It was a daily ritual for James. He would visit the market town to pick up the purchase for the day. In his return journey he would stop at the post office and pick up any mail that was for The Manor.
He had started working at The Manor as a young stable hand. And now he was in charge of the stables. He had a prestigious position in Lord Robert’s household.
Today was no different. He visited the market to buy poultry, meat etc and loaded it all in the back of his trap. Then he headed towards the post office. But something unusual happened. There were potholes in the dirt road due to recent rains and as the trap was jostled by the uneven road surface, the shaft on one side broke. The pony stumbled because of the imbalance and lost a shoe.
James was some distance from the town and the post office. He got down to lead the pony to the smithy. As he was passing the fields near the road , he heard a commotion and sound of running feet. Then suddenly a small body collided with him. He steadied his horse and grabbed a small arm belonging to the running child. It turned out to be the son of the coachman employed at the manor. “Hey boy, what’s the tearing hurry? And why aren’t you at your studies like a good lad? “The child looked at him, tears running down his ruddy cheeks, “I had to run away from that monster sir” he said . “What do you mean , monster?” James was incredulous. He thought that the child was playing truant. ” I am telling the truth, sir. A big monster started chasing me as I was going to the village”. And with this statement, fresh tears welled into his eyes.
James was not convinced but took the child’s story on good faith, and attributed his flight for freedom from the supposed monster to a real fear. Soon his curiosity was satisfied as a large black dog arrived panting at the edge of the field.
“Is this the monster following you? “He asked, barely suppression his laughter. The child was hiding behind him and shaking with fear. ” Ah boy! Don’t you know it’s Sir Robert’s new Great Dane, and is so gentle”. He wants to play with you silly, not eat you up”