The Legend Of Wychwood Manor – Episode 19

Characters from the serial in front of a stormy sea.

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Belle’s thoughts were in a whirl as she waited for Captain to be saddled up.

A married man! No wonder Josephine was so secretive about Dr Long.

What a scandal there would be should anyone find out!

But there was nothing about Josephine that suggested a woman giving her favours lightly.

On the contrary, Josephine seemed a woman of strong principles.

Belle could only guess at the struggle she must have passed through before embarking on a course of action that could only lead to dishonour and shame.

Belle felt deeply troubled.

What future did Josephine have when anyone forming such a relationship would be shunned by society?

She knew Josephine would be dismissed if her uncle learned his wife’s nurse was capable of such an indiscretion.

Poor Josephine. She must feel so alone.

Belle would have liked to reach out to her, but how could she do that after the rash words she’d spoken?

Josephine would never believe that Belle felt only sympathy for her plight.

Captain took advantage of Belle’s distraction, dancing this way and that.

With a sigh, Belle focused her attention on getting the horse to walk properly.

Further thoughts on Josephine’s predicament would have to wait.

Belle tightened her grip to remind Captain who was in control, and he settled down, though his neck was slick with sweat.

Belle spoke to him, her tone soothing.

“What’s up, old boy? Has the storm affected your spirits, too?

“Wait till we’re up on the cliffs. What you need is a good gallop!”

At the top of the grassy ridge Belle reined Captain in for a moment to take in the first glimpse of the sparkling sea, and then dug her heels into his sides and sat down hard in the saddle.

Captain was a strong horse, but she was a good rider and she’d never experienced a moment’s anxiety when riding, so she was completely unprepared for what happened next.

Captain reared, screaming, almost unseating her, and bolted.

Belle could feel the sheer power of him like a coiled spring, galloping at such a breakneck speed that all she could do was cling on for dear life.

Her hat fell off and her long coppery hair, shaken free of its pins, streamed out behind her as she fought to regain mastery of the horse.

“Captain, stop!” she screamed, but the powerful horse did not slacken his speed and she was filled with fear that he might catch his hoof in a rabbit hole, break his leg and have to be shot.

But then a more pressing concern filled her mind.

She had thought Captain would naturally follow the curve of the track, but he was following a straight line that led to the cliff edge.

She hauled on the reins again with all her strength.

“Whoa, Captain, whoa!”

But the frenzied pounding of his hooves did not slacken.

The gap between the gorse bushes that fringed the edge of the cliff and the hurtling horse was closing with frightening speed.

“Captain, stop!” she shouted again.

Should she throw herself from the saddle and risk broken bones? Had she even left enough time to do that?

She could not seem to summon the willpower to unlock her fingers which were now entangled deep in Captain’s mane.

She knew she was not physically strong enough to stop the horse.

Belle started to cry, tears blurring her vision, but she dared not relax her grip to wipe them away.

Desperate, she stood up in the stirrups and leaned forward to shout into Captain’s ear.

“Captain! Captain!” Her sobs were strangling her. “Captain, stop!”

To be continued…

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