Evening stuck his head out of his stall and whickered at me in greeting as we led the ponies back to our little clump of stalls. Bright dove head-first into his feed bucket as soon as I had gotten the last of his tack off, making me giggle. For such a little thing, he ate like he was a full-sized horse. We got the warmbloods saddled, and reported to Judy for work. Apparently all our results from yesterday had been sent to the vet in Silverglade for examination by another stable girl. So-said girl however was not available to go pick up the results, however, so we were being sent. Judy was quite concerned over the baroness’s reaction, and I could hardly blame her. All the nobility I had dealt with were used to getting their way, and news like this would not go over well.
Savvy was at least chipper about us getting to do this and find out the results of our work ourselves. She had a good point about us not being left out. I know that my parents keep me as in the dark as possible regarding everything. It was nice to be included for once, or at least more included. The vet was just inside the gates to town, so we didn’t have to wander too much to find her. Thankfully, she saved the technical jargon for reports and spoke plainly with us. The vines were in awful shape, and the wine harvest was going to just be abysmal, and if the ground was bad too… I blanched. The winery was in very big trouble.
Before taking the results back, the vet warned us that we had to be sure to avoid G.E.D. She was a little overdramatic, but I think this company’s interest in this island has unnerved all the locals. I decided to keep a sharp eye out, just to be careful and to make her feel better. The road back stayed clear of any sabotage. Maybe next time we saw the vet, I would let her know that things weren’t quite as dark as she feared.
Judy got the news first. She wanted more proof about the oil in the grape fields being the same as the G.E.D. oil field before she took it to the baroness. Understandable, in a way. I could see Kemball throwing demands for such proof around, and it is so difficult to stop such accusations than it seems. All they have to do is come up with theories, and when you try to poke holes in it, they stat demanding proof. If you can’t provide that proof…trouble. So much trouble. It’s why I hid in my laptop and books at school. It was just easier.
But not an option here. Judy wanted us to go get samples from the oilfield itself…without being seen by anybody. Oh why is it always us?! I clenched the reins too hard, making Evening toss his head and give me a dirty look. I whispered an apology to him as we walked in the direction of the oil pumps. Savvy led us around the back way, and looked out the field for a little while. I could see the patterns the workers were walking in, which should have made me feel better.
No. Not really.
But before I had time to get my courage gathered up, Savvy was off Heart and said that she would go get the samples, and I would be look out and cause a big distraction if they get too close or she missed someone. And before I could say anything, she was off. I stared down at both horses, and just… “What does she expect me to do?” I asked them. “Hoot like an owl? That won’t be the least bit suspicious in the middle of the day, since I doubt any of the daylight owls are local.” Heart snorted and stuck her nose up in the air, but Evening whinnied a laugh.
I watched Savvy’s path through the field, wishing I wasn’t wearing gloves so I could at least chew on my fingernails like I always did when I was nervous. (Though maybe it’s a good idea I didn’t, I’d chewed them to death this last term and they were still growing back.) She did a lot of ducking behind objects that I saw, which would have had me feeling about to die from nerves. Maybe it was a good thing I wasn’t the one down there and just playing look-out. I did keep an eye on the patrols, making sure no one got too close. I’m not sure what good it would do, my throat was all locked up and I doubt I could have even squeaked. But I watched.
And she came back, holding the samples up for me to see. I could have melted out of sheer relief. We took a circle around to avoid being seen at this point of our operation. Judy was happy to see us, and pointed us towards Carney to have the samples tested. They came out the same, so we finally had the proof we needed. I think Savvy was a bit incensed that we were the ones who were going to be the ones to tell the baroness, though. It was a case of the nose goes. Or in this case, the girls who were there for the entire process of finding this all out and thus able to answer any questions, I suppose.
True to what could be expected, the baroness was not happy with our news. And by not happy, I mean loud voices were involved. I felt the blood rush out of my face, and I quickly pulled Evening back to hid behind Savvy and Heart. He turned his head to snort at me, but what he saw must have calmed him, since he didn’t fight to be in the front again. Savvy wasn’t nearly as afraid as I was. She brought up lawyers and needing proof and that seemed to calm the baroness down enough to speak reasonably again.
Apparently she had reasons to suspect that Mr. Kemball had acquired his equipment illegally. To prove it, she just needed the serial numbers. To help us, she wanted us to find another stable girl named Sonja who was supposed to be out examining the grapes. A third, really? Weren’t two of us going to attract enough attention? But if that is what the lady wished…
Savvy didn’t think that the baroness trusted us, as she confided when we went looking for Sonja. The numbers of people being sent bothered her too, and so was the fact that no one was talking about the rumors we had heard. Savvy, though, was stumped about all of it as far as why they were doing it.
At last, something I thought I could understand. Navigating the higher set was something I had been forced to learn by Mummy’s aspirations, even if it was just enough to figure out how to politely be ignored. I explained how those of higher standing, especially those under attack from an outside force, were constantly expecting the next attack from the side, a sort of pincer maneuver. In this case, spies from G.E.D. or at least supporters of them.
Savvy dismissed that one with a scoff, seeing as we were teenagers, and well, Mr. Kemball wasn’t the sort to think that they were much use to him.
The other option, of course, was that the baroness suspected that we wanted something from her. Most of the nobility I had met at the parties were constantly expecting some request from me, and I was supposed to be grateful for everything they gave me without asking. It was an exhausting way of viewing the world, but it was how they thought. Savvy didn’t believe that made any more sense either, but she at least didn’t grumble about it so much.
Sonja was where we were expecting to find her, and absolutely bored to tears. She was more than happy to come with us to the oil field. She challenged us to a race, which got Evening fired up to chase after her. I don’t think he cared much for her horse… Well, when we got to the field, she wanted to stand guard while Savvy and I got the numbers! I squeaked. But Savvy thankfully saw the best way to handle this. She had Sonja watch one side, and then had me go back to our original position and keep an eye on Heart for her.
I wilted a little as she walked off to the field. I was feeling rather useless at the moment. I could have manners and deportment, and I knew my way around schoolwork. But so far this summer had been about espionage and…and investigations. I wasn’t brave enough for sneaking, and my shyness made talking to people almost impossible. I wasn’t pulling my weight at all.
Savvy returned pretty quickly with graphite rubbings of the numbers, and we met up with Sonja again. She had apparently been scared despite being look-out, and wanted to race back to the manor. Honestly, there are more things than racing! And when we got back, she wanted nothing to do with telling the baroness. I didn’t blame her, I didn’t like being yelled at earlier at all.
Thankfully, this time she was far happier. She said she would use us in the future, which really meant right that second as she had us send the serial numbers off to her son, Aaron, in Jorvik City. At last, she was done for us today which meant we could go do what we moved here to do. Help in the stable.