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Jane Badger Books

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Suspicion Stalks the Moor (eBook pre-order out 22 August) Moors 7

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Suspicion Stalks the Moor (eBook pre-order out 22 August) Moors 7

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eBook pre-order released 22 August

Sukey and Chris are now much better riders, but no better at dealing with the ghastly Jess, who has a pony of her own.

Angela is back too, and she hears a horse neighing on a cargo boat. Then Jess sees a horse being unloaded from the boat at the dead of night. Sukey and the others are convinced this is suspicious, and when they learn a famous stallion has been kidnapped they start to wonder if there's a link to the mystery horse.

Does the mysterious Mr Spalding, who’s just moved to the moor to start a stud, have anything to do with the mystery horse? Or is there an innocent explanation? The moors children are determined to find out.

Moors book 7

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As this is a pre-order, firstly you'll get a confirmation email. The actual file will be delivered on the release date, via email with a link to download. If you need help, the email from Bookfunnel, who handle our delivery, will walk you through downloading the file that works best for you.

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Read a sample

It was the beginning of the summer holidays and, as we rode across the moor, we were all five cursing the rock-hard ground and the relentless sun which had blazed down from the cloudless sky, day after day, scorching the parched moor to ever deeper shades of brown.
Danny, a scowl on his tanned face, was also cursing Jess King.

‘Typical Jess, leaving her crash cap in the car,’ he grumbled, ‘and typical Mrs King, expecting us all to drop everything and search the whole moor for the trekkers.’

‘Don’t worry,’ Huw, who was carrying the forgotten crash cap, told him soothingly, ‘we’ll probably see them on West Moor, but if we don’t we’ll go to the farm and ask Mrs Jackson which way they’ve gone.’

‘Can’t we gallop at all, Sukey? Not ever?’ Angela Fletcher asked me, putting on her moaning voice. She was staying with us again and riding Bingo—a dark brown with a white face—who used to be mine until Dad took Snowman in exchange for an unpaid veterinary bill. I looked back at Angela, wearing jodhs and a dark green tee-shirt, she was as squarely built as ever and her straight, black hair was still cut in a fringe to frame her square face.

‘You might as well gallop on the roads,’ I told her. ‘You can see for yourself how hard it is; think of the ponies’ legs.’

‘Actually there are still a few places where you can canter,’ argued Chris, my younger brother, who believes in accuracy. ‘Peaty places like the Chilmarth woods.’

We crossed the road between Middle Moor and West Moor near St Dinas, a row of grim stone cottages with church, chapel and shop, which never manages to look like a proper village. Unsheltered by trees or hills, the winter winds lash it unrelentingly, but now the cottages with their watered gardens made a green oasis in the desert of scorched moor. Beyond the village, our view to the north was blocked by the cruel, craggy heights of Black Tor and to the south by the boulder-strewn slopes of Old Dog, but in between, looking straight ahead, we could see in the distance the ruined tower of Tolkenny Castle and the wooded slopes of St Crissy which marks the western end of the moor.

‘There they are,’ called Danny, pointing.

We all watched as the long, slow-moving string of ponies and riders gradually disappeared round the far side of Old Dog.

‘I reckon they’re doing the Pennecford trek today, then,’ decided Danny.

‘Why don’t we go back to St Dinas? Then we’d have time to stop at the shop for ice-creams before riding down the road to meet them,’ suggested Angela.

‘I think we’d better cut across the corner, go round Old Dog the opposite way and meet them head on,’ argued Huw.

‘Yes, and we’d better trot or we’ll miss them,’ I said, falling in behind black Crackers, who was twirling and champing impatiently, despite the heat.

It grew hotter and hotter as we trotted single file along the narrow, twisting path towards Old Dog. I patted Snowman’s elegant white neck and apologised for making him rush about in the heat. He is a very polite and uncomplaining pony. When we first had him he was terribly thin and covered in warts but with endless feeds and the summer grass he’d fattened up a lot, and as he had settled down and become friends with Bingo and Joey the warts had miraculously disappeared. Bingo had been half-starved as a foal and he used to have a head that looked too large for his small, stunted body, but he now looks quite normal, though he’ll never be a show pony.

All our animals are crocks or cast-offs; with two vets in the family you seem to collect them. Inky, our Scotty, has only one eye; Milly, our hairy monster of a dog, was found abandoned on a motorway by the police. But with Chris’s Joey, a stout little dun with black points, it was the other way round; he was ill-treating his owners. Chris and I are very alike, people always guess that we’re brother and sister. We both have small faces with small mouths and noses, brown eyes and straight fair hair. We used to look rather pale and feeble, but living on the moor has changed us. Nowadays we’re brown and wiry and look quite tough.

As the path led us under the towering heights of Old Dog, we suddenly heard shouting ahead. Danny immediately gave Crackers his head and whirled along the path and the rest of us followed. As we swept round the corner and joined the main track we came upon the trekking party, scattered all over the place and obviously in a state of disarray. One group was chasing a loose pony, another clustered round a rider sitting on the track, while several ponies had seized their opportunity to look for grazeable grass and were ambling over the heather, ignoring their riders’ aids and cries of distress. Jess King, looking very tall on the Jacksons’ Russet, was shouting at two strangers, a boy and a girl, who held a white goat by the collar round her neck.

‘No one but a complete idiot would tether a goat right across the track,’ Jess was shouting aggressively.
‘Didn’t you realise the chain could trip a pony up? You must both be completely bonkers.’

‘Oh lor’, it’s Mick who’s come off,’ said Danny in an anxious voice. ‘He’s hurt, and what are we going to do with this lot?’

I dismounted and joined the group of grown-up trekkers who were crowding round Mick. He was sitting up, but looked dazed.

‘What happened, are you all right?’ I asked.

‘He hit his head, the crash cap came off,’ explained a woman with long blonde hair, who was wearing a pink trouser suit.

‘The goat took fright at the ponies and tried to bolt off, suddenly tightening the chain across the track,’ added a grey-haired man dressed in jeans and a checked cowboy shirt.

‘He didn’t stand a chance, and the ground’s like iron,’ said a woman in jodhpurs.

‘What do we do now?’ asked a beefy young man with cropped hair. ‘None of us know where we’re supposed to be going, it’s chaotic.’

‘How are you feeling, Mick?’ I asked, ignoring the rest of them. He gazed at me with dazed, unfocussed eyes.

‘What’s the time?’ he asked. ‘I must groom the ponies. We’ve got to tack up, the trekkers’ll be here in a minute. What’s the time?’

‘He keeps on and on like that, I think we’d better send for an ambulance,’ decided the woman in pink, looking round.

‘Some hope; we’re in the middle of nowhere,’ observed the grey-haired man.

‘It’s all right, he’s only concussed,’ Huw spoke with authority. ‘It happened to me once. You recover in a few hours, but they like to keep you in hospital overnight to make sure. They woke me up every hour all through the night, shining torches in my eyes.’

‘We’d better round them all up and take them back to the farm,’ I said.

‘Oh no.’ Jess stopped ranting at the goat’s owners and came over. ‘It’s my only chance of a ride. We’re only staying with Gran for a couple of days and all the ponies are booked for tomorrow.’

‘What a shame, the kids have been looking forward to this for so long …’

‘It’s too bad. First there was that muddle over the caravan, and now this …’

‘There ought to be two instructors with a party of this size …’ All the trekkers began to complain at once.

‘There, you see, no one wants to go back. It’s just not on,’ Jess told us. ‘Danny, you work for the Jacksons, you can take over. We’re only going to Pennecford, having lunch at one of the pubs, and then going for a gallop on the headland where we found the birds at Easter.’ Danny looked doubtful. ‘I know the way,’ he admitted. ‘If I had a sensible pony I wouldn’t mind, but Crackers is a bit of a nut. If they go racing past me he’ll go raving mad.’

‘Oh come on, he’s not that bad. Look, I’ll ride Crackers and you can have Russet,’ offered Jess.

‘You know you can’t, Toby loaned him to me on condition that I was the only person to ride him,’ Danny snapped at her impatiently. ‘Could you come, Sukey? With two of us we could just about manage and we would be helping the Jacksons out. Mick wouldn’t want to lose a day’s trekking.’

‘OK,’ I agreed. I knew that the Jacksons, who are always short of money, might find it hard to refund the trekkers, who had probably paid for their five days’ trekking in advance. ‘Some of us take the trek on to Pennecford and some take Mick home.’

‘Thanks,’ Danny sounded relieved.

Page length: 120

Original publication date: 1986

Who's in the book?

Humans: Sukey and Chris Ashworth, Huw Hamilton, Angela Fletcher, Danny, Mick and Heather Jackson, Jess, Mr Spalding, Max and Kelly Webber

Equines: Snowman, Patchy, Joey, Bingo, Crackers, Goldie

Other titles published as

Series order

1. Star-riders of the Moor
2. Fear Treks the Moor
3. Ride to the Rescue
4. Ghost Horse on the Moor
5. Treasure on the Moor
6. Mystery on the Moor
7. Suspicion Stalks the Moor

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