Douglas Ambrose had been gatekeeper at the estate for nearly a decade. In all that time, he had not once been summoned to the Great House. Today, however, the call had come. It’s purpose was mystifying, both literally and figuratively as he trudged through a thick mist that obscured the residence from view.
As he walked, worries and self doubts began to fill his head. Had the Squire heard of his dice playing at the tavern, or of the dispute with the green grocer where he overturned the apple cart on his exit from the merchant’s shop.
As the shadowy form of the Great House began to emerge from the cold December mist, Douglas set his path to the servants’ entrance. On arrival he was met by Will Youngblood, one of the footmen who informed him that the Squire expected him at the stable block.
Ambrose thanked him, and headed across the gravelled court to the block, where Hilton, the butler, nodded to an open stall door.
On entering, Douglas was faced by the Squire and his eldest son, Richard. Quickly doffing his cap, he mumbled “Good morning, Sirs.”
“Good morning, Ambrose. How are things at the Gatehouse?” the Squire enquired.
“Well Sir, Thank you, Sir.”
“Good – good. Now I have heard some disturbing news Ambrose,” the Squire began.
Oh my Lord, please no, Ambrose thought beginning to sweat at the brow.
“It has come to my attention that your son, Arnie is it? Has joined the Yeomanry as a trooper.”
“Yes, yes Sir. That is so.” Ambrose stumbled.
“It seems that he is taking that nine year old Mare of yours to serve the Crown with.”
“Yes, that’s the truth as well.” Ambrose stuttered.
“That will never do, Man. Here take this gelding. It’s strong, and should well serve the reputation of this house.”
“Yes – yes, take. It’s a gift. And Ambrose, Happy Christmas.”