Riders
minutes.”
    “Maniac,” said Christopher Crossley, whose horse was leaping around as if someone was burning the grass under its feet, its nostrils as red as a poppy. Jake, who was trying to sooth a trembling, sweating Africa, admired the way Christopher went into the ring, and jumped a beautiful round, only taking a brick out of the wall.
    Lavinia Greenslade’s gray, however, who’d been completely unhinged by the guns, crashed round the course, leaving it as if an earthquake had hit it.
    Once again Jake had to wait until it was repaired, the strain telling on both his and Africa’s nerves.
    “Bad luck,” said Christopher Crossley, as Lavinia rode out, looking furious.
    “I’m going to object,” she said.
    Molly Maxwell joined Colonel Carter.
    “Are you having a cease-fire?” she said with a giggle.
    “Bloody Gordon, insisted on finishing his jumping.”
    “You should have started half an hour ago,” said Molly. “I wouldn’t stand for that. Wellington would never have taken Waterloo that way.”
    “Oh, my God,” gasped Fen, seeing Mrs. Wilton pushing briskly through the crowd. “Look who’s over there, Tory. She’ll go potty if she sees Jake. We’d better distract her. Hello, Mrs. Wilton, we thought you were in Brighton.”
    “Decided to come back. Had a good day?”
    “I was fourth in the junior jumping.”
    “Your first rosette. Well done. Has anyone else done anything?”
    Fen shook her head.
    “Where’s Jake?”
    “Supervising the gymkhana events, I think,” said Tory desperately.
    “Yes, he is. Come and find him, and on the way you can see how sweet Dandelion looks in his rosette,” said Fen, seizing Mrs. Wilton’s red hand. “And then come and see Mummy. I know she wants to buy you a drink. You must be hot after your journey.” She looked a picture of guilt as the words came tumbling out.
    “What happened in the open jumping?”
    “It’s finished,” said Fen.
    The course had been set to rights.
    “In you go,” said the collecting ring steward.
    Jake rode quietly into the ring.
    That’s a nice horse, thought Malise.
    “Oh there’s one more competitor,” said Mrs. Wilton.
    “Come and see Dandelion,” said Fen desperately.
    “Why, it’s Jake,” said Mrs. Wilton in tones of outrage, “and he’s riding Africa.”
    Africa bounded up to the first fence, as tense as a catapult at full stretch.
    The ten minutes were up. “Fire!” said Colonel Carter for the second time.
    The gun went off like a clap of thunder.
    A dog bolted into the ring, barking hysterically, a child dropped its ice cream and let out a wail of rage. Africa went straight up on her hind legs, eyes rolling in terror, and dropping again, with a bound bolted towards the first fence clearing it by inches.
    Jake sat down in the saddle and tried to hold her. Another gun went off. Africa crashed into the gate and sent the stile flying.
    The crowd looked on, helpless. Tory and Fen watched, frozen with horror, as the maddened mare swung around the corner, with Jake hauling futilely on the bit, aware only of Africa’s hooves thundering on the dry earth and the white terrified faces flashing past.
    As she raced for the triple, ten yards off, another gun went off. Jake tried to check her, but she’d missed her stride and took it completely wrong, jumping sideways and catching her foreleg in the wing of the jump. The crowd gave a moan of terror.
    Africa lay under three poles, legs flailing like a centipede, making desperate attempts to get up. Jake staggered groggily to his feet, stars in his head. Praying against hope that Africa hadn’t broken a leg, he lurched towards her still holding on to the reins.
    Another gun went off; Africa threw off the poles and struggled to her feet, standing trembling all over, holding up her off hind hoof.
    Malise ran up.
    “You all right?” he said.
    Jake nodded. “Not so sure about the horse; can’t put her foot down.”
    Malise took Africa’s bridle, stroking her gently, then

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