The girls chatted happily as they crossed the lawn to the stables.
‘It’s just a – shh – there’s someone in the yard. Look, the gate’s open and I can hear voices. Quick, Lolly, run and fetch Grandpa – NOW.’ Niki said urgently, pushing her sister as she hesitated.
‘Shall we wait here?’ Beth asked nervously. ‘I’m frightened.’
‘No, we need to see who it is. Hold my hand.’ Niki was shaking too, but was determined not to show it. Holding her head high she pulled Beth along and strode into the yard.
‘Hey. Who are you?’ she called. ‘Wat are you doing here? This is private property you know.’
Two tall mean with dark faces and long greasy hair swivled towards the girls, and a young lad crept out of the feed room, hastily dropping head collars on the ground.
‘Nice ponies you got here,’ the lad had siddled over to the gate and was trying to stroke Ginger.
‘Don’t you touch my pony,’ Beth shouted and dashed forward to protect her beloved pony at the same time as Bracken, who didn’t like men, barged Ginger and Magic back from the gate and chased them off down the field. The boy jumped back nearly treading on Beth who screamed. Niki shouted, the men grabbed the lad and started to leave fast, just as Grandpa arrived at the yard gate.
‘What’s going on here?’ he demanded waggling his bushy eyebrows fiercely.