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by Robert Cooper

Chapter 2

A few days later I was in my small office,sorting my ideas when Edward asked to see me.

He said that I needed my 'trusted councillor' hat.

I asked "What is the problem"

Jo says that one of the new stable boys, Jay, needs advice.

"Send him up It must be urgent".

Within minutes, a young stable lad appeared at my office door.

I invited him in and told him to sit down.

I said "First off, whatever you say in here is in confidence."

"So, what's on your mind?"

He told me of a cousin of his who lived in a nearby village.

The boy was 12 and earlier this evening his father had beaten him up, broken his arm and a couple of ribs. The boy had gone to a scout first aider who splinted his arm and taped his ribs and said he should go to hospital. This he was not willing to do as it would involve the police and he would be sent to a care home. He had made his way to the stables and was now in the boy's room in the stables hiding from his uncle.

I said "Is the boy willing to talk to me face to face?"

"If so, bring him straight up and I will see if he is willing for me to help him and how much help he wants".

"You need to tell him who I am and that I am willing to help as much as he wants or needs".

"Go bring him up".

While I was waiting I asked Edward to bring some drinks and crisps up.

After a few minutes, a slight young boy appeared at my door, holding the hand of the stable boy.

He looked younger than 12 and also could do with a good meal or three. I felt sure that he was undernourished. He had his arm in a sling and looked as if it was hurting. I invited him in and bid him sit and chat with me while we had a drink and some crisps. I asked if he wanted his cousin to stay while we talked, he said that he did.

I asked "what is your name and age?"

"Steven Wilkins and I am 12½. "

"Tell me how you got hurt."

"My uncle came home from the Pub, very drunk and just started in beating and kicking me. He was shouting out 'filthy gay boy' and other insults."

"He then knocked me to the floor and started kicking me all over especially in my groin and legs."

"Finally he kicked my arms and I felt the bones break."

"He staggered away and went upstairs leaving me on the floor."

"I managed to get to a friend's house who's brother is a first aider. He put a sling on my arm and told me to go to hospital and get fixed up."

"I came here instead to find my cousin Jay. I did not want to go to hospital, they would call police and I would be put into care. He told me I had to talk with you as you may be able to help as you were an Earl."

I told Steven that he needed a Doctor and a Lawyer, would he let me arrange that for him?

He said "Yes please. My arm is hurting and so is my chest. Both very painful but not as bad as my balls (he blushed at this).

I called Edward on the house phone and asked him to bring my camera and get me the phone numbers of our Doctor and Lawyer.

I explained to Steven that we would need photos of his injuries as proof. I also told him that both Doctor and Solicitor were bound by professional confidence rules and that Edward was my Private Secretary.

Having made my calls I asked if he wanted more to eat or drink. He should not have much as he might need anaesthetic for setting his arm.

He said "No thanks, he would wait until after the doctor has been."

I said " We will wait until the Doctor is here before taking pictures of your injuries."

"That way we only need to take off your clothes once."

The doctor arrived within 15 minutes of my call, the Solicitor very soon after. I asked Steven to tell the Doctor and Solicitor his experiences as he had told me.

Stevens cousin helped him with his clothes and the doc briefly examined him. While he was undressed the doctor took some photographs of the boy's injuries.

He said "This boy needs hospital. It is possible the broken ribs may have caused internal damage and he needs X-rays to set his arm and check his genital area."

I replied " I can take him in the car."

Doc said "Good idea, then you can bring him back as soon as his arm has been set and X-rays done."

"Do you want Jay to come?"

"Yes please." Steven said.

"O.K. Jay, run and get your jacket and meet us at the front door."

"James, will you get my valise and my heavy jacket also a blanket to keep the boys warm."

I called Standish on the house phone. "I need the Range Rover and driver urgently; Is he available?"

"Good, have him meet us at the front door please."

We all met at the front door and loaded into the Range Rover. The Doctor went ahead to get things organised and we followed carefully to avoid jolting Steven too much.

We were at the Hospital within 15 minutes where the Doctor was waiting.

We were told to wait in the family room but Jay was allowed to go with Steven.

Meantime the Solicitor was filling in forms. He asked me if I was prepared to take temporary care of Steven until we could get in front of a Judge and sort things properly.

After about an hour the two boys appeared. Steven looked a lot more comfortable but Jay looked an bit shaken having watched the arm being set. A few more questions and the forms were complete. The Doctor said he would send his report and all the pictures and copies of the X-rays to the Solicitors office first thing in the morning. He also gave me a packet with some pain killer pills to allow Steven to sleep for the night.

I telephoned Standish to prepare a room for the boys as Steven said he wanted Jay's company for the night.

The Doctor took the Solicitor home as he had come to the Manor by minicab. We would meet up at the Manor in the morning.

When we got back to the Manor we found Standish waiting with a tray of sandwiches and hot chocolate. I asked Jay if he could lend Steven a loose tee shirt and a pair of boxer shorts to sleep in and bring his own night clothes as well. Mrs Renney would deal with laundry overnight so they would have clean clothes for next day.

Steven took his pain pill and both boys went off to the room arranged. Jay helped Steven with his tee shirt over the plaster cast on his arm. I said that James would come and find them in the morning and take them to the staff dining room for breakfast.

The following morning, Jay and Steven were brought down to breakfast. Next we grouped up in my "posh" office where the Doctor and Solicitor were waiting. With them was a rather severe looking lady from the child protection service. Mr. Johns, our solicitor introduced her as Mrs. Sloan, Children Services Supervisor. Mrs. Sloan had also brought the Child Protection Detective with her. He was not in uniform.

She asked if she might record the whole conversation. After consulting the boys we agreed.

First off, Doctor Giles gave his report on the injuries sustained by Steven.

Next was Steven who gave his account of how these injuries were sustained.

Mrs Sloan then asked some general questions of Steven about his home circumstances. It appeared that his mother had died of cancer three years ago and he had been living with his father ever since. Over the past year his father had been spending his evenings in the Wheatsheaf and coming home late at night very drunk. Of late, Steven had spent his evenings with an neighbour who fed him his dinner. Then Steven went home at about 9.00, did his school homework and then went to bed.

Mr. Johns then produced papers for denial of parental rights for Steven's father and forms to place Steven in the care of The Earl of Braeborne as temporary guardian until a court hearing could be arranged. I agreed to this and also said that I had a resident tutor who would continue his education for the time being while his arm was in plaster. Steven thought this was a very good idea as he would get regular meals and a safe place to live.

Mrs. Sloan thought that this was acceptable provided all parties agreed.

I suggested th at the boys went down to see if they could get a snack from Mrs. Lang, while we spoke privately for a bit. Once they were gone I asked the Doctor if had had anything further to add to his report. He said that while he was conducting his examination of Steven at the hospital he noted that apart from the obvious signs of beating he had noticed signs of violent anal abuse which was obviously not consensual. Once the boy was in a safe environment he suggested that perhaps a psychiatric counselling session would be helpful and also add to the the charges against the father if it was he who was the abuser. Mrs. Sloan was most concerned at this revelation. She gave me a card with details of a preferred psychiatric practice and wrote the name of the paediatric specialist on it. She indicated that I should arrange an appointment as soon as possible.

W e sorted out a few more details and she told me she would be having the father arrested for various child abuse charges. She would tell me when he was detained so Steven could be taken to his home to collect any clothes and personal items that he wanted. We should arrange for a police person to come with us for security.

The boys had come back up from their snack and Mrs. Sloan told Steven that he would be staying here at the Manor for the time being. I told him that he would study with Mr. Timms while he was here.

He was asked if he had any questions.

"Yes please" he said.

"What will happen to my Dad?"

"He will probably be sent to prison." the solicitor said.

"What happens to me then?"

"That depends on the Judge." said Mrs. Sloan.

"Will I be able to stay here with my cousin? I have no other family."

"Once we make enquiries we can discuss that later." said Mrs. Sloan

She glanced at me and I nodded. "Meantime you are in the care of my department and staying here."

That said, Steven looked a lot happier.

All the professionals gathered up their papers and things and departed.

I suggested that Steven rest up for today. Perhaps read a book or watch a video or something. Jay should go and see Mr. L a ng to see if he was needed for stable duties.

We would go shopping this afternoon to get Steven some proper outdoor kit and proper boots so he could go outside. If he went out he should use the back door and keep his muddy boots and kit in the mud room to avoid getting in Mrs. Renney's bad books.

I would ask Edward to take Steven round the Manor and introduce him to the staff.

I called Standish on the house phone and asked for the car and driver to take us shopping. Geoffrey appeared having made a visit to Upton Lodge so I introduced him to Steven. While the boys were getting coats I gave him a synopsis of the latest situation.

He said he was coming into town with us so I told him to let Standish know and that we would be lunching out.

An enjoyable visit to the outdoor centre for anoraks and waterproof trousers, tough jeans for horse riding and two pairs of boots. Then to a Burger place for meals. Boys can eat a lot. Then back to the Manor.

Next, to find Mr. Timms and introduce him to Steven and see if he can fit him into his schedule.

I wanted to keep Steven at the Manor for the time he was taking the pain pills, then see if there was a room for him where the rest of the stable boys had their rooms. What he was going to do on the Manor has yet to be decided because of his age.

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