‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Eight

Summer holidays are nearly over, but first there’s the gymkhana. (I have never had to write that word before and I’m struck by how weird it is. What have horses got to do with gyms? According to my dictionary, ‘gymkhana’ was derived in the 19th century “from Urdu gendḵānah ‘racket court,’ from Hindi geṁd ‘ball’ + Persian ḵānah ‘house’ … altered by ‘gymnasium’ via Latin from Greek ‘exercise naked,’ from gumnos ‘naked’”. Maybe related to polo?)

Anyway, Nicola is riding Mr Buster, Patrick’s pony, in various ‘fun’ events like Potato Races and Musical Poles, which she’s only doing because she needs to win some money to pay for Sprog’s upkeep. When she arrives, there are a lot of Serious Pony People doing horsey things (“Nicola didn’t often feel shy or out of it, but she did now”). Worse, there are death glares from a girl who turns out to be Wendy Reynolds, the girl Lawrie accidentally imitated at the elocution competition and who mistakes Nicola for Lawrie. Uh oh…

Ginty turns up to watch, because the other Marlows are all busy killing wasps at Trennels. Ginty, it turns out, is what Nicola calls “a Pony Club type”, although maybe Ginty gets it from her mother (“Mummy was talking about hunting this winter”). So, Mrs Marlow must have had a fairly posh country upbringing, to have grown up hunting? Wendy Reynolds and her brother Oliver have TEN horses and win just about every event. But Wendy gets her revenge on the Marlows by barging Mr Buster, telling Nicola the apple in the obstacle race has a wasp on it, and worst of all, riding her horse at Mr Buster, causing him to hurt his leg and Nicola to fall off.

Patrick is quite rightly furious about Mr Buster (although, of course, doesn’t even check to see if Nicola’s hurt) and tells off Oliver. But then Peter and Lawrie arrive with a dramatic account of how the wasp-killing in the attics turned into Trennels nearly burning down and it was ALL ANN’S FAULT:

“…and there was Ann, holding a candle, exactly as if she wanted to start a fire and the beam smoking away like mad … Ann went completely and utterly mad and called the fire brigade! … And Daddy was livid and Ann couldn’t say anything, ’cos it was her fault …”

I must be missing something, because wasn’t it a good thing to call the fire brigade? They couldn’t be sure they’d put the fire out and it was a wooden roof. Unless they have to pay lots of money for the fire fighters? Is this meant to show that Ann subconsciously wants to destroy the family home? Or is this simply another dig at Ann’s well-meaning but useless attempts at helping?

Lawrie also learns about Wendy’s revenge and goes off to recite the poem again to Wendy. So there is some sort of justice for poor Nicola.

Rowan and Patrick then compete in a tense show-jumping event, which is extra-tense for Nicola because Rowan has promised to share her prize money if she wins. But alas, Rowan’s horse falls and Patrick wins! What will happen to poor Sprog now? Except then Oliver Reynolds comes up and offers Nicola all of his and his sister’s prize money. I think this is meant to present an ethical dilemma, but of course Nicola refuses the money, just as she refused to report Wendy’s cheating to the judges. I’m not really sure what this says about Marlow morality. It’s important never to make a fuss? Leave judgement of others to God?

Nicola miserably contemplates how to tell Patrick to let Sprog go, while Patrick gloats all the way back about his win. At home, he unkindly tells his father “the entire Gymkhana consisted of Marlows lying in heaps in the ring”, but then his father hands over a cheque to Nicola from selling The Boke of Falconerie. It’s for eighty-seven pounds! Nicola is rich and Sprog is saved! Hooray! Good has triumphed, courtesy of God or the Fates (or Antonia Forest).

And that’s the end of Falconer’s Lure. There was a lot to enjoy in it, but I do think my favourite Marlow book so far has been Autumn Term. I am really looking forward to getting back to the Kingscote girls in End of Term, which I’ve ordered from Girls Gone By.

You might also be interested in reading:

‘Falconer’s Lure’ by Antonia Forest
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Two
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Three
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Four
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Five
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Six
‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Seven

8 thoughts on “‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Eight”

  1. Ann’s heinous crime was to Call For Help from Outsiders. As a Marlow she should know that the Marlows (especially teenage Marlows) deal with everything so much better themselves. The Fire Brigade, the Police, Social Services etc. only exist to look after useless Non-Marlow types.
    I’ve very much enjoyed your take on this book and am looking forward to finding out what you think of EOT.

    1. Oh, that’s what the Ann kerfuffle was about? I was thinking they were worried about the cost or the water damage or something. I would have thought a Navy family would LIKE authority and official types. That’s so interesting about their attitude to police and social services – I’m assuming this comes up in a later book!

      Thanks for all your comments and I’m really looking forward to End of Term – although it’ll probably be Christmas before I have any time to sit down and enjoy it properly!

      1. I could have added teachers and adults in general to the list of people that the younger characters won’t turn to for help – which is I suppose true of many childrens’ adventure stories, and is necessary to enable the story to happen. But I also think the insistence that someone in the family must run the farm is typical of the Marlows-know-best attitude; they argue themselves out of the idea that they could employ a farm manager because he might grub up hedges and have lots of horrible modern ideas – as if it’s impossible to tell a paid, professional employee what you do or don’t want them to do! Instead Rowan has to immolate herself on the family pyre.

        1. I know, I was a bit baffled by the farm decision. It’s not as though any of the Marlows have any practical experience or expertise in farming. Oh well, if things go badly wrong, that gives the author more drama to write about!

  2. Rowan is unbelievably stoic, isn’t she! She is, what, sixteen? going on about thirty five. There is lots of fan fic about Rowan 🙂

    Yes, roll on End of Term! I am also awaiting a new copy from Girls Gone By, to preserve the ancient paperback I picked up in a Scottish charity shop.

    Thank you Michelle for taking us through Falconer’s Lure in your inimitable style. (Is anything but style ever described as inimitable??)

    1. I think there’s a reference somewhere to Rowan being seventeen, although I’m a bit confused about the birth dates of the siblings. Poor Mrs Marlow must have been almost continuously pregnant for ten years. Rowan definitely seems a lot older and wearier than most teenagers, and I imagine this will become more marked as she tries to run an entire farm by herself. I am not surprised about the fan fic! (Rowan/Lois, perhaps? Mary Renault cross-overs?)

      Thank you for all your comments, too! It’s (almost entirely) your fault that I’ve fallen down the Marlow rabbit hole!

  3. Bwahahah! (fiendish hand rubbing) Excellent!

    I think there is some Rowan/Janice Scott fan fic, too… but you haven’t really met Janice Scott yet, so just hold that thought…

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