Has anyone beaten me to it?' I asked him, pointing.
Winterhalter was rubbing down a fine bay with a wire brush, chasing away the flies as he finished his stroke, in a sort of intricate ballet in time with the horse's swishing tail.
'It's the last one left, Herr Stiffeniis. And not the best, as you can see. They requisitioned all the rest first thing this morning.' He pulled a glum face. 'I just hope they decide to pay, that's all! If you aren't going far, it'll get you there and back.'
'Not far,' I said, giving thanks to God for the unserviceable state of the landau. 'How long will it take to get her ready?'
I knew how long it would take. The minute we had finished haggling over a price, he would put one of his older hackscertainly not the fine bay stallionbetween the shafts, adjust the halter, invite me to climb up, hand me the reins, and remind me to use the whip with urgency and frequency.
Five minutes later, I was rolling back the way I had come. I had made a decision, and would leave the procurator's office in the hands of my clerk for the morning.
Excerpted from A Visible Darkness by Mighael Gregorio. Copyright © 2009 by Mighael Gregorio. Published in April 2009 by St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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