THE RYDER

THE RYDER, a book for the Young at Heart,

 Kindle page one

Chapters One and Two for your reading enjoyment…

The Ryder – The Children’s Story

Table of Contents

Chapter 1      Grandparent’s Farm

Chapter 2      The Very Important Book

Chapter 3      The Mysterious Stranger

Chapter 4      The Cabin in the Woods

Chapter5      The Legend of Antoch

Chapter 6      David’s Secret Fear

Chapter 7      The Storm and The Cat

Chapter 8      Face to Face with Gore

Chapter 9      Jessica, Harlan, and the Desert

Chapter 10    In the Lions’ Den

Chapter 11    Come, Run with Me

Chapter 12    The Essence and the Song

Chapter 13    The Reunion

Chapter 14    Princess Sara

Chapter 15    Surprise in the Dungeon

Chapter 16    A Picnic in the Meadow

Chapter 17    Final Confrontation

Chapter 18    Long Live King Valiant

Chapter 19    Must We Say Goodbye?

A little about The Children’s Story, The Ryder:

David and Jessica have just arrived at their grandparent’s farm in the Cariboo. Previously, they welcomed these visits with great enthusiasm, but this time is different. Things have changed.

CHAPTER ONE

Grandparent’s Farm

With a satisfied sigh, Grandpa Hilton pushed himself away from the dinner table and leaned back against the sturdy old captain’s chair.

“Grandma dear, that was delicious.” He said, wiping the crumbs from his bushy, Fu Manchu mustache  Reaching across from the table, he helped himself to a toothpick and began to clean his teeth in a familiar and distinctive manner.

Dinner had been eaten in awkward silence. Jessica and David arrived that afternoon and would be spending the following summer months in the Cariboo with their grandparents. Normally, the prospect of spending two months on the ranch would delight them, but this year was different. The previous week their father had left, (“a separation” they called it) and now they were sent to their grandparent’s, “to get away from it all,” as David put it. These unpleasant circumstances had left the children’s enthusiasm for the farm seriously wanting.

Grandma Hilton, a stout little woman, her handsome face softly lined with age, looked questioningly at her husband sitting at the far end of the table. Raising his bushy eyebrows, he responded by shrugging his huge shoulders as if to say, “and what do we do now?” And that’s when Grandma came right out with it.

“I think we ought to talk about your parents’ separation, Jessica, David. Don’t you agree Harold?” She said. “We really need to deal with this issue, especially since you’ll be spending the summer with us.”

Jessica looked down at her hands clasped tightly in her lap, and fiercely bit her bottom lip to keep it from trembling. She was determined not to cry. That would only make things worse. David would make fun of her and she couldn’t bear that right now. She snuck a glance at her older brother, slunk deep in his chair, feet thrust under the table, with both hands dug deep in the pockets of his faded blue denims.

Oh, she hated him right then. HE didn’t seem to care at all. He didn’t need mom and dad around any more, at least that was what he had said. After all he was thirteen and she was only just ten. But somehow, she couldn’t quite believe it didn’t matter to him that mom and dad didn’t live together any more.

“I know how difficult your parents’ separation is for you,” Grandma continued, her voice revealing that warmth and earnestness of her heart. “We love your mother and father too and it hurts us to see this happening to the family. Despite what is happening between them, you must remember that they both love you very much.”

Again Jessica fought back the tears that welled up in her big brown eyes. How she wanted to hear those words. If only she could be sure. David’s response was quite another matter. Tossing his dark head back in defiance, he merely mumbled under his breath, a disbelieving, grunting sound. Then he stared past them all, and out the large picture window.

That is when Grandpa Hilton stood up, cleared his throat and said in his most authoritative voice, “It’s time we all clear off the table. Then David and I are going to take a walk down to the stables to have a look at some of the new colts.”

Giving Grandma a reassuring wink, he began to gather up the dirty dishes. “Now son,” he said encouragingly, placing a firm hand on David’s shoulder, “ we’ve all got to pitch in. Only way to get things done around here, remember?”

In a few minutes, the dishes were piled high in the sink and Grandma and David were off to the stables. Jessica stood alone in the kitchen. She had always loved this cheerful room. The evening sun, still bright and warm, beamed thought the spacious windows and danced across the little kitchen. Grandma’s plants seemed to thrive in the cozy atmosphere, and Jessica thought it must be because Grandma always sang while she worked. She had read somewhere that plants like people to talk and sing to them. It was supposed to help them grow, they said.

“Do you really understand it when someone talks to you?” She asked a little ivy that was reaching its way up the side of the sill, as if to get as close to the warm sunshine as possible. “Maybe you can just feel if I like you. I do like plants you know. Goodness, you look rather dry.”

“Yes, Ivy could use a nice glass of warm water Jessica,” Grandmas said as she walked into the kitchen, tying her crisp apron around her ample waist. “Then you can get the tea towel and we’ll work on these dishes.”

Jessica felt a little silly, realizing Grandma had heard her conversation with the plant. She was about to explain that she thought talking to plants was really quite silly, when Grandma said, “Plants like to be around people, you know, listen to them sing and talk. I think they like to be told they’re loved, just like humans.”

Jessica giggled. “I was just thinking about that,” she said. “You must love them a whole lot ‘cause they’re beautiful.

“Oh Grandma, I do love you so,” Jessica said, gratefully throwing her arms around her grandmother’s neck. “And Grandpa too, and the farm. It’s just that I’m so sad sometimes and afraid, and David, he’s being mean.”

“Well sweetheart,” Grandma said putting her hands into the soapy dishwater, “that’s all going to change.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Jessica hopefully.

“Oh, it’s just a feeling that I have,” she said smiling. “I guess you could say I know something you don’t know. I’m certain this summer is going to be very special for the both of you.”

And to be sure, a very special summer began for them that very night.

CHAPTER TWO

The Very Important Book

David and Jessica, curled up in the weathered chesterfield beside the warm crackling fire, were enjoying a cup of hot chocolate milk, when Jessica, who loved warm fires and stories, piped, “Grandpa, please tell us a story before we go to bed.”

David’s face lit up just a little, for although he thought that he was too old for bedtime stories, he couldn’t help but listen to one of Grandpa’s. Now Grandpa Hilton was a very wise man, even if he was quite old, and he knew just what the children needed. Taking a rusty key from the pocket of his tired, but very comfortable housecoat, he pulled a large, ancient looking book from the top shelf of the bookcase. Carefully he unlocked the golden case.

“Ooooh,” gasped Jessica, her face eager with anticipation. “What a beautiful book!” she exclaimed, reaching out her little hand to caress the shiny cover.

“Why do you keep it looked up, Grandpa?” she questioned.

“Oh don’t ask such stupid questions,” chimed in David, giving his sister one of his ‘know it all’ looks. “I bet it’s a very important book, and you always lock up things that are very important, don’t you know!”

Jessica’s hand dropped to her lap. She screwed up her little freckled nose and stuck her tongue out at David in disdain. Before it could develop into an argument, Grandpa sat down between the two and said, “Now, now lad, don’t be so hard on your sister. And watch your language. Stupid is not a word we want to use.” He looked into the boy’s handsome face, that so reminded him of himself so many years ago. “Actually, yes, this book is a very special book. You’re right David, and it has been in our family for years. The last time it was opened was when your mother was a child. In fact, it would do her good to open its cover for herself right now. Some day this book will be yours, when you’re old enough, and know how to care for it and use it properly. You see children, (and it was at this point that Grandpa got a very curious look in his eyes) the stories in this book are always different.” He went on, his voice barely audible. “It has a mystery about it that even I do not fully understand.”

After a long pause, which really wasn’t very long but just seemed that way, Grandpa said in his clear and normal voice, “I’m not going to say another word. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you.” Carefully and with what Jessica thought was reverence, he opened the book.

The first page revealed a fascinating, full page picture of two children standing on a path in the middle of a dark and misty forest. They appeared rather frightened and lost, and it looked like they were wearing their pajamas! Underneath the picture were four lines, which David read aloud.

WHEN LOST IN THE MYSTERIOUS FOREST,

THROUGH ENEMY LAND HE RIDES

CALL FOR HIM AND HE WILL BE,

THE LIGHT WHERE DARKNESS HIDES.

Jessica read the words again and again, puzzling over their meaning. “This story sounds scary,” she said a little apprehensively. “It will turn out all right, won’t it?” she asked, looking up at her Grandfather questioningly.

“Yes, dear one, I’m certain it will,” he said, smiling reassuringly. Only then did they notice the picture on the opposite side. The page itself radiated light; pure, white and glowing. Soft, cotton like clouds, curled themselves gently around the edges of the picture. Then, in the center, a gloriously shining white horse appeared, his full mane, tail and hooves, sparkling like silver. Holding his majestic head high, he was truly a picture of beauty, grace, and elegance. David’s mouth dropped open, his eyes wide with delight. Jessica too stared in awe at the magnificent animal…

To be continued.

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