Chapter 13

MY FIRST CANTER

When I entered the field, Sukee was still asleep with her neck stretched out. I tiptoed towards her. An ear twitched, but she didn't get up. I lay down beside her, slowly stroking her beancurd muzzle, tickling her nostril with a piece of grass.

Aunty Bei arrived. She was riding 'Caramel'. The ponies sniffed each other to make friends. Soon we were riding cross-country. 'Look how narrow the sea channel is,' Aunty Bei said. 'In the olden days, this is where pirates would lay in wait. For clippers laden with goodies.'

TT ch13 v02 slin'Where did they store their treasure?'

Aunty Bei shrugged.

Sukee was smaller than Caramel so we had to trot trot trot to keep up. The sea was spread like an emerald blanket. We were about to turn back, when ... we espied a cave! Yuk! Its entrance was splattered with bat droppings. The air smelt musty and sour.

'Signs of habitation,' said Aunty Bei, poking her head inside. A rolled up mat, a bucket, some clothes pegs. A black and white photo hanging from the back wall.

'Aaagh!' A bat skimmed past my head. Sukee whinnied.

We talked horses all the way home. Hong Kongers used to ride around the territory on them. Before roads and cars. 'You've never cantered?' said Aunty Bei. 'Squeeze tight and keep behind me.'

Bump. Bump. Bump. Bump. The ground yawned beneath me as my bum bounced from side to side. 'Help!'

'Kick harder,' cried Aunty Bei.

De-de-DUGH, de-de-DUGH, de-de-DUGH. Sukee's hooves were dancing to a different tune and I was rocking on a rocking chair. Wind brushed past my cheeks and I glued my hands to the pommel.

We went faster.

And the grass was green. The sea was sparkly. And I loved Sukee with all my heart.

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