from the tree, he was a good as dead.  

There was only one way out of this: so he kept running as fast as he could.  When he was right under the limb, he reared straight up.  When the panther jumped on Star’s back, the weight of the panther caused him to slide off Star’s back right in front of the bear that was chasing him!  The panther ripped long gashes all the way down Star’s back.  But Star was free and still running.

But then he heard something else in the distance. The more he listened the clearer the sound became: the terror of the forest -- a pack of Wolves.  They began closing in on him.  The wolves must have heard the noisy commotion, smelled the blood and were coming in to investigate --- in hopes of getting a part of whatever the kill might be.  By now, Star thought for sure he was a goner.

But then he saw a lake.

He knew it was the one that went to his home watering hole.

Star kept his eyes on the lake and hoped that he could make it there before the wolves got to him.  Star was a good swimmer and knowing that wolves don’t like to get into the water, he hoped to swim to safety.
Star jumped as far into the water as he could.  To his surprise, he sank up to his knees in mud. This could get him killed, he thought, if he couldn’t do something fast.  As Star’s knees sank deeper into the mud, a lone wolf jumped on his back and was biting his neck.  Then, he heard a big splash in the water and looking back, Star had another scare. The logs in the water around him were moving!

Suddenly he saw a huge Alligator rise up out of the water.  The alligator’s huge mouth opened and he pulled the wolf right off Star’s back.  Together, the wolf and the alligator fell back into the water.

Star could see the alligator taking the wolf into a death roll to the bottom of the murky water.

Star knew then, that the things he thought were logs, were actually, alligators.  Terror filled him again as he saw another alligator headed straight for his nose!

Star reared up on his hind legs as high as he could and brought his front hooves down on the alligator’s head and back.  This gave Star some footing, which enabled him to pull himself forward, jumping over the alligator and into the water behind him.  The water was very deep and Star swam like never before.

The other wolves did not venture into the water but were trying to circle the lake, but there were too many alligators.  

Star was swimming fast and finally pulled himself out of the water on the other side when he felt an alligator’s mouth clamp down on his tail!  Luckily, it was only the very end of his tail.  Star kept right on going.  The alligator disappeared into the murky water, with the end of Star’s tail still clinched in its teeth.

Star staggered over to what looked like a good shade tree to lay down for a little while.  Star felt like he had gone as far as he could.  

As Star began to lie down, he heard a faint hissing sound. The high pitch of it hurt his ears.  Looking down, star came face to face with a huge Rattlesnake.  Before he could move, it struck his right front leg.  It hung onto Star’s leg with all its might.  Being too tired to be scared, Star began stomping at it furiously, again and again, with one of his hind hooves until it finally let go.  But even after the rattlesnake let go, Star continued to stomp it until he was sure it was dead.

He went on softly until he came to his home watering hole.  There he laid himself down, hoping he could just die. Everything was quiet, except for a slight sound that approached him.  He looked up to see Old Browney.

He had been waiting for Star.

He lowered his head and inspected Star’s scars.

---I am sorry that you got yourself into this mess, Star.  But you can still go on.

Star told him about the snakebite and that it was making him sick.

---Here is something that will kill the poison.  Old Browney brought Star some Snake weed and said,

---You eat this, Star, it will help you.

Star turned his head away saying,

---I don’t want to eat it, I just want to die.  Star lifted his head and looked at himself and sadly replied,

---Just look at me, he sighed. Part of my tail is gone, my hip and back are scarred up---I am too ugly to live.

Old Browney pressed on,

---Once you have eaten this Snake weed, I want you to wade out into the water and let the coolness of it wash your wounds.  The cool water will help them to heal much faster.

---I just want to die, Star said. Just let me die.
---No, said Old Browney, you shouldn’t talk like that.  I knew you would make it back home and even though you are battered and torn, everyone still loves you. Your mother will do all she can to help you and so will I.  So don’t talk about dying any more.

---Don’t you understand, old boy? True heart will never want me now, not with these scars.

Just then True Heart said,

---It is not what you look like, Star, that counts.  You have a good heart and we all love you because of your friendly ways.  Now, I want you to listen to Old Browney and eat this Snake weed and then wade out into the water as he has told you.

Old Browney smiled at Star with real kindness in his eyes, saying,

--- Yes lad, get into the water and let the water clean your wounds and wash away the dried blood.

Star stared at the old fellow with wonder and then asked,

---How do you know all this stuff Old Browney, asked Star? Old Browney said,

---That’s what I was trying to tell you before the race.  I, too, went through what you just went through.  You see, said old Browney, the Devil’s Trail is where I got all my scars, just the same way that you have.

True heart walked along with Star to the lake.  She tried to encourage him by saying,

---Maybe once you have waded in the cool water, we can smooth you hair down real good--to help the scars not show so much.

Once you are feeling better, I have a secret to share with you.

---Tell me now, said Star, as he backed into the lake.

---Well, said True Heart, there is a man that comes to the island from time to time that builds a corral and leaves the gate open with food for the horses inside.  All who are inside when he leaves, he carries to the mainland where he has a good pasture for them.  He feeds them in the winter and has a shed for them when the weather is bad.  Your mother, Old Browney and I are going to be there when he leaves this time. 

Star was surely surprised at this and asked,

---How do you know all this, True Heart?

---Big Red, who went with this man a few years ago, has just returned and he was telling your mother about the kindness of this man.  He said that he treated all of his horses very well.  So we have decided to go.  I am sure your mother would want you to come with us.

---But no one will want me, said Star, not the way I look.  I must look terrible?

Old Browney walked softly toward star and said,

---Not as bad as you think, Star.  We are all here to help you.

---I know, said Star.  You offered me help, and I was too stubborn to receive it.  He turned to True Heart and said,

---Tell my mother she can count me in.  And tell her I am sorry I disappointed her.

True heart felt so happy. And Old Browney wanted to dance for joy, if only he wasn't so old.  So he simply said,

---Oh, Star. Your mother will be so happy that you are alive that she will not worry about the past.

Star was still feeling low. He wondered,

---What will all the other horses think of me now, said Star?  Old Browney replied,

---It depends on how you conduct your life hereafter.  When it happened to me I just went off by myself and kind of mourned over the past. But I’ve decided I’m not doing that any more.  I’m going to take my place in the herd and so can you.

---So I shall, said Star, so I shall.
Let’s believe that all went well for the herd on Wild Horse Island and that they accepted the invitation for a better life.

Now, let’s think about people for a change.  Often times young folks get into trouble and sometimes become scarred for life, mostly because they refuse good advice from their parents or others that care about them.

Just the same there is a God in heaven who has a better home for those who will come to Him for help.  It is better to go to him before you are scarred, but if you don’t, He still will accept you.
So remember how many troubles Star got into: just from one wrong decision.  You can’t always know what will happen when you follow bad advice, but to follow good advice will only bring good things.

Just remember that your parents and friends are there; waiting for you to come home -- where you belong.  They can help you heal your wounds. 

Although there may be scars, in time they will not look so bad.  Please be a good example and help lead your friends to a better way of life.

Jesus was and still is the way, the truth and the life.  If you will follow Him, you will never go wrong.


 Elder Carl Stewart
House of Prayer Sabbath Ministries
Written: 1960
Copyright: 2001 ©
Published: 2001