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."
"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?"