Fairy Rider by Leonie Roderick
Meav watches her son through the open window. With the heat all the windows are open to catch the slight breeze.
“What are you doing?” Richard asks.
“Look how hard Dillon is working to get the stable ready for the horse. He really likes the stallion.”
“I knew he would. I’m glad we bought him. Dillon will love riding him. He is too young for a driver’s license but he needs something to get around with.”
“I feel guilty about leaving him alone on the farm while we are at work. He isn’t used to spending so much time alone. If only he can make friends…”
“Don’t worry. Dillon will make friends in his own time. Tomorrow can be a good time to get to know a few youngsters at church. Those two Baintree youngsters are always there. I think they are about the same age,” Richard reassures his wife.
“I have met the girl and I can’t say I like her much. I can’t see Dillon being best friends with them.”
“Oh, a mother’s intuition at work…!”
“I was proud of Dillon today. He is a good son and a good person. He has empathy. Asking us to stop and buy some fish-paste! I have never heard of a horse liking fish. As for that boy working on the farm…”
“I hope you are aware that this empathy of Dillon’s is going to cost us money. I think this horse is going to cost us dearly and much more than we bargained for.”
“Coming from the man, who paid an excessive amount for a horse for his son is saying much,” she teases lightly.
“You realise where the talk about this youngster’s schooling was leading to? He wants us to take on the boy and see to his education.”
“Will it be so bad? I see it as another way of keeping him here. He must know that we’ll help the boy to finish his schooling and Dillon will be here to help and see that he makes it.”
“You are devious, Meav.”
She smiles beautifully at her husband and says: “As if the thought didn’t cross your mind! I was so proud of Dillon when he explained about the boy and then I watched you and saw the same look in your eyes. You are proud of him.”
“He is my son and I think he is a wonderful human being.”
“Not too much of a mama’s-boy?”
“To feel for others doesn’t make a boy a sissy. He will grow into a worthy man.”
“I’m glad you see him as a son worth having.”
The horse-trailer turns slowly into the drive-way and the couple quickly leaves the house and walks over to where Dillon is working on the stable.
“Show-time,” Richard whispers softly in her ear and he knows he is bargaining for more than the love of his family. He is also bargaining for a future of the, as yet unknown black youngster.
Sunday morning arrives in breathless heat and the rush to get to the church doesn’t make it any cooler.
Dillon scarcely has time to go out and feed his new horse or take him into the small camp that was hastily prepared for him.
The stallion bumps the shoulder of the boy with affection pushing his head over Dillon’s shoulder.
“When I come back we’ll go for a ride,” he promises the horse and rubs his neck.
He would much rather spend the time with his horse than go to church, but he promised his parents he would attend the service with them as a family. What is more, he promised to keep an open mind. This promise was to his father. Why did his father made that request, as if he wasn’t sure about some people he was going to meet? His father has rather good instincts about people. Does he have reservations about some of these people?
He dresses in neatly pressed trousers with a shirt and tie and the shoes he wears for school.
He is quite surprised to see his father dressed in one of his three-piece suits and his mother has put on one of her power suits. The light blue suits her. With high heels and a small clutch bag she looks as formal as she used to look when they lived in the city and she was a big forceful lawyer.
They drive to the other side of town where they park in the shade of a big tree.
The church is an old building with a red painted roof. There is nothing fancy about it. No colourful windows, no luxurious seats, nothing shiny. This is a plain building with a plain interior. Nothing pretentious, like the churches in the city
Inside an organ is playing softly and the atmosphere is of sanctified quiet.
He actually likes the quiet.
The minister, when he arrives, gives a sermon out of one of the books of the Old Testament and Dillon listens with concentration. The history of the old Bible stories has always fascinated him.
Once they are outside he gets to meet a few of his parents’ friends and neighbours. He listens politely to the people around him and then sees two youths making their way over to him.
The Baintree cousins introduce themselves and he follows them outside to the shade of a tree.
“We heard you have arrived. We wanted to come over but thought we should give you time to get used to your new surroundings,” the girl says.
She has told him her name is Norma, she lives one farm removed from theirs and in her book that makes them neighbours.
The boy is called Peter.
Both of them have red hair and freckles over their noses with light green eyes. The eyelashes circling four eyes are of the lightest blond giving them both a rather surprised look.
Dillon has never been biased and he has never disliked people with red hair before but something about the cousins makes him uneasy.
“Have you seen the ghost, yet?” the girl asks him.
“I beg your pardon, what ghost? What are you talking about?”
“Don’t tell me you haven’t gone looking for her, or are you afraid of the ghost?” the boy asks teasingly, a slight smirk lingering around his mouth, yet something in his tone has the faintest trace of a sting.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never heard of a ghost and I’m sure my parents haven’t either or they would have mentioned it.”
“The ghost of the girl on Land’s End wanders around at night. We heard there are a few black people who saw her. We actually went looking for her a few times but never saw her, until that Delia O’Shea told our parents that we were trespassing on her farm,” Norma tells him with just a faint cutting edge to her tone.
“This is the first I’ve heard of the poor girl’s ghost walking around at night.”
“Not walking, but riding. She’s like that song about ghost riders in the sky, except she isn’t riding in the sky but in the bush.”
“My mother told me about a daughter being sickly and that she died. It must have been awful for the poor girl – to be sick and to die so young. I feel sorry for her mother as well. It’s not easy losing a child,” Dillon lectures them, remembering his early morning talk with Meav and how she is still thinking of Elizabeth, who died as a baby. How much worse must it be, for Delia O’Shea? The poor woman had to watch her daughter die and know there was nothing she could do.
“Well, as you live next door to Land’s End we should organise a ghost hunt.”
“I would rather not. I don’t care what people say but I’ll respect the woman’s grief and stay away from her farm. She wants solitude and I think we should give her time to grieve in private, as she prefers.”
“Oh, you are afraid…” Peter says jeeringly.
“I’m not afraid, but I won’t harass the poor woman. Leave her alone as she wants to be.”
“The girl died two years ago. How long does she need to get over it?” Norma asks precociously.
“It takes as long as it takes! You’ve obviously never talked to a mother who lost a child. They never get over it and they never forget. It’s like a mother’s job: it’s like their reason for existing.. They care to the end of their lives.”
“Oh, you are no fun,” the girl accuses him.
With gratitude Dillon sees his parents appearing. With a hasty greeting he parts from his new acquaintances.
Once on their way back to their farm his mother asks him about the Baintree cousins.
“I don’t want to talk about them. All I can tell you is that if they are the best this place has to offer I would rather stay without friends.”
“What did they do, Dillon?”
“They want to organise a witch hunt,” he explains shortly. “Excuse me, a ghost hunt. They want to go to Land’s End, Delia O’Shea’s farm, in the night and look for the ghost of the poor girl who died. Apparently there is a story going around that she rides a horse around the farm in the dead of night.”
“What? Where did they hear such nonsense?”
“Some people told them the story. Apparently they saw a ghost riding a horse in the middle of the night. They were told the ghost was the poor sickly daughter who had died…”
“The poor, poor woman! No wonder she doesn’t want people coming to visit her. If everyone coming to the farm goes away with a horror story, it must be unbearable for her.”
“Your mother was afraid you would like the cousins,” his father tells him tongue in cheek.”
Dillon laughs. “Not in this lifetime! I suddenly realised that I actually dislike white eyelashes intensely.”
Meav sighs contentedly. “I thought you would see through them. They are not the only children your age in town. There are many more that would suit you better – I’m sure. I’m only sorry they live near us.”
Near the house, Dillon changes the subject:
“This afternoon Peacy is coming. He said he would like to bring his mother to talk to us. She must be worried about him.”
“I’m glad he is going to stay with us. He will help you take good care of Darling,” Meav says pleased.
“I don’t want him to work so hard he has no time to go to school. As it is he has his work cut out for him if he wants to finish this coming year. I’ll help him all I can but he’ll have to work real hard.”
Meav and Richard quickly glimpse at each other before looking in front of them again.
“Did he tell you what he wants to do next year?” Richard asks.
“He said his father wanted him to become a teacher. He’s still rather unsettled after his father’s the death. He thought all his dreams would come to an end.”
“I’m glad you met him, Dillon. It sounds to me as if he needs you as a friend and mentor – even if it’s only to rekindle his dreams. We’ll all help him. He looked like a good boy and he sounded sincere when we talked to him. Mr Smith will not be impressed with us but we can’t help that. Peacy needs more than Mr Smith intends to give him.”
“Did he tell you what their circumstances are now that the father’s salary is gone?”
“I didn’t want to ask in detail but I gather they are going through a rough patch. He is the oldest of five children. His mother is receiving a pension but there is no money for him to continue school – that is why he was working for Mr Smith. He took over his father’s job with the horses.”
“It’s always difficult if one parent dies. Let’s hope Peacy will be able to become a teacher. He’ll be able to help his mother with the other children’s education.”
“Thank you for being willing, as well as everything else you are willing to do for Peacy…’’
“We’re glad to help him, Dillon,” his mother assures him.
I apologise that I skipped a day, I had deadlines at work and that night when I finished my work I forgot all about Fairy Rider due to tiredness.
Sorry fellow Fairy Riders 🙂
On a side note, Leonie was not angry with me as she saw how tired I was last night 😉
I am going away for 4 days on holiday but I am going to make sure you get your Fairy Rider Fix every day. Enjoy the long weekend and see you Sunday where I will answer all questions and screams hehehehe