Ron was right. Dora didn't like what she saw.
She heard it first, the baying, anxious voices of hounds, the yipping of hound puppies and the strident bark of the leader of the pack.
"The hunt kennels," she whispered.
"Told yer. Dunno why Mr Walton didn't feed ole Dreamer to the dogs 'ere," said Ron. "That's what they usually do with old horses. The ones what we don't get."
Dora slowly dismounted from the pillion seat on Ron's bike. There was an earthy smell: wet dogs, and an underlying meaty smell that she knew could be dead horse. She retched, and covered her mouth with her hand, trying to think of pleasant things, of Steve, of Copper, of rides in the sun.
Mr Walton sidled over lugubriously; he had the air of a lurcher, rather sly and looked not unlike one, tall, thin and rangy with untidy grey hair and a slightly grey complexion. "I wondered if you'd come here," he said.
Ron felt Dora tense beside him. "Steady, girl. Don't go causin' no trouble," he hissed out of the side of his mouth.
"How can you -?" Dora stammered, then wiped the tears away that were beginning to well from her eyes.
"It's the way of the country," Mr Walton told her, not unkindly. "Hounds have to eat. It's a noble end for old hunters. We kill them humanely. We don't let them dangle on for years, getting thinner and more decrepit and telling ourselves we're doing a favour keeping them alive." For a moment he sneered at her and all that Follyfoot meant to her. "That old mare I gave you - I would have given her to the hounds except I've had two horses given me lately and didn't have room for her. Best to give hounds the horses with more flesh on them."
Dora gasped, then turned and threw up her breakfast, shaking uncontrollably with rage and helplessness. Oh, if the hunt wasn't bad enough, chasing after a fox and letting hounds rip the poor creature to shreds! But to slaughter hunt horses simply because they were getting on, when they could go to another home instead and live for years. It wasn't right! It wasn't!