Eleanor walked over to their small barn where their one trusty horse stayed. The smell of manure and hay slowly drifted into her nostrils, making her sigh in content. Her favorite pass time, when she has it, is to ride their mare.
“Grace!” Eleanor cooed as she walked over to her. The horse stomped its foot impatiently, knowing what is to come. Reaching for the halter and lead rope, Grace rubbed her head on Eleanor’s arm.
Eleanor laughed. “Alright! Alright, come here love.” She pulled the horse’s head into a hug and stroked her mane. She was a gorgeous horse. Her coat was a dapple grey, making her look like someone painted her with various colors of grey. Her legs were the darkest grey while her neck and body spotted with light and dark grey. Her face was almost white, which was Eleanor’s favorite feature. Her mane and tail started off a dark grey color, then faded to a light grey at the ends.
It had been a while since Eleanor went into the barn. ’My baby girl missed me,’ she thought happily. After a minute of holding, Eleanor released her and put on her halter. Snapping the lead rope on, she opened Grace’s stall door and walked her outside. Grace steadily followed Eleanor’s lead without hesitation.
Stopping at the post that is right beside the barn, Eleanor tied her off and headed back in. She gave the mare enough slack to enjoy some of the grass.
Several minutes later, Eleanor emerged with the bridle and saddle. The saddle was a men’s saddle, where the legs will rest on either side of the horse. Unfortunately, they could not afford a woman type saddle. So, Eleanor dealt the hand that was given to her and rode like a man. And, honestly, she preferred to ride that way.
Grunting, she hauled the saddle to Grace and threw it on her back. Grace protested a little by whining and stepping away from Eleanor.
“Sorry Grace, you know I’m not that strong. If I hurt you, please don’t be mad.” Eleanor soothed her beautiful mare who seemed to calm down from the explanation.
After synching the saddle and putting the bridle on Grace, Eleanor was ready to ride. She put her foot in the stirrup and hoisted herself up.
“Alright Grace, let’s take it slow so you can warm up your legs a little bit.” She steered her horse away from the barn and slowly began the walk to the Mattis household.
Although there was a chill in the air, the sun felt nice on Eleanor’s pale face. She closed her eyes and angled her head up so she could feel more of the warmth it was giving out, and hoping to bring out some more color to make her less look, for a lack of a better word, dead.
Swaying to Grace’s steady walking, Eleanor smiled. ’I would fall asleep right here if I could.’ She thought to herself.
With a sigh, Eleanor opened eyes and lightly kicked the horse’s side. Grace responded by picking up her pace to a light trot.
This kept up until a familiar farmhouse came into view. Eleanor slowed her horse back down to a steady walk as they approached.
As if expecting them, an older gentleman walked out of the house and down the stairs that were attached to the porch.
“Eleanor!” The man bellowed.
Eleanor smiled and waved to Gregory Mattis.
Gregory Mattis was a short stout of a man. His hair was gray and thinning on top of his shiny head. Whenever he was in the sun, his head practically blinded you. Being wealthy, he did have a wig, but because he was an honest man he only wore it when he went into town. Never when he worked. He had on dark brown work pants paired with a cream-colored tunic. The top opening of the tunic showed his gray and white curly chest hair.
As Eleanor got closer to him, she looked at his face. He had crow’s feet around is dark, chocolate eyes which still showed the same kindness as to when she first met him many years ago. His almost white sideburns covered some of his fat cheeks and appeared to be recently trimmed. The sideburns seemed to frame his cleft chin too.
Gregory stopped at the bottom of his stairs and put a tobacco pipe in his mouth. As the wind blew by, Eleanor could smell the smoke.
“What can I do for you, my dear Eleanor!” He tried to say with the pipe in his mouth. He had a habit of always trying to talk with it in his mouth.
“Hello Mr. Mattis, I just was stopping by to inform you that Grayson is sick. He shall not be helping today.” Eleanor informed him properly. She turned her mare sideways and stopped a few feet away from Gregory.
He frowned at her words. “Sick huh?”
Eleanor shifted in the saddle, trying to keep her expression blank. Gregory knows of Grayson’s flaws and he tried his best to keep him in line. Unfortunately, when Grayson leaves the property, there is nothing Gregory can do.
Eleanor opened her mouth to say something when a commotion happened out in the field. She shifted her attention to the right of the house, towards a big red barn with a small slaves’ quarters’ right next to it. A group of dark-skinned men were yelling at each other and motioning out towards to the woods that were far off in the distance.
Gregory glanced at the commotion and sighed heavily.
“Everything alright?” Eleanor asked timidly, looking back at him.
Gregory took the pipe put of his mouth. “Yes, yes. I assume that Grayson has told you that I have been short on hands as of late?”
She nodded her head slowly.
“Well, I had a wealthy gentleman come to my door about a week or so ago. He offered me triple what I paid for my slaves. Seeing as I can buy plenty more with that kind of money, I agreed. No shame in that. Unfortunately, today is going to be hell for the rest of the slaves since Grayson won’t be here.” He explained as he took a puff from his pipe.
Eleanor looked back at the group of men. They seemed agitated and worried, making her think there was something more to the story.
Grace shifted impatiently under Eleanor, reminding her that she needs to continue with their day.
“I’m sorry to hear your short on workers. I will run into town and get Grayson some medicine so he can return to work tomorrow. Be safe.” She smiled and turned her horse towards the road.
“Thank you, Eleanor! You stay safe as well!”
Once Eleanor was a little way from the Mattis household, she pushed Grace into a full run.
“What kind of man would go up to a successful businessman and buy the workers for triple the price?” she thought as she leaned forward and stroked her mare’s neck.
As they neared town, Eleanor slowed her horse down to a steady walk.
It was midmorning by the time they reached the market. People were busy hustling around trying to buy or get people to buy. Eleanor stopped just outside of the market and dismounted. With reigns in hand, she walked Grace and herself into the crowds.