The house was silent 6am on a sunny bright but cold windy morning.
‘Good morning Lady Emma . Your father is in the conservatory .Shall I make tea or will you await for breakfast ?”
“Tea now please Holland. Father busy then?”
” No miss resting after session in the house last evening. “
“Right .Serve tea to me here and take one through to Father as planed .Your right politics make him so tired poor thing. Let him rest as you say.”
” Indeed my Lady .Tea coming up. “
The morning events about to happen. Knock at the main doors
” Rupert Harding Sir .”
” Ah! come in Rupert. Its my neck. Twisted it climbing in a taxi at midnight shared with the member for Hutton . “
” My Lord its really a nerve trapped I presume. I know of a really good masseur that will soon have you right .”
“Bring her on then man.Pain is building just to speak. “
‘No no my Lord she is he .A Scot from Glenco built like a London tram in fact stronger Id say”
” Really .”
‘ Shall I send for him. Lets see. Be on the 10.23 train .So by 3pm all troubles will be over. “
” Yes, yes, carry on dear boy. No golf for me today. In this state anyway. “
In the Kitchen the cook was busy and her aid Mary was rolling pastry when in walks Holland.
“What is the reason for this call then mister Butler.”
“Well cook its Lady Emma brother Lord Bertram .I received word he is on his way here from London . His man Bingham rang me just now to announce he is instructed to drive his master down today.” I have announced this to the Earl who is not happy as he has an all night sitting in Commons tonight.So he will be on his way to London as is son is on his way from London here.”
;Ships in the night Mr Holland. What is it Pheasant game pie ?”
” Indeed dear lady . Best ask butcher for a pair as none left from shoot. I checked this day. “
” Rest easy your daughter and i can sort that out for you.Cant we Mary?”
‘ Yes cook.”
As the day progressed the next thing to happen was already in focus.
” Mister Gutteridge my Lord?”
“The the Vicar? What ever for man?”
‘ He said I must speak to the Earl on an important matter.”
“Means church organ fund no doubt. Send him in Holland please. “
‘Your Grace . I have bad news. The gardener .Groves is dead. “
The Earl sat waiting but the Vicar was composing his words.
“You see sir’ Groves was shot through the head .Found at a 8am by my Sexton Jennings. Dreadful sort of thing to happen before weekend. Bishop is coming over from Bristol On Saturday .Expected to see the gardens id say.”
‘Groves was well like by you then?”
‘What! I spoke to him each morning .Good chap with the new mower .Grass close shaved as i asked him to do. He said train grass its a crop.”
“Really. Well Vicar come to the wrong man .Police you need one would say.Good day to you sir, I have lot to get through today.”
The day pushed passed and Holland was serving dinner when Police arrived .
“‘ What again.Tell them to wait in the hall . I need my food. “
‘Yes I have done sir .They say they need a word over a murder nearby. “
“Great Scott is it me in the frame. Did not even know the that man. “
‘Daddy it is just routine . Take your time let them wait we are not servants . “
The main course over the Earl made a break .
‘Now Inspector.Groves did not work here its the Vicar you need.”
“Yes Sir we have spoken and he has given us a statement . So too the Sexton. It is a fact that we checked the gardeners record .He was an army deserter and name of John Payne .Wanted for robbery in Bournemouth . “
‘ And pray what the hell has it to do with me?”
” Your cousin Lord Fellows was the man he robbed.”
“Bertie was robbed way back in 98. ”
” Yes my Lord he was.Do you know what was stolen by chance.”
‘Not a clue man?”
” Stolen was the gold badge from your coat of arms. Along with the White stole of office sat on the red cape. “
‘Not a cape man.”
“What ever sir we had the receiver of goods locked up in cell in Bristol. He sold all to a man in Lincoln and we think he shot dead his contact mister Groves so called gardener to the Vicarage ?”
: So besides my cousin wrapped up in this story I can resume my dinner?”
‘For now my Lord we will be back thank you for your time.”
Holland had shown the police out and locked doors behind them. He ran back to serve next course but his daughter had managed the whole service.
“So Holland Mary here is as good as you in this side of job. Police trotted off then have they?”
“Thank you Lady Crompton. Mary is happy here she tells me .Yes all have left us now. “
The dinner over The family sat in the lounge off the man hall.
‘Police daddy rather live here now .We will be the talk of the village.”
Then up spoke her mother.
” To be honest dear she is right what is the need to talk with you.Perhaps they want an invite to the drinks party at Christmas. “
“Groves was really someone else.Payne they said. John Payne.”
His daughter looked up from her book. “John Groves Payne ”
‘Could be ,yes , why who is he .?”
“Who was he? He was the man in last nights newspapers. Here article 7 . Here. “
” Good gracious . Says he was Major in artillery . Did not desert he was shot badly overseas and sent back and medically discharged. Lot different than what the police have been saying. “
‘The plot indeed thickens father. Think Ill go up to my room .Good read this new book is . ”
‘Good night then my dear girl. “
“Yes good night my baby daughter.’
Good night to you both.” sighed Lady Emma as she closed the heavy wooden door and left the room.
The moon light spilled on the old gray roof tiles and shadowed even the mighty oaks of the parkland around the Abbey house. The drive lay as bright as daylight as the horseman trotted down it. He had lost his way but dogs had not barked in the stable yard.
” Who are you ?Stand and be seen.”Screamed the ostler .
;Dont shoot me im unarmed .just lost .Looking for the home of an Earl called Crompton.” cried the horseman.
“Well! who are you?”
“Harry Plummer . Ex British Army gunner. Crompton was my officer in 1879 South Africa war with Zulu .”
” Climb down I will care for the mount .You knock on that red door and tell who ever opens it your story sir.”
Reluctant to leave his horse with the boy he hovered until the red door opened and out came Holland whom had heard it all.
“Come this way Mister Plummer I have heard the master tell of you. All are in bed in the house .I can offer a mug of beer and slice of rare beef and a bed for the night. “
Ill gladly take the slice of beef but can I ask for a bowl of oats in a little warm milk .Ill sleep with my horses in the barn .She is my only real friend .Oats is for her .”
“If you insist sir. Blanket youll have then. “
“On the saddle blankets and bed roll. Bread in one saddle bag papers in other. “
Your slice of cold beef then and say Goodnight to you until 7am in morning when yard and house come alive. ”
So it was and taking over from the ostler he groomed her down and fed her with warm oats in a drop of milk. She whinned . He slung the saddle under his head and the blankets over himself and slept well.
Then morning broke over the roof tops as people started to arise and cockerels made voice in the darkness of the yard. . For the man on the horse at last the end was in sight for he found the man he sought .
One hopes you are all still interested in what happens. Yours Sir Kevin .
Copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2022