Gifts And Horses

September 13, 1896
Anna Cushing

I went for a morning ride after breakfast. Back home, it was just a part of my daily routine but here it is something I only find time for on the weekends. I insisted on taking Prometheus with me and father eventually bowed to my wishes. He always does, even if he does not think so, but that is to be expected. Everything is simple when everyone knows their place.

The morning boded well for a cool autumn day, despite summer still being the official season for another week. Personally, I am ready for the end of summer. I detest the warm days which make it uncomfortable indoors and unbearable outdoors. The smell of sweat on men is pleasant enough but on a lady it is a disgusting affront. Were I able, I would hibernate through the warmest days of the year.

Upon returning from our ride, I found Sarah in the Manor’s stables. She was grooming a horse and at first I thought it might have been her weekend chore, in which case I was concerned for Prometheus. She did not look at me though, as I entered. She was so enraptured with the creature she seemed not to notice me at all. It was through this observation of behavior I deduced the grooming was not a burden or chore, but an act of love. The horse must be hers.

The revelation was surprising. The thought I might have anything in common with the peasant was almost revolting. I even pondered the possibility she was not as poor as she seems for a moment. The moment passed quickly though as I comforted myself, secure in the knowledge that no one would don the rags she wears day in and day out if they had choice to wear better. No, Sarah is an enigma of sorts but she is what seems, that is part of what makes her so unusual.
I walked over to the stall cautiously, so as not to startle the beast. I rested on the wooden gate and waited for her to notice me. Insultingly, she either did not notice me or she did not care. I smiled anyway.

“He’s gorgeous.” I said.

She did not jump or turn toward me, but instead she kept brushing him.

“Thank you.” She said.

“I was unaware you had a horse here.” I said, trying to initiate a conversation.

“Neither was I.” She said so quietly, I almost did not hear.

“He’s not yours?” I asked, wondering if I had erred in my assumption.

“No, he is. I didn’t know he was here or that he was even coming.” She said.

She sounded sad.

“I am certain your family only wanted to surprise you with a little bit of home.” I said.

She looked over at me at last. Her expression was more distrust than anything.

“Why are you talking to me?” She asked.

Obviously she has never been taught the conventions of socialization. Only a peasant would ask such a direct and rude question, but my goal was not to insult her or further aggravate our relationship.

“I realize we have not started out well, but we are roommates. We should try to be friends.” I said.

“And you think feigning interest in my horse is a good way to start?”

“I am not feigning interest. Poseidon, over there is mine. We have something in common, I thought it would be as good a place as any to begin from.”

She looked out to where I indicated Poseidon and for the briefest moment there was a softening of her expression.

“Maybe I was a little quick to judge. We could ride together tomorrow if you like?” She said.

“That would be pleasant. After breakfast?”

“I will be ready.”

I nodded at her and started to walk back to the Manor. A curiosity stopped me for a moment though and I turned back to her.

“What is his name?” I asked.

“Jasper.” She said.

Back in our room I was fortunate to find it empty. I took out the package I had bought in town on morning ride and laid it carefully on Sarah’s bed. I scribbled a quick note and sealed it in an envelope, placing it atop the small box. It was a minor thing, nothing extravagant but I was certain Sarah needed it, but I did not want our roommates to know I had purchased it. Sarah should be grateful and if she is, she will keep it between us.

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