'Hold the mare for me, lad. And when I come back I'll give you a golden guinea.'
It's more money than the street urchin has ever dreamt of. But who is the rider, and why is there so much interest in his big black horse? And will the boy ever see the money he has been promised?
There's highway robbery in the air, but it isn't always entirely clear just who is trying to rob who . . .
Stunningly illustrated and fast-paced, this story for younger readers brings to life the legend of the most famous highwayman of them - and his amazing horse.
A young beggar recalls the momentous night he happened to be in the right place when a stranger galloped into town, promising a gold coin if the boy would watch his horse until he returned. The unnamed narrator has his loyalty tested repeatedly as passersby can't help being intrigued by the incongruous pair barefoot urchin and glorious steed ("I had never in my life been offered so much money by so many people, and yet I still hadn't seen a penny of it"). Finally, the king's men arrive, announcing that the horse, Black Bess, belongs to the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin. Now what? Staying with the horse will surely lead to Turpin's arrest. Thompson (The New Policeman) frames the story as a sale after Turpin is arrested elsewhere, the boy tries to sell the horse and in doing so, she introduces a host of ambiguities. Was the boy as true to Turpin as he said? Is the horse really Black Bess? It's a suspenseful and tautly written story as is, and Thompson's sly twist makes it all the richer. Ages 10 up.