The third book in the Saddle Island series.
From the author of the widely successful Mustang Mountain series comes a third adventure in the new and exciting Saddle Island series.
Set on the wild and windswept landscape of Nova Scotia's eastern shore, Race to the Rescue finds heroine Kelsie MacKay receiving an urgent phone call. She is asked to rescue a racehorse named Gem, a beautiful three-year-old filly. Kelsie and her brother Andy have started school in Dark Cove, and -- if they can get their dad to like the place or can find him a job -- it looks like they might actually get to live in Nova Scotia permanently. Meanwhile, there's a stranger lurking on Saddle Island, someone who visits the horses when nobody else is around. He seems to take a special interest in Gem. And there are weird lights out at sea on a dark night.
What's going on? Kelsie and Andy find out -- and solve the mystery.
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Sharon Siamon is the highly successful author of many juvenile fiction titles published in North America, England and Scandinavia.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter 1: Strange Call
There was no time to go and meet the woman who had called about the horse.
Kelsie MacKay had promised her dad she'd go straight home after school. But the woman from the Racehorse Rescue Society had sounded desperate on the phone that morning. She had a young mare who was going to be put down, unless Kelsie could take her.
"I'm calling on my cell," the woman had said. "I'll be passing Dark Cove around four-thirty. I could meet you at the old riding stable on the main road."
"I have to do it," Kelsie said out loud as she raced to the barn behind her Aunt Maggie's blue house. She slipped a bridle over the nose of her horse, Caspar, and climbed onto his wide, strong back. "We're going to see about saving another horse," she told him "-- a little filly from the race track. So pretend you're a racehorse and gallop up the hill. Let's go!"
Caspar, as usual, seemed to understand. He gave one hopeful glance at the ocean -- Caspar loved to swim -- but Kelsie leaned forward and spoke firmly in his left ear. "Not today, big guy."
She rode him bareback through the bushes behind the old barn, along a narrow path that snaked between the rocks, through a thick stand of black spruce, up to the main road that ran along the ridge above Dark Cove.
If only she wasn't too late. She hardly noticed the sun sparkling on the blue water, the green islands dotting the cove. The view had become familiar over the past two months. After spending her first thirteen years in a string of mining towns across Canada's north, Kelsie felt as if this Nova Scotia fishing village on the Eastern Shore was home.
Once on the road, Caspar broke into a smooth-flowing canter, covering ground with amazing speed. In no time, Kelsie had reached the cap gate over the Harefield Farms driveway.
There was no sign of a truck or horse trailer. "I've missed her," Kelsie groaned, yanking her auburn curls back from her face in frustration. "I should have promised to meet her instead of saying I'd try." The woman had made it clear that Kelsie had just this one chance to save the horse.
Kelsie rode over the bare, rubble-strewn stretch of gravel where the riding school barn had once stood and slid from Caspar's back. Earlier that summer, Paul Speers, a rich Bostonian, had torn down the barn to build a stud farm for racehorses. Maybe that's how the rescue society heard about us, Kelsie suddenly thought. Maybe they know Paul.
Just then Caspar gave an excited whinny. A truck was speeding up the drive. It crunched to a halt beside Kelsie. The truck was brown, with red lettering on the door that read Racehorse Rescue Society.
Kelsie noticed a slim, aristocratic-looking horse's nose poking out of the trailer's window. She'd never seen such a bright, eager eye as the one turned toward her, or such finely sculpted features.
Caspar clearly felt the same way. He sidled up to the trailer, bobbing his head in greeting.
Meanwhile, a thin young woman had climbed out of the truck's cab, She wore a baseball cap pulled low over her eyes. "This is Diamond," she said, indicating the horse with a brief nod of her head.
"She's lovely," Kelsie gasped, her green eyes wide. "Why -- why would anyone want to get rid of her?"
"She's no good coming out of the starting gate, and too slow for a racehorse." The woman's face was pale under the peak of her cap. She pulled a pack of cigarettes out of her vest pocket and lit up. "I don't have much time." She puffed smoke over her shoulder. "Can you take her?"
"You mean now? Right here?"
"Yeah. Sorry. I have to get to Truro by seven and pick up another horse." The woman shrugged. "That's how it is in this thoroughbred rescue business, one crisis after another."
Kelsie couldn't take her eyes off Diamond's soft eyes and slender muzzle. The mare had a small, diamond-shaped star on her forehead. Kelsie couldn't wait to see the rest of her. "All right," she breathed quickly. "I'll take her."
"She's a five-year-old." The woman threw the rest of her cigarette on the gravel and ground it out with her heel. "Easy -- going, most of the time."
That meant Diamond could be trouble, Kelsie knew. What would the mare do when they opened the trailer door and tried to unload her?
But Diamond backed out daintily, turned and touched noses with Caspar. Although they were almost the same height, the big white horse looked like a monster beside Diamond. Caspar had some workhorse in his ancestry. He was heavily built with sturdy legs and furry fetlocks around his big hooves. Diamond's legs were long and slender and didn't look strong enough to hold up the rest of her. She nudged Caspar playfully and he backed up against the truck, letting her be the boss. Right away, Kelsie could see the two horses were going to be friends.
"Got to go." The woman handed Diamond's lead rope to Kelsie. "Can you take her from here?"
"Sure." Kelsie took the rope and led Diamond and Caspar away from the truck. "We'll be fine." It wasn't as if the rescue society lady had given her any choice!
"Good. We'll be in touch about the paperwork."
The woman got back in the cab, slammed the door and started her engine. She didn't roll down her window to say goodbye to Diamond.
"Why is she so cold -- doesn't she care?" Kelsie asked herself as the rig rolled away. "Or maybe she cares too much and tries to hide it?" Somehow, Kelsie doubted that. The woman didn't seem like a horse person. It was the cigarette. Fire was such a hazard in a barn that hardly anyone smoked around horses.
Keeping a firm grip on Diamond's rope, Kelsie climbed on Caspar's bare back. This was going to be tricky. She couldn't go fast on the road, holding Caspar's reins in one hand and Diamond's rope in the other. And she couldn't go back through the short cut to Aunt Maggie's. Going that way, through the woods and over the rocks, there were a hundred things to spook a strange horse.
Kelsie glanced at her watch. Almost five! Her dad was going to skin her alive. He'd be driving Aunt Maggie home from the hospital any minute.
"Don't fuss over your aunt," he'd told her and her twelve-year-old brother, Andy, that morning. "She'll be tired after the trip and weak from the heart surgery. Your job will be to keep things calm and quiet for Maggie. No surprises. No shouting or roughhousing. I want everything peaceful. You got that?"
Kelsie had been so glad when her father arrived from the Yukon after Aunt Maggie got sick. She had thought things would be better with Dad around. But it hadn't worked out that way. He'd been mad about something since the minute he'd walked through Aunt Maggie's door. Worse, she'd got used to making her own decisions since her father had left them with Aunt Maggie two months ago. Now she had to ask him before doing anything, and he usually said no.
Still, she'd promised to be quiet and helpful once Aunt Maggie got home. She loved her great Aunt Maggie Ridout. And Kelsie was sure that worrying about her and Andy out in storms on the ocean hadn't helped her aunt's bad heart!
Aunt Maggie had lost her sister and brother-in-law, Kelsie's grandparents, in a storm off Saddle Island years before. She hadn't wanted Kelsie and Andy to go near Saddle Island. But it had drawn them both like a mermaid's song.
That's where Kelsie had hidden Caspar after she rescued him from Harefield Farms. And where Andy had found pirate treasure along the rocky shore. As for their friend, Jen Morrisey, Saddle Island had been her favorite place to paddle in her sea kayak. "And that's where we'll take Diamond," Kelsie thought as she made her way down the steep road to Dark Cove.
Diamond would live with Caspar and the three other horses from Harefield Farms at the old Ridout place on the island. There'd be five horses now -- almost a herd.
Kelsie could hear a car coming up behind them. How would Diamond react? She slid from Caspar's back and pulled the mare behind his sturdy bulk to let the car pass. Caspar wasn't spooked by cars. Kelsie stood at their heads, waiting for the car to swoop by down the hill.
Instead, it stopped.
"Kelsie?" she heard her father ask. "What are you doing here? With Caspar? And that other horse?"
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