From the street the Jenkins estate seems as quiet as usual. A uniformed groundsman, clippers in hand, tends to the hedges. The quietness is interrupted only by the snapping of his clippers and the soft song of birds in the trees. It is difficult to say what the groundsman is thinking of — perhaps of rich people and the seclusion they make for themselves.
Inside, along the wainscotted passages, a brief peal of laughter rings out, and, as sudden and brief as a flight of birds, the clinking of champagne flutes. This comes from the Main Dining Room, where most of the household stands around the old oak table, toasting life, the family’s thoroughbred, and Craig, their jockey. Craig leans over to Mary Jenkins and whispers something in her ear; she touches his arm and laughs again. In two months they will marry, with smiles just as large and white as now. In three years they will have divorced, but they’ll still dream of this day from time to time.
Across the estate’s paddock, beneath a looming acacia, are the stables. Sure Thing rests in her stall, but isn’t offered any celebration for her win. She chews from a bag of oats, mostly ignoring the boy Timmy Lagrange who shines her bay coat with a body brush. Timmy also doesn’t celebrate; I like to think that he’s imagining being old enough to race, perhaps on a horse as fine as Sure Thing. But maybe he’s only thinking of home, warm food, and a bed to rest in.