Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (43) The Stable Girl and the River Warden (Part 03)
When Emma left Brooke Side Farm on the morning in June that she eventually rode past David Goodman she was full of nervous anticipation about seeing Harry, much more than she had previously and she didn’t quite know why.
The feeling intensified as she approached the spot where he and Charlie normally waited but there was no sign of either dog or master.
Her feelings of nervous anticipation were instantly replaced by one of disappointment.
Although she was only a tiny little thing, four feet eleven on a good day, when she was sat upon her great Honey coloured colt, Paris, she was a giant and the additional height gave her the chance to see beyond the fences and the hedgerows but still she couldn’t see him.
Emma pressed on and hoped Harry would be at his cottage.
Alas when she reached the Waterside Cottages there was again no sign of man nor dog and his cottage was in total darkness.
She and Paris slowly walked on following the stretch of river bank they normally shared, looking over the bushes on her side and then scanning the opposite river bank.
Emma waited for five minutes at the point where she left the river and followed the bridle path into Sharpington, but he was a no show, so she set off at the canter.
It was at the other end of that bridle path where she saw the familiar face of her old teacher.
“Morning Mr. Goodman”
“Morning Emma” he replied
She would have stopped to chat, but she was close to tears, so she put on a brave face and rode on.
She continued on her normal route and when she heard the clock at St Lucy’s church chime she realized she was going to be late back so galloped back the way she had come and let out her frustration as she did so and pushed Paris a bit too hard.
When she felt him labouring she pulled up sharp and jumped down and checked him over.
“I’m so sorry boy, I’m so sorry” she said and when she had finished, and all was well she patted his neck and burst into tears.
The reason that Harrison McQuiston was not waiting for her that morning was not, as Emma was thinking as she sobbed against the horse’s neck, that he was not interested in her, on the contrary he was very interested.
What had stopped him from meeting her and taken him from his cottage just after dawn was a crisis on the river.
About two miles downstream of Brooke Side Farm half a dozen cows had taken advantage of a broken fence and wandered down to the water’s edge and couldn’t get back up to the field.
As River Warden his presence was required along with a vet, the police, the fire service, the farmer and several laborer’s.
It had taken hours of their combined efforts to rescue the beasts and he was exhausted when he had finished.
The police offered to drop him off at home, but he fancied a walk, so he declined the offer and set off to walk back to his Cottage.
He hadn’t been entirely honest with the police because what he really wanted to do was intercept Emma on the return leg of her journey, so he took a short cut through Kings River Woods.
The woods were dense and thick, and it was so peaceful and quiet as he hurried on his quest.
It felt strange to him not to have Charlie walking along with him through the woods but to take him to that mornings emergency would not have been sensible, so he had to leave him at home.