Author Topic: A New Dawn at Follyfoot  (Read 2711 times)

Offline Rob

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A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« on: November 25, 2009, 12:22:35 AM »
The horsebox bumped along the dark and narrow Yorkshire lane.

“You sure it’s along here?”

“Course I am. Just a few more miles. There’ll be a turning on the right”.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere!”

“That’s the beauty of it, Paddy. Whoever would think of looking here?”

“I still reckon we should’ve looked after him ourselves!”

“What? You and me look after a bleedin’ racehorse? You must be outta your mind. Besides, where’s the first place the RUC and the Garda are gonna look? We had to get him out of Ireland. Mind you, I can’t believe how easy it was to get him from that stud farm. Like taking candy from a baby! They probably won’t even notice he’s gone until after breakfast tomorrow!”

Paddy changed down to second gear for an especially sharp bend. “Gotta take care of the merchandise!” he grunted. “Mick, how did you find out about this Folly-whatever place?”

“Folly-FOOT. Now that’s the beauty of it. A couple of years ago I was working on the ferries to Liverpool. I’d go across in the morning and then have most of the day free before sailing back to Belfast. One day I got talking to this young guy, down on his luck. He was helping out in a garage while his mum was serving teas in this stall for the dockers. I'd just had a bit of luck on the gee-gees and got him a drink - looked like he needed one. He told me about this place where they looked after old horses. I asked him to give me directions - I said I'd look him up if I ever came his way. Of course, I wasna thinking of this little job at the time. I was thinking maybe we could hide some arms or explosives there - seemed ideal, an isolated farm but near big cities like Leeds, Bradford and York... Well, I reckon we're there. Pull over while I get down and open the gate!"

Dora was in the middle of a lovely dream. She and Steve were embracing in the meadow by the lake. Suddenly there was a loud rapping on the door. She jumped out of bed, pulled on her dressing gown, and grabbed a flashlight as she rushed downstairs.

"Yes - what is it?" she asked the thickset, shortish man who was standing there, almost a silhouette. Behind him she could faintly distinguish another man at the wheel of a horsebox.

"We've got a horse for you to look after."

"But why bring him here now? Can't you wait until the morning?"

"Sorry, love!" he replied in his soft Irish brogue. "We had a breakdown. Anyway, this is a very special horse. We just want you to keep him one week, maybe longer. We'll make it worth your while!"

"And how do you propose to do that?"

The Irishman took a fat wad of £5 notes from his pocket, slowly peeled off ten and passed them to Dora. "£50 now, and another fifty when we come to pick him up. And you've got to keep quiet about it".

"Why's that?" asked Dora.

"Well, you see this ere 'oss is valuable, and 'is owner wants him outta harm's way. We've heard you're good with 'osses. Now you just come and help me get him out of the box and into a nice comfy stall!"

"But you haven't even told me his name - or yours!"

"Er - Blue Bacardi. That's him. And I'm Murphy".

"Well, thank you Mr Murphy. Wow - he is gorgeous!"

Dora was speechless as she helped Murphy with the stunning bay colt. He had a white blaze, a little like Copper's. Never in her wildest dreams had she thought such a magnificent animal would ever come to Follyfoot. She led him to the stall that had been empty since the death of poor old Lancelot.

"Better give him some water. We've been on the road longer than I expected."

Dora placed a pail of water in the stall. The horse drank thirstily.

"Well, we'd better be off. Now remember lass - don't tell a soul. Especially not the poliss."

"Why not the police?"

"Well, you know what these country bobbies are like. Just need someone to whisper there's a nice horse up here and you'll have people trying to steal him. You tell nobody. We'll be back in a week, or I'll send a word."

"Right".

"Nice place you've got here. Would be a shame if anything happened to it!"

The door slammed and the horse-box drove away.

"Dora!" She turned and saw Steve standing right behind her, his handsome features creased into a frown. "What was all that about?"

"I've just taken in another horse!"

"At 3am? You must be crazy. And I suppose it's another of your worn-out old nags. Well, I'll make his acquaintance in the morning. l'll try to go back to sleep!"

As Steve returned to his loft, Dora sadly made her way back to the farmhouse. Had that really been a threat? And if she was to tell nobody, then did that include Uncle and Steve? She'd have to give some explanation for the horse's presence!

The human inhabitants of Follyfoot emerged somewhat later than usual the next morning. Dora checked on the horses, and then went to help Slugger with the breakfast. As the eggs turned from yellow to brownish-black, a bleary-eyed Steve put his head around the door.

"Wow - that's a real thoroughbred you've got there! What's his name?"

"Hi Steve! It's Blue Bacardi. His owner's paying us £100 to keep him here for a week!"

"A hundred - " Slugger dropped an egg on the floor.

"And you see", continued Dora, "he's already given me £50. I get the other £50 when he collects him after a week. Just think what we can do with all that money!"

They became aware of the souhd of a motorbike, followed by a bang as Ron kicked open the gate. "I wonder what Ron'll have to say about it!" said Steve. "Sounds just the sort of dodgy thing he'd do!"

They walked out into the yard to greet Ron.

"I think you ought to see the latest addition to Dora's collection" said Steve. "Came in at 3am this morning!"

"Christ Almighty! Another poor old knackered thing, I'll bet!"

"Well, come and have a look!"

Ron followed Steve into Lancelot's old stable. When he saw the occupant his jaw dropped.

"What's up, Ron?"

"Don't you guys ever watch TV or listen to the radio?"

"You recognise this horse, Ron?"

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Offline dave

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2009, 10:38:42 AM »
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Blue Bacardi at Follyfoot.

Offline Jane

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2009, 12:05:43 PM »
Ron, seeing their confused faces, decided to savour the moment. “Can’t believe you two don’t know this ‘orse.” Well famous he is. What I’d like to know is why it’s ‘ere” and he looked innocently and Dora.

“Ron quit mucking about and tell us!” Steve glared at him.

Dora was starting to feel a little afraid. What had she got them all into now? She had known deep-down that there was something not quite right about it all, but she had been mesmerized by the horses’ beauty and wanted him in her yard no matter what the reason.

“It’s only a famous racehorse in it?” Ron said triumphantly. “Gone missing, so it said on the radio this morning.”

“WHAT?” shouted Steve.  He turned towards Dora. He had “that look” which scared her.

“Dora! Who exactly were these people who dropped him off?”

“Um.... well they were Irish I think…and one said his name was Murphy......” she finished lamely.

“Oh Girl what have you done!” Steve cried.

Offline Rob

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2009, 11:34:05 PM »
“Look, Ron, I’m sure there must be some mistake. Mr Murphy told me the horse’s name was Blue Bacardi.”

“You’d believe anything, girl, you would!” said Ron. “What horse won this year’s Grand National?”

“Red Rum. But this definitely isn’t Red Rum!”

Steve looked into her eyes. “Don’t you see, Dora? Red Rum – Blue Bacardi. He just told you the first name that came into his head. And I bet his name isn’t Murphy either!”

Ron had meanwhile pulled out a crumpled newspaper and pointed out the headline:

Sir Gar, Derby Winner Stolen

Even from the smudged black-and-white photograph in the paper it was obvious that this was the same horse.

Steve was speechless. What had Dora got herself involved with now? He thought of calling the police. But then he thought again. He had a criminal record after all: they might suspect him of stealing the horse.

Slugger seemed to be the only person who was still reasonably in control of his emotions. “Let’s all sit down to breakfast and we can talk about what we should do!”

“Well, whatever we do”, replied Dora, “we’ve got to look after him and love him and care for him!”

As Ron and Steve were discussing ever more impossible scenarios, Dora tried to stay calm. She lifted a forkful of bacon and egg to her mouth and put it back untasted. She really had to talk to someone. Not Steve, Ron or Slugger: they were too close. Not her Uncle – well, not yet. Who else was there? She suddenly remembered: Joe Rimmington. He was into showjumping, not racing, but he was involved with top horses on a professional basis and she knew she could trust him. She sneaked out to the office, found his number and dialled it.

“Hello. Joe Rimmington here.”

“Hello, this is Dora. From Follyfoot.”

“Oh Dora! How lovely to hear from you! You haven’t been in touch for ages. Jackie and Angela keep asking after you.”

“Give them my love. I really didn’t want to bother you. I know you must be so busy preparing for the wedding, but…”

“Dora – the wedding’s off. We’ve split up.”

Despite her present troubles, Dora could’t help smiling to herself.

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, it wasn’t working out, with the kids, I mean. We’d always planned to start a family, but in our own good time. And then suddenly she finds herself acting as surrogate mother for two children that aren’t hers. Angela and Jackie are lovely, but they can be hard work! I don't think she was really cut out for motherhood. One day we had a blazing row and she went home to her Ma and Pa and left me holding the babies, so to speak… But enough of my troubles. How are you? Why do you suddenly call me after all these months?”

“Listen, Joe, I’ve got a problem. It’s about a horse. I need to talk with you, but I don’t want anyone else around.”

“Well, I’m free all day. How about it if we meet for lunch at the Clap Gate?”

“Oh Joe – that’ll be great. See you there!”

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Offline squeakytre

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2009, 09:02:42 PM »
Dora rode Copper over to the Clap Gate, a regular and friendly pub, come 'travellers Inn', situated on the banks of the Liverpool Canal.

As she got off her horse, she immediately spotted Joe and smiled at him-her heart began to beat harder. Joe waved back as Dora tied up Copper and she then walked over to him, 'Hello' said Dora.
'Hello to you, please take a seat. What would you like-a small glass of sweetened wine-a drop of light sherry? How about some cider?'
Joe was sat outside on one of the open benches, where other pub goers were chatting over a pint or two, whilst some were eating various lunches.

'Oh, just a small glass of sherry please, said Dora.
Joe got up, 'Just a tick Dora, I'll get it for you, I won't be long.' Joe went into the pub.

Dora sat down opposite to where Joe had sat and immediately began thinking about the two strangers with Irish accents that had turned up out of the blue-and in the dead of night-knocking on her door, with what she thought was another unwanted nag destined for the srapheap or 'horse's graveyard.' Dora slowly sighed and muttered to herself, 'Yes, just another 'unwanted horse' that really needs love, care and attention'.
But instead, and to her complete surprise and utter astonishment, had turned out to be a famous racehorse! Dora suddenly became self conscious and blushed slightly as she glanced around at the other people sat down-some were reading newspapers.
Joe came back out with a glass in one hand and sat back down again in front of Dora. He passed her the drink, 'there you are Dora- Ive also ordered us both a lovely meal too-are you famished?
Dora was- but wanted to get something else of her mind first, 'Joe, I think I may have a slight problem on my hands.......         

Offline Jane

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2009, 11:03:35 AM »
Dora felt a bit silly sitting at the table with curious onlookers gawping at her. She rarely went to pubs or parties. Joe, however, was well-known in the village and often went for a drink at the Clap Gate Inn. The locals were wondering who this pretty girl was, sitting with Joe.

“Come on then” said Joe “spill the beans! Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad surely.”

“Oh but it is Joe” said Dora trying not to catch the eye of anyone looking in her direction.

“I’ve really done it this time. We have a stolen racehorse at the farm at it’s all my fault!” and with that she collapsed in tears much to the astonishment of the watching crowd.

Joe stared at her in disbelief.

“It’s true Joe” Dora wailed loudly “it’s the stolen racehorse everyone’s looking for.”

“Shhh….keep your voice down!” hissed Joe.

The curious onlookers were all ears. One man quietly slipped from his seat and made his way to the nearest telephone box …..

Offline Loopy

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 01:52:50 PM »
"Look, drink up Dora.  I think we'd better go somewhere more private."  Dora looked at Joe and nodded.  She downed her sherry in one gulp and Joe had to smile to himself.  For somebody who doesn't drink, he thought, she knows how to empty a glass!  Joe cancelled the meals and they left the pub.  "Lucky we're both riding horses." Joe said as they lifted themselves onto their mounts.  "Come on, let's go to my place." he said as he turned his horse around.  Dora felt herself blush and she lowered her eyes from his.  Joe smiled again.  "We'll go the long way round - it's much prettier and the ride will do you good." he said. 

When they finally arrived at his house, emerging from the woodland that surrounded three sides of the huge garden, they were shocked to see a police car outside. "Stay here in the trees Dora." he whispered.  "I'll go and see what they want."

Dora watched as Joe rode towards the policeman who was standing by the door of the car on his radio.  She was so frightened.  Why had she been so stupid taking an unknown horse from very dodgy men in the middle of the night?  What had possessed her?  She'd put everybody at risk... and now even Joe Rimmington was probably lying for her.  The tears started running down her worried face.


Someone's got to care

Offline Rob

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2009, 10:08:14 PM »
Meanwhile, back at the farm, Steve, Slugger and Ron were trying to concentrate on work as usual.

"Where's Dora gone?" asked Slugger. "She never said she'd be all this time!"

"Now, I 'appen to know that she's gone off for a secret rond-ay-vous!" swaggered Ron, "an' I know with who!"

"What's that?" asked Steve. Relations between himself and Dora had been a bit strained these last few weeks. He had been wondering where Dora had gone. He thought she was probably with the Colonel, or maybe had just ridden down to the woods on Copper to be on her own.

"Well, I 'eard her talking on the phone, and it was Uncle Joe himself!"

"Joe Rimmington? You're joking!"

"Now why would I lie about a thing like that? What's the matter, lover-boy? Jealous are we? And I know you got a letter from Tina the Gipsy Girl the other day!"

"Now, you, shut up!" Steve lunged at Ron with a pitchfork.

"Hey, break it up you two!" Slugger came between them. There's still work to do!"

Just then the telephone started ringing. Ron rushed to the Colonel's study to pick it up.

"Now would that be Follyfoot Farm?" The Irish accent was unmistakeable.

"Who is it that wants to know?"

"Look, don't mess me around! I need to speak to the young lady - Dora her name was."

"Well, she's not here. This is - um - her business partner, John Smith,"

"Now, Mr Smith, you've got something very valuable you're looking after for us!"

"Oh - that! Yes, it's quite safe here!"

"Dora's not gone and told the polliss, has she?"

"No, course not. We don't really like having the police around 'ere. Anyway, our local bobby's about as thick as two short planks. If a burglar walked past him with a big sack marked 'Swag' he wouldn't notice".

"Glad to here it. Well, tell Dora that we've had to change our plans. We'll be coming to see her this afternoon!"

The phone went dead. "Strewth! What are these guys playing at?" exclaimed Ron out loud.

"Hey, Ron!". He looked around and saw Hazel, who came up most days to help in the stables.

"Are you alright? You look as if you've seen a ghost or something! I've just been looking at that wonderful new horse you've got in old Lancelot's stall..."

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Offline Sabrina

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2009, 10:27:01 PM »
"We've had a report of a break in, sir." The constable whipped his notebook out of his pocket with a flourish. "One of your neighbours reported a stranger on your property at 1.35 pm. I've had a look at the property and while the house appears to be secure your stables seem to have been interfered with."

Joe felt the blood run from his face. His new showjumper, Fast Star. What if anything had happened to him? He turned his mount and kicked the surprised horse into a canter down the driveway towards the stables.

Dora had already dismounted from Copper and was surveying the open stable doors with horror. Where were the horses?

The feed shed door was open and a contented chestnut rump poked out of the door. A bay pony was sniffing around the muck heap. An elegant grey had jumped the fence and was in the field gorging on verdant grass and lucerne. She peered around. How many horses did Joe have? She couldn't remember.

Joe clattered into the yard and heaved a sigh of relief at the chestnut rump. Fast Star hadn't been stolen, then! But he felt that this was somehow Dora's fault; whatever she was mixed up in was touching him, too.

The constable caught up with them. "Just pranksters, then? Nothing stolen?"

"Doesn't seem to be," Joe said curtly, checking the tack room. Some of his saddles were worth hundreds of pounds.

"I'll keep an eye out in the village then sir," the bobby said, and proceeded - there was no other word to describe his stately walk - back down the driveway.

Dora bit her thumb. "Joe, I must go. This is worse than I thought. I'm in trouble, and now you're in trouble too."

"What IS going on?" Joe snapped at her, holding Copper's bridle.

"I think we've got Shergar at Follyfoot." Copper tossed his head and freed his reins, and Dora pushed him into a canter.

"Of course you have," Joe muttered. "Nothing would surprise me about that place." Suddenly Dora didn't seem as attractive any more. He thought she was a decent person, rescuing unwanted horses; not an accomplice to a horse thief.  Sighing, he set about catching his horses and putting them back in their stables.
Cheers,
Sabrina
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Offline squeakytre

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 08:58:57 PM »
'Listen Hazel, wev'e got real problems with that horse-we have'- Ron looked hard at Hazel.

'How come?' Hazel smiled broadly at Ron-usually Ron would smile back -but this time his face looked very serious, Hazel thought.

'That horse you've just been admiring girl-well he's been stolen-an' the people who hav' nicked him, are coming around this very afternoon to see Dora!'

'Stolen-why would Dora except a stolen horse?' Are you behind this Ron?'   

Ron didn't answer -he was thinking much harder than usual, 'I've got an idea, what if we let them take the horse away, say Dora's not interested-an' besides, she only takes in nags- follow them in the jeep, see if they hide him again somwhere, find out what the reward is for his safe return-then tell the race owners we know where he's been hidden-an' ole Ron will buy you a drink in the 'Hound and Hares!'

Hazel laughed at Ron's warped logic- she was all for an adventure- but following a gang of crooks all over the countryside? What would happen if the Colonel found out out or worse still-what if the horse thieves knew that they were being followed and decided to shoot back at them! 'Ron, you've been watching too many cowboys an' indians films! wouldn't it be best if we just let the Colonel know about this race horse and he can deal with them instead.'

'We can't do that girl, cos that means the police will be involved an' Dora's in a lot of trouble already. We've got to put our thinking caps on and work something out.' Ron began to think.

Hazel then said, 'I know what to do Ron.'
 

Offline squeakytre

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2009, 11:24:36 PM »
'Yeah- an' I suppose you will get your reward too, Hazel-an' then live happily ever after, swanin' it up on some far away luxury desert island'. Steve had overheard everything that both Ron and Hazel had been discusing.

'Leave it out Steve', said Ron. 'Can't you see Dora's in trouble? What happens if these guys get nasty- an' threaten her-then what?'

'Look Ron, said Steve, 'It's clear they wanted to hide the horse here and then to wait until the coast is clear, an' then to move it on again- until they are ready to demand a ransom or something'. Steve was exasperated, 'But it looks like they've changed their plans, and they might decide to move him now. Dora is up to her neck in this-wev'e got to do something!'

'Well maybe we can'. Hazel had been in the stable earlier on, admiring the thorough,bred race horse and wondered who it had belonged to. 'I think if we were to secretly mark it's coat somewhere, we could then point it out to the crooks that the mark was already there. They would then think the owners did it -in case the horse ever got stolen-meaning every one for miles around would have been told what to look out for'. 'They wouldn't think they would be able to sell him so easily-so they would have to definately take him away an' hide him elsewhere-away from Dora and Follyfoot Farm.'

Hazel continued, 'In the meantime, Ron could tell all his mates to look out for these crooks an' their horsebox-follow them from a distance, an' find out where they next hide him,' Hazel hesitated, the others, including Slugger were now listening intently, 'And then,when it's dark, take the horse away- load him up half a mile away - and drop him off in a field somewhere. We can also tie him up Ron, then I can go and tell the owners, Iv'e seen a horse- which I think is theirs-I'm sure they would be really pleased.'       

Offline Rob

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2009, 03:10:20 PM »
After making sure everything was secure, Joe offered to drive Dora back to the farm, but she said she'd prefer to take Copper.

"At least let me ride with you. I've no idea what sort of mess you're getting into but you really shouldn't be on your own!"

"Right, Joe. But please - only as far as the turning for Follyfoot. If Murphy comes back I don't want him to know I've told you."

The rode in silence along the Harewood Road and then Dora eased Copper into the side turn that led to Follyfoot. She waved  goodbye to Joe and headed down the path on Copper. Suddenly a man came out in front of them, carrying a gun.

"Stop, girl, if ya know what's good for you!"

"Mr Murphy!" Dora brought Copper to a halt.

"Now you haven't been tellin' anyone 'bout this 'oss, have you?"

"No, of course not. I promise I haven't!"

"Glad to hear it. But unfortunately someone else has been talking. We left a note with the orse's owners not to say anything. But they went and called the pollis right away. It's not your fault, girl, but we've got to get rid of the 'oss now!"

"What, you mean move him to another farm?"

"No, miss. Kill him."

Dora then noticed that Murphy's horsebox had been parked along the side of the lane, half-hidden by overhanging branches. She could just make out the face of the second man in the cab.

"I can do it quietly, see. He won't feel a thing, and hereabouts there's so many farmers shooting rabbits or ganme, who's gonna notice one little shot? We'll give you the fifty quid, like I promised. But you've got to forget you ever saw us!"

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Offline Jane

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2009, 01:09:43 PM »
Dora gasped in horror.  She must save” Blue Bacardi” from these awful men. She was angry with herself for being foolish enough taking the horse in the first place and that anger spurred her on.

 “No!” she shouted, pushing Copper forward into the man. He fell backwards into the hedge and dropped the gun. She urged Copper into a gallop and they sped up the path towards the farm.

“Hey steady on girl!” Steve shouted as they raced into the yard. He grabbed Coppers reins to steady him. She fell into his arms sobbing “They’re going to kill him!”

“Kill who? Calm down, you’re not making any sense.”

“Blue Bacardi…men down in the lane have a gun….going to shoot him” she spluttered.

“Oh I shouldn’t worry about that.” Steve smiled at her.

Dora stared at him in confusion. “What do you mean not to worry about it? Don’t you care what happens to him?” she looked at him in disgust.

“What I mean is…” he said, and winked at her “….the horse isn’t here anymore!”

She suddenly felt tired. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore. Maybe it was a dream and she’d wake up in the morning to find the Irishmen and Blue Bacardi had never been here. She shook her head. Steve was talking to her. What was he saying? She tried to concentrate.

“Are you listening Dora? I said Ron and Hazel hatched a plan to sort out this mess. Just as well they did by all accounts. Dora…Dora!” he shouted, but she had fainted….

Offline squeakytre

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2009, 01:44:38 PM »
Paddy and Mick were fuming that 'the girl' on horseback, had not only ignored their demands but had decided to shove Mick unceremoniously into the hedge! Then gallop off -without the hint of an apology or even remorse!

Not only that, Dora also still had their horse (or rather a stolen one-and soon to be a dead one)- back at her place!

Paddy drove the horsebox in one direction only-Follyfoot farm! Both men were talking fast and shaking with adrenilin-'I knew we should not have left the horse with that girl-we should have hid him ourselves! said Paddy, 'And now she's gonna tell the police!

'That may or may not be so', replied Mick, 'But we were not to know she would panic an' leave us in the lurch like this! All we can do now is get to that farm pronto, an' do the business quickly- an' then scarper! Mick then added, 'Ha what about taking the girl with us instead?' and looked at Paddy with a leer, 'She would be worth a lot more to some!'

Both men laughed spontaneously at their dark humour. As they rounded the bend they could see Follyfoot farm in the distance, and a girl next to her horse, with a young man. As the horsebox approached closer, the men were on a mission-and they both meant business this time! 

Offline Rob

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Re: New story - A New Dawn at Follyfoot
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2010, 11:15:35 PM »
Murphy pulled out his gun and grabbed the girl from behind.

“Now, look here!” began Steve.

Paddy struck him across the face. “You tell us where the ‘oss is, or the girl gets it!”

“Now don’t I know you from somewhere? Of course, that pub in Liverpool. I led you straight to this place. I’m sorry, Dora, it’s all my fault!”

“What do you mean, Steve?” Tears were running down her cheeks.

Murphy spoke up. “Paddy, you go and search the stables. Any problems with this lad and I’ll deal with the girl!”

Paddy ran up to the first barn. He looked in all the stalls but all he could see were old nags. He then moved to the next building. He didn’t see the shovel that hit him on the back of the head and laid him out cold!

“Now” said Slugger to himself, as he crept out from behind the door where he’d been hiding, “that was quite a neat bit of work, even if I do say so myself!” He picked up the Irishman’s gun and strode out into the yard, where a helpless Steve looked on as Murphy held his revolver to Dora’s head.

“If you know what’s good for you, old man, you’ll put that gun down straight away!” shouted Murphy.

“You leave the girl alone, you great bully!”

Murphy turned towards Slugger, raising the gun. Suddenly his body jerked forward and a shot ran out as the gun fired harmlessly into the air. Dora gazed in amazement as Joe Rimmington turned towards her.

“You didn’t think I’d leave you on your own, did you? I crept up along the track without them seeing me. A little trick I learned during my military service in Malaysia! Now, Steve, will you help me tie this fellow up? And Slugger, make sure the other is well secured! And, after that, I think we should call the police!”

Dora disappeared into the farmhouse and came back with some strong rope. They gagged the protesting Murphy and tied him to the stout trunk of the Lightning Tree. Slugger tied Paddy’s hands and feet and shut him in one of the stalls. He hadn’t regained consciousness. Slugger shrugged his shoulders and went to the kitchen. This sort of thing made him feel like a good cup of tea.

Dora, Steve and Joe were sitting on the grass by the lake when Slugger brought them the mugs of tea.

“What I don’t understand”, began Dora, “is where on earth is Blue Bacardi? Or Ron and Hazel, for that matter?” …





People who don't like cats were probably mice in an earlier life.