walked up the breezeway towards Destiny's stall. He whistled
a little tune as he walked. It had taken a bit of time
to clean out the watchman's room. Sam had offered to help,
but one look at Trina had convinced him not to accept.
He could tell the little blonde did not trust him, but
Sam was nice. Mac smiled a bit at the memory of her large,
dark eyes, then shook himself and forced the thought from
his mind. She was far too young for his mature seventeen
munched the hay in her trough then pricked her ears at
a familiar sound, a sound she hadn't heard in a very long
time. Curious she walked to her stall door, now always
left open at the top, and poked her head out. The figure
walking towards her looked familiar.
usually filled Destiny around strangers, but something
about this man didn't make her afraid. She twitched her
ears in uncertainty.
Destiny," Mac said. He reached Destiny's stall and
gently reached out his hand placing it on the filly's
forehead and stroking gently. His throat thickened and
he fought back a torrent of very unmanly tears.
tossed her head, her ears alert. She knew this person.
Knew his smell, his voice, his touch. Mac. He had cared
for her. He was good to her. He always had treats. Destiny
snuffled his shirt, searching for the hidden snacks.
laughed and pulled an oat cookie from his pocket. "I
haven't forgotten girl. You've been through a bad patch,
but I can see you're still the princess." Mac gave
Destiny the cookie, then gently wrapped his arms around
her neck. Destiny rested her head on his shoulder as she
crunched her treat. This is how Katrina and Samantha found
them when they returned from their chores.
don't lie," said Samantha.
hate it when you are right," Katrina replied with
a sigh. Samantha had spent the last two hours trying to
convince Katrina that Mac wasn't the enemy. "No one
but the two of us has ever been able to get that close
to her. I guess we should trust him. Though I am a bit
jealous. It took us forever to get her to trust us and
he just walks right up."
give him a break, Trina," Samantha said. "For
Destiny's sake. She needs all the friends she can get."
right," Katrina said, still feeling a little cross.
"I guess he seems OK. At least he's not such a know-it-all
like some of the other grooms working here."
turned when he heard the two girls approach. "Sorry,"
he said. "I know. This section closed to the public.
I just had to say a proper hello."
OK," Samantha said smiling. "I don't think you're
'public' anymore. Destiny seems to know you and that's
good enough for us. Right, Trina?" Samantha elbowed
right," Katrina stumbled and tried to put a bit of
a smile on her face. "And, thanks for telling us
who she is. She's clearly a special horse. Now we know
smiled and blushed a bit. Having a fair complexion had
its disadvantages. "I'm just happy she remembers
me," Mac said, turning and running his hand down
Destiny's white blaze. "The stable manager sacked
me right after we weaned her. Left that lazy, old groom,
Sneed, to take care of the whole lot. I tried to come
and check on her, but he chased me off with a pitch-fork.
probably who beat her," said Katrina her eyes blazing.
"If I ever see him again
nodded his head. "I wouldn't put it past him,"
said Mac. "He was very rough on the horses, especially
when he was drinking. You two have done a terrific job
caring for her. Can you tell me more about what happened?"
said Samantha. "But Trina and I are famished. We're
heading into town for some fish and chips. Patricia gave
us some money and said to drag you along."
are you coming?" added Katrina, a wicked little smile
on her face. "Or, do we have to tie you up and drag
Mac looked a little shocked as he tried to decide if Katrina
was kidding or serious.
come on!" laughed Samantha, grabbing his arm and
tugging him forward. "She's kidding. Aren't you,
Trina?" Samantha added with a very pointed look at
her friend that clearly said "behave, or else."
laughed, grabbing Mac's other arm, and the three headed
to town for dinner.
stuffing themselves with fish and chips and ice cream
then taking in a movie, Samantha, Katrina and Mac headed
back to the stable. The hour was late and a new moon shed
little light. As the three approached Rosewood, they noticed
an old lorrie parked by the side of the road.
have broken down," said Katrina.
the driver is up at the office looking for a phone,"
awfully late and the office is locked," said Katrina.
"We better go check." The three approached the
stable. The main gate was open, but no one seemed about.
odd," said Katrina. "Ever since Patricia had
that gate fixed it's closed as soon as she leaves for
the day. She's never left it open."
got a bad feeling," said Samantha.
too," said Katrina. "Mac, will you close the
gate and put the lock around it. If someone is here that
shouldn't be, they won't be leaving the easy way."
someone should call Mrs. Prescott," said Mac.
anyone could respond a blood-curdling squeal filled the
damp, night air. All three turned towards the stable.
Samantha yelled and started running. As the three rounded
the corner to the row of stalls where Destiny was housed
they saw the silhouette of a man. He had a rope around
Destiny's neck and a whip in his hand.
squealed again and reared, striking out with her feet
at the man. Mac and the girls watched in horror as the
man dropped to the ground. Destiny charged forward and
disappeared into the night.
ran to the man on the ground. In the dim light he could
see the head wound delivered by Destiny's hoof. Samantha
flinched and looked away.
he said. "What is he doing here?"
he... is he dead?" asked Katrina.
rolled Sneed onto his back. The man groaned with the movement.
"Clearly, not," said Mac. "We better tie
him up and call the police. The last time I checked, horse
stealing was a crime."
got to find Destiny," Samantha cried, desperately
looking out into the dark.
two go," said Mac. "I'll call the police."
Mac," Katrina said gratefully, then grabbed Destiny's
halter and lead rope and followed Samantha in the direction
Destiny had disappeared.
girls found Destiny a short distance away. The rope around
her neck had gotten snagged. She fought the rope and her
confinement, her body drenched in the sweat of fear and
desperation. Both girls new better than to try approaching
her. Horses are large animals capable of inflicting injury
on their much smaller and more fragile human counterparts.
girl," Samantha called out soothingly.
ears twitched hearing the voice. She snorted and pulled
again on the rope.
Katrina said. "At the end of this alley is a holding
pen. If we set up the gates, we can cut the rope and just
drive her down there. Then she can settle down on her
own in the safety of the pen.
idea Trina," said Samantha, her worried eyes never
leaving the desperate filly. "Can you set it up while
I continue to talk to her?"
agreed Katrina. "But don't go near her. Promise?
It's not safe."
I promise," said Samantha. "Now go. Hurry."
quietly moved her way around Destiny and then ran as fast
as she could down the alley. In a few moments she had
set the gates to create a trap at the end of the alley
into the holding pen. In a last minute inspiration she
turned the lights on, illuminating the area. Horses didn't
have the best night vision-she didn't need Destiny to
run them over by accident.
she returned she could see that Destiny had calmed a little,
but she still was not safe to approach. At least there
was a little slack in the rope. While Samantha continued
to talk to her, Katrina inched forward. Using her pocket
knife she started to cut through the rope where it had
snagged. Just as Katrina was nearly through, Destiny spooked
again, the rope instantly going taught then snapping.
Katrina jumped back as Destiny ran down the alley toward
the pen. In fast pursuit, the girls reached the pen just
as Destiny encountered the back fence and began to turn.
grabbed the gate and started to swing it shut. Destiny
hit the gate just as the latch was closed. The gate clanged
and bowed but held. If it hadn't Katrina would have taken
the full force from the charging horse.
jumped back. "Ok," she said in a weak voice.
"We won't tell anyone about that particular weakness
in our plan."
her heart racing, agreed. At least Destiny was safe. Hopefully
she would calm down soon and they could check her for
Sneed put one mark on her hide," said Katrina. "I'll
don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pretty!"
going to stay here with her," said Samantha. "Trina,
can you go find Mac and call Patricia if no one has yet?"
OK," said Katrina. "Wait here. I'll be back
in a few minutes." Katrina jogged off in the direction
of the office, her mind racing with the events of the
night. Why was Sneed trying to steal Destiny? Hopefully
the man wasn't injured too badly. Would Destiny be blamed
for hurting him? She didn't like that thought at all.
The man was horrible. The horse had a right to defend
herself. He had a whip after all!
Katrina and Mac stood outside Destiny's stall. Patricia
and her husband had joined them. The filly dozed, her
eyes half closed, while the group talked about the events
The weeks following Destiny's near abduction by Sneed
had been worrisome for all. Sneed spent some time in the
hospital recovering from his head wound. Destiny had been
placed in quarantine until the circumstances of the attack
could be sorted out. When Sneed finally recovered enough
to be questioned by the police, it took little time to
discover the truth.
had been paid by Rosewood's former owners to hide Destiny.
They intended to sell her through a secret sale, allowing
them to keep the money they would have otherwise had to
forfeit. Sneed had been instructed to move the filly to
a new stable as soon as Rosewood was emptied, but had
botched the job, pocketing the rent money for Destiny's
board and leaving her at Rosewood. He hadn't anticipated
Patricia Prescott's appearance so soon after the sale
nor his being discovered and banned from the site. He
had tried several times to retrieve the horse, but her
night and day care by Katrina and Samantha had made it
their investigation, the police also discovered Destiny's
full papers. Howard Prescott had already filed with the
court to lay claim to ownership based on the agreement
signed during the purchase of the stable. Since Destiny
was part of the stable when sold, she was part of the
sale and therefore belonged to the Prescott's. Of course
their ownership would be challenged, but Howard was sure
their legal rights would hold.
she can stay?" asked Samantha.
said Howard. "At least for now, but I'm certain of
our rights. We now own a race horse, though I have no
idea what we will do with her?" He turned and looked
at his wife. Worried by the wistful look he saw in her
eyes he said, "Now Patricia. You can't possibly
sighed. "Maybe we can't," she paused and then
winked at Mac. "And maybe we can. After all, we already
have a jockey."
smiled. The Prescott's had offered him a job. It would
be some time before Destiny was ready for her first race,
but there was plenty to learn in the meantime. Mrs. Prescott
turned out to be quite a source of knowledge about horses
and training. Mac wouldn't mind staying and learning from
her. Besides, it meant staying near Samantha as well.
Katrina watched as Samantha and Mac smiled at one another.
"Oh brother," she said rolling her eyes. Turning
her attention back to Patricia she asked, "So you
think she'll race one day, Patricia?"
took a moment to answer. She reached for Destiny's velvet
muzzle, tickling it and making it quiver.
Trina," she said. "She still has a ways to go
before she's fully fit. Fortunately Sneed didn't hurt
her further and she seems to have gotten over her scare.
Corralling her in that pen was a bit of genius. However,
I meant to ask you two, how did the gate get so bent?"
and Samantha looked anywhere but at Patricia's questioning
hmmm," Patrica said. "I can see we need to have
a little talk about safety, but I guess that can wait
for another time."
and Samantha looked up in relief. Mac and Howard were
trying desperately not to laugh.
least Destiny is safe now," Patricia continued, "with
plenty of friends to look after her."
pulled a cookie from his pocket and placed the treat under
Destiny's nose. The filly roused fully from her snooze
and delicately accepted the snack.
Mac!" Samantha exclaimed. "You've got to stop
filling her with treats. She's going to be as big as a
nothing but bones," Mac said defending himself.
anymore," piped in Katrina. "Have you taken
a good look lately. We're going to have to increase her
took her husband's arm and quietly headed back to the
office, leaving Mac and the girls in a friendly argument.
dear," she said. "Having a race horse isn't
that much trouble when you have some help."
Prescott put his hand to his forehead and shaking his
head said, "heaven help us."