Authors: Chloe Ryder
With special thanks to Julie Sykes
The Castle was lit by torches
. Their flicker
ing flames cast long shadows as the girl and the pony rode into the courtyard. The girl wore a long stripy T-shirt and leggings. Her hair was a thick mass of chestnut curls. The pony was snow-white, with a long mane and tail that brushed the floor. Her hooves were oiled and sparkled with gold dust. She carried her head proudly, her pink diamond-studded tiara glittering in the torchlight.
The Castle walls were decorated with fresh flowers and ribbons. Music drifted through the air. The girl breathed slowly, resisting the urge to leap from the pony’s back and dance. Ponies were packed around the edges of the courtyard. Their manes sparkled with jewels and richly coloured sashes hung around their necks. The girl and pony walked on towards the stage where a pretty palomino with a golden coat and a tall, handsome copper-coloured pony waited for them. Queen Moonshine and King Firestar smiled as the little white pony stopped. The girl slid from her back. Together they performed a low curtsy.
‘Your Majesties,’ they murmured.
‘Pippa MacDonald, Princess Stardust. The ponies of Chevalia salute you for finding the eight golden horseshoes and returning them to the Whispering Wall. Without you, we would have lost Chevalia for ever.’
The horseshoes glittered with Midsummer magic.
‘To Pippa, to Princess Stardust,’ called Queen Moonshine.
‘To Pippa, to Princess Stardust,’ echoed the ponies.
Pippa and Stardust curtsied to the ponies.
‘To Chevalia,’ they answered.
‘Would you like some more chocolate cake, Pippa?’ asked Mum.
Pippa looked at the cake. It was filled with buttercream and topped with chocolate sprinkles, and it tasted delicious. ‘I’m not sure. If I eat too much then I might be too heavy for Snowdrop to carry me over the jumps tomorrow.’
Mum laughed. ‘Nonsense! Snowdrop’s a big strong horse. She could carry two of you.’
Pippa smiled. ‘I’ll have a little slice then, please. I need to keep my strength up. It was hard work jumping Snowdrop today. Did I tell you how we cleared the wall? Mrs Woods said it was a perfect jump.’
Miranda, Pippa’s big sister, rolled her eyes. ‘Yes, but you’ve only told us about it six times.’
‘Have I? I’m really excited and nervous about the riding school gymkhana tomorrow. It must be making me forgetful.’
Pony-mad Pippa MacDonald was on a seaside holiday with her mum, Miranda and little brother Jack. There was a stables nearby and at the start of the holiday Mum had secretly arranged for Pippa to have riding lessons there as a surprise. The stables had a pony called Snowdrop, named after a famous show pony. Pippa had a poster of the famous pony on her bedroom wall at home, so she was thrilled when she was given Snowdrop to ride.
Pippa had a secret too. On the first day of her holiday two giant seahorses had whisked her away to Chevalia, a magical island where Royal Ponies reigned. Chevalia had been in danger. Pippa and her Princess Pony friend, Stardust, had saved the island by finding eight golden horseshoes. The horseshoes had been stolen from an ancient wall in Stableside Castle by a wicked pony called Baroness Divine. Divine had escaped but now the horseshoes were back in their rightful place the Royal Ponies felt safe again.
Pippa finished eating her cake then carried the plate to the sink. It was her turn to do the washing-up. As she played with the bubbles she thought back to that magical day when she first met the seahorses. She’d had so many adventures in Chevalia. Pippa missed Stardust but especially today, as it was Stardust’s birthday. Stardust would be celebrating with her family. Pippa wished she could be there too but at least she had the riding school gymkhana to look forward to.
When the evening meal had been cleared away everyone crowded into the lounge to watch Pippa’s favourite television show, a singing competition. But Pippa couldn’t get into it. There was so much to do before tomorrow.
She went to her room to check she had a clean shirt and jodhpurs to wear. Then she sat on the bedroom floor and polished her boots until she could see her face reflected in them.
Tired but happy, Pippa rested her arms on the sill and stared out of the window. The sinking sun spread a fiery red glow over the sea. Pippa breathed deeply, loving the smell of the salty sea air. It was so quiet. The only sound was the distant mewl of the herring gulls
. . . and the strange rustling noise coming from the bushes under her window. Pippa stood very still. What was making that noise?