A Riding We Shall Go
#1
Wrapped up warmly, Lord Elland slowly made his way down from the heated refuge of his room to the much cooler public rooms and eventually to the cold outside. Even with careful layers of clothing, scarf and gloves, Oliver still keenly felt the cold. It was bearable, though as with anything in his life, not for long. In order to live in the most comfortable, simplest way possible, Oliver had to remain constantly vigilant of his physical limitations. He had long since learnt that limiting oneself often prevented problems from occurring. Unlike most of his peers, Oliver would not wear himself out or run his reserves dry.

Despite this conscious effort to avoid aggravating his health issues, Oliver had one desire. To go riding. Once more, due to his health, Oliver had never ridden all that much, even as a child and adolescent - his parents much prefer to keep their youngest child in the carriage with them, if he needed to travel. It was impossible for a gentleman to go his entire life without learning to ride, of course, and so Oliver had learnt although it was not a well-practised skill. In London, it had been easier to hail a cab or have his carriage called than to have a horse saddled and dress oneself properly to ride in society.

Oliver headed to the stables, having been advised the stablemaster would often be found at this present time of late morning. He was not yet completely convinced of his own intent and merely intended to talk with the stablemaster, perhaps to inquire if there was even a horse suitable for him to ride, to begin with. If there was not, then that would be the end of it. 

The hard soles of his shoes tapped against the stones as he entered the stables, keenly aware of the comforting sound of content horses in their stalls. He could see no one about, and after a quick peer down the aisle, he called out, "Stablemaster? Are you here?"
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#2
Eugene had been up with the sun, as he was most days, and had made his way to the small office at the rear of the stable long before the other hands had roused themselves for the day ahead, remaining behind once they'd all finished the morning chores and made their way to the main house for breakfast. Eugene rarely joined the other staff for breakfast or lunch, usually spending the time alone or with the horses, working on riding and lessons schedules as well as doing his own personal assessment of each animals health. Most days his breakfast consisted of stale bread and hunks of jerky, the simple food very familiar to him after living much of his life on the move in the saddle.

He sat at the heavy oak desk, picking at the jerky distractedly as his pen scratched at the parchment before him, laying out the schedule for the month ahead, from lessons to worming and even an acquisition of a new horse. He was well into his work, and so jumped in his seat when the unfamiliar voice of a man called out. Shaking his head at his own response, Eugene stood and pushed past the office door, rounding the corner into the main of the stables, stalls and their occupants lining either side of a hay lined walkway. His visitor stood by the barn doors, and Eugene strode towards him, taking in the younger man. He was slim and pale, standing half a head shorter than Eugene himself, and was easily recognisable as the Madswitte's current guest, a neighbouring nobleman, if Eugene remembered the gossip correctly.

"Lord..." Eugene began, searching his memory for the young nobleman's name. "Elland. A pleasure to meet you." He nodded respectfully, somewhat unfamiliar with what etiquette was required in such a situations. Generally only the Lords and Ladies of Madswitte made their way down to the stables, and even then, the grooms and riding instructors were the ones that dealt with them. "I'm the stable master, Eugene Harlow. How can I be of assistance this morning, sir?"
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#3
Oliver glanced up from the ground as a tall man rounded into the stables at large - the stablemaster, he presumed. For a moment, Oliver doubted his own intentions and was almost on the cusp of excusing himself, apologising for wasting the man's time and scurrying out the door, yet somehow he managed to remain. It was not that he feared the concept of riding, or even the other possibility, that there would be no suitable horse for him to begin with, it was that he feared his own inability.  He had no desire to make a fool of himself, to end up making trouble or injuring himself when he would have been perfectly fine and safe doing as he always did, remaining on the ground. 

He cleared his throat and nodded, taking a step forward to the stablemaster. " A pleasure to make your acquaintance Mister Harlow." Oliver took a moment's pause to glance from the taller man to one of the horses and then back again, "I have a request - " The young nobleman started, not yet sure how he was to articulate his desires but attempting to figure it out as he went along.

"I would like to ride -"  Though he imagined that was probably unsurprising, given they were in the stable. " - however I have, ah, some particular requirements..." Oliver gave the older man a crooked smile, before continuing, unsure how much gossip the man was aware of and if he knew of the Lord's health issues. It was hardly a secret after all and the downstairs staff did love to share news. 

"I need a horse of spectacularly calm and pleasant nature." The sort of horse one would put their mother on, although he couldn't quite bring himself to say it.
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#4
Eugene watched the man carefully, intrigued by his manner as he explained his purpose in visiting the stables. It wasn't particularily unusual, though Eugene did find young lords to be the ones after more of a challenge, though never challenging enough to really break a sweat.

The stablemasters features relaxed and softened suddenly, two mare's coming to mind straight away. "Hmm, I have two options for you." He began, moving past Oliver to lead the way to a pair of pens near the stable doors. "Godiva, a lovely old thing, but her eyesights going and she can only be out so long before she begins to tire." He gestured to the greying Andalusian, a decorated show winner back in the day. "And then theres Jenny." He moved to the neighbouring pen, stroaking over the Grade horses velvet nose as she came to the door to greet them. "Never have I had the pleasure of training such a young horse with such a agreeable nature." He said, voice soft and fond, as though he was speaking favourably about his own children.

Stepping back, Eugene cast another gaze over Oliver, taking in his slim build, pale skin and the heavy coat wrapped tightly around him. "Would you be needing a guide around the grounds as well, Sir?" He asked on instinct, getting the distinct feeling that the young man may possibly need assistance, either due to inexperience, or his apparent poor health. Eugene waited for Oliver's reply, ready to saddle up whichever horse he chose, as well as his own should it be necessary.
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#5
Oliver expected the stablemaster's reply with a degree of nervous anticipation. It was difficult, wishing to preserve one's health while also wishing to portray an air of healthy carelessness all mean his age should have. He did not wish to seem weak, yet in order to survive, he had to accept his own limits. It left him in a difficult position.

When no jokes or jibes came from the Stablemaster, Oliver relaxed slightly and followed the taller man down the stable's main walk. A part of him expected the joke to come with a delay, perhaps with the offering of an old, lame pony or mule - however, the joke at his expense didn't come, instead, Oliver found himself with two proper and legitimate options of animals to ride.

"I appreciate the suggestions," Oliver said, glancing from one horse to the other and not entirely sure how he was supposed to make a choice between them. He was a bit like the first horse, unable to do too much without tiring, although he wondered if that was perhaps a poor combination. The horse needed to be able to return him safely, even if he was exhausted himself. So, Oliver turned his attention to the younger horse, carefully putting out his hand to pet the animal's soft nose. "I think Jenny would make a good choice." He decided with a nod, never being one to dilly-dally about things too long.

He glanced to the stablemaster and gave a nod, "If possible, please." If only because he had not ridden for a long time, regardless of his ill-health, he was not the world's best rider. "I understand if I may need to organise a time at a later date..." he added, not wanting to assume the Stablemaster could drop everything he was doing and either accompany him on a ride or find someone who could.
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