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The Lady

  • Couverture cartonnée
  • 384 Nombre de pages
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Anne McCaffrey, one of the world’s most popular authors, is best known for her Dragonriders of Pern® series. She was th... Lire la suite
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Anne McCaffrey, one of the world’s most popular authors, is best known for her Dragonriders of Pern® series. She was the first woman to win the two top prizes for science fiction writing, the Hugo and Nebula awards. She was also given the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in Young Adult Fiction, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was named a Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1926, McCaffrey relocated to Ireland in the 1970s, where she lived in a house of her own design, named Dragonhold-Underhill. She died in 2011.

Texte du rabat

Amidst the grandeur of the emerald countryside, a magnificent story unfolds. . . .

They are the Carradynes, who for more than 200 years have bred and trained horses of the finest caliber on Cornanagh-a land so beautiful it inspires the soul.

But all is not idyllic at hearth and home. At the center of the conflict is Catriona, the youngest child, a girl who dreams of riding her family's big jumpers and show horses. Her father, Michael, is keenly aware of her immense talent, and he urges her on-only to lock wills with his insufferably pious and overbearing wife, Isabel, a woman who cannot bear horses, who cannot bear his touch. Her goal is to put stiff dresses, tight shoes, and perfect manners on Catriona.

It is a stalemate of pride and passion-until the day Lady Selina Healy enters their lives. Poised, beautiful, and warm, she too knows imprisonment in a loveless marriage, she too admires good horses, she too finds enchantment in Cornanagh. She falls in love . . . with Catriona, who becomes the child she never had; with the splendid lush land; and with Michael, the consummate horseman and gentleman.

Échantillon de lecture
February 1970
FOLLOW the coast road to Greystones, turn right at Blacklion, and watch out for the traffic haring up from the town—some of the drivers buy their licenses at the post office. Stay on that upper road past the Orchard Pub and continue straight through the crossroads at Killincarrig. The right-hand road leads to Delgany, and the left turns back down to the sea. At Pretty Bush turn right and up the hill— mind the children who play in the road—and continue on past Kilquade’s cemetery. There’s a grand view from there of the sea and the convent and the mountains, not yet greening with spring but with twisted pines marching on the hill crests, outlined against the bright sky. Just past the cemetery, on the left, is the beginning of Cornanagh, property of the Carradyne family, landowners since the first Carradyne did service for the Crown in the eighteenth century.
Cornanagh means “hill of the beast” in the Irish, though many wonder that the Carradynes, Anglo-Irish and for generations loyal to the Crown, have retained the name. Except that the Carradynes insist that the “beast” is a horse and they have always been notable horsemen and -women and breed some of the finest hunters and hurdlers in the country. In that they have become more Irish than English and, even during the lean years and bad harvests of the previous century, made profit from the production of colts and fillies.
If you drive into Cornanagh through the main gate and past the old gatekeeper’s lodge, the way is lined by massive sycamores and beeches, which legend has it were planted by the first Carradyne. The house, enlarged from an original farm manor of the late 1600s, faces east to the sea, with a gracious prospect of the undulating main fields and pastures of the estate. Past the house on the right are the extensive stables and then the huge walled garden, established in the mid-eighteenth century to amuse and delight the ladies of Cornanagh, sheltered from wind and storm, watered by the little stream that flows down from the hills and into the sea at Kilcoole. Old fig trees cling to its walls; pear, apple, and cherry trees flourish; and raspberry, gooseberry, and quince bear blossom and fruit in their time.
But to find the heart of Cornanagh, continue on the Kilcoole road past the formal entrance, past the high wall that girds the menage—the outdoor exercising ring—and to the strap-iron gates set between the old coach house and the stable block. Turn into the courtyard, past cow byrnes and right into the yard, its cobbled surface neatly swept on this February evening.
Lights, set high on the stable walls, illuminated the quadrangle. The horses all had their heads over their open upper doors, ears pricked, intent on the side that contained the foaling box.
A man of short stature, bundled with scarf, thick jumpers, and an ancient duffle coat against the chill, sharp wind, made his way across the courtyard to the stable block, absently whistling an old tune. He tugged his flat cap to secure it as the wind suddenly smacked against him and shrugged his broad shoulders into the warmth of his old jacket. The horses nickered softly at his passing and Tory, the black and white Wicklow collie, twitched his ears at the familiar step. The man stopped whistling and walked as quietly on the cobbles as he could in heavy leather work boots. He paused at the entrance to the stable, listening. Just then he heard a chorus of whickers from the animals inside, echoed by the horses in the quadrangle: a welcome if ever he’d heard one. Abandoning his cautious approach, he slid the door open and rushed to the center stall of the five in the barn.
Delight brightened Mick Lenahan’s blunt, homely features into a smile as he saw the newcomer on the stable’s straw.
“Ya do it every time, Frolic girl!” His voice was warm with approval for the big chestnut mare who hovered protectively over her newborn lying in the deep straw of the foaling box. “Ah, it’s a grand big foal! The captain’ll be that proud of you. Even if we never can catch you at it!”
He wheeled and, at a clumsy half trot, half canter, ran across both yards to the back door of the house. He entered with no ceremony, save to pull the cap from his graying, thinning hair, and pushed open the double doors into the dining room, where he knew the family was assembled at this hour. His noisy entry made everyone turn toward him: Isabel Carradyne with a frown, Captain Michael Carradyne rising from his seat at the head of the table, his expression expectant.
“She’s done it again, Captain. A fine strong foal.”
Michael Carradyne paused only to brush his napkin across his black mustache and bow courteously to his wife.
“Filly or colt?” he asked.
“Didn’t wait to see, Captain dear.”
“Oh, Mummy, may I go see, too?” said Catriona, the youngest of the current generation.
“Come on, Trina,” her father said, ignoring whatever decision his wife might have made, and the three left the dining room, grabbing the first outerwear to hand from the crowded rack just inside the back door.
They ran across the courtyard. Michael Carradyne, ignoring the twinge of pain from a left leg once torn by shrapnel, followed awkwardly after his nimble daughter. Catriona outdistanced both her father and Mick and reached the stable block first. With fingers made cold by even that brief exposure to the February chill, she fumbled with the door latching. Once inside, she quietly approached the foaling box, blue eyes wide, her mouth breaking into a beautiful smile as she saw the dark foal on the straw. It was now sitting in the deep bedding, its long forelegs straight out in front of it, the back ones jutting outward to the left. Frolic whickered softly, secure in her trust of the humans.
“That’s a fine foal, Frolic,” Michael Carradyne said, coming to stand behind his daughter, his hands on her thin shoulders. The mare whickered once more, as if accepting his praise. Then she bent to nuzzle the newborn, licking the short strong neck.
As the three watched, the foal gave a massive lurch and, to their surprise, managed to stand erect on unsure legs that then buckled behind and made the little creature sit down. It gave a squeaky nicker of irritation and lurched up on all fours again, flicking the little brush of a tail.
“A colt, Captain,” said Mick, “and as fine and independent a fellow as the Tulip has ever sired. He’ll be dark, too, like his da, when that foal coat grows out. Another black Tulip.”
Michael Carradyne, his blue eyes dark and shining, nodded in slow agreement. Then he glanced down at his young daughter. Her expression was enthralled, her mouth slightly open.
“Oh, Daddy, he’s magnificent. The best of this year’s lot. Oh, Frolic, you’ve done it again!”
At not quite thirteen Catriona was just tall enough to see into the foaling box without assistance. She was a thin, slightly built child, who appeared considerably more delicate than she was, an illusion helped by a porcelain-fair skin framed by hair as black as her father’s. Her eyes were the brilliant Carradyne blue, and the tilt of her curved eyebrows was all Carradyne as well. She had more grace about her than most preadolescents, probably the result of her riding, which had developed muscle control and an economy of movement.
Now the colt, plainly determined to succeed, managed first one forward step, then a second, though the hindquarters wobbled precariously. His dam encouraged him and presented her side. Two more steps and the colt was imperiously butting his dam’s teats; latching on to the source of nourishment at the first try, he sucked lustily, tail flicking.
“A strong foal indeed if he’s on his pins and nursing in the first half hour. Or could it be longer than that, Mick?”
“No, Captain, he’d only just been born when I got here. I’d wager anything she was only waiting for me to go for me tea to drop the foal.” Mick shook his head at the mare’s vagaries, but there was pride of her, too. “And isn’t it just like a female!”
“A warm bran mash for her, Mick, with an egg thrown in,” Michael Carradyne prescribed.
Mick grunted without rancor. He knew what to do but it was part of their relationship that the captain gave the order. Mick had come to Cornanagh as a scrawny, undersized twelve-year-old stable boy just after Michael’s birth in 1918. Michael’s father, Colonel Tyler Carradyne, had had as good an eye for a man as a horse and had quickly seen in young Mick Lenahan the raw material from which a first-rate groom, and a lightweight rider, could be made.
Mick didn’t ride as much now as he had: the ground got harder every year, or so he said, and there were plenty to ride in his stead at Cornanagh. He was more use on the ground, having a shrewd eye for the slightest touch of unlevelness in a horse’s stride. Since old Tyler had died, he had become the stallion man, for the Tulip trusted him as much as he did the captain.
In a way, all of Tulip’s foals were Mick’s, for he was always present at their conception and at their birth as well, if they were bred from the Cornanagh mares.
“Not a bother on the colt, Captain dear, not a bother. He’s more the spit of his sire than any we’ve bred.”
As the colt was rump end toward them, Michael Carradyne laughed. “We’ll see, we’ll see. I’d say he’d weigh in at about nine and a half stone.”
“He would that!”
Not one of Frolic’s admirers wanted to leave the renewing sight of the newborn greedily eating. For those who love horses there is endless delight in the contemplation of a horse, moving, grazing, running, jumping. And a new foal in the barn was a pact with his past and a promise to his future for Michael Carradyne. For nearly two hundred years, Carradynes had been breeding horses in this very barn. This was Frolic’s tenth colt, but Michael couldn’t estimate how many foals had taken their first unsteady steps in this oversized box. He was conscious, though, of a sense of continuity with all the Cornanagh horsemen and -women.

Informations sur le produit

Titre: The Lady
Sous-titre: A Novel
Code EAN: 9780345356741
ISBN: 978-0-345-35674-1
Format: Couverture cartonnée
Editeur: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Romans et récits
nombre de pages: 384
Année: 1988