Breeding Ground
didn’t look as though she’d noticed. “I’m really sorry this happened to Toss. I am. But we’ve still got mares foaling. We’re trying to get yearlings ready for the July sales. And how can Toss even live on his own if both legs are hurt? He’ll probably be in a wheelchair for weeks. Though that’s hard to imagine, for anyone who knows Toss.”
    â€œMiss Jo?” Buddy was back from calling his wife, standing in front of her chair.
    â€œThanks for taking care of Toss, Buddy. Did you drive him, or get an ambulance?”
    â€œDrove. You want me to take his truck on back and do the late-night rounds, or you want me to wait for you?”
    Alan said he’d be happy to drive her home.
    So Jo asked Buddy to check every mare and baby the way Toss did at night, then fill buckets and feed more hay. “Is Walter coming in to help, in case somebody foals?”
    â€œYep. Oh, I meant to tell ya too, some lady come after supper, and rode Sam, and she’s gunna buy him. Her and Toss made a deal. She’s from over to Louisville, and she seemed like a real nice lady.”
    â€œI see.” Jo was looking at Buddy as though that had been completely unexpected and might not actually be welcome. “Let Emmy out too, okay? Walk her around and make sure she pees, and then put her back in the pantry.”
    â€œSure.”
    â€œThanks, Buddy.”
    â€œI’ll get goin’, and talk to you later.”
    Jo got up and followed him down the hall, then came back and paced some more, before she sat back down.
    â€œYou didn’t look too happy about Sam getting sold.” Alan was smiling at her like an older brother who knew something she didn’t.
    â€œIt’s not that. You just never know how some stranger will take care of your horse. Sam deserves a good home.”
    â€œThat’s what Tom thought too. You want a cup of coffee?”
    â€œI do. Thanks.”
    â€œCould I see Sam one more time when I drive you home? I don’t know anything about horses, but I’d actually like to learn to ride. It comes from watching Tom and Sam. You take your coffee black, right?”
    Five minutes after Alan went off, a tall, bony, tired looking doctor with a surgical mask hanging around his neck walked down the hall toward Jo. “You’re here with Mr. Watkins?
    â€œYes. I’m Jo Grant, his niece.”
    â€œHe came through surgery fine, but he’s got a compound fracture of the left tibia. That’s the larger bone in the lower leg. We had to put in screws that we’ll take out later. The right femur, the thigh bone, is cracked too. He should be fine in the long run. He’s strong as an ox, but recovery’s going to take awhile. He’s got casts on both legs.”
    â€œWhen do you think he’ll come home?”
    â€œMaybe tomorrow, or the day after. He’ll be in recovery most of the night. You might as well go on home and call us in the morning.”
    Alan parked by the house so Jo could change before they headed to the barns.
    It was a clear night, and the sky was endless – the half moon milky and soft, the stars burning crystals, the breeze warm on their skin.
    They walked slowly, both of them looking up in amazement – till Alan asked Jo what bothered her most about Toss getting hurt.
    Jo stopped in her tracks, and Emmy the puppy, being led on a lead to keep her from the horses, ran into the back of Jo’s paddock boots and fell right on her nose. “That’s an odd way to put it.”
    â€œPossibly. But still. What about Toss?”
    â€œI feel sorry for him. It’ll be miserable getting over this, but Toss is tough, and he won’t complain once. The trouble will be holding him down.”
    â€œBut?”
    â€œI don’t want to stay home and run the farm, and not go see the architecture I’ve been wanting to see for years. I was going to be gone for a month or more. But now

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