Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (21) Love at a Trot (Part 09)
After moving up to Copper Beech farm Lynda Radcliffe’s riding School went from strength to strength.
So much so that she increased her stable of horses from six to 9 and in addition to her short term girls she employed an old friend, Hazel Morris, to manage things at the yard for her.
Hazel had fallen on hard times and as luck would have it her arrival at the farm came only a few weeks after Charlotte had moved into the farmhouse with Anthony so she was able to live on site in the converted part of the stable block which had previously been Charlotte’s home.
It had a bedroom, a sitting room, a small kitchen area and a toilet and shower, which suited her needs very well.
It was a very significant moment for Charlotte as it drew a line under her old life and committed her to her future with Anthony.
But Hazel’s arrival also gave them an ally in their quest to unite Lynda and Elliott.
Hazel had known Lynda for many years and could think of no one else who deserved happiness more than her.
Hazel was in a bind financially and all her money was going straight to her debtors even though the debts were her ex-husbands.
As time went on Hazel became friends with Anthony and Charlotte and he was able to her out by giving her addition work on the farm and in exchange he didn’t charge her rent for her rooms, and as that was her largest expenditure she was able to pay off her debts even quicker.
Despite having Hazel on board there was still a problem however as when Hazel checked the diary the earliest slot was at the beginning of March.
They booked the 6 lessons anyway and looked on the bright side, it would at least give them more time to get their ducks in a row.
They had decided to give the Doctor the gift of six riding lessons as a thank you for the treatment she received when Charlotte was struck down with a very nasty fever.
The reason for the lapse between the act of professional kindness and the presentation of the gift was explained away by virtue of the fact that she needed to save up.
They decided not to present the gift to him at the surgery and chose instead a less formal location.
Namely in the village of Dulcet St Mary, he lived in the village and he was known to be a creature of habit.
So knowing that on a Sunday Morning he would walk to the corner shop at 7.00 am Charlotte laid in wait and as he left the shop she cycled up beside him.
“Hello Doctor” she said
“Oh hello, Charlotte isn’t it?”
“Yes that’s right” she said “I’m glad I bumped into you, I wanted to give you this”
She took an envelope from her pocket and handed it to him hoping that the most difficult part of the operation wasn’t going to be getting Dr Browning to accept the gift.
“What is it?” he asked
“Open it” she said
He opened the envelope and read the contents.
“That’s very kind but I can’t accept this” he said
“But you must” she insisted “I’m really grateful to you”
“No you don’t understand I can’t accept this because I don’t ride, well I can’t ride if truth be told”
“Well that’s kind of the point” she said, the riding lessons are so you can learn to ride”
“But I don’t like horses” he whispered “I find them a bit scary”
“Oh dear, Lynda will be disappointed” she said
“Lynda?” he asked with a raised eyebrow
“Yes the lessons are with Lynda Radcliffe” Charlotte explained
“Are they?” he mused