River Dark

3rd May 2020

Chapter One – A Terrible Enemy

If I’d known they would hunt me down like a criminal, I’d have turned away from Atterley Hall the moment I heard that horrible screaming. But this was the first day of my new life. I wasn’t giving up now. As the pale autumn sunlight broke through the early mist over the parkland, I ran along the gravel path beside the brick wall around the stables. Then taking a deep breath, I charged through the archway into the yard and had to jump back from the sweating body of a huge black stallion, rearing up and thrashing the air with his hooves. With an angry shriek, the horse began a furious dance, swinging his body from side to side and trying to shake off the groom clinging to his lead rope. The small, grizzled-haired man, with thickset shoulders and enormous fists, was no match for the angry beast. Dragged across the yard, he punched the stallion’s neck, making him wilder than ever. Bellowing with rage, the horse gave a violent twist of his spine, and I watched in horror as the man flew into the air and landed on the yard with a sickening thud. Wild and snorting with anger, the stallion reared again, about to bring his enormous weight smashing down on his tormentor, and I yelled, ‘Thunder, don’t.’ At the sound of my voice, the horse seemed frozen in time. He hung motionless in the air, balanced on his hind legs, the muscles in his haunches rippling under the skin. I thought he would topple backwards, and I foolishly flung out my arms as if to save him. But with a tremendous effort, he heaved his body forward, his hooves clattered the cobbles, and the groom scrambled to safety. Wound up like an enormous watch spring, the stallion trotted towards me. With a few strides of his long, powerful legs he’d be on top of me, and it took all my courage to stand my ground. For one dreadful moment I thought I’d be trampled, but he sidestepped and came to a bouncing halt, his chest towering over me. In the sharp morning air, I felt the heat of his silky body. His damp breath formed white clouds around his muzzle, wetting my face. He dipped his head, stared at me with large, liquid eyes, and nipped my shoulder. He had not forgotten me.”

— River Dark – Book Two – Ironbridge Gorge Series: The River Severn Adventure by Carole Anne Carr

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