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Riders. View PDF. book | Fiction | World → Bantam Books. Set against the Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery. RIDERS BY JILLY COOPER FROM THE COVER: “Sex and horses:who could ask for more?” SUNDAY TELEGRAPH If you thought you knew what to expect of . Riders Rutshire Chronicles 1 Jilly Cooper - [Free] Riders Rutshire Chronicles 1 Jilly Cooper. [PDF] [EPUB] Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the .
The more miserable she got, the more she ate. Christ, said Malise. Explore now. Thomson, sweating in an emerald green wool suit. The crowd, scenting carnage, clapped lethargically. Going over the garden with Lady Dorothy, said Tory. Tell us what you like, so we can send you books you'll love.
She was a good kid, cheerful and full of guts, with an instinct for horses and a knowledge way beyond her nine years. You can stay if you keep your trap shut, he said. Wilton waking up yet. Jake half-listened as she chattered on incessantly about her sister Tory, who was doing the season but not enjoying the parties at all, and who often had red eyes from crying in the morning.
Colonel Cart-ah, he calls himself. Colonel Carter is bringing a lot of soldiers and guns to do a display after the open jumping.
He and Mummy and Tory are going to lunch up at the Hall. She gets in much more often than poor Tory. Oh cave, Mrs. Inside the kitchen, beneath the ramparts of honeysuckle, he could see Mrs.
Picking up the brush and the curry comb he started on one of the ponies. Wilton came out of the house, followed by her arthritic yellow labrador, who lifted his leg stiffly on the mounting block, then as a formality bounded after the stable cat. Wilton was never known to have been on a horse in her life.
Stocky, with a face squashed in like a bulldog, she had short pepper and salt hair, a blotchy complexion like salami, and a deep bass voice. All the same, she had had more success with the opposite sex than her masculine appearance would suggest. They gazed at each other with the dislike of the unwillingly but mutually dependent. As her husband was away so much on business, Mrs.
Wilton had often suggested Jake might be more comfortable living in the house with her.
But, aware that he would have to share a bathroom and, if Mrs. Wilton was old enough to be his mother. But, despite finding him sullen and withdrawn to the point of insolence, she had to admit that the horses had never been better looked after. She found herself doing less and less. On the other hand, if he was a miracle with animals, he was hell with parents, refusing to suck up to them, positively rude to the sillier ones.
A lot had defected and gone to Mrs. Haley across the valley, who charged twice as much. Thomson to bring the head collars and the water buckets in her car. Do try to be polite for once, although I know how hard you find it. Jake stared at her, unsmiling. He had a curiously immobile face, everything in the right place, but without animation. The swarthy features were pale today, the full lips set in an uncompromising line.
Slanting, secretive, dark eyes looked out from beneath a frowning line of brow, practically concealed by the thick thatch of almost black hair. The only note of frivolity was the gold rings in his ears. Despite the heat of the day, his shirt collar was turned up as if against some imagined storm.
I brought her in this morning, he lied easily. She peered into the loose box. For an appalling moment he thought she was going to peel back the rug. Hello, Mrs. Wilton, shrieked Fen. Come and look at Dandelion. Last time he ate all the potatoes in the potato race. Phew, that was a near one, said Fen, as Mrs.
Dressing later before he set out for the show, Jake transferred the crushed and faded yellow tansy flower from the bottom of his left gum boot to his left riding boot.
Tansy warded off evil. Jake was full of superstitions. B y midday, a blazing sun shone relentlessly out of a speedwell blue sky, warming the russet stone of Bilborough Hall as it dreamed above its dark green moat.
To the right on the terrace, great yews cut in the shape of peacocks seemed about to strut across the shaven lawns, down into the valley where blue-green wheat fields merged into meadows of pale silver-green hay. In the park the trees in the angelic softness of their new spring growth looked as if the rain had not only washed them but fabric conditioned them as well. Dark purple copper beeches and cochinealred may added a touch of color.
To the left, the show ring was already circled two deep with cars, and more cars in a long gleaming crocodile were still inching slowly through the main gate, on either side of which two stone lions reared up clenching red and white bunting between their teeth.
The headscarf brigade were out in full force, caught on the hop by the first hot day of the year, their arms pale in sleeveless dresses, silk-lined bottoms spilling over shooting sticks, shouting to one another as they unpacked picnics from their cars. Hunt terriers yapped, labradors panted.
Food in dog bowls, remaining untouched because of the heat, gathered flies. Beyond the cars, crowds milled round the stalls selling horsiana, moving aside to avoid the occasional competitors riding through with numbers on their backs. Children mindlessly consumed crisps, clamored for ices, balloons, and pony rides. Fathers hung with cameras, wearing creased lightweight suits smelling of mothballs, wished they could escape back to the office, and, for consolation, eyed the inevitable hordes of nubile fourteen-year-old girls, with long wavy hair and very tight breeches, who seem to parade permanently up and down at horse shows.
Bilborough Hall was owned by Sir William Blake, no relation to the poet, but nicknamed Tiger at school. His wife, a J. Between each year, like childbirth, nature seemed to obliterate the full horror of the Bilborough show. She had already instructed the undergardener, to his intense embarrassment, to go around with a spade and gather up all the manure before it was trodden into the ground.
Oh, there you are, William, she said to her husband, who was genially trying to guess the weight of a piglet. Down by the horse lines, Jake Lovell, tying up a weedy gray pony more securely, was slowly reaching screaming point. The family of the unspeakably hopeless Patty Beasley none of whom had ever been on a horse had all turned up in jodhpurs.
Competing and having fun is all that matters. He had nearly had a mutiny on his hands. Thomson, sweating in an emerald green wool suit. My little girl should be able to ride as much as she likes. The clamor went on, deafening, shrill, and demanding. He might as well get a job as a nanny. No wonder sheepdogs had nervous breakdowns. No wonder mothers battered babies and babies battered mothers. He wanted to turn off the din, like the wireless, and lie down in the long lush grass by the river and go to sleep.
His eye ran over the row of bored, depressed-looking ponies standing on three legs, tails swishing ineffectually against the flies, occasionally flattening their ears at one another.
She was a good kid. His eyes softened even more when they came to rest on Africa. Not dozing like the ponies, she looked around with her huge eyes, taking everything in, reassuring herself constantly that Jake was still there. The prospect of the open jumping and the risk he was running made him steadily more sick with nerves. He lit another cigarette. Next time a huge horse box drew up, a groom got out, unfastened the ramp, and led out a beautifully plaited-up gray, sweating in a crimson rug with dark blue binding.
A girl wearing a white shirt, a black coat, skintight breeches, and long black boots walked over and looked the horse over critically. She had a haughty pink and white face. Jake thought how attractive some women looked in riding clothes, the austerity and severity of the uniform contrasting with the wild wantonness beneath.
He imagined her long thighs threshing in ecstasy, while the hat, tie, and haughty pink and white face remained primly in place. He imagined laying her on a bed of straw, as tempting as a newly made bed. Jake looked away quickly, determined not to give her the satisfaction of knowing she was being fancied. A handsome dark boy, white teeth gleaming in his suntanned face, pulled up his huge chestnut horse beside her. Come and have a dwink. Bloody upper classes, thought Jake, all making so much bloody noise.
He was fed up with wearing a cheap riding coat and thirdhand boots that were already killing him. He wanted a horse box, and a groom whisking out different horses like a conjurer producing colored handkerchiefs, and a tackroom wall papered with red rosettes, and a beautiful pink and white girl asking him respectfully how many strides there were between the gate and the rustic poles.
You ought to keep up your strength. She had huge gray eyes and long, straight, light brown hair, which her mother insisted she wore drawn back off her forehead and temples and tied in a bow on the crown of her head. A style which made her round, pleading, peony red face look bigger than ever. She was tallish and big-boned, with a huge bust that bounced up and down as she walked. However she stood on the scales, she weighed eleven stone.
During the weekdays she was at a finishing school in London, learning to cook, to type, and to arrange flowers by ramming bits of rhubarb into chicken mesh. Occasionally, hostesses took pity on her and brought up wilting, reluctant young men who talked politely or danced one dance, then drifted away.
The more miserable she got, the more she ate. But never at dances, never in front of her mother. She would wait for everyone to go out or to bed, then wolf three bowls of cornflakes swimming in heavy cream. Why did she have to stay inside on this lovely day when she wanted to be outside, picnicking with Fen and Jake? At the thought of Jake, dark-faced and unpredictable, whom she had never spoken to, her stomach felt weak, her mouth dry. Oh Jake! At night she wrote him long passionate letters which she always tore up.
Small men were supposed to like big girls; look at D. Lawrence and Stanley Spencer. She was delighted to be asked. Colonel Carter, who had accompanied her, had enjoyed himself, too.
She combed her hair surreptitiously; Gerald had done it beautifully this week. Why was Tory hanging round like a wet blanket?
Poor Molly, she could imagine people saying, poor Molly to be saddled with such a lump. Her new, silk-lined dress and jacket in periwinkle blue was most becoming. She was really enjoying Tory doing the season. And now Colonel Carter was getting really keen and sending roses twice a week.
Molly Maxwell is absolutely gorgeous. Molly was a bit short of cash at the moment. Her rather stolid husband had paid her a great deal of alimony, but when he inconveniently died, he had left all his money, unaccountably, in trust for Tory. Tory looked across at her mother. Look at Sir William bending over her. No, not my only child, Tory could hear her mother going on. I suppose I was rather young when I got married.
Next moment, Sir William was hurrying across the room to welcome the two judges, Malise Gordon and Miss Squires, who, on a tight schedule, had only time for a quick bite. Malise Gordon, having accepted a weak whisky and soda, refused to follow it with any wine.
He took a small helping of salmon but no potatoes, not because he was worried about getting fat, but because he liked to practice asceticism.
An ex-Cavalry officer, much medaled after a good war, Colonel Gordon not only farmed but also judged at shows all around the country during the summer, and was kept busy in the winter as the local master of fox hounds. He was inclined to apply army discipline to the hunting field to great effect and told people exactly what he thought of them if they talked at the covert side, rode over seeds, or left gates open.
In addition to these activities, he played the flute, restored pictures in his spare time, and wrote poetry and books on military history. Just turned fifty, he was tall and lean with a handsome, hawklike face, high cheekbones, and dark hair hardly touched with gray. What an old frump, thought Molly Maxwell.
As an excuse to be introduced to Malise, Molly got up and, wandering over to Lady Dorothy, thanked her for a delicious lunch. It would be such a thrill if she got a rosette. Colonel Carter, aware that his beloved had been snubbed, decided Malise Gordon needed taking down a peg. Junior jumping, open jumping, then gymkhana events in ring three, then your show in ring two, Carter.
A keen territorial, Colonel Carter was organizing a recruiting display which included firing twenty-five pounders. My chaps like to kick off on time. It could be extremely dangerous. Thanks, Dorothy, for a splendid lunch, he added, kissing Lady Dorothy on the cheek. Colonel Carter turned purple. But then the cavalry always gave themselves airs.
Earlier, at the briefing, Malise had had the ill manners to point out that he thought a horse show was hardly the place to introduce a lot of people who had nothing better to do with their afternoons than play soldiers.
Outside, hackney carriages were bouncing around the ring, drawn by high-stepping horses, rosettes streaming from their striped browbands, while junior riders crashed their ponies over the practice fence.
The second was Miss Bilborough , whose all-day-long makeup had not stood up to the heat. The third was a radio celebrity, with uniformly gray hair and a black treacle voice named Dudley Diplock. Having played a doctor in a long-running serial, he talked at the top of his voice all the time in the hope that the public might recognize him.
He had now commandeered the microphone for the junior jumping. Fen felt her stomach getting hollower and hollower. The jumps looked huge. The first fence was as big as Epping Forest. Oh, here comes Tory, she said as Jake helped her saddle up Dandelion. Jake watched the plump, anxious-faced Tory wincing over the churned-up ground in her tight shoes. Did you have a nice lunch? I bet you had strawberries, shrieked Fen, climbing onto Dandelion and gathering up the reins.
Fen came back from jumping the practice fence. You pig, squealed Fen, jumping off and pulling bits out of his mouth. I just cleaned that bit. Looking across, they could see Mrs.
Colonel Carter stayed last night, said Fen in disgust. Think of kissing a man with an awful, droopy mustache like that.
Fen, said Tory, blushing scarlet. She looked at Jake out of the corner of her eye to see if he was registering shock or amusement, but his face was quite expressionless. A girl in a dark blue riding coat on a very shiny bay mare went in and jumped clear. Some nearby drunks in a Bentley, whose boot groaned with booze, hooted loudly on their horn. You must have been the fairest flower, said the colonel, putting his deck chair as close to hers as possible.
My people used to have a lovely garden in Hampshar. The radio personality, Dudley Diplock, having mastered the microphone, was now thoroughly enjoying himself. Here comes the junior champion for Surrey, he said. A girl with buckteeth rode in.
Despite her frenziedly flailing legs the pony ground to a halt three times in front of the first fence. Jolly bad luck, Topsy, said the radio personality. Thomson, pausing for a moment in her discussion of hats with Mrs. I wonder if Stardust will go better in a running martingale. We really ought to buy her a pony of her own, said Mrs.
And here we have yet another competitor from Brook Farm Riding School: Miss Patty Beasley on Swindle. Swindle trotted dejectedly into the ring, rolling-eyed and thin-legged, like a horse in a medieval tapestry.
Then, like a car running out of petrol, she ground to a halt in front of the first fence. Rushing across the grass he brandished a shooting stick shouting, Geron. Terrified, Swindle rose like a stag from the hard ground and took a great leap over the brush fence, whereupon Patty fell off and burst into tears. The crowd guffawed. Jake gritted his teeth. He was aware of Tory standing beside him and, sensing her sympathy, was grateful.
Take the double slowly. Everyone else has come round the corner too fast and not given themselves enough time. Just let me get round. Ignoring the cries of good luck, desperately trying to remember everything Jake had told her, Fen rode into the ring with a set expression on her face.
The crowd, scenting carnage, clapped lethargically. Dandelion, his brown and white patches gleaming like a conker that had been opened too early, gave a good-natured buck. Fen was slightly unseated and unable to get straight in the saddle to ride Dandelion properly at the gate. He slowed down and refused; when Fen whacked him he rolled his eyes, swished his tail, and started to graze. The crowd laughed; Fen went crimson. Fen pulled his head up and let him examine the gate.
Dandelion sniffed, decided it was harmless and, with a whisk of his fat rump, flew over and went bucketing on to clear the stile, at which Fen lost her stirrup, then cleared the parallel bars, where she lost the other stirrup.
Rounding the corner for home, Dandelion stepped up the pace. Fen checked him, her hat falling over her nose, as he bounded towards the road-closed sign.
Dandelion, fighting for his head, rapped the fence, but it stayed put. Fen had lost her hat now and, plaits flying, raced towards the triple. Jake watched her strain every nerve to get the takeoff right. Dandelion cleared it by inches and galloped out of the ring to loud applause. Miss Fenella Maxwell on Dandelion, only three faults for a refusal; jolly good round, coughed the microphone. We could see half the show ground between your knees and the saddle, and you took him too fast at the gate, but not bad, he said.
I must go and congratulate Fen, said Mrs.
Maxwell, delicately picking her way through the dung that Manners had not yet gathered. Well done, darling, she shrieked in a loud voice, which made all the nearby horses jump. She tilted her head sideways to look.
Awfully good show, said Colonel Carter. My sister used to jump on horseback in Hampshar. Fen really has come on. Jake, thinking how silly she was and unable to think of anything to say in reply, remained silent. The junior class, having finished jumping off, were riding into the ring to collect their rosettes. It is me, said Fen, and scrambling onto Dandelion, plonking her hat on her head, and not wearing a riding coat, she cantered into the ring, where she thanked Miss Bilborough three times for her rosette.
Thinking the lap of honor was a race, he barged ahead of the other three winners, carting Fen out of the ring and galloping half round the show ground before she could pull him to a halt in front of Jake.
He shook his head disapprovingly. T he afternoon wore on, getting hotter. The band was playing Land of Hope and Glory in the main ring as the fences for the open jumping were put up, the sun glinting on their brass instruments.
Thomson and Mrs. Maxwell moved their deck chairs to the right, following the sun, and agreed that Jake was extremely rude. Tory could feel the sweat dripping between her breasts and down her ribs. Competitors in the open jumping were pulling on long black boots, the women tucking long hair into hairnets and hotting up their horses over the practice fence. Armored cars and tanks had started driving up the hill for the dry shoot and the recruiting display.
Soldiers, sweating in battle dress, were assembling twenty-five pounders in ring two. My chaps have arrived, said Colonel Carter to Mrs. Jake gave Africa a last polish. Tory, noticing his dead white face, shaking hands, and chattering teeth, realized how terrified he was and felt sorry for him.
He put a foot in the stirrup and was up. Jake rode up to Tory and jumped off. Looking into the deep, dark dell of the Elsan, and catching a whiff of the contents, he was violently sick again. He must pull himself together or Africa would sense his nerves. He leant against the canvas and wondered if he dared risk another cigarette. Tory was not happy. Excited by the microphone and the armored cars and the crowds, Africa pulled and fretted as she jogged up and down.
Tory looked at his white face and chattering teeth and felt so sorry for him. I get just the same before dances, she blurted out. He rode very short, almost jockey length, crouching over the mare like a cat, settling down into the creaking leather. Africa, a netted cord of veins rippling under her shining coat, tugged at the reins, now this way, now that.
Christopher Crossley, the good-looking boy on the chestnut with four white socks, cantered past, startling Africa, who bucked and swished her tail. Jake swore at him. Taking her away from the crowd, he popped her over a couple of practice fences. Colonel Carter sat down beside Molly Maxwell, announcing that his chaps were itching to get started. At that moment a competitor on a huge gray paused in front of them to chat to some friends.
The gray promptly stuck out its penis. The colonel gave a bark of embarrassed laughter.
Tears were making her mascara run. Molly stopped giggling with a little hiccup. There were nine jumps in all: They steal each other's horses and love each other's women as they push themselves and their mounts to impossible extremes, until their feud erupts, with devastating consequences, at the Los Angeles Olympics. She lives with her husband in Gloucestershire, UK. It is a delight from start to finish.
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