Chapter nine: Twin Oaks.
After a while Jenny and Gareth reached the place on the hedge line between the two estates. A huge pair of Oak trees grew in the hedge, they had obviously been there for hundreds of years.
“This is the place where Matthew Havilland died,” said Gareth solemnly, “He tried to jump Twin Oaks hedge when he was out hunting and his horse fell and rolled on him.”
That’s horrible,” said Jenny “What do we have to do? This place is giving me the creeps.”
“Well said Gareth, “Firstly we will have to trim the hedge so it is a sensible height, I have to jump it on Rockwork and I don’t fancy winding up the same way as poor old Matthew. You have to find Pamela in the village and bring her here-ask Mrs. Ellis where she lives, she’ll know-. She needs to be here to complete the circuit and set Matthew free.
Matthew is caught up in that old scarlet coat in the bedroom. He was wearing it the day he died. The hospital staff at Broomfield removed it when he was taken in by ambulance and it was returned to his father. His father stuffed it in the ottoman in the bedroom with all Matthew’s riding clothes and locked the room, hiding the key so no one would open the door and remind him of his lost son. We kind of stirred up his spirit when we went into the room and rummaged around. I took the coat out of the ottoman and that’s when Matthew was able to get out and ‘assist’ in his beloved stables again.
Matthew has been anchored to that coat by some unfinished business for the best part of forty years, Tomorrow we can set him free, and he won’t bother you any more.”
“I’ll go and get the hedge clippers.” said Jenny wheeling Sailor round and cantering back towards Havillands house.
The next morning was frosty and crisp. Gareth dressed with care. He put on Matthew’s old white breeches,mahogany topped boots and a white shirt. On top of that he added a body protector.
“I’m playing it safe, Matt,” He said to the empty bedroom “I’m not ready to join you yet, I’ve had enough close shaves for one weekend, what with the fire and all.”
He put on Matthew’s scarlet coat.
“Red really makes me look washed out and pale.” he said as he glanced at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He rushed off down to the stables.
In the office, Jenny stood with Pamela Fletcher. Pamela was looking round and reminiscing. She told Jenny about her old pony Domino, and how she and Matthew used to ride together all over the Havillands estate. She cuddled Gubbins and thought he was sweet. That’s not an adjective usually applied to Gubbins, but Pamela was quite struck with him. Jenny suggested the previous day that she might like to ride for old time’s sake and Pamela had surprisingly agreed. Dorothea the placid cob mare had been made ready and Pamela had -with the aid of a mounting block- managed to swing herself stiffly into the saddle.
“I haven’t ridden for years,” she said “Still, you never really forget do you? Although my muscles will remind me about it for the next week!”
Jenny and Sailor escorted Pamela and Dorothea out of the stable yard and across the paddock. It was a beautiful morning despite being cold, The sky was startlingly blue, in contrast to a couple of days earlier when it had been grey and stormy.
They rode past the wreckage that was the caravan.
“I need to find a new caravan for Gareth, .” said Jenny, “He lost almost all his possessions in that fire and hasn’t complained once.”
He struck me as being quite down to earth” said Pamela.
“If any thing had happened to Meredith he would have been inconsolable, said Jenny,”That horse is worth more to him than any money.”
“Is Meredith a valuable pedigree animal?” asked Pamela.
“No” Replied Jenny “He has got a pedigree somewhere, but that’s not important. They suit each other, even though Meredith isn’t always perfectly behaved.”
“I felt the same about Domino” said Pamela, “He was a really naughty pony sometimes but I wouldn’t have swapped him for anything.”
By now they had reached the field on the edge of the estate where the twin oaks stood in the hedge row.
“We need to go through the gate into the next field” said Jenny, turning Sailor towards the old five barred gate.