Hi it’s Figaro, remember me? If you remember I was retired from work in the yard and put into a lorry to be taken away to a new place. I had better tell you what happened on my end of events. Fleur and I were both extremely upset on the day that she and I were parted.
I woke on that awful day knowing that I was not going to see Fleur again. I was so upset I felt sick. I poked my head out of my box into the outside world. I looked to my right towards Fleur. She looked back at me with sadness.
“You’re leaving me today aren’t you Figaro,” She said. I watched as she fought back tears. I couldn’t watch her pain. It upset me to see her cry. I rubbed her nose with mine trying so hard to comfort her. Fleur responded by hugging me.
“I’ll have to get used to living without you Figaro,” She said. This finished me totally. I cried just like Fleur had done, that was without being ashamed of it. Fleur opened her box door and walked out into the yard, she beckoned me to follow her. We walked up the track and across the field towards the wood. She and I settled down in the grass. We lay there in companionable silence. Fleur rested her nose on my neck. All tears had dried up on her part and mine. All that was left was a deep hurt inside each of us. Fleur closed her eyes and tried to sleep. But she couldn’t, neither could I. We were so confused and frightened of what was going to happen to me. We stayed there for a long time with Fleur periodically getting up from where she lay and pacing about before settling down again. We eventually plucked up the courage to go back to the yard. We walked back to the yard as slowly as we could. Fleur kept rubbing my nose with her’s.
The Manageress was waiting for me when I returned. Ellen also stood and watched us. The Manageress put a harness on me and led me into a lorry. Fleur sobbed as she watched me go. Ellen tried to comfort her.
All through this I was dimly aware of my surroundings. I felt the wood of the lorry under my hooves and heard Fleur’s cries of pain. I tried to shout back to her but she couldn’t hear me.
The lorry rumbled out of the yard and turned left. I raised my head and whinnied pitifully. I felt betrayed by the humans. I listened to Fleur’s shouts until the distance was too great to hear her any longer. Then I hung my head in shame. I hardly noticed the journey. I came out of my gloomy state when the lorry stopped in a yard a long way from my old home. I was led out of the lorry and turned out into a field with three other horses in it. I looked at them trying to form some sort of first impression. One was a black and white horse with a worried expression that was almost permanent. The second horse was pure white with red eyes. This gave her a sinister expression, which was not in any way a true reflection of her personality. This horse was the one that caught my attention. But first I must tell you about the third horse in the trio. This horse was possibly the worst tempered beast I had ever met. He was even worse than Cleo was during the year of terror, Oh he was a chestnut horse by the way. Back to the white horse with red eyes however. Her name was Perdy. She told me that she had been bought for the youngest Son of the family that they all and I now lived with.
“The lad was into the Hundred and One Dalmatians. That was why I am named Perdy.” Perdy explained.
I looked at the three horses that were my new companions. The black and white horse was too worried and the Chestnut horse too morose to welcome me. Dear Perdy was the only one to show a welcoming spark. She seemed to compensate for the lack of it from the other two horses. Perdy came towards me, walking slowly across to meet me.
“Hi, can I help?” She asked gently. I must have had a frightened expression on my face because Perdy rubbed her nose against mine reassuringly.
“I know what you’re going through,” She said gently. I couldn’t help responding to this friendly mare. I pressed my nose against Perdy’s as she rubbed back against it.
“What’s your name dear?” she asked.
“Figaro.” I replied. Then I remembered something.
“But I suppose they’ll call me something else.” I said.
“That’s possible.” Perdy replied.
For the first few days Perdy and I got to know each other. She seemed to like me and I certainly thought a great deal of her. I found myself telling her about Fleur and the other horses in the yard.
“You had a good time there then.” Perdy said. I replied,
“Yes, I’ll never forget them, especially Fleur.” Perdy looked at me with an expression that I later learned meant that she was going to say something that I might find upsetting in the extreme.
“Fleur might have found another mate you know Figaro.” She said gently.
“I know she will have done that Perdy. I’ll have to come to terms with it.” I replied. This conversation took place a few weeks after my arrival at my new home. I had better tell you that the other two horses were very uncommunicative. They were either too frightened or too impolite to speak to Perdy or myself. So we left them to their own devices.
During the summer months Perdy and I took to spending long days in a river that ran past the field where we lived. This river was Perdy’s and my favourite summer refuge. We would swim or float downstream for hours having a wild time of it. Perdy was well known by the other residents of the surrounding countryside. I think we had an otter, a couple of rats and a fox that was extremely predictable and could be seen at the bank taking a mid morning drink at exactly eleven o’clock every morning. Perdy used to tease him rotten about this.
“Let me do what I want to do.” The fox had said. To this Perdy smiled sweetly and rubbed her nose against the fox’s. This was a curious sight, and many a time would I see Perdy express herself in this way. Imagine if you will a white horse about twelve hands in height with red eyes, and then imagine this horse rubbing noses with a standard size red fox. This was a strange sight, but I knew that Perdy was a friend of all who lived on or near the river. Perdy was now drifting downstream with me on a warm summer’s day in June. As we drifted I thought about Perdy. I knew now that I loved her. My relationship with Fleur and the long days we spent together were a distant memory. I never really forgot her however. Fleur was and still is a friend, a dear friend, but I couldn’t count on seeing her ever again. I would have to get used to it. Fleur would have a new mate now and she would forget me quickly. Perdy was now my love and I loved her as I had loved Fleur. I looked at my mate with a feeling stirring in me that I hadn’t felt for months. Perdy returned my gaze with equal desire. She looked at me with her deep red eyes. She and I came to a landing point on the banks of the river. We climbed out into a field about a mile and a half from our starting point. This field contained a herd of Jersey cows. Perdy commented on them.
“Here’s daisy.” One of the cows turned to face us.
“Did someone call me?” she asked.
“What? Is your name Daisy?” I asked.
“Well, Yeah it is.” The Jersey cow replied.
“Oh sorry.” Perdy stammered. Daisy gave Perdy a strange look.
“Where are you from?” She asked. Perdy told her roughly where we had thrown ourselves into the river. I watched the cows gather round us in a furious group. Some shook their horns at us and we backed off until we were driven back into the water. Daisy shook her head at us and swore at us until Perdy and I swam away from the field in fear of our lives. When we had turned a few corners and were safely out of ear shot of the cows Perdy and I laughed about the situation. We fell about literally as we thought about the rather over protective bovine creatures. Our course took us on towards another field and still further towards a second field.
“Let’s get back home Figaro.” Perdy suggested. The sun was low in the sky now and we had a good five miles to go before reaching the field we lived in. Perdy and I climbed out of the water and raced across field and stream and road before finding ourselves back where we started.
As we sprinted into the field the other two horses regarded us with incurious stares. We ignored them and rolled in the grass in ridiculous play. Perdy and I did not care what the other horses thought of our relationship or of our outlook on life. Perdy suddenly stopped.
“I’ve got an idea Figaro,” She said.
“Oh yeah, what is it?” I asked. Perdy gave me the same look that she had when she had told me that Fleur would go with another horse. I braced myself for a bombshell.
“I would like to go and see your old home Figaro darling,” She said simply. I didn’t reply at first because I was thinking hard. It was true that I wanted to return to the yard and my friends. But how could I do this? The other horses might not want me back. Anyway I had no map, no compass, nothing to guide me. Then I remembered something! Yes there the answer lay. If I could remember the names of the villages near Wickham Market it might be possible to get back to the yard. I had seen a woman with a road map enter the house the day before and I felt sure that either Perdy, or I could beg or bribe one of the house dogs to go in and get it so we could plan our route.
The next day I stopped a large rather brainless Dalmatian as he fled into the house after his morning walk.
“Excuse me! I wonder if you could help me?” I asked tentatively. The dog jammed his forepaws into the grass and skidded to a halt. He whirled round to face me and asked,
“What do you want me to do for you? Not that you horses do anything for us dogs, no, you’re a selfish lot who couldn’t care less about us dogs.” He spat. I was surprised by the dog’s manner. It appeared that Perdy felt the surprise also. She towered over the Dalmatian who now shook visibly.
“What do you think you’re playing at?” She asked. The dog obviously feared Perdy because he backed off several paces before daring to answer her question.
“That horse hasn’t been here long enough. We have an unwritten rule in the house that no animal should be able to ask a favour of another until they have been with the family for at least six months. That horse has only been here three and he’s a bad sort Perdy. Trust me I know.” The dog said piously. I am sorry to say that Perdy lost her temper so drastically that her reply was unprintable. I think the meaning of all those words was that she didn’t give a dam for what the dog thought and that I was her mate and that a road map wasn’t such a great trouble for him to get for us. To finish off with the dog received a kick to his rear end that sent him spinning across the grass and landed him on his back in a nearby flowerbed. I was quite concerned for the welfare of the unfortunate Dalmatian. Perdy was unconcerned though.
“Don’t worry about him. He’s a stupid thing that couldn’t be remotely decent to anyone. That unwritten rule is the excuse that all the indoor animals use to get out of doing anything to help the horses, cows and any other animal other than their own kind that live around here. It’s nothing really.”
“Will he get us the map?” I asked.
“Oh yes, he’ll get the map all right. If he doesn’t I’ll have something to say about it.” Perdy replied.
Sure enough the map appeared. But it wasn’t the Dalmatian that brought it. A large German shepherd dog came lumbering out with it in his mouth. He dumped it unceremoniously at his side of the fence and snorted at us.
“Pick up your own bloody map.” Then he stormed off in a huff. Unfortunately for us the fence on that side of the field was too high for us to just reach over and pick the map off the grass on the other side. So Perdy had to take a run up and jump it. This she did but misjudged the distance between the fence and the brand new Jaguar car that the man of the house had driven up the driveway only sixteen hours before. So Perdy landed smack on top of the car denting its roof beyond repair. The crash was sure to be heard from the house and Perdy was disorientated by her accident. I leapt the fence and dragged Perdy off down the driveway out of sight. I then ran back to retrieve the map. Having done this I returned to the place where Perdy stood shaking with shock. I tugged at her mane with my teeth.
“Come on Perdy!” I hit her with the map until she swore at me.
“Get off me Figaro, get away from me!” I could see now that Perdy’s condition was worse than I had first thought. She looked at me with fear in her red eyes. She laid her head on my shoulder almost sobbing.
“Are you hurt Perdy dear?” I asked.
“I’m a bit bruised I think, nothing more though.” She replied. When Perdy had recovered herself we spread out the map on the grass verge to study it. I had learned the art of reading from Rosie who’s patience had been endless as I faltered and fumbled my way through copies of The News Of The World, numerous copies of the Daily Mail and occasional copies of the East Anglian Daily Times. It had been a laborious process and Rosie had almost despaired of it on many a stressed out lesson. But she always came back to teach me more. When I reminded her of her comments of last lesson she waved them away and put me through another two-hour session of Paddy Ashdown’s sex life, or the Conservative party’s failing grip on government or other such rubbish. When I asked her for anything more stimulating Rosie would reply:
“All the decent books are in the Manageress’s house, and no I’m not going to try and get hold of some. Oh yeah Figaro, I could imagine the scene now. Can I have a book please? “Oh Rosie, what are you doing asking me for books?” Then the door would be closed and before I knew what was happening I would be straight down the vet’s place having my mind dissected by some half-wit in a white coat! Do you really think I would risk that Figaro? No way mate! The Manageress nearly passed out when Ellen and I asked for tea! No Figaro, I’m sorry but I don’t think books are on the list of things a horse can reasonably ask for, sorry mate.”
I told Perdy of my attempts at reading as we worked out the route to the yard. When I came to the point of re-counting Rosie’s speech Perdy started laughing.
“I can imagine this huge white horse trying to teach you to read, she must have had the patience of a saint to do it.” This might sound very rude but I knew it wasn’t. Perdy had spoken the truth that was all. I was a slow learner and still am. All right I’m as good as the next horse when it comes to carrying humans, but sadly reading eluded me totally. It was only when Rosie managed to steal a book from the Manageress’s house that it really took off. From that day I learned fast and got to where I am now. Perdy on the other hand had no experience of reading. This meant that I had to read the map and point out with a stick held between my teeth the various points we should aim for. By midday we had decided on a course to take and were on our way to the yard and the memory of old times.
We used fields beside roads to give us protection from the cars and other assorted conveyances that thundered along them. The journey was uneventful really. Perdy and I walked or jogged along in silence. She had been working Western style in her younger years and still remembered all the old games and commands. We horses would rather die at our work than be retired. So we jogged along talking of old times. Of the riders and of the games, as well as the horses we had known. I told Perdy about some of the more memorable events that had taken place in the yard. She already had a good outline of the horses she would meet when we got to our destination. I told Perdy about Cleo’s reign of terror and of Rosie’s attempts at putting an end to it. I told her about Domino and her Son Dominic, about Jingle and the laser that restored her sight. I told Perdy about Jinja with his sometimes over friendly manner and then finally I came to Fleur. Dear Fleur who was so dim she couldn’t add two and two together. But I told Perdy also of Fleur’s sweet nature and of her Bull in a china shop method of dealing with anything from the offer of a polo mint, to a command in the riding school. I wasn’t libelling Fleur because I know she would have agreed with me. This made Perdy laugh.
Now we were on roads I recognised. I quickened my pace and we shot round the corner into the yard. At that moment the Manageress was coming out of the restaurant with a party of children on their way to ride. As Perdy and I sprinted round the corner the Manageress stared at us. We shot past her and up the yard towards Rosie’s box. I stuck my head in and saw that Rosie was out in the School working. I knew this because she had turned round a notice that said:
“GONE TO WORK, BE BACK SOON.”
I hadn’t seen this sign before. I asked a horse that lived one door along from Rosie about the sign. The horse’s name was Ruby. Ruby stared at me for a few minutes before replying that:
“One of the young humans put it there a fortnight back. Rosie turns it round whenever she’s out. Clever isn’t it.”
Perdy had wandered into the covered street in which Jingle, Domino, Fudge, Cleo and Carmen lived. The first I knew of this was a startled yell from Jingle and a crash as she backed hurriedly into the wall. I raced round to see what all the fuss was about and found Perdy looking with considerable concern at Jingle who had fetched up with her feed bucket perched on her head rather like a hat! She looked ridiculous! All the horses in the street including myself fell about laughing. Jingle couldn’t see what all the laughter was about though. She shook her head and the feed bucket fell off. Jingle waited until we had calmed down before asking what the hell we thought we were playing at? Jingle is usually a fun loving horse that doesn’t mind a joke. But she doesn’t like it when she can’t get the joke first time. She couldn’t get this one because the joke wasn’t set in front of her. Jingle fixed Perdy with a patient look and asked,
“What happened? All I know is that I was eating my food quite peacefully when this huge white horse comes bounding into view without any warning! I shy away lifting my nose out of my bucket and crash painfully into the wall. Then I feel something landing on my head and finally recover my balance.”
“You recovered your balance with a feed bucket on your head like some type of new hat!” Domino added. Jingle turned her gaze on me.
“Figaro? Is that you dear?” She asked.
“Yes Jingle, I’m here.” I replied. Jingle rubbed her nose against mine.
“Who’s this you’ve brought along with you?” She asked.
“Her name’s Perdy, she’s a friend of mine.” I introduced Perdy to Jingle and then we moved on out of the street with all the horses that lived in it following us. When we arrived once again at Rosie’s box the,
“GONE TO WORK, BE BACK SOON.”
Sign had gone and Rosie was standing looking at the piece of paper in wonder. Her mystified expression caused Perdy to take pity on her.
“It seems plain to me that you don’t know what that sign says.” Perdy observed.
“Well, no I don’t.” Rosie admitted. Perdy reached in and flicked the page up sharply with her nose to loosen it from the nail it hung on. The paper fluttered to the straw with the words facing towards the sky. Rosie red the sign and started to laugh.
“Who put this here?” She asked. Ruby looked at Rosie with a guilty expression on her face.
“Surely you couldn’t have put this here Ruby?” Rosie asked. There was disbelief in her tone.
“Well, no you’re right there, but I did hear humans planning to put it there and decided not to tell you.” Ruby admitted. Rosie looked down at the sign again. It was in bold black type and looked impressive. Wordlessly she picked it up and re-hung it on the nail.
“I’ll keep it I think.” Rosie said finally.
Rosie joined our cavalcade and we went in search of Fleur. We trooped into the street where she lived but found her box empty.
“No “GONE TO WORK” sign here Rosie.” Fudge commented. A horse named Misty whistled loudly at us. She did this to attract attention; I had noticed her doing it just before I left the yard. Cleo whipped round at the sound and stared at Misty with fury in her eyes.
“I wish you’d stop that Misty! It’s annoying!” She snapped.
“Sorry Cleo, but I was only playing about!” Misty replied agrievedly. Suddenly Candy had an idea that was in the end to lead to the total disruption of a western display in the indoor riding school. She poked her head over the half door on her box and suggested that:
“Why don’t we all get in a line and ambush the western display?” We looked at Candy as if she were mad. I’m convinced that Rosie thought she was!
“Why would we want to do anything like that?” Someone asked. Suddenly Perdy squealed!
“Something’s got hold of my tail!” I whipped round and saw Dominic tugging gently on Perdy’s tail with his teeth. Perdy attempted to free her tail, which caused Dominic to hold on tighter.
“Let her go Dominic!” Domino commanded. Dominic did let Perdy go in the end, but not before Domino had almost pulled him off. Perdy sidled up to me and rubbed her nose against mine.
“I like it here Figaro. They’re a lot more fun than the horses back home. That large black and white male, Dominic wasn’t it? Yeah well, he’s amusing, you wouldn’t get any horses bold enough to pull a stranger’s tail where we come from.”
“He’s done greater things than pulling a few tails Perdy dear.” I said.
“Oh yes, what things?” Perdy asked. I told her about the leader of the field horses and of his continual attempts at overthrowing law and order in the yard.
“Sounds a nasty piece of work. But where does Dominic come in?” PERDY ASKED.
“He’s always in the thick of a fight with the field horses.” I replied.
“Oh, that’s it is it.” Perdy said.
So without speaking it I think we all approved of Candy’s idea. I know we did because all the horses gathered outside the indoor riding school silently. Rosie had known for a long time how to undo the latch on the door and could do it with speed and accuracy. This left the rest of us bringing up the rear. Rosie approached the door as silently as she could. There was loud music playing in the school so nobody heard her undo the bolt and get ready to throw the door wide! We all tensed waiting for the pounce!
Suddenly Rosie threw the door back and we all poured through the door into the school. Every horse ran as if their lives depended on it. All the horses were shouting battle cries! The Western show was disrupted good and proper. The Manageress yelled above the music!
“Someone turn that bloody noise off!” The music stopped abruptly. The Manageress stood in the midst of a sea of shouting horses. She raised the lungeing whip and commanded;
“Silence!” All the horses fell silent. There were many humans as well as horses in the school. The Manageress was very angry with us. She marched up to Rosie and screamed into her ear!
“What the bloody hell do you think you were doing?” Rosie looked back at her dumbly.
“Don’t give me the silent treatment, you know I can understand your language, out with it Rosie!” the Manageress commanded. Candy stepped forward then.
“Actually it was my idea. I organised the whole thing.” She admitted. The Manageress gave Candy a black look and stormed head long out of the riding school crashing into me on route. She paused to go round me and then stopped suddenly. The Manageress looked at me for a long time not believing what her eyes were telling her. I put her out of her misery;
“Yes I’m Figaro.” I said softly.
“What are you doing back here?” The Manageress asked. I began to tell her when suddenly there was a shout of joy from somewhere in the mass of horses. I looked round to see Fleur fighting her way through the crowd towards me. She finally got through and started nuzzling me franticly.
“Hey Fleur stop it!” I laughed. A large Chestnut horse came into view then. He shoved past Perdy in a rude manner and confronted me.
“She’s mine! Leave off!” He commanded. Fleur was upset by his manner.
“There’s no need to be like that Joe! Figaro knows about us! He’s not a threat to you, Joe!” Fleur screamed this last part because Joe had snapped at me savagely. Joe waded into the fight with tooth and hoof. He was intent on doing me serious damage and in that crowded situation there was nothing I, or anyone could do to stop him. Joe kicked and battered me. Suddenly Perdy got in the way. Joe in his blind rage attacked her instead of me! By the time the Manageress had restored order Perdy was lying on the ground winded and heaven knows what else! The Manageress finally managed to whip Joe off. She dragged Joe out of the school leaving Fleur and myself to look after Perdy. I looked down at my mate lying on the peat covered flooring. She never moved, I wasn’t even sure if she was breathing. Fleur was crying inconsolably. I felt a furious hatred for that bloody horse named Joe! Fleur nuzzled Perdy’s shoulder gently. I knew she was trying to coax Perdy to her feet. Right then I thought Perdy was dead, I really did. Joe’s hooves seemed to hit all the right places to seriously injure a horse. There was no blood but there wouldn’t be if the injuries were inside her. Suddenly Perdy’s eyes flickered.
Perdy gave vent to a wail of pain that frightened Fleur almost to death! Perdy tried to move, to stand. But her bruises along with everything else wouldn’t let her. She gave up with a sob of fear and pain. I put my mouth close to her ear and said,
“It’s all right Perdy Darling, he’s gone, all’s quiet now, you’re safe, you’ll be all right now.” Perdy’s eyes focused on me. She tried to speak but only a hoarse croak came out. Her eyes told me all I needed to know however.
“I’m fine thanks to you Perdy.” I said. Perdy seemed to relax, to relax almost too much. Fleur screamed at her,
“Don’t give up on us Perdy! Don’t die yet, it’s not your time to! “ Just then Joe came back into the school having broken the rope that the Manageress tied him up with. He had seen and heard what was going on and it made him speechless with fury!
He came bulling into the school knocking Fleur flying! Perdy suddenly reared up and clobbered Joe harder than I had seen a horse ever clobber another. Joe fell senseless to the deck. Perdy flopped back onto the peat exhausted, played out, and finished. But she looked better for having thumped Joe. Suddenly she staggered to her feet and stood there swaying alarmingly. She stumbled over to where Fleur was half lying on the ground where Joe had flung her. Perdy rubbed her nose against Fleur’s encouraging her to rise. Fleur did rise in the end with Perdy supporting her. They both staggered over to me; they both supported each other. The two battered horses looked at me with a universal expression of weary satisfaction.
“Busted him!” Perdy said forcefully. I smiled at Fleur and Perdy. I said,
“I’ve never been fought over by two females before. Come to think of it I’ve never been fought over before.” I laughed. Fleur and Perdy both laughed as much as their bruised ribs would allow. I felt a human hand on my shoulder. I looked round to see the Manageress standing watching us.
“What is going on here?” She asked. Perdy leant against me and rested her head on my shoulder.
“I’m finished Figaro darling.” She said. Fleur had leant on the Manageress and I saw that the Manageress was having difficulty supporting her.
“Don’t squash the Manageress, she’ll never forgive you Fleur.” I said. Fleur took her weight off the Manageress’s shoulder. Perdy closed her eyes and breathed deeply.
“Let’s go home Figaro.” She murmured. I thought of how long it had taken us to get to the yard and shook my head.
“No we can’t get back there today Perdy love.” I said. The Manageress rubbed my nose with her hand trying to comfort me. She suddenly thought of a solution to our problem.
“Your box is empty Figaro.” She said. Fleur then offered Perdy her box and said that she would sleep somewhere else. Perdy protested that Fleur would be cold and that she, Perdy was more used to sleeping outdoors. Fleur nuzzled Perdy’s nose with her’s. She was trying to persuade Perdy not to argue with her. In the end we followed Fleur back to her box. She walked in to it and motioned Perdy to follow her. Perdy did this and Fleur slammed the door. Perdy looked over the half door at the surrounding horses. Natasha stared back at Perdy with mild interest. I reclaimed my box and felt immediately more at home in it, than I ever had in my new home. Perdy looked over the half partition at me.
“It’s nice here.” She said. Natasha spoke up then.
“I hate that word, can’t you find any other words to describe what you want to? Nice is such a non-descriptive word.” She said. Perdy looked into Natasha’s eyes, burrowing into her soul. The chestnut horse seemed to wilt before Perdy’s hard gaze. It was obvious to Fleur and I that Natasha felt uncomfortable, and that Perdy associated Natasha with Joe. You see they are both Chestnut horses. Fleur put Natasha out of her misery.
“Perdy, Natasha has not got anything to do with what Joe did to you. Please don’t look at her like that.” Fleur pleaded. Perdy’s face softened and she smiled at Natasha.
“Sorry Natasha dear.” Perdy said softly. Natasha tried to nudge Perdy’s nose with her’s. This was meant purely to be a friendly action but Perdy was still thinking of what that other Chestnut horse did to her. She took her fury out on Natasha, isolating her totally. Natasha whimpered, Perdy snapped at her to;
“Stop wining!” Natasha backed into her box and I heard her sobbing. I felt awful, how could Perdy be so nasty and insult my old friend in such a way? I looked hard into Perdy’s eyes communicating my displeasure at her actions. Perdy knew in no uncertain terms how I felt. Fleur looked over at Natasha noticing that she was still sobbing quietly to herself. She nuzzled Natasha’s nose trying to cheer her up. Natasha knew what Fleur was about and raised a feeble smile. She rubbed back against Fleur’s nose with increasing confidence. Fleur coaxed Natasha to further nuzzling before she left her alone. This foalish behaviour made Fleur look rather stupid, but we knew why she had done it. Natasha obviously felt better for Fleur’s attentions. Perdy looked at me with an icy expression in her eyes.
“Natasha’s not Joe.” I told her forcefully. Perdy looked at Natasha with pathological hatred!
“She’s like Joe and that’s enough for me Figaro!” She snapped. Natasha wailed in agony. I knew that Natasha hated Joe. She always had and Fleur also knew it. But Natasha hadn’t come between Joe and Fleur. Now a horse that Natasha had never set eyes on in her life before was comparing her with that most hated and despised specimen of her breed. Natasha kicked her door with fervour until a Lad yelled at her to stop. Perdy’s comparison of Natasha with Joe had enraged Natasha so much that she didn’t know what to do. She decided on smashing her door off its hinges to show her hurt feelings to Perdy. In five minutes Natasha had reduced her door to matchwood. Perdy watched this display of anger with a frightened expression. She opened her mouth to say something, thought better of it, and shut her mouth with a snap. Natasha walked out of her box and strode away down the yard ignoring Perdy totally. I watched her go feeling as if I should do something to help her. I looked at my mate once more.
“Joe’s not coming back, Natasha’s not Joe Perdy!” I said. Fleur lost her temper with Perdy then.
Leave Natasha alone! Don’t speak to her any more Perdy! My assessment of your character is wrong, so wrong!” She said. Perdy was totally isolated from us. She turned to me appealing to me to show some kind of compassion. I returned her stare with a stare of granite hardness. Perdy wailed with pain. She said,
“Give me Joe and I’ll be fine. I’ll get rid of him and all will be well.” Fleur squealed!
“Don’t hurt him any more than he’s already been!” she pleaded. Perdy whipped round on Fleur and yelled at her.
“Why not? He almost killed me!” she cracked Fleur over the head with her nose. I was fed up to the back teeth with bickering and fighting. I pleaded with Perdy and Fleur to stop hitting each other.
“Don’t fight you two.” I pleaded. Natasha returned then along with Joe. Joe’s eyes were cloudy and he stumbled as he walked.
“I feel terrible.” He rasped. I felt sorry for Joe. All right he had attacked me for an irrational reason, but I still felt sorry for him in his suffering. I knew that Joe’s head throbbed and his legs ached. The cloudy look in his eyes was something I couldn’t explain. I watched as Joe blundered into his box and hit the wall. I concluded that he couldn’t see it. Had Joe lost his sight? Joe looked in my direction with a frightened expression on his face.
“I can’t see you Figaro,” he said suddenly. The Manageress arrived then.
Joe was taken away to the vet’s place and Fleur pined for him. She kept saying that Joe wouldn’t come back. She watched the entrance of the yard like a hawk until Joe came back into sight with Patches over both his eyes. The Manageress led him into his box and helped him to find his feed bucket. She then rubbed his nose and left him. Fleur looked at her mate with concern.
“What happened to you?” She asked.
“The vet put me under the laser.” Joe shook his head in frustration.
“I wish I could take these bandages off!” he snarled. Fleur discouraged him as much as she could.
“Don’t take them off Joe! You might damage your sight!” She warned. At that moment Jingle came round the corner to see what the fuss was about. She looked at Joe’s bandages with understanding.
“They’re like the ones that I had on my eyes. You’ve got to live with them for a week Joe, sorry about that,” She said. Joe took his fear and frustration out on Jingle!
“Don’t give me any comfort will you! Get out of my sight!” Jingle pointed out that he couldn’t see her as it was so how could she go any further to make herself more invisible to him. Joe screamed at Jingle with incoherent sound. Words failed him and he just screamed and screamed at her! Jingle backed off fast crashing into Misty’s box. Misty backed off to avoid Jingle’s blundering advance. She in turn crashed into the back wall of her box. Misty swore and cursed with fear and pain.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing Jingle?” she shouted. Jingle turned to face Misty and replied;
”Backing into your box door Misty. I thought you saw that?” Misty lost her temper finally screaming at Jingle.
“Don’t use that “let’s have a joke” attitude with me Jingle!” Jingle gave Misty as good as she had received,
“If I shout at you you don’t like it do you Misty!” she yelled. Misty buried her head in the straw trying to shield her ears from the noise.
“Thought you didn’t.” Jingle added. Misty bared her teeth at Jingle until she turned away. Jingle approached Joe carefully and rubbed noses with him. This seemed to calm him considerably. Jingle then looked into Fleur’s eyes.
“Look after him Fleur,” She said. Perdy snorted.
“Looks as if we’re not needed here Figaro, come on let’s go home.” Perdy obviously hadn’t realised what the bandages meant.
“During the fight you damaged Joe’s sight Perdy.” Perdy stared at Joe for a few seconds before trying to nuzzle him. Fleur beat her off savagely!
“Get off! Leave him alone!” She yelled. Perdy stormed out of the box and I followed to see that she didn’t do anything stupid in her distress.
I followed Perdy up the track towards what I knew to be Fleur’s wood. Perdy stopped at the gate sensing that she shouldn’t open it let alone enter the field. I drew along side her and stood there quietly waiting for her to notice me rather than forcing my presence on her. In the end Perdy did look round and nearly skipped the country when she saw me.
“Figaro! You gave me such a fright!” she exclaimed. I smiled at her.
“Just wanted to see your okay that’s all.” I replied. Perdy’s eyes filled with tears as she remembered the state of Joe’s eyes.
“I hope he’s going to be all right, but he attacked me first!” she said defensively.
“I know that Perdy dear. I think the most harm was done to Natasha actually. The association with Joe that you said she had really upset her greatly. I think you’d better go and apologise immediately and I wouldn’t be surprised if you get the apology refused by Natasha, she hates Joe’s guts you know.”
“But how was I to know that?”
“You weren’t to know Perdy.” I replied. Perdy turned towards the gate and looked over it into the field that led to Fleur’s wood.
“I can’t open it.” She said. I replied,
“No only Fleur can open this gate.” Perdy looked at me with something bordering on terror!
“What do you mean? Do you mean to say that Fleur is some type of witch? Is she an evil spirit or something?” I was surprised,
“Do you see anything evil in Fleur?” I asked. Perdy thought for a minute or two.
“No, I don’t. But witches aren’t all evil are they?” She replied.
“But you just said they were.” I pointed out. Perdy shook the gate in sudden rage. A nose came from nowhere and butted her’s savagely.
“Leave my gate alone!” Fleur snapped. She whirled round and turned her fury on me.
“Did you tell her about this place?” Fleur asked urgently.
“No why should I? Fleur what’s come over you?” I asked. Fleur glowered at me her eyes telling me that she would be capable of unspeakable acts if she were provoked any further. Fleur pushed past Perdy and myself and slammed the gate behind her with a crash! As we walked away I heard Fleur ask out loud,
“What is the yard turning into?” I was unnerved by her tone. In fact I was frightened by it. Perdy noticed me shaking with fright and commented on it.
“What’s the matter Figaro darling? What’s that place Fleur went into? Why was she so angry? What have we walked into?”
The truth was that I didn’t know. Fleur’s wood as it was known had been her’s ever since I could remember. It had been her sanctuary from the rush and fight of life. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t notice a horse following us. Perdy was unaware of it also. The first we knew of this newcomer was a snort and then a sigh. We took no notice for there were many horses walking these tracks. Then the horse was suddenly between us and cursing us fluently. Her mane was so dishevelled and her eyes so maddened that we didn’t recognise Fleur until she flicked her long mane in my face in a defiant gesture. She suddenly screamed at the top of her voice,
“You have destroyed my wood! Your presence has destroyed my wood!” We were confused to say the least. Fleur turned a hateful stare on us.
“The wood’s all gone! You’ve burnt it!” she wailed.
“What do you mean Fleur?” Perdy asked gently. For answer Fleur turned tail and led us back up the track. As she went she muttered,
“It’s all gone now so I can show you. Mind you I think you know since you destroyed it.”
Fleur led us back up the track towards the gate that Perdy had been so forcefully told not to touch let alone open. The gate was now ajar and it seemed to have a lost quality to it, as if it knew it wouldn’t be needed to guard anything any more. Fleur led us through it and across the field.
The wood was burned to the ground. Felled trees and burned stumps littered the earth. Fleur looked at the wreckage of her wood in sad silence.
“Recognise this?” she asked ominously.
“Well yes it’s a burned wood. But we didn’t burn it. Have you ever seen a horse with a match before?” I asked.
“Don’t ask questions Figaro!” Fleur spat. Perdy asked,
“Why would we want to burn your wood anyway Fleur? We wouldn’t destroy it. It’s not good to destroy countryside, every horse knows that.” Fleur looked round her despairingly.
“I don’t know, I really don’t.” Fleur’s eye fastened on a man with a Fluorescent Jacket coming through the gate. Seeing this symbol of the people she held responsible for the destruction of her wood, Fleur attacked it. But she failed to see the Manageress standing off to her right. As a result Fleur was whipped off the man. Fleur had attacked one of the tree fellers as he came into the field to pick up a chainsaw he left there. The Manageress calmed things down and then let fly at Fleur.
It’s all gone and there’s nothing you can do about it!” she shouted. Fleur was ashamed now. She hung her head and walked away from us tears falling to the earth. We watched her go, horses and humans wondering what had changed Fleur into what she was now. She suddenly changed direction and ran head long towards the river and there was nothing I could do to stop her. But Perdy was running towards Fleur, now she was catching her, now Perdy had thrown all her half tonne on top of her! Fleur screamed unmentionable words at Perdy as Perdy fought to hold her down. Soon all the fight went out of Fleur and she lay on the grass unable to fight Perdy any more. Perdy lifted herself off of Fleur and stood back out of range of any wildly aimed hoof that Fleur might injure her with. Fleur lay on the grass panting for breath. The squealing and yelling had attracted attention from the group that was heading out for a hack. Rosie came ambling over to see what all the fuss was about. I noticed that she was without her saddle and bridle. Rosie towered over Fleur regarding her with something like pity.
“Poor thing’s totally confused by what happened to her. Fleur’s world has been ripped apart by the clearing of the wood for farmland,” She said. Ruby asked,
“Why do you pity her? She nearly killed a human.” Rosie turned to face Ruby and then replied to her question.
“Fleur’s got problems, she’s got the mental age of a foal and will always be like this. She’ll learn, oh yes there’s no problem with that. But she’s very slow and cannot grow up. Fleur doesn’t need punishment for her actions, she needs help and above all else she needs love and affection. Fleur’s wood was destroyed and she looked for the person who matched the people in her mind that would possibly do such a thing. First of all came Perdy and Figaro because they had been standing by the gate into the field. Then when that avenue was proven to be a false one she turned her fury on the one other group that she held responsible for the destruction of the wood. These people wear a reflective jacket, which’s all she knows.” Perdy looked down at Fleur lying in the grass inert and unresponsive to any commands. Perdy asked shakily,
“Is she all right? I know I brought her down but I never meant her any real harm.” Fleur suddenly sat up and looked round her slowly. She didn’t seem to have any idea of what had taken place. She staggered to her feet and tried to walk towards Rosie. But her brain was confused and disorientated and she fell again. This time Fleur didn’t attempt to stand upright. She just lay on the grass panting desperately. The Manageress came over and looked at her horse lying on the grass.
“She’s got problems I’ll give you that Rosie.” The Manageress said. She knelt on the grass and shook Fleur’s shoulder, there was no response. Only this shallow breathing told us that Fleur was still with us. The Manageress got up and fished in her pocket for her phone. She stabbed in a number and listened for a while. When whoever it was picked the other end up the Manageress asked for something called Brandy and some water to be brought up to her. I asked Perdy what Brandy was.
“It’s an alcoholic drink. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Fleur received it neat. Does the trick wonderfully.” Was Perdy’s reply.
“What does Brandy do?” Ruby asked. Suddenly a previously unmentioned horse thrust her nose into view.
“What do you mean “What do I do?” I work as well as any of you lot!” the horse said angrily.
“What?” Rosie asked. She turned to face the horse that had spoken.
“Perdy said Brandy not Brrydy you stupid animal!” She said. Brydy stared at her hooves in embarrassment.
“Sorry.” She said. Jinja then spoke up.
“It was your own mistake Brydy, nothing to apologise to us for. You’re the one that looked foolish.” Brydy changed the subject and the episode passed without another mention.
The Brandy arrived and Fleur was finally standing on her own four feet. She still needed support from a horse on each side of her as she walked back to the yard because her balance wasn’t good. Perdy and I walked with Fleur to stop her falling. In this way we got back to the yard intact and safe. Fleur blundered into her box and flopped on the straw totally dead beat.
“My wood, what happened to my wood?” she kept asking nobody in particular. Joe had ripped off the bandages and now stared at his mate with a shocked expression in his eyes.
“I knew she was eccentric but I didn’t know she had a mental problem!” he spat. With that he walked down the yard and through the entrance never to return. Fleur slept for a long time. I watched over her for a good two and a half-hours or so before Perdy took over from me. While Perdy was watching over Fleur I went to have a well overdue chat with Rosie.
I found her re-hanging the “GONE TO WORK, BE BACK SOON” sign on her wall. She turned to face me as I drew near.
“Oh hi Figaro, what can I do for you?”
“I would like to talk to you about the problem Fleur’s having.” I replied. Rosie stared at me for a few seconds.
“What is there to talk about?”
“Joe’s just walked out, and he’s not coming back.” I replied. Rosie stared at me in horror.
“Hang on, you mean to say Figaro that Joe’s left Fleur and she’s now on her own? In her state?”
“No, No, Perdy’s with her. We kept watch you see.” I reassured her. Rosie sighed with relief.
“Thanks,” She said gratefully. Rosie shook her head to clear her brain.
“So what’s Fleur going to do now? Has she told you anything?” Rosie asked.
“She’s asleep Rosie.” I replied. Rosie gulped suddenly.
“G, Great, Fleur’s asleep and Joe just walks out on her saying that he can’t cope?” she asked. Rosie knew the answer and dreaded it.
“That’s about the size of it Rosie dear.” I said gently. Rosie began to cry.
“I’ve spent many sleepless nights worrying about Fleur. I like her, there’s no malice in her. But she needs guidance. As I said Fleur’s psychological problem means that she must be constantly watched, If she isn’t then she’ll get into all sorts of trouble. She already has attempted to kill a human! All because of a wood, I don’t believe it.” She said. I rubbed my nose against Rosie’s trying to comfort her.
“That wood was Fleur’s escapism from the world. She hated life in the yard sometimes. That wood was sanctuary for her.” Rosie sniffed and blinked tears from her eyes, she drew a shuddering breath and said,
“I never knew about the wood. You do mean the one at the end of the track don’t you? The one that was burnt and cut?” I nodded. Rosie continued:
“Fleur wouldn’t let anyone in there. A few of the horses teased her about it and baited her by threatening to go in there. Fleur needed that place! Now it’s gone and she’ll be sorely missing it.” I then told Rosie what Fleur had been repeating over and over as she lay in her box. Rosie broke down totally.
“What am I going to do? I can’t just leave her to die! She will you know, once she realises that Joe’s not coming back. She loved Joe with all her being but his love for her ran out when she had a serious problem. Fleur will take it badly I can assure you of that Figaro. I know she’s not your Mate any more, but can’t you try and do something? Fleur trusts you to the ends of the earth. Please do something for her if you can Figaro.” Rosie pleaded. The look on my face told her all she needed to know.
“I’ll ask Perdy to help also. She would love to help. We’ll stay here as long as it takes to get Fleur back on her feet again.” Just then Perdy appeared seemingly out of thin air. She had Fleur with her and had obviously been listening to our conversation. I looked at Fleur, her eyes were sunken in their sockets and her face was that of a horse four times her age. I noticed that she was trembling and that she kept close to Perdy all the time. I went up close to Fleur and hugged her tightly. She responded to me by rubbing her nose against mine. Perdy watched us quietly. She was secure in the knowledge that I loved her and would not run off with Fleur. Fleur’s a dear friend but that’s all, I want to spend my life with Perdy. Perdy knew this and I knew it. Fleur said,
“Joe’s gone hasn’t he.” Perdy replied,
“Yes Fleur I’m afraid he has.” Fleur clenched her teeth and gulped back a well of tears. She was controlling herself amazingly well. But suddenly the fragile control snapped and Fleur wept. We let her get it out of her system. The anger and pain she felt was enormous. Soon Fleur calmed down and faced us, her eyes bright.
”I’ll have to carry on without him then.” She said. Fleur turned tail and walked slowly back to her box, dragging her feet as she walked. I looked at Perdy seeing her distress.
“Fleur’s trying to block it out, She needs us, she can’t deal with the situation on her own.” Perdy said. Perdy shook her head and stared into the middle distance. She seemed to shrink visibly as she thought of the task ahead of us. Rosie suddenly kicked her door in rage!
“How can Joe do something like that?” she asked. Then Rosie said something that was unprintable. Ruby suddenly shook her head to rearrange her mane.
“I don’t know what the rest of you think of this but I feel that we’d better get started right away. Fleur needs all the help she can get.” Perdy looked at Ruby with understanding.
“I know what you’re thinking Ruby dear, but it’s not like that. Fleur needs to come to us for help, we cannot offer it like some sort of product.” Ruby suddenly looked really unhappy.
“I only wanted to help, can’t I help?” Ruby whimpered.
“Yes you can Ruby, we all can.” I reassured her.
Perdy and I returned to Fleur’s street and found Jinja in my box!
“What’re you doing here?” I asked. Jinja smiled suddenly.
“The Manageress put me here.” He replied.
“Oh all right, well, um, yes, okay. That’s fine, just fine.” I stammered. Jinja wasn’t stupid however and knew the reason for my agitation. Jinja then explained the reason why he spent some of his time in a field and some in the stables.
“You see Figaro, I suffer in the winter from an allergy to straw, and to cap it all in the summer I have an allergy to midges. It’s great isn’t it.” He said this last part through clenched teeth. Jinja suddenly raised his head and yelled,
“What a bloody mess!” I felt sorry for him, but then I always had ever since I had known of his problem. He sneezed and sniffed a few times.
“Starting again.” was all he said. Jinja’s eyes watered and he drooped with misery.
“This is hell.” He sniffed. Jinja walked with Perdy and I towards the field.
“I’m going for a swim.” Jinja said. With that he threw himself across the field and into the water of the river. Perdy and I joined him in splashing about in the cooling liquid. We swam downstream towards Perdy’s and my new home.
“How far is it to your home Figaro?” Jinja asked.
“Oh about fifteen miles as the crow flies.” I replied.
“We can swim there then, it’s on a river isn’t it?” Jinja asked.
“Well yeah, I suppose so.” I replied. Perdy stared at Jinja in amazement.
“You seriously think we can get there Jinja?” she asked.
“Yes why not?” he replied.
“What about your owner, you have a young human that looks after you don’t you Jinj?” I asked.
“Well yes I do but I’m sure John won’t mind if I spend a few days away.” Jinja replied. He was wrong though, how wrong he was. But we weren’t to know the distress our small excursion would cause to some humans that worked in the yard.
We swam down the river towards the place where Perdy’s AND MY home was. Jinja is a strong swimmer and he proved this to us as we swam through the Suffolk countryside.
Soon we reached the stretch of river on which our destination lay. Jinja turned towards the bank, thrusting through the water. The sun was beating down on the countryside around us. Jinja hauled himself out of the water, the water running bright from his fur. Perdy and I joined him on the bank.
We loaped across the field towards the driveway. The family that owned the house and land around it were engaged in fixing the Jaguar car that Perdy had smashed the roof of. Jinja stared at the work and commented on it.
“It’s a nice car. But why are they working on the roof? Surely that should be done in the factory?” Perdy smiled at Jinja conspiratorially.
“I smashed it.” She whispered.
“Oh I see, ah yes, right, hmmm, how?” he asked.
“Getting a road map.” Perdy replied. Jinja stared at her!
“Why were you getting a map?” he asked incredulously. Perdy laughed,
“Figaro wanted me to meet you all, and I haven’t regretted it one bit Jinja.” Jinja smiled suddenly.
“You like us lot in the yard do you Perdy?” he asked. Jinja suddenly nuzzled Perdy in his characteristic “I like you very much” gesture.
We introduced Jinja to the other two horses and got the expected non-committal response. There was a shout from the direction of the driveway. We spun round to see the Dalmatian standing watching Jinja intently.
“Come to live with us have you.” He asked. Jinja shook his head.
“No, I’m not. John wouldn’t forgive me.” He replied.
“No he’d go spare if you left him.” I said. Little did we know but John was already noticing Jinja’s absence. John is the Manageress’s Son and has been looking after Jinja for a long time. Because of this long relationship I knew that he would be very upset at Jinja’s departure. He would be ranging all over the yard looking for his horse.
Soon however Jinja temporarily forgot his lifelong friend in the rush of new friends.
For four days we walked round the countryside and met a good few of the other animals that lived on or near the river. The predictably minded fox took a huge liking to Jinja. After five minutes they were rolling on the bank playing like a foal or a cub respectively, Ha! Ha! Ha! The fox and the horse ended up in the river Jinja on his back and the fox jumping on top of him. Perdy watched them.
“You two are funny, I’ve never seen two completely different animals having a great time together.” She laughed. The two new friends played about like this for a good two hours before Jinja had to call a halt to it. He almost crawled out of the river, totally exhausted after two hours hard playing.
Perdy and I had spent the time in a rather more leisurely style. All we had to do for our relaxation was stretch ourselves out on the warm grass under a baking sun. Because of our light coloured coats we couldn’t spend too long like this. Sunburn was a real problem, the way we tackled this was to enjoy the warmth of the sun but keep ourselves submerged in the river. When we felt it was time to give the sun-bathing thing up Perdy and I returned to the place where Jinja and the fox had been playing. They were both spark out on the bank. Worn out by the exertion of playing solidly for two hours. Jinja was so exhausted he was almost comatose. I rubbed my nose against his experimentally testing Jinja’s responses. They were slow and lethargy was not too far round the corner. I noticed that Jinja was suffering from sunstroke.
I bullied Jinja to his feet because he didn’t want to rise.
“Leave me alone Figaro! Go away!” he yelled. Perdy pleaded with him to come with us and eventually he did. We found Jinja a deep patch of water and threw him in. He swam sluggishly round and round in circles. He seemed to brighten up almost the instant his body hit the water. After ninety minutes he was back to normal.
But that was more than could be said for life at the Yard. Or rather life in the Manageress’s house. John, Jinja’s owner was on the verge of organising search parties to look for his horse. He had rung round all the stables that he could find in the phone book. All this drew a blank of course. Now all John could do was wait. All this had taken place on the second day of our outing. The sun bathing and other events downstream of my new home had taken place on the fourth.
Now we were making our way back to the yard after Jinja had panicked when he remembered his owner.
“Oh no! John’s going to go spare! I can feel it, I know it!” Jinja was almost weeping. He ran down the bank, stumbling and almost falling in his haste. We ran with him trying to comfort him as best we could. We ran through beautiful countryside not noticing it. An hour and a half later we erupted into the yard and kept running until we reached the Manageress’s house. Jinja whinnied loudly and almost smashed the front door as he rapped his fore feet against the wood. He then yelled:
“John, I’m home!” Perdy and I fell about laughing.
“It sounds like an American movie script.” I said. Jinja laughed. The door was ripped open, nearly coming off its hinges as it crashed back against the wall. A picture hanging on the wall beside the door fell off and smashed on the floor.
Jinja’s owner stood in the doorway staring at his horse.
“Where the hell have you been?” he asked. Jinja smiled at John but kept silent.
“I understand your Language. Don’t hold back on me, come on Jinja, spill the beans mate.” Jinja thrust his head into the hallway and smiled,
“Got any tea?” John stared at his lifelong equine friend.
“What? Jinja, don’t tell me you want tea as well? Rosie’s just been hassling us for tea.” He said. Jinja looked downcast at this response.
“But come on John don’t deny a horse a drink.” Jinja pleaded.
“No Jinj, there’s water in the buckets and in the river, Plenty of the stuff. Get a drink there if you need one. I don’t know what this yard is coming to. First my mum learns horse talk and then before we know it the horses are all asking for tea!” John paused for breath and then continued:
“If any of you come and plague us again we’ll arrange a session at the psychologists place!” he threatened. At The mention of the psychologist’s place we turned tail and fled.
We got back to the yard and were stopped by Fleur. She looked more aged than ever and now she was losing weight.
“Where the hell have you three been? I’ve been lonely without anyone to talk to.” Fleur complained.
“What about Natasha, Candy, Misty, what about them Fleur?” Perdy asked.
“We’ve all been working since you three went gallivanting off!” Natasha replied crossly. Misty whistled at us furiously to get our attention. When she finally received it she asked angrily,
“How could you leave Fleur in her state? You three just swanned off on your own forgetting your friends, forgetting humans, forgetting everyone!” We stopped, we had done exactly what Misty had described. Misty singled Jinja out for real retribution.
“Your human friend was sick with worry Jinja, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. In fact I think you all need to have a good think about where your responsibilities lie!” Misty was now so furious that steam was starting to rise from her fur. Candy commented on it.
“Oh dear the kettle’s boiling, what was that you said about Tea Jinja?” Misty exploded in Candy’s face!
“How could you? Candy! How could you say such a thing?” she screamed. Rosie came ambling round the corner of the block. She was never hurried about anything unless it was life threatening.
“What’s going on here?” she asked neutrally.
“I’m giving these three long lost travellers a good talking to.” Misty explained. Rosie came closer to us and peered at our faces each in turn.
“They left Fleur all alone.” Misty whimpered. Fleur stared at me.
“I haven’t slept a wink all the time you’ve been away Figaro!” she almost sobbed.
“I am so sorry Fleur!” I said. Fleur hugged me suddenly.
“Stay with me Figaro!” she pleaded. I felt awful! How could I leave my friend in such a corner. I returned her hug feeling lost, really lost. What was I to do? I couldn’t stay and look after Fleur. Perdy would help me as much as she could but I knew there would be friction between Perdy and myself. I loved Perdy but I knew that Fleur would take up nearly all of my time. Perdy read my thoughts and sidled up to me. She whispered into my ear.
“I’ll help you to help Fleur as much as I can.” She rubbed my nose with her’s.
“Go on Figaro, tell her that, go on.” Perdy urged. I stared at my wife.
“You have to help Fleur Figaro. she’ll die if you don’t, you know that don’t you darling?” Perdy asked.
“Yes, I know she needs help Perdy love. But what about you? Us? This job’s going to take a long time. Psychological problems cannot be sorted overnight Perdy.” I replied. Perdy looked at Fleur. Fleur had a far away look in her eyes. I wondered if she had heard any of our conversation. Perdy went next to Fleur and hugged her. Fleur awoke from her doze and seemed surprised to find another horse showing affection to her. The expression on Fleur’s face of joyful wonder at this new feeling was the thing that decided the matter for Perdy and myself once and for all.
Dominic shattered the peaceful atmosphere by tugging on Fleur’s tail much as he had done to Perdy’s. This made Fleur squeal with terror and whirl round bent on destroying her antagonist. When she saw Dominic she stopped and rethought the attack. Dominic smiled at Fleur in his most disarming manner and rubbed his nose against her’s. Fleur smiled and I thought I could see a slight sparkle in her eyes. She took a long deep breath and seemed to relax. Misty regarded us with anger.
“You’re trying to make up for lost time. You’ve already done the damage.” She snarled. Fleur walked away from the yard and along the track towards the place where her wood had stood. She stared at the gate that had guarded her secret for so long. Fleur let a few tears fall onto the grass. She sniffed.
“It’s all gone, finished, dead.” She said. I looked into Fleur’s eyes trying to read her thoughts. I knew how much she depended on the solitude and peace of the wood and felt more sorry for her than I could tell her. Jinja arrived then and stood quietly beside me. Fleur suddenly hugged me. Her embrace was so fierce that I cried out!
“Hey Fleur what’s the matter?” I asked. Fleur buried her head in my shoulder crying pitifully.
“I know you’ll have to go Figaro, but I don’t want you to! Please stay with me! I need you and Perdy!” she replied. If the truth were known Perdy and I wanted to stay with the horses in the yard but we knew that we could not do so. The main problem was that the Manageress had officially retired me from work. Therefore she had no space to stable me, let alone Perdy. We would have to go back to our home and visit occasionally, this was all we could do. John then appeared in the distance. He was walking up the track towards us. There was only one reason for him to be up here and that reason stood beside me in the form of a horse named Jinja. The human eventually reached us and put his arms around Jinja’s neck. Jinja returned John’s hug as best he could. They stood like that for a good five minutes or more. That was a moving demonstration of the love that can exist between man and horse if ever I saw one. Jinja and John then turned and walked back to the yard together. We watched them go wondering for the hundredth time what kept a man and horse so close? We were there to work for the humans, we knew this. But there was something about the horses in the yard and about Jinja in particular. I decided I would give this a lot of thought over the next few days. Fleur calmed down after a time and a promise from Perdy that we would look at the possibility of staying in the yard for a few weeks.
True to our promise we spoke to the Manageress the next time we saw her.
“You say Fleur needs you?” The Manageress asked.
“Yes she does. She asked us to stay.” Perdy replied.
“You know I haven’t got any room to stable you.” The Manageress said.
“Yes, we know that, Jinja needs a stable because of his health problems, and there’s Carmen as well. She was promoted to Figaro’s post.” Perdy said. Perdy said “Promoted to Figaro’s post” because she hated the human’s term “a replacement.” The Manageress thought for a long time.
“You can stay in the field that Jinja stays in during the winter months,” She said.
There was that question of the difference between the horses in the yard from other working horses. There was a noticeable difference but I couldn’t put my hoof on it. I had long chats with Rosie, Jingle, Cleo and any other horses that I thought could know anything, however slight about this difference. Then one day it came to me while I was talking to Carmen about the state of the pastures in the surrounding fields of all things. The answer came to me in such a rush that I cried out with triumph and made an inadvertent contribution to Carmen’s nervous state. I yelled suddenly,
“Hey I’ve got it!” Carmen stared at me, her eyes wide with shock!
“Got what Figaro dear? You nearly frightened me out of my fur, what’s the matter?” Carmen asked.
“I’ve got the answer to the question.” I replied quickly. Jingle said,
“Oh no! Figaro’s been reading that dreadful book by Douglas Adams. What is it? The Hitch Hiker’s guide to the Galaxy or some other name, I don’t know what. Anyway I think the answer to the meaning of Life the Universe and everything was Forty two.”
“Don’t call me that!” Jingle snapped.
“Sorry Jingle, but I meant the answer to the question of why the horses in the yard are different to other working horses. I watched John and Jinja and they got me thinking about the attitudes of humans towards their horses. I spoke to many of you about this.”
“Yes he drove me mad with it yesterday.” Fudge remarked. I forged ahead ignoring her completely.
“I think the answer to the question is this. We’re here to work for the humans, correct?” All the horses present nodded in agreement. I continued:
“Good. Now we have that cleared up we have to ask ourselves what is the difference between the way we are treated, take The Manageress’s Son John, he looks after Jinja in a way that I’ve never seen before. Well if I have I haven’t noticed it. But these humans think of us as friends more than just working beasts. I think the humans call us “pets” something like that anyway.” I stopped; Jingle was looking at me with something like commiseration on her face.
“I could have told you that. I worked it out about ten years ago.” She said. I stared at her.
“But Jingle, you didn’t say anything to me when I spoke to you at first.”
“I hardly knew what you were going on about.” Jingle replied. So all my hard thought had gone to waste. It really annoyed me! I was furious in fact! I thought angrily,
“How could Jingle know such a thing and not tell me?” I gave her a black stare and walked out of the street feeling sick. I heard Cleo giving Jingle a good shouting at as I left.
“Why did you say that? I know this sort of thing has been asked by many horses through the years but you didn’t have to blow him out of the water like that Jingle!” Cleo yelled. I left it well alone. I decided to go and see where Perdy had got to. I rounded a corner to the sound of Perdy shouting at someone.
“Has Dominic over stepped the mark?” I asked myself. But the real reason for Perdy’s shouts became horribly clear to me as I drew nearer.
Perdy had strayed into the field where the leader of the field horses was grazing. He’s a nasty brute at the best of times which is no time. But he’s worse when he’s grazing and he’s even worse with a horse he doesn’t know, and he’s worse still if there could be anything more fearful, when he has to deal with a horse that doesn’t live in the yard. I knew from personal experience that Perdy would be getting a very rough ride indeed. What was worse, whenever the field horse leader took another horse to task over some stupid matter he wouldn’t let the unfortunate horse leave until he had either laid them out on the grass or been laid out on the grass himself by the terrified horse. That was when Dominic came in very useful. His “I’m a super hero” attitude to anything remotely dangerous put him in good stead for such a situation. But unfortunately Dominic wasn’t there and I was. So Perdy and I had to face the field horse leader’s often-violent stupidity alone. This was a frightening thought at any time. I don’t know what came over me. I suddenly had this idea that the field horse was attacking Perdy. I knew he wasn’t, they were just shouting at each other. But I ran forwards and kicked the field horse leader on his rear end as hard as I could. This ended up with me and the field horse in a fight seeming to be to the death. We rolled and bit and kicked our way through this latest scuffle. The field horse leader and I had a long running feud that had lasted for years. Now I was determined to finish him once and for all! I beat him to the grass and pounded him flat! When I had finally finished with him the field horse lay winded but not seriously injured. This was a lesson that was meant to leave the horse with bruises and not much else to show for it. The field horse groaned painfully.
“You’ve busted my ribs!” he wailed. Perdy looked down at the field horse with disgust.
“You’re a wimp!” she spat. We turned tail and walked away. Perdy rubbed her nose against mine.
“Thanks Figaro love.” She said softly. We returned to the yard and called on Rosie. The “GONE TO WORK BE BACK SOON.” Sign was on the wall. As I stared at the sign wondering what drove humans to put such things on walls I heard a familiar voice behind me ask:
“Finding that sign interesting are we Figaro?” I turned to see Rosie watching me. She smiled as she walked past me and into her box.
“I would invite you in but there’s not enough room for the two of you.” She said. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Fleur approaching us. She came up close to me and rested her head on my shoulder. Rosie made no comment about this. She was of the opinion that Fleur was still young enough to be allowed concessions as to what she should and should not do in a public place such as the yard. To go up to a horse and invade their space, let alone rest your head on their shoulder was unthinkable usually. Any other horse that did this to another would be punished. All right, horses are sociable animals, but we do have our own flight space. This rule is of course relaxed if two horses are consenting to this invasion of space. Fleur did not know such things. If she had known and understood them she doubtless would have respected them. But horses and I am sure humans in the state Fleur was in would forget all about such social rules. Perdy walked round to Fleur’s off side and stood quite close to her. It was obvious to me what she was trying to do. Perdy thought quite reasonably that if Fleur had a horse on each side of her she would feel safer. This wasn’t the case however. The moment Fleur saw her escape route cut off by Perdy’s not inconsiderable form she panicked and fought to free herself.
“All right Fleur, calm down, calm down!” Rosie pleaded. Fleur stopped trying to batter Perdy flat and stood there shaking violently. Fleur turned her gaze on me. She was pleading to me with her eyes to go with her on my own without Perdy. But she couldn’t say it. Perdy knew what Fleur was attempting to say. She turned tail and walked down towards the river as casually as she could. I thought that Perdy wouldn’t have taken offence at this type of plea but I also knew that any action on Perdy’s part to withdraw from a situation would result in Fleur trying to patch up her supposedly torn relationship with Perdy for ever more. Fleur did indeed think that she had destroyed Perdy’s and my relationship for good.
“P, Perdy, Perdy! I didn’t mean to isolate you! I just want to talk to Figaro alone for a few minutes! Can’t you see that!” Fleur called desperately. Perdy turned back and replied,
“I know that.” Fleur fled back to her box as fast as she could without telling me anything. Perdy returned to my side and asked,
“What does that horse really want?” I stared at my future wife in sudden bewilderment.
“What do you mean? All Fleur wanted to do was talk to me on my own without anyone else overhearing what she had to say. You didn’t think she was trying to win my affections back did you Perdy? Because if you did then you’re seriously wrong!” I asked. I tried to put neutrality into my tone but didn’t manage it very well. Perdy knew how I felt and knew it very well. Perdy hesitated for a minute too long.
“No, no, I didn’t, honest to you Figaro I didn’t!” she protested. But I knew she had thought that. Perdy had paused for a moment too long, and the look in her eyes had told me her real feelings. Perdy felt threatened by Fleur.
“Perdy, I know what you really think. You’re a useless liar and would be no good at masking your true feelings from anybody. You feel threatened by Fleur.” I came out with it straight because I felt that Perdy had better have it that way. Perdy squealed suddenly and ran off down the yard as fast as her legs could carry her. I let her run. I didn’t follow her until I was sure that she had come to a complete stand still and wouldn’t run any more. I approached her carefully trying to seem as unconcerned as possible. But this was difficult because my body was now thrumming with pent up anxiety for Perdy and Fleur. This strain showed in my expression because Perdy nearly made a run for it. She watched me draw nearer and finally stop beside her. I watched my future wife for a long time. She in turn watched me. Perdy suddenly spoke.
“So I feel threatened. But wouldn’t you? There’s this not unattractive filly ten years my junior strutting her stuff. Come on Figaro admit it. Fleur’s got a way of handling herself.” I didn’t get a chance to answer before Perdy ploughed on:
“Well, there’s Fleur. She’s always around, searching you out, asking for you, wherever you are she seems to be. What am I meant to think? And you, you let her carry on, you don’t even call a stop to her antics! She just walked up to you and rested her head on your shoulder, that’s highly disrespectful! Fleur’s acting like she’s somehow related to you. I know she used to be your mate but that’s over. You see what I’m getting at Figaro?” I sighed heavily,
“Perdy, have you noticed one thing? I think you haven’t. Fleur’s not coming to me for sexual purposes, or to steal me from you. She’s coming for protection, just like a foal. Fleur’s very young, she want’s protection from harm. I think you’ve got the lust for sex and the need for protection mixed up. Fleur wants protection. You heard what Rosie said, Fleur’s got a mental problem. Her mind is younger than her years. I used to be able to give Fleur the protection she wanted. I knew that our relationship wasn’t a conventional one. Fleur loved me because I protected her from fear and pain. Yes Perdy I’ll admit it. Because of the intensity of this relationship I grew to love Fleur deeply. When she went out into the riding school or on hacks I would go mad! That was because I was worried for her safety.” Perdy was now staring at me.
“You mean to say that Joe didn’t give her the protection she wanted?” she asked.
“Oh yes he did, but what he didn’t know was the extent of Fleur’s problems. When this was pointed out to him he walked out. I have not done that and neither have you Perdy. We have to help her to stand on her own four feet and cope with life on her own.” Perdy spat on the concrete of the yard in disgust!
“Fleur was using you then Figaro.” She said.
“I can’t discuss that.” I replied. I shook myself from nose to tail and said briskly,
“Come on Perdy let’s go and see what we can do to help Fleur out of her hole!” Perdy hung back uncertainly. She said with a regrettable lack of caution.
“Fleur’s a freak!”
I whirled round on her in a blazing fury!
“You know dam well she’s not Perdy!” I bellowed. Perdy shook with fear. Someone else then said,
“How can you say that Perdy?” We turned as one to see Jinja standing there regarding Perdy coldly. Rosie stood beside Jinja with much the same expression on her face. Perdy spluttered,
“What the hell are y, you doing here?” I knew the reason why Rosie and Jinja were together. These two horses made up the most unlikely couple imaginable. Rosie’s huge form against Jinja’s some what smaller stature was a curious sight. The love that existed between them was so deep as to be almost uncomprehendable. Perdy stared at the two horses with dawning comprehension.
“Rosie’s the leader of the herd and Jinja’s her husband?” she asked nervously.
“That’s right.” Jinja replied. Perdy then said something that was to enrage Jinja almost to the point of madness. He held Rosie in such high regard that anyone questioning his love for her would be seriously endangering their welfare. Perdy said,
“But I heard that you didn’t like horses Jinj.” Jinja nearly throttled Perdy!
“No that’s right as a rule I don’t. But there’s always the exception to that rule! Rosie is that exception, and don’t ever call me Jinj again! That’s reserved for close friends and Rosie exclusively!” he yelled. Perdy didn’t have to argue the point. She had heard me call him by the shortened version of his name and she also had done it. It was obvious to all that Perdy’s one incautious remark had seriously damaged a healthy relationship. No horse in the yard ever called another a “freak” without good reason. Even Cleo had not been branded a “freak.” She had damaged many horses both physically and mentally. No horse could be called a “freak” except one perhaps, and every horse knew which horse that could be. Jinja turned away from us and walked towards Fleur’s box. Perdy followed in my wake with her head hung in shame. We arrived to find Fleur quietly eating straw. She looked up as we arrived.
“What’s going on?” she asked. I looked into her eyes trying to work out her thoughts. Fleur gave Perdy an unpleasant look.
“I know why you thought what you did Perdy. But it wasn’t anything more than I wished to talk to Figaro alone. But I couldn’t ask you.” Fleur suddenly sobbed.
“I couldn’t ask you Perdy!” she sobbed. I took pity on her and unbolted her door opening it. I then hugged Fleur until she stopped crying. It seemed all she wanted was protection. Fleur buried her nose in my shoulder and stayed there pressing herself against me. I couldn’t stop Perdy walking out if she wanted to. Perdy watched me with fury in her eyes.
“Don’t be unreasonable Perdy. Let me help Fleur, please let me help my friend.” I pleaded. Perdy turned tail and walked back to the fields. I ignored her and concentrated on Fleur. All right, Fleur may have been mentally unwell or just too young for her years. Whatever was wrong with her must be tackled. Fleur rested her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes.
“I’m safe.” She said dreamily. Jinja and Rosie watched us in silence. Fleur wanted protection from I didn’t know what, but I knew she wanted protection.
“What did you want to talk about Fleur?” I asked Gently. Fleur didn’t answer at first. I later found out the reason why. She was asleep. Eventually however she roused herself and took her weight off of my shoulder, which had begun to stiffen. Fleur yawned in a most unlady-like manner.
“Ah! That’s better.” She said with satisfaction.
“It was all right for you, you didn’t have half a tonne of horse leaning on you.” I said lightly. True to her form Fleur took the bait beautifully.
“You could have woken me and I would have moved!” she wailed. Natasha extended her substantial nose in Fleur’s direction.
“Figaro was only playing Fleur.” She said airily. Fleur looked fondly at the large Chestnut mare.
“I knew that Natasha.” She said. Natasha shook her head,
“No you didn’t.” she replied. Jinja looked about him in bewilderment.
“I haven’t seen anything of Perdy for a while.” He said. Rosie agreed,
“It’s strange, Perdy wouldn’t usually walk off like that.” Fleur looked guiltily at Rosie.
“It’s me, I made her walk away Rosie.” She said.
“You? What have you done?” Rosie asked. Fleur looked at me for explanation. She knew what she wanted to say but couldn’t say it because she didn’t know the complicated words that horses like Rosie used to explain complicated things, like emotions to other horses. I explained to Rosie what Perdy felt about Fleur’s and my relationship, and about Perdy’s dislike for Fleur. Rosie’s face became grim.
“I know, I’ve heard something about that.” She said harshly. Jinja rested his head on Rosie’s shoulder, or as near to her shoulder as he could reach. Rosie rubbed Jinja’s nose with her’s. Perdy then reappeared and made it quite plain to Fleur that she didn’t wish to set eyes on her ever again. Rosie looked deep into Perdy’s eyes unnerving her greatly.
“Why do you do that?” Perdy asked.
“Never mind why Perdy!” Rosie snapped. Perdy then shouted!
“It’s him! He’s the one that’s been causing all this trouble! Figaro! You’re the one that caused Fleur to almost crack under the pressure of all this rubbish that has taken place!” I STARED AT HER IN TOTAL CONFUSION.
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN Perdy.” I said.
“If you’re blaming the fact that Joe left Fleur on me, then I’m sorry but you’re wrong!” I added. Rosie and Jinja turned and left us on our own. I felt sick as I watched them go. Right then I didn’t care what Perdy did to me. But what if she went for Fleur? Fleur wouldn’t stand a chance! She would be pounded into the straw and left to die slowly, I was sure of this. I also knew that no matter how much Natasha and the others wanted to help their instincts in a situation would be telling them to keep out of it. So I couldn’t realistically expect any help if anything went wrong.
Perdy was now staring into Fleur’s eyes, drilling, hacking at her soul with those red eyes that I had known to be full of laughter. But now they were full of fear and hatred. Perdy said with dangerous calm,
“You know what Fleur, I’m gonna bloody murder you!” Fleur stared back into Perdy’s eyes her own showing none of the power and fury of Perdy’s. Fleur was experiencing almost unknown levels of fear and terror! If she was anything like a fighter Fleur might have been a match for Perdy. But she wasn’t. Fleur had no fight in her. Physical violence didn’t figure in her life. As far as I knew Fleur hadn’t even been present at a proper all out scrap. I watched the two horses confronting one another. One infinitely dangerous, the other just a terrified youngster who couldn’t fight a horse of her own size and strength, let alone Perdy. Then there I stood, unable to come between them because of my fear for Fleur’s safety. I had a problem, did I leave Fleur and Perdy to sort it out? Or did I wade into the battle and try and break it up? The two unequal adversaries stood their ground for a good five minutes or more. I wondered whether Fleur’s nerve would hold, I knew Perdy’s would. Perdy suddenly struck out at Fleur! Her right fore foot shot out and caught Fleur a solid blow on her nose. Fleur squealed in agony and fell to the straw trying her hardest to protect her head from Perdy’s advances. This was the cue that Perdy had been waiting for!
She sprang at Fleur kicking and biting her until Fleur begged for mercy. But Perdy was going in for the kill! There was a shout from my left, before I could look round to see who had shouted a black and white blur crossed my vision and Perdy seemed suddenly to crumple on the concrete. I stared at her assailant in stunned amazement! Dominic stood over Perdy, he smiled as our eyes met.
“She’ll live, just a bit bruised that’s all,” he said mercilessly. I blinked hard to clear my vision.
“I’M SURE Dominic Flew.” I thought. I asked him about it.
“Fly? No why should I fly? I can’t fly, whatever’s come over you Figaro? I ran that’s all.” He replied.
“You flew.” Someone else said firmly. I spun round to see Jinja standing behind me. Dominic saw him too.
“Oh hi Jinj’.” He said. Jinja walked round to stand next to Dominic, Dominic waved him back with a look that said,
“Don’t move any closer, I have a time bomb under me.” Jinja took the hint and withdrew a pace or two. Perdy began to bluster that,
“You’re not going to break me Dominic!” In answer to this Dominic placed one massive hoof on Perdy’s chest and leant a little weight on it. Perdy shrieked in terror!
“Don’t squash me!” she pleaded. Dominic smiled down into Perdy’s face. Perdy turned her face away and set up a terrible screaming, wailing sound. Dominic suddenly released Perdy and streaked away. I don’t know what made him do this, maybe it was the sound that Perdy was making, or maybe it was because Domino came round the corner as her Son left. Domino yelled at her Son.
“Dominic! What have you been doing?” she asked. She stamped about for a bit fuming and raging at everyone or anything that stood in her way. This meant she caused problems for Jinja, myself and most unwelcome was the problems for Fleur. Fleur buried her face into the straw. She wailed with fear and pain.
“Leave me alone, please leave me in peace.” She wailed. Domino stared down at Fleur’s prostrate form on the straw.
“What’s the matter with you?” she asked.
“Perdy tried to attack me.” Fleur whimpered.
“Let me guess, Dominic was sorting it out. Yes?” Domino asked. Fleur didn’t have to answer her. It was plain what happened. Domino stormed out intent on dealing out justice to her apparently wayward Son. But I wanted Domino to leave Dominic alone! But I knew that Dominic could look after himself. My job was to look after Fleur. I walked towards the shivering horse. I hugged her as tightly as I could. Fleur looked at me from beneath her long mane.
“Thank you Figaro.” She said.
“Come with me Fleur, please trust me.” I pleaded. Fleur followed me out of the yard and across towards the river. The sun blazed down on the grass and warmed the water. I waded into the water and settled down so only my head was above the surface. I tried to encourage Fleur to do what I had done. Fleur settled down beside me.
“That was an awful five minutes.” I said.
“It seemed like five years.” Fleur replied. Fleur moved closer to me and rested her head on my neck. She let the water take her away. We drifted downstream slowly with Fleur dozing with her head on my shoulder. I made sure she didn’t drown but I knew that the water and her proximity to another horse would calm her. We spent about two and a half hours in the water. I woke Fleur and we made our way back to the yard and colided with Perdy. She gave me a shattered look and motioned with her nose to me to go with her as soon as possible. I accompanied Fleur back to her box and then rejoined my future wife.
“So what happened then Figaro?” Perdy asked.
“We drifted down the river with Fleur sleeping, her head on my shoulder.” I explained. Perdy gulped hard.
“I was having some sense battered into me by Rosie.” She said. Perdy suddenly hugged me tightly.
“I’m sorry Figaro! I cannot excuse what I said or did.” She sobbed. I said,
“Fleur’s the one you should be apologising to Perdy.” So Perdy walked towards Fleur’s box. She approached her former adversary waving the white flag of surrender.
“I’m sorry Fleur. That’s all I can say. I can’t undo what I’ve done. All I can say is sorry, I can’t do anything to rectify what I’ve done, well not physically, if you see what I mean.” Perdy said. She tried to hug Fleur and Fleur let her. Perdy laid her head on Fleur’s shoulder.
“Sorry Fleur.” She sobbed.
“It’s all right Perdy, don’t worry about it. Let’s go on from here.” Fleur said gently. Perdy then straightened up and said,
“This is for you Figaro and you Natasha, and you of course Fleur.” I’m sorry for all this.” We could see from her expression that she meant it. Perdy is Really a gentle, kind hearted horse who felt threatened by a former love of her husband. I knew I would have to show her that I really loved her and that Fleur was a friend and that was all she was.
A few weeks later Fleur was Almost completely recovered from her huge shock. The time for Perdy and I to leave was drawing near. Fleur’s manner became more snappy as the day of our departure arrived.
“Please come back soon.” Fleur pleaded. Perdy was sobbing as she said good bye to the horses in Fleur’s street. Even Natasha felt the loss. She rubbed her nose against Perdy’s and mine with fervour.
“Yes, please come back.” Natasha added. I left Perdy with them, and went in search of Jinja by myself. I found him by the river staring into the water. I noticed that Jinja was fighting back tears. I approached him quietly and stood beside him. I rubbed his nose with mine.
“Don’t worry Jinj’. We’ll be coming back soon.” I reassured him. Jinja sniffed,
“Good, please come back and stay longer.” Jinja sobbed. I didn’t realise until then how much my departure had upset the occupants of the yard.
So Perdy and I left the yard and made our way back to our home. I know now that Perdy’s suggestion had turned out to be responsible for a mixed few months. The other two horses in the field in my new home had no questions for us about what happened during our stay. So we went back to our life in the village living with the family of humans.
I, MARTIN WILSHER, here by assert and give notice of my right under section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of the foregoing article.
© Copyright Martin Wilsher 1998-2000
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