Chapter 4 Mistaken Identity
There was work to do after lunch, Horses had to be exercised for livery clients, tack had to be cleaned, lessons had to be taught. Gareth still had to organise his life and affairs. One thing you can’t live without is your own toothbrush. Jenny lent Gareth some money to get shampoo, soap and other necessaries with. Looking after horses is a dirty job and you do need to get clean!
Rockwork the chestnut hunter needed exercise so Gareth thought he’d kill two birds with one stone and ride Rocky to the village shop to buy some supplies. He rummaged about in the tack room until he found some saddle bags. Once these were attached to Rocky’s saddle he set off for Roxmoor village.
Meanwhile Jenny had accumulated a pile of saddles in the tack room that needed cleaning. This was a job she liked doing and it gave her a sense of achievement once the saddles were all back on their rack, gleaming and smelling of saddle soap. She was just about to start on the oldest and filthiest saddle (oddly belonging to Conrad the show jumper) when the phone rang in the office. Jenny put down her sponges rag and tin of saddle soap and went to answer the phone. As she picked up the receiver whoever had rung decided to ring off. The line was dead. She decided that if it was important, whoever had rung would ring back .
Returning to the tack room, Jenny found the place full of gleaming clean leather. All the saddles were spotless and polished!
Jenny stood thunderstruck, gazing at several hours worth of polishing that had been done in moments, the phone rang again. She staggered off to answer it.
“Havillands Riding School and Livery, how can I help you?” chanted Jenny feeling somewhat confused,
“You work hard, I though you needed a hand.” replied a man’s voice faintly down the line, with that he put the phone down.
Jenny felt somewhat uncomfortable, she felt as if she was being watched. She spun around to find Gubbins staring at her from the office window sill.
“Oh Gubbins, you frightened me,” she said and picking the cat up to hug him for comfort, walked over to the stables to get a horse ready for a lesson that was going to start at two o’clock.
Gareth and Rocky had reached the village. They clattered past the Cross Keys inn and waved to Reverend Ellis who was raking the vicarage lawn to collect up twigs from the chestnut trees that had come down in the storm. Gareth stopped Rocky by the vicarage gate to speak to him and tell him what had happened with his caravan. News travels fast in Roxmoor and several of the parishioners from St. Mary’s Church had already dropped off donations of blankets, old coats and woolly socks at the vicarage for Gareth.
Being a Saturday the village was quite busy with people shopping, going to the library, waiting for busses into town and having a pint at the Cross Keys. Gareth was just about to leave the Vicarage gate to continue on to the shop, when there was an almighty shriek from the direction of the bus stop! The shriek un nerved Rocky who shied violently, once Gareth had got him calmed down, he dis mounted, only to find himself grabbed and enveloped in a huge bear hug by an older lady!
“Oh Matthew, Matthew, is it really you?” she cried,
“Err... no.... my name’s Gareth, Gareth Evans see, from the stables.” replied an uncomprehending, confused and faintly embarrassed Gareth from the depths of a bear hug. The lady let go, stepped back and stared at Gareth’s face intently for a moment, then she changed her glasses and stared again. Her face fell and her shoulders drooped.
“I’m sorry, I seem to have made a fool of myself, I thought you were someone else.” The lady began to cry quietly, Reverend Ellis offered her his pocket handkerchief and Gareth patted her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. He was still a bit poleaxed by the whole being hugged by a random stranger thing anyway.
Reverend Ellis took Gareth and the lady into the vicarage and beetled off to make some tea, he was a big believer in the restorative powers of a nice cuppa. Gareth sat down on the sofa next to the still slightly distressed lady and tried to find out what was wrong.
“I’m so sorry,” sobbed the lady, “It is just that from a distance you looked so much like my Matthew, what with that lovely chestnut horse of yours.”
“Who Rockwork? Oh he’s not actually mine, he is a livery horse from Havillands, I was exercising him for his owner who is on holiday. Who is Matthew?” asked Gareth, hoping to shed some light on the matter.
At that moment Reverend Ellis returned with a tea trolley, a large pot of Darjeeling and some fig rolls. He was closely followed by his aged and somewhat irascible mother wielding her zimmer frame expertly.
“Time for a cup of tea,” announced the vicar brightly, “ Do you take milk and sugar Mrs... er......”
“Fletcher, Pamela Fletcher” said the lady, wiping her eyes on the pocket handkerchief that she had been given.
“Allow me to introduce everyone “ said the vicar, -ever a stickler for good manners and etiquette- “This is my Mother Mrs, Megan Ellis, and this is Gareth Evans who you have already...er...met.” Pamela began to look embarrassed again so Reverend Ellis continued “ What has happened seems to have been a case of mistaken identity, no harm done.”
“I’m really really sorry, “repeated Pamela, “I really thought you were Matthew come back.”
“Who is Matthew?” asked Gareth once more.