It was late afternoon on Thursday 12th . 1847 The Earl was dead. His doctors gathered in long silence and dark frock coats huddled in conversation. The youngest stood motionless against the wainscot wall near the open door to his uncles bed chamber. The preacher now blessed the body and all in silence marched past the one time war hero at Waterloo.
Soon the carriage dressed in black cloth drawn by a pair of the Earls best hunters taught long since to double as coach horses stood stock still muscles twitching under the shine of well groomed Geldings .Well matched in all ways they waited in silence as the coffin of their beloved master was loaded inside and a cavalcade of hooves joined the slow procession down to the chapel on the very edge of the estate.
The company had seen the noble buried in the family plot and now sat dinning in the dead mans house. Traditional feast of fare and table fit for kings laid out by the servants worried over remaining in service.
It was two days later that Mister Raymond Morris opened his case and produced the will in front of the assembled relatives in the front lounge room of the house.
Over all all of them had benefited rather well but the house lands and estates with income of 4000 pounds a year fell to young John the only son left that war had not claimed.
Morris made it clear that the bulk of his Uncles funds over 2 million pounds will come to John ,the new Earl on his marriage only.
John at age 19 had nothing further than the glass of Port in front of him and marriage a distant shore.
His uncle wanted him to have sons to pass down for ever the old Scottish castle and estates. Morris hammered this message into Johns mind but as quick silver it melted away in his brain. He was down from Oxford reading law and had no intent to scurry off to marry any one .
Besides 4000 a year paid his bills and kept up the house . He desired only another glass of tawny Port and Stilton and he was bound for that train back to the city of Dreaming Spires.
Morris made an exit and on way to town in the trap with Lord John he hinted at a way out of the way to millions . John smiled but cash did not motivate him and he had loved the old Blue as uncle. Nothing more was said the rest of way.
Back in his rooms he paid 4pence to his loyal fag and so ventured back into his rooms and piles of books. In less than an hour his mind had left the day and into the future he read. Exam was in less than a month and he needed to gain ground to take the Barr test if all went well.
Back in Scotland the Trust took care of employment and three lost jobs . All kitchen staff as one master to dine for as long as exams lasted in his final term wages lost some one had to go. Cook and pot washer left only in kitchens. Butler informed the House maids that brass still needed polish and silver too. Fires blacked and leaded each morning by maids, and coals whitewashed by the garden staff. Brought to kitchen rear door at 7am daily .
Slowly the manor went on as it had since the first Lord had occupied the seat. Early on the milk arrived the Cook helpless as only the staff to feed. No big dinners and exciting parties to watch the dancing from top gallery door .
Finery and gentility a miss and no sign of it returned as Lord John as a silent saint who dared not speak back to a dog .Cook said openly he cannot run an estate like this he is a monk really not a man like the Earl was.
“Times are changing Cook. Lord John is young he will come around as a court fighter I think.”
She looked hard at the aged Butler having little to do. He saw that eye and he vanished as Cook was someone not to vex. The day was dry and velvet in her summer outfit. The gardens look at their best and from a distance, in the thickets of the last rose border a cold clear eye was observing all it had to see. No one saw the figure of a darkened figure as life went on in progression before it. Then no one was allowed to see behind the thin veil that shields the dead from life .
Dawn was breaking over Oxford Camera and the yellow stone of Cotswolds that it was built of shone in the first rays of June sunshine . Lord John opened his windows on the the grass lawns if Quad and sipped the tea brought in for him . It was 8am and results had arrived in the assembled hall. He was able only to hope as he raced down the six steps from his floor.
He waited with baited breath and beating heart as he opened his mail. It read so well he cried in passion and ran full tilt back to his rooms to pack for home. He was now a Solicitor and the world opened for him. Joy of joy as he marched in from the pony trap ride from station. Butler took his cases and followed him in.
“Sir if you had used the telephone we could have lined up outside to meet you in old custom of duty sir.”
John looked around him,smiling. “Yes but you see I passed with flying colours man so forgive me it was last thing on my mind.Will not happen again .i know how you love tradition Morley. A glass of whiskey and one for your good self whom has been vexed. “
‘ I say sir how very generous of you Ill drink it in my room. “
‘ You can drink it with me cant you it is a toast. ”
‘ Er! Not done in polite circles.”
” Morley my good man it is my wish and from today I do not drink alone. Its mine wish .Cary on.”
‘Of course my Lord. ”
John made a few changes in the place over the first three weeks . He personally took it upon himself to bring back the three who had been pushed out without warning and without months pay.
Cook looked over the running of kitchens and was busy over the roast tin when he marched in. “Cook .Sit down. here a glass of Port each I think and none of this cant drink when me.”
Cook amazed said nothing this was not that youth of old she could see.
‘ Now Helen you have served my family for 40 years . Are you happy carrying on. “
My Lord I have no place to go .Please dont send me away sir”She cried
‘Not a chance of it. Your my cook now. Enjoy that odd drink together dear your part of the family. ”
‘ Sir i do not know what to say?”
“Say nothing then. Just popped in to ask if Thursday is fine as i am planning a small party .just say 100 people for dancing and dinning later . No problem is it.?
A party a real party Oh! no sir it perfect a real kitchen again. “
It is inviting all the Trust and to say how I intend to run my estates myself. “
‘ Yes sir . Game of lamb .”
Leave that to you Helen. ”
On reaching the lounge Morley awaited. ‘YES ”
” Sir a ;lady rang to say she agrees and told me to inform you as she knew how busy you could be. ” Morley look sideways at the vanishing figure of his employer but John smiled broadly and relaxed in his easy chair to read the news sheets. ”
The castle busied with life as preparations bustled along all corridors below stairs.
The party night arrived and all sat dinning with mixed conversations. The faces of each trust member puzzled the 100 dinners and all upstairs servants mouths gasped when suddenly Lord John stood up to make a speech.
“I may address the subject of my quest . You see dear Trust it is now I need my inheritance to run my estates and I wish. I think I have a happy ship and my place is set . I am working day by day as lawyer from office on first floor and I need an office it town to buy and start my practice. Time is ripe to act upon this. There for I know that many of you will be glad to go back to your way of life and not have the trouble of meeting and chasing money interests on my behalf I will be doing all that myself from today .So it is my grateful thanks to you all for your kept promise to my beloved dead uncle and for working in my interest. Thank you all. ”
He sat down and five stood up. He looked stern and impartial at them.
‘ Lord John this hardly can be as certain mention of a marriage is in the will and before that we will not allow access to your funds .im sorry but its clear and in print “
” I see that you are sorry but so am I .May I introduce you to my intended .Dear please stand up and let then see you. “
All looked at each other until eventually a young and very beautiful girl stood up
“My name is Lady Mary Sackville Ward. Lord John Douglas is my intended husband and has been for over two years so. This is not my first visit here . I thank you to observe my engagement ring .We marry on 12th of MAY just two weeks from now . Over to you dear John. ” She sat down softly as the shocked guests remained on feet.
‘Sit down please will you all. .Morley please tell cook we are ready for the puddling.It is my own delight so enjoy. “
The kitchens now buzzed with the news and one of the richest families in England marrying into Douglas clan made big news in the London Press.
It was a love match .Mary had meet John In Oxford two years before hand and both knew that fate had acted in their meeting. He decided to make her his just four days after exams and she said she would ask her parents for permission. That phone call was all Lord John was waiting for that day at home.
They married In the Estate family chapel and honey mooned in Venice. 1900 came about and saw them with grown up family and a happy ending at last
In the early morning mist of late October Lord john walked to the stables .He looked up and saw in the door way a man he knew so well. It was The dead and buried Earl who smiled at him and vanished so fast Jon thought it Scottish mist and doubted he was able to comment on it. Inside the loose box his sons mare had foaled . He leaned over the top rail and looked as his son looked up. ‘ Who was that old chap father ?”
‘ Said you ran well his home and walked out to the door. Funny sort of chap “
‘ really he spoke to you Henry. Dad I would not say he did if he had not now would I “
Lord John smiled knowingly and said no more.
One hopes you reader liked it. Yours Sir Kevin
I admit much of this story is true changing all real details the core is fact ending as happened .
Copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2021.