MAISIE came here to housekeep and bring up the childer alongside her own lad, Mistress Trigg having long gone to her Maker and all.” Gideon Trigg paused, briefly reliving the sorrowful turn of events.
The caller looked on politely.
“But, there, how I do go on.” Gideon made a gesture of apology with his hand. “Happen you’ll know some of this any road, from your sire.”
“Indeed, sir. Father speaks often of his long-term customers.” Josh Brookfield gave a roguish smile. “Would it be yourself who drove a hard bargain over a ride-and-drive cob? Father laughs about it even now. Says he let it go for pittance in the end.”
“That would be Barney. He’s getting long in the tooth now. Mebbe it’s time to find something younger. Maisie’s lad and Emma’s brother need summat decent to ride and we use the trap for the deliveries.”
At this the young man’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Gideon hid a smile. They were all the same, these dealer fellows. Faintest sniff of a sale and they were on to you.
Sure enough . . .
“If it’s a ride-and-drive animal you want, Master Trigg, we might have the very thing. A handy grey. Five years old. Good to shoe and sound as a bell. A more honest animal you couldn’t wish for.”
Gideon considered. Old Barney truly wasn’t up to the job any more and the stable at the back of the house was big enough for two. Barney would do for light work, leaving a new horse to undertake the heavier duties.
Happen, too, that Hamilton might appreciate a visit to the yard in the Bickerton Hills. He could take Emma – it would be an ideal opportunity for the two young people to spend some time on their own together.
For, sure as stirrups was stirrups, it were high time the pair were thinking of tying the knot. Gideon wanted to see the sign Trigg And Catchpole go up over the shop entrance before he laid down his tools for good.
He cleared his throat noisily.
“Thinking on, lad,” he said to Josh Brookfield. “I might take you up on this. Only to look the animal over, mind,” he added. “I’m not making any promises on a sale.”
“We’re at your disposal, sir,” Josh responded, with such sincerity that Gideon warmed to the fellow.
“Shall we say this coming Saturday, then? ’Twill not be myself calling, though I’m saddened to miss a chance of a jaw with an old friend. Another time, maybe. It’ll be my grandson and granddaughter.”
“I’ll have the horse ready,” Josh Brookfield said agreeably.
“Aye, do that. Saturday, then? Around mid-afternoon.”
“It will be my pleasure. Well, I’d best be off. You won’t forget the package, sir?”
“No. Emma will be seeing to the horse about now. Spoils it, she does. I’ll take this across to her right away. Farewell, lad. My regards to your sire.”
“I’ll pass it on,” Josh Brookfield said, and let himself out into the Row.
He was smiling as he walked away, his footsteps echoing on the wooden boards of the elevation.
Emma made for her room at the top of the house as quickly as she could, puzzled by her grandfather’s description of his visitor as he had produced the parcel. Granfer Trigg had ruffled her hair affectionately and distributed the floppy package into her hands.
Deep-blue eyes and a merry smile? The young man in question could only be one!