Chapter six; Many hands make light work.
The sun was beginning to set when Jenny saw Gareth arrive back at the stables. She felt relieved that a welcome face had returned. The afternoon had been far too strange to be real.
The incident in the tack room had been just the start of a peculiar ordeal for Jenny which had left her jittery and nervous-and Jenny was a tough girl who didn’t scare easily-.
After the mysterious clean tack and the peculiar phone call, Jenny had gone to find the tack for Poppy the grey pony who was to be used in a lesson that afternoon. She had just put the saddle and bridle over the door of Poppy’s stable when Mrs. Hernandez called her from the livery barn to look at her horse Mortimer. Mortimer had a bit of a swollen hock and she wanted Jenny’s advice on what to do with it. Jenny recommended a cold compress and some bandages. Jenny returned to Poppy’s stable to find Poppy fully tacked up.
Jenny looked around thinking that perhaps one of the livery owners may have done it for her, but all the livery people were in the large barn tending to their horses.
Just then her pupil arrived in the shape of Priya, the postman’s daughter, which took Jenny’s mind off the mysterious works since seven year old Priya was more than a handful! They set out to the sand school which was behind the stables and the livery barn. After half an hour of Priya’s non stop chattering both Jenny and Poppy needed a rest. Jenny led Priya and the pony back to the stable. Priya helped with un-tacking Poppy and put the tack away in the tack room. Jenny went into the office to book Priya’s next lesson. Her Dad, Ran, was waiting in the office listening to the old radio that was on the desk.
“Hello Jenny,” he said when she entered the room “Been having a tidy up have we?”
Jenny looked around the office. It was tidy, very tidy, tidy to the point of clinical.
“I didn’t do this!” Jenny stuttered.
“Well whoever did it made a jolly good job of it.” commented Ran, looking approvingly at the neat folders on the shelf, the filing cabinet that actually closed and the lack of mouldering coffee cups and old tea bags in the sink.
“We’ll see you next week same time?” he asked as he found himself victim to Priya’s chattering and demands for a piggy back.
Jenny nodded dumbly, gazing at the desk in the office that was usually buried under a mountain of papers, old crisp packets, lone gloves that had been found and handed in and unopened post.
The office had been its usual happy jumble when she had answered the phone earlier, some one had done some major work in the space of a couple of hours.
The question was who?
Things got more and more confusing. Jenny went to clean the buckets but found them all washed and rinsed in order by the tap. Rugs thrown down in the corner of stables were found neatly folded. Leading reins were found hanked and coiled tidily. Things were hung up, things were put away in the right places.
It was all very, very weird!
The culmination of the weirdness and the straw that broke the camel’s back was the incident with the bookings diary. Jenny was sitting in the office feeling a bit un- nerved and cuddling Gubbins for a bit of comfort, the phone rang which made her jump. Giving Gubbins a squeeze for luck she picked up the phone and said “Hello?” cautiously.
It was Andrew Gribbins, he was phoning up to re- arrange a lesson that he had had to postpone due to a dose of the flu the previous week. Andrew hummed and hawed for a bit then decided on a day and a time. Jenny was about to write the date in the booking diary when she heard a noise behind her. She spun round to see Gubbins with his back arched and his fur all standing on end. He looked like a Halloween decoration (except he was white with black patches in odd places) Jenny turned back to the diary to find that Andrew’s lesson had already been written in on the correct day in lovely copperplate handwriting.
Jenny dropped the phone, grabbed Gubbins and ran out of the office. She sat shivering on a bucket by the gate to the estate until Gareth arrived back from the shop.
Gareth said hello as he rode Rockwork back through the gate and had hardly dismounted when Jenny threw herself at him saying in one breath,
“I’m either going mad or we have a ghost or something because someone is tidying up the stables when I’m not looking -I’m so glad to see you I don’t want to be here on my own-!”
Gareth- finding himself unexpectedly hugged for the second time that day- unwrapped Jenny’s arms from round his middle and said,
“We both seem to have had a bit of an strange time, let’s go and have some tea and cake and swap stories.”
Gareth and Jenny un-tacked Rockwork and made him comfortable in his stable.
Gareth took the saddlebags with him to Havillands house. On reaching the kitchen he dumped them down on a chair by the kitchen table and and beetled off into the old pantry to look for some cake. Jenny boiled the kettle, made some tea and hugging her mug, perched on a stool jumping at every little sound. Gareth came back with some fruit cake and they proceeded to trade stories from their unusual day.
Each one sat open mouthed as the other told their tale. Putting two and two together, they came to the chilling conclusion that neither party really wanted to face up to because it sounded so silly. However there was no other explanation.
“I think,” said Jenny, “That we have a ghost, The ghost of Matthew Havilland!”
“Great!” said Gareth sarcastically “My caravan has exploded, I am forced to wear 70s clothes, I have been hugged by strangers, lambasted by pensioners and now there’s a retro ghost. What else can go wrong?”