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Jane Badger Books

Patricia Leitch: For Love of a Horse (eBook)

Patricia Leitch: For Love of a Horse (eBook)

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Horses, ponies and foals. Horses, ponies and foals.

Pre-order: release date 20 June 2024

Jinny and her family are moving from inner city Stockton to the Scottish Highlands. Everything will be different. Jinny’s father will make pots and write, and for Jinny there must be horses. ‘Horses, ponies and foals’ she writes on the steamed up window of their Stockton home. ‘Horses, ponies and foals.’

And then there is a horse. On the way up to their new house, the family go to a circus. Yasmin the Killer Horse is the star attraction, a terrified chestnut Arab mare, bullied by the ringmaster. Jinny flings herself into the ring to stop him, but the mare belongs to the circus, and not her. There seems nothing she can do to save the horse.

After an accident lets the horse escape onto the moors. Jinny is desperate to catch her. The thin-skinned Arab cannot possibly survive the Highland winter, and it’s getting ever closer. But Shantih, as Jinny calls her, does not want to be caught. She trusts no one and Jinny can get nowhere near her.

As winter closes in, Jinny makes one last, desperate attempt to save the mare who has found her way into Jinny’s soul.

Jinny series 1

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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 all happened suddenly. In a three. The way things do.
“But that’s rubbish,” thought Jinny, pressing her forehead against the cold glass of the windowpane. “It only seems like that to us. Billions and millions and trillion billions of things all happened. We just picked three of them.”

She stared down at the busy Stopton street opposite their flat – at the supermarket, the dress shop and the Bingo Hall. In her ears was the growling throb of constant traffic. Throughout all her eleven years, Jinny had never lived anywhere else but in the city. Even at two in the morning the traffic roared and pounded in the street outside their home. All night long, footsteps rang sharp on the pavements. This was the way you lived, caged in by noise – a human sardine packed in with all the others. If you were lucky, you went away for a fortnight in the summer to the country, but that wasn’t the way you lived – that was holidays. The city was your real life.

Then, suddenly, the three things happened. Whizz, crash, bang – and tonight was their last night in Stopton. Tomorrow the Manders family were going to live in the Highlands of Scotland. In a grey stone house, Finmory House, that had its own beach, Finmory Bay, its own moors, and even its own mountain, Finmory Beag.
They had looked it up on an Ordnance Survey map in Stopton library.

“That’s our house,” Mike had said to the library assistant who came to wag a fat finger at them and point to the SILENCE notice.

“And none of your lies either,” she had told him, not believing their wish come true.

“But it is true,” Jinny breathed. “True tomorrow. Tomorrow night we’ll be in Inverburgh, and the next night – Finmory.”

Jinny’s breath steamed the windowpane. She breathed harder, then wrote with her fingernail:

She stood back from the window to gaze for a second, entranced by the spell she had cast.

“Horses, ponies and foals. Oh my!” she chanted, in a Wizard of Oz tune. “Horses, ponies and foals. Oh my!”
For a moment longer, she stood without moving, then she swung away from the window, her mane of straight, red-gold hair flying out from her head, her blue eyes bright with excitement, her wide mouth stretching her sharp, small-featured face into nothing but grin.

“Horses, ponies and foals. Oh my!” she yelled, as she pranced through their flat. “Horses, ponies and foals. Oh my!” Her bare, bony feet stamped out the rhythm as she went dancing through the rooms where she had always lived – and after tomorrow would never see again.

Mr. Manders, packing the last of his books into tea chests, paused and shouted to Jinny to make less noise or old Mrs. Robertson would be banging on the ceiling again. He was a short, thick-set man, with shoulder-length hair that was wearing bald on top, a thick, reddish beard and a face that crinkled into long laughter lines. Really, he was glad that one of his family could plunge into the thought of their new life with such total enthusiasm. Now that the decision had actually been taken, Mr. Manders was wondering desperately if he was doing the right thing. A middle-aged Stopton probation officer suddenly selling up everything and going off to the Highlands. He was going to write a book and be a potter. At one time, the fact that the only pottery Mr. Manders had ever done in his life had been at evening classes had only made the move seem more of an adventure. But during the last month he had been waking up in the early hours of the morning to lie staring into the darkness, wondering if it was all a mad nonsense. He told himself he had no choice. He had reached the stage where he had to go. He couldn’t bear the hopelessness of being a probation officer in a big city for a moment longer.

Mrs. Manders and Petra were in the kitchen, wrapping up dishes in sheets of newspaper.

“Watch what you’re doing,” Mrs. Manders warned, as Jinny’s elbow knocked a mug off a shelf. But because she was high with excitement, poised on the knife edge of a new life, Jinny’s hand flashed out, caught the mug before it crashed to the floor, and put it back safely on the table.

“You’ll end in tears,” Petra warned – as if she were fifty, not fourteen. Jinny stuck her tongue out at her without interrupting her chant. “And don’t be so childish,” Petra snapped.

Petra had short, brown, curly hair like her mother’s. Without much washing she stayed clean and tidy. Dirt seemed to fly away from Petra as readily as it seemed drawn to Jinny. When Petra knotted a scarf around her it stayed where Petra put it, its ends twisted attractively, like the scarves in the women’s magazines that Petra was always reading. When Jinny tried to improve her appearance by knotting one of Petra’s scarves fashionably round her neck, people kept on asking if she had a sore throat. Petra played the piano. She practised every night, working endlessly at scales and exercises. She passed all the exams she sat and was going to be a music teacher. Jinny was tone deaf, but it seemed to her that Petra couldn’t play at all. It was all work – not music. If Jinny had been musical, as Petra was supposed to be, she would never have wanted to be a music teacher. She would have been a soloist, playing to vast, silent audiences all over the world, their applause flaming around her and going on for ever.

“Horses, ponies and foals,” chanted Jinny, seeing calm bay hunters, shaggy Highland ponies, woolly foals with tails and perhaps, perhaps, the horse of Jinny’s dreams – an Arab mare who would come cantering over the moors when Jinny called her name.

“Have you packed your painting things yet?” her mother asked.

Jinny shook her head.

“Well, you won’t let me near them, so if you don’t do it I suppose they’ll be left here.”

Jinny supposed her mother was right, and, finding scissors and a ball of string, she went through to her bedroom to get on with it.

Mike was sitting on her bed, reading.

“Mind your legs,” Jinny said, and crouched down to bring out her boxes from under the bed. She hardly ever let any of her family see her drawings. If they did see them, they always said the wrong things. Even when they praised them, they still said the wrong things. But Mike didn’t count.

There were three flat cardboard boxes, overflowing with paintings and drawings, and a folder filled with work from school that Miss Dickson had allowed her to keep when school had broken up last week for the summer holidays.

“Now, whatever else you do in this wilderness that your mad father is taking you to, don’t you dare stop drawing, Jinny Manders,” Miss Dickson had said as she sat at her desk taking a last look at Jinny’s paintings.

“No, Miss Dickson.”

“Get a cardboard box.”

Jinny had brought a box from the shelf at the back of the classroom, and Miss Dickson had taken her into the walk-in cupboard where none of the class was ever allowed to go.

“Now hold that up and let’s see what we can find for you.”

Jinny had held the box while Miss Dickson had filled it with plastic tubes of poster paint, most of them almost empty, but some still half full. She had dropped in a new box of pastels, a tin of used wax crayons, four black felt-tipped pens, two thick paint brushes and a paint-encrusted palette. “You can clean that up for yourself. Vim, hot water and elbow grease.” Then she had reached up to the top shelf, lifted down a thick wad of drawing paper and laid it on top of the box. “Now, remember, don’t you dare stop painting.”

“For me!” Jinny had gasped in astonishment.

Miss Dickson had nodded, and marched out of the cupboard before Jinny had even begun to thank her.
Jinny stretched under the bed, wriggling to reach the box at the furthermost corner. She dragged it out and examined her treasures. She felt like a miser fingering her gold. The thick, squidgy tubes of paint, the prim row of brand-new pastels, the cough sweet tin full of shiny bits of wax crayon, and the thick brushes. Jinny spat on the palette, rubbed one of the brushes into it, and tried the effect of saliva and mud-coloured paint along the edge of a sheet of paper.

“You’re not starting to paint now?” asked Mike, shutting his book and stretching out on his front, with his face hanging over the edge of the bed as he watched his sister.

“’Course not,” said Jinny. “I’m packing them up.” And she began to sort the drawings and paintings into piles.
All the animals that Jinny had been able to find in the city were in her drawings, but mostly they were of horses. There were the ponies who still pulled the carts through the city traffic, some plump and well cared for, but some galled and rheumy-eyed. There were police horses, who always seemed to Jinny to be almost a part of the policemen’s uniform. Despite their shining tack and well-shod hooves, Jinny couldn’t help feeling that nobody loved them. Once, coming home with her family very late on a Sunday night, they had seen a young policeman riding a black horse and leading a bay, galloping them along the deserted street. Jinny looked at her painting of the two galloping police horses, the young man and the high, gloomy buildings. It wasn’t very good – the policeman’s arms were wrong – but the two horses were alive, being horses again instead of hairy Z-cars.

Most of the drawings of people riding were of pupils from Major Young’s riding school. It cost two pounds for an hour’s ride. Now and again, Jinny had saved up enough birthday and Christmas money to have two pound notes to give to Major Young. He didn’t approve of children who arrived in jeans. Incorrect dress, he called it, and kept Jinny out of sight, tucked away in a back paddock, bumping round and round on a stolid, dark brown cob. “Don’t come again until you’re properly kitted out,” the Major would tell her. But it was such a long time between Jinny’s riding lessons that the Major had always forgotten her.

Jinny leafed through her drawings of correctly dressed riding school pupils. Fat, scared girls, clutching their reins in gloved hands; boys who were bored; chatting ladies who looked as if they should have had their knitting with them, and a superior girl who stabled her showjumpers with Major Young.

“The city’s not the place for horses,” Jinny thought. “But Finmory will be.” And Jinny was swamped by the thought that tomorrow she would have left Stopton for ever; that it was true; that it was real. Sea and mountains and a Highland pony to ride.

Page length: 127

Original publication date: 1976

Who's in the book?

Humans: Jinny, Mike, Petra and Mr and Mrs Manders, Ken, Mr MacKenzie, Dolina, Mr Gorman, Miss Tuke.

Horses: Shantih, Bramble, Punch

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