Day 8: Not a good day for feet or knees… (Part 1)

April 10, 20xx

Dear Diary,

I woke up on time today, and could feel how sore yesterday had made me. Ugh! It was hard to leave the warmth of the bed and crawl down the ladder, but I did it. I didn’t have much that was clean, but thankfully today was laundry day, if they did that here like they did at Moorland. I grabbed the ugly brown pants, figuring they would do for today, and the purple t-shirt that we had gotten the day after our move. It would work. I didn’t put my boots on right away, though, instead doing a few yoga stretches to help with the pain I was feeling. I started my music to help with keeping count, and sang along quietly with what was playing.

At last feeling a little awake, I started on my hair and make-up, smiling at Savvy in greeting when I noticed she was awake since I didn’t want to stop singing yet. And then I realized that she was staring at me like I’d lost my mind, and I realized that I had left Bastille going, and it had gotten to, “What Would You Do?” which is…not as classy as what I normally listened to. I flushed, but didn’t try to defend myself. I liked the song, even if it was a little sad.

She started to get ready, and we were both about there when Nikki knocked, wanting to eat breakfast with us again. I quickly confirmed that yes, if all my things were tagged as mine, I could put them in the canvas laundry bag and leave it at the foot of my bed and a servant would do the laundry for me when they came in to make sure we hadn’t left our room a complete mess, which was apparently a big no-no. (The machines in the dorms were just meant for emergency situations, or those who would just prefer to do it themselves.) I dug a marker out of my stationary kit and quickly labeled all the tags on my new items, and even managed with a bit of purple ribbon and a piece of my stationary (since it was all I had) to make a list of what all was in there, just for reference for whoever was doing the packing later.

Once that was done, off we went to breakfast. Nikki was willing to chatter a little. She had done a little investigation at Jarlaheim, but her leads hadn’t come up with anything quite yet. (Being distracted by a young man who was scouting the place to open a shop didn’t help matters in my opinion, but I am not one to talk.) When we were fixing our plates, I was thrilled when they had some of the American style bacon, but it wasn’t cooked to death (or properly cooked, as I heard someone muttering, but I liked it floppy). I got a healthy pile of that with a happy hum. I rarely got to eat bacon at school! I also grabbed a buttermilk scone and a cup of the mixed fruit, which looked like melon and strawberries. With my tea, this was the sort of breakfast I loved. Today was turning out well!

Savvy took over the conversation at that point for a moment, but Nikki had noticed I didn’t talk much and made a pointed effort to bring me into the subject, asking me about my life in England. I flushed and stared at my plate, but managed to eek out that I attended a boarding school most of the year and spent the summer at various camps. Daddy had the family business and estate to manage, and Mummy was a socialite. Mostly, I spent my time doing school work, equestrian team practice, or playing the Assassin’s Creed games on my computer, since I had gotten the first three as a gift a couple years ago. That seemed to satisfy her that I was as boring as I looked.

We went after the ponies, who were all chipper this morning. I checked on Evening too, and he was a grumpy lump in the back of his stall. I left him be to doze for a little while longer. Last night had gone late enough, he deserved a bit of a lie-in. Bright seemed to sense it best not to bother his herd mate too, since he kept his joy rather quiet and contained (for him). With all three ponies ready to go, we took the gentlemen and lady out for their morning exercise.

And first things first was, of course, pole bending. Sigh. Doing this every morning was becoming emotionally exhausting. But I tucked my chin down and bore it, for Bright’s sake if nothing else. He really enjoyed having things to do that was just him and me, so I wasn’t going to deny him it. We arrived in a clump, just as a couple other girls were finishing. They were whispering and looking over their shoulder with frowns, making me worried despite my better judgment.

Josh seemed fine if, a little more…blunt than normal. He normally moved pretty slow and gentle, smooth so as to not startle the horses. He was still slow, but he was rougher in how he moved. I shared a baffled look with Savvy, who took off to run the race pretty quickly rather than stick around. How strange.

I should have just kept my mouth shut. But I had to know, I had to know if it was his hat (and therefore him) I had seen last night. So I mentioned to Nikki we went, and she perked up and asked to come with us next time. I said of course, and talked up how much fun I’d had dancing.

And it was impossible not to miss how Josh jerked up a little straighter before tugging his hat down harder with a grumble.

He had been there, I was sure of it! But why? I know I hadn’t seen Loretta there, and she would have been holding court if she had been. Obviously he hadn’t gone in hopes of seeing me, since he hadn’t sought me out. My hair didn’t exactly make it easy for me to blend in with a crowd. I was so confused.

Thankfully, Savvy finished at that point, so I took Bright through the course next. It let me not-think for a little while. He got a little tangled between two of the poles, but I managed to navigate him around, though not without banging my knee against one of the poles. Oww.

We made it back, and Josh gave me my time. I walked Bright next to Savvy while Nikki took her turn and managed to whisper that I was going to need some knee pads if we kept doing this every day while I rubbed my sore knee. I was quite sure that I was going to have a massive bruise later. She giggled, though it was rather loud for her, especially for such an off-hand comment. Nikki came back, and we went to leave…

Until Josh stopped me. “Genevieve, wait,” he said, his voice gruff. I turned to look at him, startled, but he stopped at Bright’s right hind leg. “He’s favoring this hoof. Get off and let me look.”

Not a please to be had, huh? I sniffed, but quickly slid down. I hadn’t noticed anything! Bright gave a snort as well, turning his head to look at Josh as he reluctantly picked up his hoof at the cowboy’s urging.

Josh didn’t hold on to it long, though whether that was because he found the problem or Bright kept fighting him because he’s so sensitive about his feet, I don’t know. “Looks like he’s starting to get thrush,” he said, still refusing to look at me. “You’ll want to keep his stall a little dryer, clean the hooves more often. Got a hoof pick?”

I pointed at the saddle bag, and he took that as permission to open it (which it was). He found my pick and picked up both of Bright’s back feet to clean them out. I think I heard him swear about the second or third time Bright tried to jerk his hoof free, which made me clap my hand over my mouth to muffle my giggles. He put my hoof pick up and glared at my pony, but gave him a pat on the rump.

“Thank you,” I said, and swung back up in the saddle. He grumbled something, which I took as him accepting it. I refused to look back at him until the three of us had walked far enough away that I wouldn’t get caught. He still seemed stiff, and I wondered what burr had gotten under his saddle.

My attention was yanked back by Nikki saying she was heading to the fort to catch the ferry to Jarlaheim, and she was certain she would find information for us today. Savvy and I waved her off, and Savvy suggest that we really go after the stalls when we got back. You didn’t have to say that twice to me! I wanted to shudder just thinking about it. Thrush was an ugly little fungus and I wanted it gone.

(Okay, I know, it isn’t actually a fungus, it’s a bacterial infection. I still think of it as a fungus.)

The ponies had a blast at the pony race again, Bright occasionally getting a little too eager and running right through the bits of sea water the track bordered. I didn’t mind the splash, though. It helped cool me off. We got to Silverglade to check the mail, more so I could keep Savvy in her good mood than because I expected there to be anything. But Derek was there, and even handed us both an envelope. I frowned, recognizing the teal envelope as Daddy’s but the handwriting was off on the front. His was rather slanted and stiff, this wasn’t.

Thankfully, someone was thoughtful enough to keep a cup of handy post items on the counter there. Including a letter opener (since mine was back in our room). I cracked open the seal and easily slit it open. I put the letter opener back where I found it and pulled the…plain white?…paper out. That was weird. Daddy usually wrote on cream parchment-type paper.

But when I opened it, a single bill tried to flutter out. I snagged it, glanced at the denomination, and realized it was my allowance. Since Derek was busy and no one else was looking (and my wallet wasn’t on me, and I didn’t want to lose something that big in monetary value in a pant or saddle bag pocket), I tucked the bill under the shoulder band of my chemise. The shirt was thick enough it laid down flat again without showing the shape of the bill, making me content for now.

The actual letter… Well, it wasn’t from Daddy. It was from Miss Sable. I didn’t even read it, not really. I saw something about my father sending his love and he would write me himself when he had time. Right, or when she thought to give him my letter! I bet she wasn’t even giving it to him, and would stop all my mail since she saw it before he did. I pressed my lips together to avoid frowning or doing anything else to show my displeasure in my face.

And proceeded to rip the letter and envelope both into quarters before throwing it away.

Continue to Part 2…


About Rebecca M. Horner

A spinner of yarns (of the story sort, though I do crochet...and sew, and learning to make armor...) View all posts by Rebecca M. Horner

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