RIVER DARK - an Ironbridge Gorge Adventure Chapter One
A Terrible Enemy
If I'd known I'd be hunted down like a criminal, I would have turned away from Atterley Hall when I heard that horrible screaming. But this was the first day of my new life, and I wasn't giving up now.
As the wintery sunlight broke through the early morning mist over the parkland, I took a deep breath, charged through the archway into the stable yard, and had to jump back from a huge black stallion, rearing up and thrashing the air with his polished hooves.
He shrieked with anger, trying to shake off a small, grizzled haired man who clung to the leading rein. The groom, despite his broad shoulders and shovel fists, was no match for the angry, enormous beast. His riding boots slid on the damp cobbles as angry horse reared, plunged, and drummed his hooves in a wild, furious dance. Frantic to control the stallion, the groom punched the animal's neck with his fist, making the powerful creature wilder than ever. With a violent twist of his spine the horse flung the man into the air, and I watched in horror as he landed on the cobbles with a sickening thump.
Then the thoroughbred reared again, ready to bring his weight crashing down on his tormentor, and I yelled, 'Thunder, don't!'
At the sound of my voice, the stallion seemed frozen in time with his head thrust back, his mane rippling with a life of its own. His heavy body hung motionless, balanced on his hind legs, the muscles in his haunches straining under the shining skin. Afraid he would topple and break his back I foolishly flung out my arms to save him. But with a tremendous effort, he heaved his weight forward; his hooves clattered the yard, and the groom scuttled to safety.
Now the stallion swung his head in my direction, trotted towards me, and it took every bit of courage to stand my ground. For a terrified moment I thought I'd be trampled, but he came to a skittering halt, his huge chest towering above me, and in the sharp morning air, I was close enough to feel the heat of his silky body. His damp breath formed clouds around his whiskered muzzle, wetting my skin like fine rain; he dipped his head and playfully nipped me on the shoulder. He had not forgotten me.
With joyful relief, I reached up to pat his powerful neck and out of the corner of my eye noticed the groom striding towards me, a furious, twisted expression on his face. Without a word, he snatched up Thunder's dangling lead rope, grabbed me, and almost jerked me off my feet. Held in his fierce grip, his tweed jacket reeking of sour sweat, and his red, weather-roughened face thrust close to mine, his anger shocked me, if I hadn't shouted when I did Thunder might have killed him....
to be continued...