Thursday, 11 September 2014

When Cleo meets a horse - excerpt from Homicide in Hampshire

Cleo is a lady from London and recently moved to the New Forest.  Part of her health regime is taking walks in the forest - avoiding the ponies. She's never been close to a horse or pony and is rather scared of them!

"As I was nearing the copse I could see a saddled horse cropping the grass and wondered where the rider was.  “Oh gawd, don’t tell me someone’s fallen off and broken a leg or something,” I muttered.

I looked hard at the horse, it moved and I got the back view.  “’Ere, horse, turn round I want to get a look at your front.”  Keeping me distance I moved slowly round until I could see its face.  “I thought so.  You’re Maggie’s horse, aren’t you?”  I remembered seeing it in a photo Paula had shown me.  “Now what the heck’s your name?”  The reins were hanging down, “Come on, Cleo, be brave.  Be brave.”

I inched towards the horse.  It inched away.  I got a little closer and he moved away again.  “Oh for gawd’s sake, come ‘ere!  I want to take hold of those reins before you break your bloody leg.  Now, come ‘ere!”  Surprisingly the horse did “come ‘ere”.  I got hold of the reins.  “Now what do I do?  I’m not getting up on top of you even if I knew how.

“Come on, where is she?  You’re Maggie’s horse.  Where’s Maggie.  Come on, show me where she is.”  I was actually thinking of the horse as being like a dog.

I began walking into the copse, the horse quite close behind and getting uncomfortably close.  I could almost feel it nudging me and I broke out in a cold sweat.  “Don’t get too close, horse.  Don’t run away with me, either.  Hang on a minute.”  I stopped and it stopped.  We both listened.
I could faintly hear the sound of sobbing.  The horse whickered (I think that’s what that noise is called) and flicked his ears.  “That’s her, innit?  Come on, horse, here we go.  You lead her to me.”  I stood to one side of the footpath and let it go forward and take the lead.

Margaret was sitting on the ground nursing a foot, her helmet on the ground beside her and her fair hair like a waterfall over her face. 

“So why didn’t you use your mobile and phone your mother?”

She shoved her hair back as she looked up and whispered, “Battery’s flat.”

“How clever can you be!  So you’ve fallen off your horse.  Please don’t tell me you’ve broken your ankle.”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know,” she sobbed.

HOMICIDE IN HAMPSHIRE is available on:
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