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Jane Badger Books

Victoria Eveleigh: Midnight on Lundy (eBook)

Victoria Eveleigh: Midnight on Lundy (eBook)

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The island of Lundy is twelve-year-old Jenny’s world. But soon she must go to boarding school on the mainland, leaving behind everything she loves, including Midnight, the wild stallion she has secretly befriended …

Jenny has never lived away from the island, and her small world is about to become much larger. School is difficult to accept at first, particularly when she has Midnight's fate always gnawing at her mind. Jenny has much to come to terms with: her father's new partner, her own new friendships, and Midnight. Can it ever be right to take away a wild thing's freedom?

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Read a sample

Jenny fled up the stony track from the village. “I won’t go! I won’t!” she shouted.

The wind snatched her words and carried them over the sea towards the mainland – towards that other world which had played little part in her life, until now.

“I’m perfectly happy living with Dad,” she said to herself, “and I’ve got plenty of friends. There are the islanders, lighthouse-keepers, fishermen, summer workers, visitors; you can’t have many more friends than that! So why does Dad think I need to make friends and learn about the world? Why will it be good for me to go away to that stupid school?”

“Stupid, stupid school”, Jenny screamed into the wind.
She struggled to shut the gate at Quarter Wall. Then she turned and ran, with the wind chasing her, towards the quarries.

What if nobody likes me? she worried. What if I don’t like them? It’ll be like going to prison. Miles from Lundy, miles from Dad and, worst of all, miles from Midnight.

Jenny couldn’t remember life without Midnight. He’d been the herd stallion since before she was born. He was the king, and Lundy was his kingdom. He roamed where he liked, jumping the walls with ease, and he took orders from nobody. Everyone who had tried to catch and tame him had failed miserably. Everyone except Jenny – but that was their secret.

Jenny picked her way down the slippery path to the old quarries, knowing where she’d choose to shelter from a south-westerly gale if she were a pony.

She was right. The ponies were in the second quarry, protected from the elements by the massive walls which made a kind of open cave looking out to sea. It was a peaceful sanctuary, while the storm raged all around and waves crashed against the rocks below.

Three foals had been born so far. Jenny sat down on a slab of granite, and watched as they played together. She loved their ruffled, fluffy coats. Two foals were a creamy colour with pale grey legs. They’d probably end up golden dun with black points, like Midnight.

The third was a light roan. Foals had to be the best baby animals in the world.

The mares dozed or wandered around picking at the plants that grew between the stones. They took no notice of the small, slender girl in their midst.

Jenny had spent so much time with the ponies that they probably thought she was another feral animal – once domesticated but now wild, like them. She liked the idea. Mrs Hamilton was always calling her a wild child.

“Why, oh why?” Jenny cried out, startling a couple of mares nearby. “Oops, sorry!” she said, lowering her voice. “I mean, why does anything have to change? Why can’t Mrs Hamilton carry on teaching me? She must have done a pretty good job so far, or I wouldn’t have got that scholarship, would I? And why was I told that exam was just a test to see how well I was doing?” She gazed at the idyllic scene before her, and sighed. “I can’t go away! I can’t!” she said.

As if in agreement, Midnight walked up and nuzzled her short brown hair.

Jenny looked into his extraordinary midnight-blue eyes. “I wish I was a pony, Midnight. Life’s simple for you, isn’t it? You don’t have to worry about exams and schools, or being sent to the mainland. All you have to do is find water, food and shelter.” Midnight gave a snort.

Jenny’s cold fingers snuggled into the warm, soft hair under his thick mane. “Okay, so you have to take care of the mares and foals, I suppose, but that’s not a hard job, is it? They pretty well take care of themselves, leaving you plenty of time to do as you please.” She stood up on the granite slab and leaned over Midnight’s broad back.
He shifted his weight slightly, but didn’t move away.
Without a second thought, Jenny leapt lightly onto him, and sat there as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It didn’t even occur to her that riding a wild stallion without a saddle or bridle was dangerous.

He wandered along the old quarry terrace, nibbling at the sparse vegetation. Jenny just sat there and talked about anything and everything.

Midnight and Jenny seemed to have an understanding; he allowed her to sit on his back, and she let him do as he pleased – mainly because she didn’t know how to get him to do anything else.

“I wish I could ride properly,” Jenny told him. “Then we could gallop over the island, jumping everything in our way. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Riding lessons were the one thing Jenny longed for which she couldn’t get on Lundy. Nobody else on the island seemed particularly interested in the ponies, beyond the fact they were nice to look at and had become a traditional part of Lundy – almost as popular as puffins with the tourists.

If only Mum … Jenny began to think, and then stopped herself. Dad said “if onlys” could drive you mad, and he was right.

By the time they got back to the quarry, Jenny’s jeans were cold and clammy from Midnight’s damp coat. They clung uncomfortably, chilling her body to shivering point.
“Time to go home and face the music,” she said, giving Midnight a farewell rub on his shoulder. His lips quivered in ecstasy, and his eyes started to close.

“You big baby!” she teased. “It’s lucky nobody else knows what a softy you are. Promise me you’ll stay wild with everyone else, won’t you? You’ll stay safe and free as long as you’re wild.”

Midnight nudged Jenny with his nose. “Good boy,” she said, scratching him under his chin. “Now, I really must be going.”

Page length: 214

Original publication date: 2009

Who's in the book?

Human: Jenny, her father, Sheila, Isabella, Ben, Albert, Mrs Hamilton, Mr Bonham, Frances, Miss Nash
Equine: Midnight, Kit, Rosie, Gale

Other titles published as

A Stallion Called Midnight

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