Jeoffrey McSadough was riding his mare through a shadowy wood. The eyes, with which he studied every detail of the trees next to the small path, were the eyes of an owner reviewing his property. Although it was three years ago that the black outlined letter had reached him and made him the new master of this little county way up in the north, he still felt a tickling sensation of pride when giving in to the thought that every tree, every animal in this region belonged to him.
Fabby, his mare, already started to nervously blow air through her nostrils. She seemed to know perfectly what the light meant that lightened their path a few hundred meters before them. There, the wood ended and gave way to a large, sun-flooded meadow. When McSadough first discovered it, he had ridden on it for hours, drawing large circles into the lush grass. Now he never missed to visit it whenever his patrol rides led him into this secluded region, and he could not remember a single time he had crossed it slowly.
As soon as his mare set her first foot onto the sun-lightened area, McSadough powerfully rammed his heels into her sides, leaned forward in his seat and eagerly shouted „Go! Go!“ into the animal’s ears. He felt strong muscles tense and loosen under the saddle, heard the deep sound of hoofs hitting the ground and felt the wind part on his face harder and harder. Fabby had stretched out her head and opened her nostrils wide. The horse’s mane fluttered wildly and its feet stamped a fierce rhythm on the ground. There was a big smile on McSadough’s face. If he would not have been busy so much holding on to the saddle, he would have thrown his arms into the air and shouted for joy.
But suddenly his expression changed. Misbelief showed in his eyes. A deep, deep drum had been added to the rhythm of his mare’s hoofs. Could his senses play such a trick on him? He realised the sound coming from behind, and the grip of his hands got so hard one could see the white bones through his skin. He noticed the deep rhythm becoming louder, and his knees pressed tightly against the warm body of his mare. He heard a snorting noise very close behind him, and his eyes opened with fear. Then he saw him.
The stallion had the colour of the moon in a clear summer night. There was no sweat on his coat, and still his gallop was of such a high speed that he overtook Fabby easily. His feet did not touch the ground, it seemed. As if the meadow had a secret alliance with him, it threw his hoofs up in the air every time they touched the ground, so that there was the impression the horse was floating. Enormous force hid in its legs. Captivating beauty wrapped its movement.
Every person in Jeoffrey McSadough’s place would have admired this enthralling sight. Yet he did not. Instead, his eyes got a dangerous glimmer that would make a warrior startle. „Go, Fabby!“, he shouted. „Faster!“ Distorted to a grim look, McSadough’s face showed small drops of sweat as he realised that the stallion was still winning ground. His heels forcefully hit the sides of the mare again and again. It seemed impossible to win this uneven race. The man clenched his right hand to a fist and started to punch Fabby. He had no eyes for the critical state of his horse. While the mare gave all she could to keep up the speed, her breath had started to rattle dangerously. White flakes of sweat showed everywhere on her coat.
When the stallion had almost completely overtaken them, Fabby suddenly seemed to catch up. Instantly McSadough realised the change. Every centimetre they worked themselves onward let the grin on his face become wider. Finally the stallion’s head was next to him, so near that he could almost touch it. The horse’s eyes showed a confusing calmness. A little chuckle worked its way up Jeoffrey McSadough’s throat, and finally he started to laugh out loud. It was the laughter of a winner, somebody who had known all the time he could not lose. ‚I have always been the winner-type‘, it occurred to him.
McSadough did not notice the dark wall of trees ahead. While the stallion fell into an easy trot and steered away in a small curve, he entered the wood at full gallop. Not until after he heard the sound of Fabby crashing into the undergrowth the man woke up. His mouth formed a silent cry as the deep branch of an oak tree hit his forehead and knocked him to the ground. Very, very quiet it became in the wood after his mare had come to a stop.