I didn’t feel like we had a choice. I was grumpy again though. I felt bad for Misty, Evening and Heart. I’m afraid I was a bit short with Landon. His sheep needed shearing. He hadn’t had time to do it because he was busy watching them. So, he stands around all day with his eyes on the sheep instead of doing his job. I went to a sheep farm in second grade. I do remember the farmer saying that sheep die if you don’t shear them properly! And he said he didn’t want to lose any! I snatched his shears and said we’d do it ourselves. He called me feisty. Well good! If the job gets done, the job gets done.
I’d forgotten though that sheep smell and as soon as I got close to them, I began to feel uneasy and suddenly remembered a story my mother liked to tell about me and a petting zoo. I’m tiny and when I was little, I was well, really little. Mother and daddy took me to a petting zoo which had a whole bunch of farm animals, including a ram. Well, for some reason, the ram took a dislike to me and started chasing me around the pen. I don’t remember this, but I’ve never been easy around farm animals ever since. I looked over the sheep. There weren’t any rams among them that I could tell. And I didn’t have a problem with the ewes. They were big, but I was bigger now too. And as long as they didn’t bunch up and push me over, I’d be fine. These were all spaced out anyways. Twinky hadn’t garnered this response, but there was only one of Twinky.
Misty fussed over the first one and the sheep didn’t seem to mind her. So that gave me a bit of courage. The sheep seemed pathetically grateful to be rid of those heavy piles of stinky wool. Question: Why does wool stink? Must learn. We weren’t that great at it at first but by the time we finished, why we had it down to an art. Between us, Misty and I sheared all of Landon’s sheep.
He was impressed. I would have been more impressed if his rabbits hadn’t kept trying to jump on me and he’d shear his sheep himself. The wool was super thick. It really must have been a harsh winter. They looked much happier with it gone. Landon works for the Baroness. Yet again, we hear about her. He says that maybe we’ll get to meet her. Maybe now isn’t the time though, since she’s upset about the drilling in the Everwind Fields. I thumped the shears in my hand before giving them back to him. Maybe now was the time, I’d like to help drive that nasty Mr. Kemball out of Jorvik entirely.
When we delivered the wool to Donald, he idly mentioned that Harold needed our help.
Harold needed us to make a delivery to the castle which wasn’t that far away. Cardamom cookies. They smelled good. The Baroness likes them. I told Misty that this might be our chance to meet this elusive Baroness. Heart stomped her hoof, insistent that we do this. So, we took up the cookies and went to the huge castle and knocked. There wasn’t any answer and those cookies did smell good. I was getting hungry. We needed a snack and it was tempting to grab the jar, open it and take a few of those cookies out. I must have been looking too longingly at the cookie jar. Misty hugged it to her and suggested that we go back to Harold. And before I could say yay or nay, Evening had turned around and they were galloping back to the village. Well. Huff.
Harold had some juicy gossip. Apparently, people have heard a girl crying in the castle! Harold thinks it might be a ghost. Misty meeped and turned white on me. Harold had some bottles for us to deliver to Godfrey, the Baroness’ butler. We could ask about the crying when we met the Baroness. He also, oh thank god, gave us some muffins for being so helpful. Misty took the bottles and wrapped them carefully. But declined the muffins, I need to get into that girl about eating properly. We are doing a lot of work and she won’t eat more than a spoonful at breakfast and refuses free snacks! I tore into the muffins as we headed towards the Manor. It seems that the Baroness owns the winery we passed last night on the way to the ride hall.
It seemed impressive enough, if a little worn down. The front had those big Greek like columns and lots of steps. Did the Baroness not have enough money to fix things?
I tried to make polite conversation with the Butler when we arrived with the bottles. He put me off though, like he was trying to hide something. The Baroness was busy, G.E.D. shenanigans and she’s building a new race track. I tucked that tidbit into the back of my mind. I asked if there was a stable and he pointed out, the very obvious, stable that I had pretending to not notice existing. At first he directed us to speak to someone named Linda, and then very obviously changed his mind and said to talk to Judy.
That’s it, Godfrey, the Butler, is hiding something. I feel like I am in a game of Clue. It was the Butler in the pantry with the wine bottle!
Crying girl in the castle, could be a ghost or not, and a girl named Linda that he diverted us from. Hmmm. I couldn’t say a word about this to Misty though, not right there in front of the butler.
We rode over to Judy and introduced ourselves. Apparently, we needed no introducing. Mr. Moorland was ahead of us and Judy knew who we were and who our horses were. Apparently when she was a stable girl at Moorland, she would ride SpiderHeart and EveningStar. The two horses were really happy to see her, and begged for pets and I think she slipped them a treat as well. I heard some suspicious crunching. Judy said that Linda had left. Well, I guess it could be that innocent of an explanation. Godfrey wouldn’t work that closely with the stables, but something still felt off to me. And when we mentioned not meeting the Baroness yet, Judy wasn’t the least bit surprised.
The Baroness has been spending a lot of time in the castle, the castle with the crying girl. And the Baroness is almost hysterical about something. My nose is getting itchy diary. There is a mystery here and we are going to solve it. Besides, surely the Baroness has heard about us running G.E.D. out of Moorland. She could use our help to get him out of the Everwind Fields too. All right, maybe that is over confidence speaking, but I want that slimy, pretentious Mr. Kemball gone.
Judy asked us to stay and help at the Winery until Mr. Moorland needed us again. And I knew she didn’t mean for us to ride back and forth from Moorland every day, but to actually move our things to the Winery and help out. If we did that, we wouldn’t be campers anymore. We’d be, something else, I don’t know what, but something else. Hired help? I was willing to do it. I didn’t want to be stuck to the environs of Moorland and be bound up by all sorts of silly rules for campers when we weren’t even doing summer camp things. I said, I would help if Misty helped. And when Misty agreed, Judy sure looked relieved. The Stables needed cleaning first thing of course and then she gave us real chores.
The winter had been so harsh that the water had frozen in the big pipes used to irrigate the grapes and busted them. Our first job was to find all the leaks. Before we could get very far, Carney, one of the grape farmers, flagged us down and asked us that while we were out there to get a grape sprout for him and to check where he was doing some soil tests. Apparently the girl he’d sent out didn’t know what a grape sprout looked like. It was easy enough, but no one had turned off the water to the pipes and both Misty and I got soaked as we rushed in, grabbed the wheel between us and had to chant as we turned it. I don’t’ know how much of the wet on me was water and how much was sweat.
Between turning off pipes and snipping grape sprouts and reading meters, I told Misty my suspicions. Something was wrong with this picture, a crying girl in the Castle, Linda being gone. The Butler seemed awfully nervous. I felt a bit bad about putting her on the spot like that to change stables, this was going to cost us a fee and our lodgings would change so we’d have to pack up and move and figure out something for food. She reassured me quickly enough. She liked the feel of the winery better than Moorland and I guess she was much more used to packing than I was. It is true then that the British send their children to boarding schools. I don’t know how I feel about that.
When we got back from that, Judy had tools for us to actually repair the pipes. So, we trudged back out to the pipes we’d just turned off and fixed them with what felt like the equivalent of duct tape and bailing twine. I had a sinking feeling that we’d be out here fixing them again in the near future.
Well, Judy insisted that we report to the Baroness. The Baroness was thrilled that we’d inspected and were fixing the pipes. For some reason, Misty squeaked, grabbed me and pulled me away from Judy. She looked frantic. “We can’t meet the Baroness looking like this! She’s royalty.”
Have a question you want to ask Savvy about her experiences in Moorland or before? Ask at Ask Mountain Song on tumblr.