The White Horse Trick

The White Horse Trick by Kate Thompson

Book: The White Horse Trick by Kate Thompson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kate Thompson
her belly. Aengus drew up his feet to keep them clear of the surface,then gave up and dropped them in. The rain was still coming down in buckets and he couldn’t get any wetter than he already was. For a while he quite enjoyed it, sloshing along through the turlough, trailing his feet. But then, without warning, the mare lost her footing and plunged into deep water. Aengus clung to her mane with one hand and the apple basket with the other. She lunged and floundered, searching for firm footing under the water. Eventually she found it and hauled herself up, with Aengus still somehow on board and clinging on for all he was worth.
    She stood trembling, blowing hard. She was still up to her belly in water, and Aengus couldn’t see what she was standing on now, or what lay ahead or behind.
    ‘Not your fault,’ he said to her. ‘It’s the council that’s to blame, I suppose. They never did look after the roads properly.’
    The mare snorted.
    ‘Oh, that’d be right,’ Aengus said. ‘No councils any more with all that’s going on. Still and all, you’d think somebody ought to do it.’
    He kicked her on and she moved cautiously forward, but she seemed very uncertain of her footing now, and Aengus began to wonder whether they were actually following the road at all. There was no evidence of it. Any walls there might have been were submerged beneath the turlough, and the hedgerows that would have been markers in times gone by were history now. Gone up insmoke. There was no kind of landmark anywhere, other than the occasional rocky or grassy hump that broke the surface here and there. And the rain was falling so heavily that Aengus couldn’t even make out the distant hills he was heading for. He and the mare were lost and alone on the endless flooded plain, and neither of them had the faintest idea what to do.

    Aisling and JJ were sitting on the quay, chewing the rag with the wet people and getting up to date on the happenings in Ireland. They didn’t pause for breath when a sparrowhawk landed on a beer barrel and turned into Jenny, but the wet people did, and the conversation came to an abrupt halt.
    ‘There’s all this stuff up by the fort,’ Jenny said to Aisling. ‘Books and instruments. Piles of music.’
    ‘Music?’ said Aisling eagerly.
    ‘Boxes of it. But the thing is, Granddad doesn’t believe in it and he’s threatening to throw it all back and seal the time skin.’
    ‘Why would he do that?’ said JJ.
    ‘He’s got a bee in his bonnet about refugees,’ said Jenny. ‘Go up and talk to him, will you? Convince him the music is worth hanging on to. And stop him from sealing the time skin while I go over and find Dad.’
    ‘But Dad’s here,’ said Aisling, pointing at JJ.
    ‘Not that dad, stupid,’ said Jenny. ‘The other one.’
    * * *
    The other one, stranded on the horse in the flood, had decided it was probably safe to turn into a raven again and go the rest of the way on wings. But the problem of what to do with the apples was perplexing him. He had bought them, after all, fair and square. Well, not exactly fair and square, perhaps, but they were his, nonetheless. He never got hungry in Tír na n’Óg but he did over here, and from what he could ascertain, apples were a rare and valuable commodity. He was reluctant to abandon them.
    While he struggled with this difficulty, the weather changed again. A sharp little squall slapped a bucketful of heavy rain against his face. The mare lifted her head and twitched her ears. Another squall, even sharper, lifted a tiny wave that sloshed over the mare’s chest and up around Aengus’s knees. There was a strange, leaden pause in the rain, and then the wind hit Aengus like an invisible fist; so hard that it almost knocked him out of the saddle. He clutched his precious apple basket in one hand and the reins in the other. He cursed the wind but praised his greed for apples, because without it he would have already been up aloft in that gale. And

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