After breakfast the farmer showed the girls how to attach the plough, harness, reins and other equipment and led Bev and Gertie down to the meadow. He set the double plough, shouted at the horses and they trudged forward while the plough turned the soil over in a perfect double straight line.
At the end of the row he handed the reins to Cindy and said. ‘Well, off you go.’
Cindy shook the reins and roared, ‘Go Girls,’ and the horses trudged off.
‘Good. Expect to take a couple of days and keep the furrows straight ‘ retorted Moffet and wandered off.
As soon as the farmer disappeared the horses stopped. No matter what Cindy or Grace did they could not get the animals to move. The mares just whinnied and tossed their heads but refused to take a step. Yells or threats were useless and even offering them grass to eat didn’t help.
For almost an hour the two girls tried until they were exhausted and frustrated. Finally it was Grace who stood with her hands on her hips and swore at the beasts.
‘Bugger you both!’ she stormed. ‘Come on Cindy. I’ve had it. They won’t work for us. I’m leaving.’
‘Where?’ Cindy muttered.
‘Anywhere,’ retorted Grace. ‘I’m sick of it. We’ve worked our guts out and do we ever get any praise?’ She rolled her eyes and answered her own question. ‘No way! A grunt if we do well and a mouth of abuse if we don’t and what does the old bugger do himself. Bloody nothing!’
‘Let’s try again,’ encouraged Cindy.
‘You can,’ Grace snapped back and walked away. Cindy stared after her and shrugged. She was annoyed herself but Grace didn’t help matters. She turned to the horses and almost pleaded. ‘Come on Girls,’ she said. ‘Try it for me, will you?’
The horses retorted and frothed at the mouth and, perhaps because they were also tired of standing in one place, started moving. Cindy grabbed the reins and tried to operate the plough at the same time. She was moderately successful. She finished one line and even managed to turn the horses when Moffet came running across the field.
‘Is this all you’ve done, Girl,’ he snapped angrily, ‘Look at the horses. They’re covered in sweat. Jesus Girl, don’t you know a bloody thing about farm animals? You’re worse than bloody useless, I tell ya.’
Cindy stopped, flung the reins down and stared defiantly at the man. ‘At least I know how to treat humans, Mr. Moffet.’ she said quietly and walked away.
‘You came back here, Girl,’ growled the farmer. ‘You’ve got these horses to wash down.’
‘Do it yourself,’ Cindy yelled back. ‘I’m not your bloody slave.’
By now her hands were shaking and huge sobs shuddered through her body. Her walk broke into a run. She almost jumped a stone wall, raced into the barn and climbed the ladder up to the loft. Here she crawled into a far corner and lay down sobbing in complete misery.
For an hour she remained hidden there until she was found by Marmalade the cat who curled up beside her and began to wash itself. Somehow, the cat did for Cindy, what the humans on the farm didn’t. The farm cat stayed with her. An hour later Grace persuaded Cindy to come down and go to the farmhouse for their evening meal.
Cindy carried Marmalade down the ladder and stoked the cat before putting it down. She glared at the farmer and his wife but refused to be drawn in any conversation. After the meal she excused herself and retreated to her bedroom.