The Drover’s Boy

An adventure novel.

Young Henry Hodgekin is pushed out of his home by his stepfather and sent to walk 600 geese to market with Torse, a cantankerous Irish drover. It is Cumberland of a century ago, the roads rough and danger lies ahead.

Man and boy clash. Torse is short-tempered and mean, Henry stubborn. Despite warnings that Torse is not to be trusted a bond develops. As they beg their way from door to door, selling geese at farms and cottages, Henry learns to face up to his fears on a journey that will change his life.

“Irvine Hunt’s writing shines. A richly written story.” – Westmorland Gazette

“This engrossingly told adventure will hopefully find its way into many school bookshelves.” – Cumbria Magazine

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Extract from Chapter 5

Drovers Boy - Chapter Head

DAWN WALLOPS

But it did not remain peaceful.

Shouting filled the paddock. Henry woke to find that it was dawn and a farmer was beating Torse furiously with a stick.

“Help! Your honour! Stop! I can explain!” yelled the drover. “Ouch! Ow! Stop!”

“Sneak your geese into my field, would you!” bellowed the farmer. “Take that, you varmint!”

Somehow the drover struggled clear and the blow missed.

Torse, however, did not stop yelling. “Your honour, you was asleep when we arrived! We was going to pay you at first light! On my honour we was!”

The farmer seemed to be twice the size of the drover, a bullnecked man with a big tanned face. He had had enough of passing geese fouling the grass.

“Get out!” he bellowed.

“At once, your honour! At once!” The drover waved frantically at Henry who was sitting in the ditch petrified. “Get up you EEJIT. The gentleman wants his field cleared!”

The farmer swivelled. “So! Two of you is there! And a dog! Well you can beggar off, the lot of you, before I get the constable!”

“A dog?” Torse stared wild-eyed at the ditch, but there was no time to explain.In a panic Henry and Torse scrambled to round up the geese. Under the farmer’s glare, they drove them towards the gate and only by chance did the flock find the gap at the first attempt. The birds poured through, Henry hot and bothered urging them on. Even so it seemed to take an age.

But it was not over. Some farmers took what money they could get but others preferred a good fight. As Torse grabbed up his coat, the man lunged and almost lifted him off the ground. Terrified, the drover awaited a first punch.

But it was money.

“That’ll cost you sixpence!” demanded the man. “For the night’s stay.”

“Oh, your honour, yes! Most generous,” gasped the drover. He struggled a hand into a pocket. “Sixpence! I have the very one here, your honour, if you’ll be letting me down now!”

The coin was snatched away.

“And a goose,” said the farmer, not letting go.

“Your honour?”

“A good fat one.”

The man’s grip tightened.

Torse, greatly alarmed, struggled madly and broke free.

“A goose, boy! Get the man a goose!”

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