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Wake from Silence

The silence in the hours before dawn was absolute. There were no birds heralding the arrival of light into the world and no sign of the familiar dirigibles or bi-planes flying overhead as Felix strode across the wet grass to the stables.

As the ground began to slope, he was forced to slow his pace for fear of losing the teapot and two chipped mugs he balanced upon his tray. Though he thought very firmly of it as his tray, its wood bore the tea-stains left by an unknown number of his predecessors. Of course, as the son of a butler, Felix could not afford such clumsiness. The time he spent with the horses was a secret treat. This was his real training.

"Aye, you're a grand boy," the head groom said by way of a greeting when he turned from the black mare to see Felix taking great care about setting the tray on a makeshift table that had, in previous life, been a beer barrel. "But you're too quiet for a lad your age."

"What do you mean, Mr Carter?" Felix asked.

He stared hard at the stream of steaming tea as he poured. It was only after he'd filled both mugs and stirred sugar into one and extra milk into his own that he looked up at the face of Mr Carter. It was deeply lined in the lantern light. Felix felt so inescapably young during his mornings in the stable.

"I mean that the rest of my lads are all chatterboxes but I only hear a peep out of you once in a blue moon, if that."

"It's just how I am, Mr Carter. Besides, I feel like I don't have all that much to say." Felix flashed an apologetic grin, which faltered almost immediately.

"Do you know what I think? I think it's how your father's told you to be. It's a pity, 'cause I'd be willing to bet there's a clever, hard thinking lad under all that quiet. You're not working in the house yet, so don't go thinking you have to be unheard and invisible when you're down here." Mr Carter sighed and took and long swig of tea and motioned for the bemused and dumbstruck Felix to do the same.

After some moments silence, the boy began, “I enjoy helping with the horses.”

Carter nodded at this. “You know, I had a feeling you did. Bit more fun than shining the footmen’s boots, eh?”

“Yes, and the mucking out is not even half as bad as some things I have to do at the house.”

“I know, lad. I was a hall boy once, would you believe?”

“Here?” Felix asked, overawed as he tried to imagine how grand the house must have been back in the days when Mr Carter was his age.

“Yes, here. My own dad worked under the head groom when I first came. In the end I was glad to get out of the house and into the stables. Seems the same might be true for you. In a few years, if you decide you’d rather be down here than up there, I’ll try to make it happen.”

“You will?”

“I promise I’ll try, lad. Now drink your tea before it goes cold.”

This entry was originally posted at http://alicia-h.dreamwidth.org/48609.html
Child of the nineties
Harks back to earlier times
Sounds of the sixties

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