Once we were out of ear shot I had to reassure Misty that I wasn’t being serious. Sure, we could get the horses warmed up on the way from the Winery to the Pony Race on the road, but there were so few things that the ponies could do and be good at, that I wouldn’t begrudge them doing something they liked. She didn’t understand why I’d said that then. “Because Josh was being an ass!” I exploded.
She flushed and didn’t say anything more about it. Next time, I promised her, I would kick him. That made her giggle a little but I could tell she didn’t want me to kick him.
When we got back and switched over to the horses, giving the ponies their well earned feeding, we reported to Judy. All the work we’d done yesterday, such as getting the plant sprouts and checking the meters had been sent over to the Silverglade Veterinarian for analysis. I’m not sure what a Vet would know about plants, but I wasn’t in charge there. And I guess this Sonja girl wasn’t available to go pick up the results. Judy was worried already and pessimistic. Who knew how the Baroness would react if the news was what she thought it was going to be. I was sure Misty understood this better than I did. She was the one from the country with nobility.
I thought, and voiced, that this was kind of rewarding really. We’d done the hard work to get those samples and readings together. So it was nice to know what we’d worked on. I mean, they didn’t have to send us. We were just stable girls. The Vet was just inside the gates. So, thankfully, she wasn’t hard to find. She was also pretty forthright. The vines were contaminated. The wine from these grapes would taste awful and the ground wasn’t any better. We’d have to take the Baroness the bad news and stay out of sight of the G.E.D.
I thought the woman was paranoid. But she insisted that the G.E.D. probably knew everything already, including our names and where we lived. It was verging on hysteria. Okay, Mr. Kemball did know our names. We’d told them to him.
We rode back along the rode to the winery and just as I suspected, I didn’t see anyone from the G.E.D. See. Paranoia and hysteria.
We told Judy first. She wanted more confirmation before we went to the Baroness. We needed to prove absolutely that the oil in the vines and in the soil was from the Everwind Oil field. Well, I thought it was rather logical. The oil fields were right next to the grapes. It wasn’t like the Baroness was going to truck in oil from someplace else and dump it over her own grapes for some reason. Of course, I knew that and Judy knew that but I guess this wasn’t really for the Baroness or Judy. But this time, we really couldn’t be seen.
Misty looked nervous. So I went around back to keep out of the sight of Mr. Kemball. The workers were walking in patrol patterns. I got off of Heart. “Okay, you play look out and I’ll go in and get the samples.” I told her. “If you think they’re getting too close or if I miss someone, you cause a big distraction.”
I didn’t give her any time to come up with anything and ran off into the field. I figured as long as I stayed out of sight while collecting my samples. They’d leave me alone. This was the same company that had hired the guys in Moorland. I’m sure they were just as dumb as they were there. For all I knew they were the same guys, walking around in the same types of circles! And this time, there was nothing for them to turn back on.
My lips curled back in disgust. These guys weren’t even trying to run a clean facility. There were pools of standing oil everywhere with hoses dumped into them. It was like they ran the pumps, filled the barrels and then didn’t get it completely shut off before taking the hoses out. Or didn’t turn them on while the hoses were in the barrels. I don’t know. It was disgusting though. I dashed about, avoiding all the guys on patrol and got a sample from each of the pools of oil in each area. It was a lot easier said than done. I had to do a lot of hiding in bushes and behind rocks or around corners of containers to make sure they wouldn’t see me.
It got my heart going and really, it was kind of fun! If we were going to do this more often though, I was going to get a vest to ‘blend in.’ I swear I’d read somewhere that if you looked right and went about your business briskly that people wouldn’t ask questions. I had a little time to think while waiting, my mind racing. If I did get caught and before Misty could make her distraction, I’d lie and say I was taking samples for an oil quality test ordered by Mr. Kemball himself. See. I knew names too. I stuck my tongue out at the air and kept going.
I got back to Misty with the samples without incident. I grinned at her and held them up. She collapsed in relief. We avoided the area and Mr. Kemball again and headed back to the manor. Stealthy. That was the word. We were being stealthy.
Judy was relieved to see us. She had us analyze the samples in Carney’s machine. They, of course, were the same. Then Carney insisted that we should tell the Baroness. Now wait a minute! We were being made into, what was it? Sacrificial lambs here! I was quite sure the Baroness knew this already. It was obvious what was going on. Just from the way Carney and Judy were acting, you’d think they weren’t long time employees of the Baroness who would be rewarded for their loyalty. No. We were the easily replaceable ones. And we basically didn’t have a choice.
The old lady exploded when we told her. We were wasting her time with the obvious. Misty turned white and hid Evening behind Heart and I. I had to stiffen my spine and mention that the lawyers would want evidence. I bit my tongue on the fact we’d been Nancy Drewing, Hardy Boying and Sherlock Holming for her and some gratitude would be appreciated for putting ourselves in danger to get her evidence! She got herself under control fairly quickly. I think my mention of lawyers got the wheels in her head turning.
But she wanted us to go back. Mr. Kemball was a bad boy and most likely got his equipment through less than legal means and she wanted proof that it was so, and she needed the serial numbers. Okay, I’d already been there once. We could go back and get those for her. That wasn’t a problem. But first, she wanted us to find Sonja who was inspecting the grapes.
When we went to find Sonja. I told Misty that I don’t think the Baroness trusted us. I mean. There were two of us and we didn’t need a babysitter. We’d done all this work for her and it bothered me. I hadn’t forgotten that Linda was gone and the Butler seemed to know something about it or the crying girl in the Castle. I mean, I could tell things were wrong and I could see the obvious, but I wasn’t always good at thinking things through or understanding motivations.
Lucky for me, Misty did. She thought that maybe the Baroness believed we were trying to get into her good graces because we were spies for G.E.D. Instead of trying to help her, we were trying to help Mr. Kemball. That was absolutely absurd way of thinking, because we were only teenagers and Mr. Kemball wasn’t the type to hire teenagers. He was far too smug and superior to think that teenagers could help him, much less foil his plans like we’d already done once. Or, Misty thought, that the Baroness believed we wanted something from her. She was nobility and according to Misty that was the way they thought. I think it is still patently absurd. Maybe we should have brought up Mr. Moorland’s name a few more times and emphasized that he was just a neighbor helping out.
Sonja was inspecting the grapes and bored out of her mind. So, she was happy to go with us. She shouted at us “Last one to the oil field is an oily chicken!” and took off at a gallop. We raced her to the oil field and then once we got there, she chickened out. She wanted to stand guard while Misty and I got the numbers. Fine. Just fine, I had her stand guard on one side, had Misty move back to our original position to be the look out again and I went to get the serial numbers.
Must I do everything!
Instead of writing them down, which would take way too long and I could misinterpret the numbers, I made quick graphite rubbings of them. It worked much better. We reconvened with Sonja and while she hadn’t been doing anything, she’d been scared. She wanted to race back to the manor.
I think that’s all this girl cares about. Racing. And of course, once we got there, she wanted nothing to do with reporting to the Baroness. Typical.
This time the Baroness was pleased. And said she’d use us in the future, which was right away as she copied the serial numbers down and had us put them in the post box out front of the manor. It seems her son Aaron is on the Jorvik City Council. Always good to have a relative in places of authority.
Have a question you want to ask Savvy about her experiences in Moorland or before? Ask at Ask Mountain Song on tumblr.