Help from a Stranger

Syrra skittered into the field, almost falling over in the slippery mud. Ahead she could see the great crowd that had gathered around the overturned cart, its broken axle sticking up in the air at a mad angle. Three men were trying to lift the cart, sweat running down their arms and faces contorted with the effort. However, several enormous bales of hay, evidently the cargo of the cart, seemed to be making their job a lot harder. Faintly, Syrra could hear Peshu's cries of pain from beneath the wagon. Her mother emerged from the crowd, panting and looking rattled. Syrra ran up to her:

"Mam! What's happening? Why is everyone here?"

"They can't lift the cart," Cwyn replied, sounding worn out. "Everyone's tried. Aidan's gone to fetch the plough horses, but it's all the rest of us can do to keep poor Peshu from being crushed to death."

Syrra chewed her lip worriedly. Peshu was only a few years older than Syrra, Aidan the blacksmith's niece. Although not particularly intelligent, Peshu was a sweet natured girl- despite her imposing appearance - who often helped load the hay carts. Evidently she'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time when the bull escaped and knocked the cart down on top of her. However, her physical strength was not helping her here and all the time her cries were growing weaker as the men struggled to keep the cart from crushing her spine.

Suddenly a loud whinnying erupted from further up the road. Both Syrra and her mother wheeled around to see a rider on horseback galloping full-pelt towards the scene. The horse was the biggest Syrra had ever seen, standing even higher than the village's two gigantic plough horses and it's coat was as black as a starless night. Scarcely bothering to halt the creature, the rider vaulted from it's back and raced over to the scene, darting through the crowd of alarmed people. He took his place beside the other men at the cart, pushing his shoulder against the overturned cart and joining the others in their efforts to lift the cart. Slowly, very slowly, the cart began to lift, slowly increasing the gap between Peshu and the crushing weight. As one of the men reached under and pulled the girl free, the stranger continued to hold the weight, not so much as grunting with the effort. As Peshu scrambled free, they let the cart drop and it fell to the ground with a loud "thud".

Then, everyone turned to look at the stranger. From beneath the shadow of a hood, Syrra couldn't make out his face. She peered closer, trying to make out features and ascertain who Peshu's mysterious rescuer was. As if sensing her looking at him, the figure turned and looked in her direction. Syrra stood up on tiptoes, desperately trying to get a closer look. However, the figure turned away again as Aidan approached, leading the two horses and panting hard. Syrra turned away too, but as the crowd converged to thank their mysterious saviour, she swore that, just for a second, she caught a glimpse of a pair of luminous, silver eyes.

The End

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