Misty and I went to do the stable chores. We’d put them off longer than we should have. And when I went to put water in one of the troughs, I had to take a step back and couldn’t help but shiver. The horse in the stall wasn’t the pleasant bay of the Baroness’ horses. This one was big, black and looked all too familiar. It was the horse of the ghost rider. I backed away quickly. My stomach tied itself into a knot. Being near this horse was making me feel queasy.
“Misty! Misty!” I hissed. “Isn’t this the horse of that rider who stole the Moorland’s deed?” I waved at her to get over here. She paled and agreed. Judy was busy so we ran around the side to talk to Tyra. Tyra knew instantly what horse we were talking about, Khaan. He was owned by another new girl, Sabine. Linda had shown Sabine around and then the next day, Linda had been gone! She gestured to where Sabine was and I checked her out. She looked like a snob, dressed in dressage gear. Why would a mere stable girl dress in dressage gear to do dirty work around the manor? She was the dark haired girl from that morning with the mean face. I just didn’t like her.
Sabine, the horse of the ghost rider, a missing Linda, a crying girl in the castle and a butler who was being far too shady for his own good. I felt a tingle in my gut. This was all connected. I was sure of it. Misty asked Tyra if she knew if Sabine had been out a few days ago riding around Moorland.
Of course, Tyra had no idea. We’d have to ask Sabine.
The last thing I wanted to do was talk to her. I grabbed Misty and tugged her back around to the stable to finish up chores. I whispered to her as we worked. I was good at spy craft and hurling insults, but of the two of us, she was the one who was good at acting haughty and superior. Misty could demand answers and probably get them, while Sabine would brush me off. I’d cover for her while she went inside and put that silly Reed Kessler jacket on before confronting Sabine. If anything went wrong, I could dash in and make a fool of myself. She didn’t look very certain about doing it. I hissed that I knew that Sabine had to be working for Mr. Kemball or worse! Look at Khaan, he was the exact same horse from the ghost rider who stole the deed! We couldn’t let Mr. Kemball get away with anything. All Misty had to do was pretend that Sabine was Mr. Kemball. Beneath her time and not worth her notice except for the information she could get Sabine to let slip.
Misty reluctantly agreed and then turned red. She’d sold her Reed Kessler Jacket. I’d forgotten that. I told her she could use mine. I wasn’t ever going to wear it and they were identical. She dashed into the inn and changed her shirt. I think she went all the way around the stable and came up from Sabine from a different direction. I pretended to continue to clean the stable and kept an eye on them. It was the clash of the snobs, though I could tell Misty was having a hard time keeping it up. I hope Sabine didn’t notice. Sabine stalked off with her nose in the air. I felt the urge to trip her.
Since Sabine was gone I went over to lean next to Misty. Misty was sure Sabine was hiding something. I nodded. But she’d gotten out of Sabine there was a race track here. I raised my eyebrows. Here? I hadn’t seen anything remotely looking like a track. I guess we were to talk to Tyra about it. I casually mentioned that Sabine had looked like a bitch. Misty burst out that she’d been a real pikey. I assumed that was British for bitch.
Tyra pointed us to Pauline and Pauline gushed about the track before we were able to try it. Pauline seemed to be the gushing type. By the time we were done, Sabine was back and looking contrite. She approached Misty and made noises about bad starts and friends? It was quite the turn around, one minute bitch, and the next bubble airhead. I didn’t believe it for the moment. She wanted to know if we knew Justin.
What is it about Justin? He’s not even hot!
Not like Derek.
Sabine gave Misty a letter to give to Justin and then a whole bunch of nonsense about not knowing where Moorland was, liar, getting lost, oh it’s not that hard to get there and back and staying to classier areas, really? Was this girl for real? Misty took the letter and once Sabine was gone we held it up to the light and turned it over trying to figure out who it was from. An unknown relative?
“The only way we’re going to find out is to give it to Justin.” I said.
Misty replied with a “Something doesn’t feel right about this.”
“Nothing has been right since Justin pointed us out to Mr. Moorland to help with the whole G.E.D. nonsense!”
Maybe if we’d just opened the letter and read it ourselves and went to Mr. Moorland or the Baroness, none of what happened next would have happened at all. But me and my big mouth! I bullied Misty into going. I knew something was wrong and I was just too curious for my own good.
We took the letter to Justin. We made small talk while he opened it and right away. He changed. He became cold and distant and sneering. Or I thought he did. The world turned darker around him. I rubbed my eyes and it changed to a sunny day again and he was talking. The letter was about his grandfather. He insisted he had to leave at once. He needed us to tell his father.
Misty had seen him near the smithy. I dug my heels into Heart’s side. Something was wrong, wrong, wrong and I couldn’t see what. I dashed to Thomas and blurted out that Justin had a letter from his grandfather and was leaving to see him. Thomas paled and we galloped back to try and stop Justin.
But he was gone and Thomas was disconsolate. Insisting it was his fault. I tried to tell him that it was my fault. I was the one who insisted on giving Justin the letter from Sabine. Thomas stiffened at her name. Oh, he knew her all right. He called her a sneaky, insidious snake and this wasn’t the first time she’d messed with the Moorland family. I told him that I thought she was the cloaked rider. He thought of something he didn’t share, but his implication was that Sabine wasn’t working for the G.E.D.
There’s someone worse working in Jorvik.
Now they think to tell us this! Thomas wanted more information about what Sabine had been up to and I was feeling guilty enough to comply. He stopped me before we left and told us not to feel bad. We didn’t know anything about Jorvik and what was going on here. He should have talked to Justin years ago about his grandfather and warned him. It wasn’t our fault that Sabine played us for fools.
We still could have opened that note! Thomas insisted that we both knew better than that to read someone else’s private correspondence. We could have only done what we did.
I don’t agree with him. I didn’t get that surge of warning, that view of darkness around Justin until he touched that note. I shivered. Had he really changed or had it been my imagination? I couldn’t ask Misty. She looked like a fish about my idea of opening the letter. I guess I wouldn’t have been able to talk her into that. I didn’t want to talk on the way back to the Manor. I was mad at myself and didn’t want to take it out on her. I wanted to kick myself. I could be so stupid.
But who could have predicted that Justin would have taken off like that?
Of course, Sabine was gone. Sent us to do her dirty work while she made a quick getaway. And the Baroness showing exactly what type of useless nobility that she was, knew nothing about her. I told her that Justin had left to see his grandfather just to see what she’d do.
She told me it wasn’t funny to joke about that. She slipped a ‘my’ in there too. I think she thought I wouldn’t catch it. I wasn’t joking. I bit my tongue again though I wanted to lash out at her. And this was partially her fault, if she or Sabine had done something to Linda, then the Baroness shouldn’t just hire anyone who showed up. We at least had references! If Thomas knew Sabine was a snake, then the Baroness should have known too. Except she couldn’t be bothered to be interested in her own hired help!
She ran off to confer with Godfrey. I highly doubted a bath was going to be involved. The Baroness was in scramble mode. Well, fine. Misty and I would figure this out ourselves. And if it ended up involving the Baroness in some way, which I’m sure it would in the end, then she’d owe us a huge apology. I simmered.
Have a question you want to ask Savvy about her experiences in Moorland or before? Ask at Ask Mountain Song on tumblr.