To Linda

my third sister

my second mother

my first friend

Chapter 1

Chloe shrieked when her posterior hit the mud. It was an extremely wet patch of mud, and the force of her landing sent her skidding backwards. She ended up half-lying, half-sitting, where the puddle met the tangled roots of an ancient oak. She listened to the swift tattoo of Thunder’s departing hooves with a calm born of despair.

Stranded. In the mud. She might have known her morning would end this way.

It had been the first sunny morning in what seemed like ages, and Chloe had been so heartily sick of life indoors that she had jumped at the chance to try out Father’s new gelding. Wiggins had told her the brute was too big for her. Wiggins had been right, as usual. Although she had held Thunder admirably for a good long while; even galloped him across the Two-Mile Run. She did wish someone had seen her then!

Well, no one had seen her then. But someone was about to see her now. That was unmistakably the sound of an approaching horse.

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