Well, we’d no sooner gotten the wool to the tailor when the baker needed our help. Sigh. Well, this time it was a short little jaunt to deliver some cookies to the castle, the Baroness’s favorite cardamom cookies. Savvy mentioned this might be a chance to meet the baroness, but that made me feel a little twitchy. I get enough nobility at home. But off we go, and Savvy knocked since I had the jar of cookies. Nobody answered, which I thought a little strange. Savvy was eyeing those cookies with a little too much interest though, so I knew lingering was not an option. They were not meant for us! But I don’t think Savvy would remember that if she was hungry. I suggested going back to Harold, and I barely twitched the reins and Evening was off to the village again. He has his moments of glory.
I gave Harold back his jar, explaining that no one answered the castle door, which sparked a little bit of a gossip session. Apparently people have been hearing a girl crying from somewhere in the castle. He thinks it’s a ghost. A tomb. A ghostly rider. And now a ghost girl. I whimpered, and I felt all the blood rush out of my face. I don’t like this, I don’t like the turn this all is taking at all…
But Harold had bottles for us to deliver to Godfrey, the baroness’s butler, Godfrey. I do hope he is like Lawrence rather than like Charles… Mr. Godfrey was apparently over at the winery, which we passed on our way to the ride hall last night. He also gave us some muffins, which seemed to satisfy Savvy’s stomach. I was interested, but declined. I was hungry, don’t get me wrong, but I could hear Mummy’s nagging already. She was always after me to keep an eye on my weight…
We arrived, and the winery is quite impressive, though I could see where it has perhaps fallen into disrepair in some places. Lots of empty flower pots, though perhaps it was too early for flowers, and the vines at least in the front looked like they were in sad shape compared to the vineyard party I had attended a couple years ago with my parents. The manor house though was rather nice, and the butler was standing out front. Savvy spoke up first while I dug the bottles out of my bag where I had wrapped them up to be sure Evening’s gait wouldn’t break them.
But the butler wasn’t much interested in speaking, or letting us speak with the baroness. He claimed she was very busy with G.E.D. and building a new track. Savvy was distracted, and apparently didn’t notice the nearby stable. At first, he was going to send us to someone named Linda, but then changed his mind rather oddly to have us speak to Judy instead. I put it off as him not being concerned about stable girls, making me cringe inside a little. Charles can be that way about the maids.
We rode over to Judy, but she didn’t even need an introduction from us. Mr.Moorland had already called ahead of us, so she knew us at sight. Mostly because of our horses! Apparently she had ridden them while she was at Moorland. I couldn’t help but feel jealous as Evening was so obviously happy to see her, begging for attention. At least Savvy’s Heart did the same, so I didn’t feel too left out. She slipped them treats, judging by the crunch it was sugar. Nice to learn a new favorite treat of his at least. Judy had a reasonable explanation for Godfrey’s slip up–apparently Linda had recently left.
When I hinted about the baroness being too busy to meet newcomers, she wasn’t surprised. Apparently things really are that chaotic around here, especially since they were short-handed with Linda gone. I was still rather surprised when Judy asked us to stay there rather than return to camp. I mean, we were first year campers, how could they trust us to know what to do? And a stable girl? If Mummy knew I was basically taking on a part-time job of any sort, she would have a fit, and doubly so over it being a stable girl. I’m not entirely sure Daddy would be too happy either, he already doesn’t like my riding very well in case I injury my hands (when they will figure out I don’t care, I don’t know).
But Savvy said almost yes, and well, it was conditional on me. I want to think of us as friends, and I have so much trouble making those. And honestly, the feeling of the winery was far closer to home-like for me than Moorland, which would still be nearby so it wasn’t like we were completely abandoning it… (I refuse to think about why I don’t want to leave the vacinity of it, thank you.) So I agreed. It was worth it, seeing Judy’s relief. The first thing we needed to do was get the stable in order, and then she gave us the real work that needed done.
Apparently the irrigation pipes had frozen over the winter (don’t ask me how, this is all far above–or rather, below–my pay grade, I am really learning this on the fly). She first needed us to find all the leaks. And since we were heading down into the grapes anyway, one of the grape farmers, Carney, asked us to find him a sprout for some soil tests that sounded rather fascinating. The first girl apparently hadn’t known what a grape sprout looked like, and that at least I did know. It should have all been easy enough, but the water was still flowing out of the busted pipes! Savvy darted in before I knew what she was doing, and I managed to copy her actions reasonably well to get, turning a wheel between us. It was hard work, though, and my arms felt like noodles afterwards.
The grape sprouts and meters were far easier to find. While we were walking between rows, Savvy explained what all had been going on in that mind of hers. Apparently she was connecting dots I hadn’t been seeing between the crying girl in the castle, Linda, and Godfrey’s behavior. I really didn’t want her to be right, but it made an appalling amount of sense. She was also expressing some guilt over putting me on the spot about moving that I quickly had to reassure her about it. The fee for moving was honestly not going to be that big of a deal, drop in the bucket really, and well, packing could be done and was an old hat for me, it had to happen every year for school. I would prefer the winery, I think, since the environment was more like what I was used to back home in England, and that was worth it.
By the time we’d returned with sprouts and meter readings for Carney, Judy had found some tools for us to fix the busted pipes. I was rather dubious of these tools. I am not familiar with repair work, but the replacement bits of pipe looked just as bad as what was already out there, and just… There is no way those repairs are going to hold. Judy might want to find real plumbers before next winter. But it was apparently a good enough job that Judy wanted us to report to the baroness, who she had already told about us fixing the pipes.
I didn’t have to look down to know the white shirt under Mr. Larsson’s vest had to be soaked through and stained with sweat, since it was white and I hadn’t known I would be doing labor this morning. Even the vest was itchy, indicating filth. The black pants were probably salvageable. But the rest was not suitable for meeting people of my parents’ status. Much less even higher! I squeaked and grabbed Savvy before she could say yes without thinking. “We can’t meet the baroness in this condition!” I managed to whisper/hiss once we were out of Judy’s earshot. “She’s nobility. She’ll make her decision on us at first sight and neither hell nor high water will change it.”
Savvy’s expression said that she thought I was over reacting, but I managed to put my foot down. Shower, fresh make-up and hair, lunch so our stomachs wouldn’t growl and embarrass us, and something nice to wear that would be understated at the same time… That would be the ticket to a good first impression. But Savvy put a crimp in my plan. I forgot I didn’t have a trunk full of my normal clothes to pick from, just what had been given to us so far. And while Reed’s jacket might be appropriate, it was just too bright for me to be comfortable and also not the impression we wanted to give either. Especially if we both wore it!
Savvy mocked me, but… Yes, I could have whimpered at the idea of having to shop. I managed to restrain it to a sigh. Maybe I could stretch this to avoid having to do it for a few days at least. That perked me up a little bit as Savvy called for a pick up from Jenna. Then when Jenna arrived and I saw her next to Judy, I had to blink. They looked far too much alike to be normal. Even Savvy made a face that had me bursting into giggles, a tinge hysterical but giggles. And off we went to Moorland for my plan to be put in place.
Fast Note: Either on this day in the plot or the day before (I can’t remember), you can start repairing the bridge which leads to Jarlaheim. However, this is a giant, massive plot hole and so we are moving it to where it actually belongs (or at least, our best guess).