Chapter Three :The Room.

Gareth stepped into a large bedroom. It was obviously the room of a young man, but a young man with rather Retro taste. Posters for obscure rock bands dotted the walls,clashing horribly with the wallpaper which was an oversized print of navy blue chrysanthemums. The bed was covered with a brown candlewick cover, onyx bowls and ashtrays littered the bedside tables and an orange and brown rug made a ‘statement’ in the middle of the floor. Impervious to shocking interior design, Gareth made a bee line for the wardrobe, anxious to get out of his pyjamas and into some warmer clothes. Inside the wardrobe was no better than the rest of the room, but beggars can’t be choosers. Gareth selected an assortment of clothes that fitted him and put them on. He left the room and locked the door behind him.

The next thing to do was to find a room in the attic to stay in. Gareth climbed the back stairs up to the old servants’ quarters. One room was a bathroom, Jenny had two rooms that had been knocked into one to give her a bit more space. Gareth selected one of the other rooms. It was sparsely decorated with an iron bed stead, a wash stand, a chair and a small desk. Gareth unrolled the mattress that had been tied up for storage and plonked his belongings (a pair of pyjamas, a pair of wellingtons, an anorak and the key to the downstairs room) on the bed. That done, he returned to the stables via the backstairs and the tradesman’s entrance.

Back in the tack room, Gareth made himself a mug of tea, raided the biscuit tin and wondered how Gubbins (who was asleep on a pile of rugs) had managed to give Ez the slip.

When Jenny and the ride returned, Gareth was grooming Meredith in one of the empty loose boxes. Being hardier than most (having been born and bred in Snowdonia) Meredith lived out in the winter with a rug for really cold nights. However, he got brought in during the day as he could be a menace to anybody trying to use the field for schooling, and he had a habit of joining any ride that passed whether he was invited or not!

Jenny supervised the dismounting and un-tacking of horses, some folks who were keeping their horses at Livery took them to the large barn behind the stables, the riding school steeds were turned out in one of the paddocks for a rest before the afternoon lessons began. Having seen all the clients out of the yard she went in search of Gareth as she figured that- what with everything that had happened that day so far, -he could probably do with some lunch.

“Gareth, where are you?” she called.

“Here, in the loose box,” Gareth replied. He finished polishing Meredith’s coat with a stable rubber and went to meet Jenny. Jenny on catching sight of him began to howl with laughter.

“What’s the matter?”

He got no reply for several minutes as Jenny was doubled up with hysterics, tears streaming down her face. Eventually when she had stopped spluttering and had managed to put a lid on the giggles Jenny replied.

“What on earth are you wearing?”

Gareth glanced down at the garments he had on.

“Just some old clothes I found in the bedroom on the second floor, Mrs. Mc Kinsey said I could have them.”

“You look like something from a 70s cop show.” snickered Jenny, “Honestly Gareth, you do look a fright!”

He was wearing rust brown cord trousers with flared legs, a green paisley shirt in a most lurid shade and a knitted tank top in kaki and dark aubergine stripes.

“To be honest, I was more concerned with being warm than what I looked like,” confessed Gareth.

Jenny dragged Gareth back to the house to see if there was anything a bit more classic in the wardrobe on the second floor.

After climbing the back stairs, and wrestling with the huge old iron lock, Gareth showed Jenny the room he had got the clothes from.

“Are you sure this is the right room?”Jenny asked, “I mean, Mrs. McKinsey said her son had been here recently, and this room looks like it hasn’t been touched since 1973 at the latest.”

“You’ve got a point there,” said Gareth flopping down on the bed, “But if that’s the case, then I’m doubly sure no one will mind me wearing this stuff if it hasn’t been used for so long.”

Jenny rummaged about in the wardrobe and then turned her attention to the drawers and chests that also held clothes. Eventually she found some t-shirts that were inconspicuous enough, being black, white and grey. She also unearthed a couple of chunky knitted cardigans. Trousers however were a problem as all the jeans and even the suit trousers were un practically flared, not what you want really if you work in a stable. Gareth opened a large ottoman at the foot of the bed and discovered a cache of old but serviceable riding clothes. Polo neck jumpers and tweed jackets don’t really age, and neither do well made boots. Gareth selected some and a couple of pairs of breeches. Further excavations of the ottoman revealed shirts and stocks, a selection of outdated riding hats and right at the bottom was an old scarlet coat. Gareth pulled it out to look at it.

“Whoever owned these clothes used to hunt.” he said. “I don’t know where though, there isn’t a hunt in Roxmoor.”

“There used to be I think,” said Jenny “Years and years ago.”

Gareth folded up the scarlet coat and returned it to the ottoman. Jenny went down to the kitchen to make some sandwiches. Gareth removed his lurid shirt and put on some of the riding clothes. He felt better, and despite resembling an illustration from a 40 year old Pony annual, he looked better too.

The room had an en suite bathroom attached, Gareth went and explored, he found himself a comb, a couple of towels and a bottle of Brut. He was sure that Mrs. Mc Kinsey wouldn’t mind him borrowing them as he had lost all of his belongings along with the caravan. He heard Jenny calling from the kitchen that lunch was ready, he deposited his new found clothes in his accommodation in the servants’ quarters and rushed down to the kitchen.

Gareth forgot to lock the door on the second floor.

Inside the room the dust settled, the tap in the bathroom dripped, the winter sun shone through the window on the open ottoman. The light gleamed on the buttons of the old scarlet coat.

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