Monday, October 27, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 16

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios and palomine studios

chapters 108 - 114 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





108. arrival


as the orphan stepped down from the train, it occurred to her that she had not given any thought as to how she would proceed from the station to the fotherintons’ home at madwood.

the “station” deemed to consist only of a sign saying “wedgewhistle” and nothing else. there was no station house, certainly no station master, not even a bench.

and no persons in sight from whom she could enquire as to directions.

she saw something about a hundred feet away that looked like a path, so she supposed she might as well take it.

she was glad now that in her haste she had brought no luggage, except her large purse.

she heard the train pull out. she turned and watched it disappear down the track.

she heard a voice behind her. she turned and saw the little man who had shared the compartment with her.

*

109. a curious reassurance

nothing surprised her any more.

in fact, it seemed quite logical that he had gotten off.

he must have debarked on the other side of the train.

he smiled at her. his smile, which had so repelled her on the train, she now found somewhat reassuring, as otherwise she would have been completely alone.

*

110. renewed acquaintance

“la, miss, what a surprise.”

*

111.documents


“treasure beyond the wildest dreams of men - is that what you are trying to tell me, squire?” gobbins squinted at valentine over the top of his glass.

“well, not exactly beyond the wildest dreams, perhaps. but a nice haul, a nice haul for one with the nerve to take it.”

“can i ask you a question, squire?”

“certainly.”

“have you been smoking opium?”

“ha, ha! weii, between friends, i enjoy a pipe from time to time when i can afford one. but i assure you that it is not the case that this matter is but a fever dream.”

“no?”

“there are documents. documents i have seen with my unclouded eyes - “ valentine sighed. “but which i have not been able to hold in my hands or seize.”

“hmm. so who does have them? “

“a fellow named barbourforth, from montagu square.”

“so if this barbour fellow has the documents , why don’t he make use of them himself?’

*

112. an agreement


“why does barbourforth not make use of them himself?” valentine smiled at gobbins. “an excellent question. a question that shows your perspicacity.”

“i thought so. but what is the answer to my perspicacious question?”

“the answer is that mr barbourforth is not the right age.”

“the right age for what?”

“the right age to play the part of the claimant of the will he has in his possession.”

“ah. ah.” gobbins nodded sagely. “and you are?”

“i am. or more precisely, i was. we had an agreement, barbourforth and i.”

*

113. a denial

“justice will not be served by this proceeding.”

*

114. despair

lying on her bed in her little room, after her seeing her guest on his way, garland tried to pull herself together.

what a fool she had been to confide in a person virtually a stranger to herself, though known to grandmother.

were all her hopes now dashed?

*

to be continued



Friday, October 24, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 15

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios and palomine studios

chapters 101 - 107 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





101. plain talk


"understand me, squire. if i go in with you we go in fifty-fifty. complete equals. i'm not your bloody batman any more."

valentine took another sip of his ale. "why, of course, old fellow, no need to belabor the point. i have been out of the regiment and out in the street now for almost two years now. if i -ah - continue to dress a bit more elegantly than yourself it is only for show. to fool people, which is something i need do on a regular basis. i am as much on the bum as you are, maybe more so." valentine smiled. "as i don't really know your circumstances, do i?"

"ah," gobbins replied. "i think you can see my circumstances well enough, squire."

he rapped his finger on the table.

" all right then, what exactly is this business about?"

*

102. frustration

"do you not want to hear the rest of what i have to say?" garland stammered.

her guest smiled patronizingly.

*

103. a voice for moderation

"calm yourself, gwyneth."

*

104. no shilly-shallying

"behind every fortune, they say, is a great crime."

"get on with it, squire."

*

105. a charming landscape


how lovely the day is, thought the orphan, as she looked out the window of the train at the passing landscape. from the distance afforded by the high embankment on which the tracks ran , it presented a very picture of bucolic charm.

how i could enjoy it if i were not on this ridiculous wild goose chase -

she checked her thoughts. she did not wish to surrender to the despair of the previous night.

and, ridiculous as it might be, she could not help feeling that the little man seated across from her in the compartment could read her mind.

the little man smiled at her. "a lovely scene, is it not?" he addressed her with unseemly familiarity.

he had indeed been reading her mind!

the orphan blushed.

*

106. moonshine

"unless you have something else to add , miss, i must respectfully express the opinion that this is all moonshine."

*

107. a forthright man

"thank you, sir," garland managed to say with some composure, "for your forthrightness. i am sorry to have troubled you."

"not at all. forthrightness is my stock in trade."

*

chapters 108 - 114



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 14

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios and palomine studios

chapters 94 - 100 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





94. good fellowship

do me the honor, squire, of standing me a drink at yonder pub. it has better fare than you might think from the look of it."

valentine corgrave - for such was the true cognomen of "kelvin armistead" and as such we will henceforth refer to him - laughed.

*

95. jasper procrastinates

"have you not considered," jasper addressed arboreta, "the consequences of not waiting until the full moon has passed before reading grandmother's will."

"jasper, the will has been in mr garwood's possession for many a moon, full or otherwise. it is whatever it is, and i am sure there are no surprises. it will not change because we wait or do not wait," arboreta replied with as much patience as she could summon.

"and do you really believe that?"

*

96. accosted


"pardon me, miss, but do you mind if i sit here?"

the orphan's interlocutor was small, elderly, and dapper, with a long nose and a black top hat thirty years out of fashion. as the train swayed, he kept the top hat in his hand as a shield between himself and the orphan .

"not at all, sir, please make yourself comfortable."

the train was fifteen minutes out of the station , and the orphan had been expecting the man, or someone like him, since she had taken her seat in the second class compartment.

surely it had been too much to expect that she could travel down to wedgewhistle, the closest train station to madwood, without somebody following her?

and that whoever followed her would not think her so green that they could openly accost her without her suspecting anything ?

the little man took his seat across from her.

*

97. mutual profit

"you know, gobbins, there is really no need to play the slyboots with me, and think you have to finagle me into anything."

valentine took a sip of the ale he had purchased for himself. it was not half bad.

"no," he continued, " i think this may be both our lucky days, and that we can profit from each other's endeavors.

"yer don't say." goblbns eyed the former officer and gentleman warily, and took a hearty swig of his own ale. "and might yer have any particular endeavors in mind, squire?"

" i do." valentine looked over his shoulder.

*

98. the romantic side

"all this is very well, miss," garland's visitor assured her, after he he had finished his tea and she had finished her account, "but it seems - a bit farfetched. a bit - on the romantic side, shall we say."

garland's face fell. she had not expected this.

"but, sir!" she cried. "consider the possibilities! "

*

99. on the way

"unless i was misinformed, miss" the orphan's compartment mate addressed her, "this train does not stop until folke-on-turpin."

"i do not really know, sir," she replied. "i am only concerned with my own destination, and did not enquire as to the stops on the way."

*

100. a sincere hope

"my sincerest hope - my sincerest hope - is that no matter what is contained in the will, that everything will go on as before - exacty as before, as if grandmother were still alive."

such was aunt gerontia's first pronouncement on her reappearance on the verandah, which she had been absent from since the old woman's demise.

"i trust we all hope so," arboreta replied diplomatically.

*

chapters 101 - 107



Saturday, October 18, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 13

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios and palomine studios

chapters 86 - 93 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





86. reward

“virtue is its own reward” was a precept the orphan’s mother had often repeated to her.

*

87. unmasked


leaving mr barbourfoth’s lodgings, “kelvin armistead” strode down the street with as great an air of confidence as he could muster.

as soon as he turned the corner at george st and felt he was safely out of mr barbourforth’s, or mr barbourforth’s servant’s , sight, he gave a great sigh and allowed his posture to reflect his true feelings.

he headed toward edgeware rd.

as he did he was accosted by a shabby looking fellow with a cloth cap hiding most of his weatherbeaten face.

“ho there, governor!”

“kelvin” was in no mood for charity, and pushed the man aside with his walking stick.

“whoa there, governor, don’t you recognize me?”

“i think not,” replied “kelvin” without looking around.

“but i recognize you!” the man called after him. “lieutenant corgrave!”

“kelvin” stopped, and looked back.

the man smiled.

*

88. two pennies

“give us a penny, will yer, miss?”

was the whole city filled with nothing but beggars?

and yet, like a shaft of sunlight penetrating a foggy day, the thought crossed the orphan’s mind that giving the woman a penny would bring her luck.

she gave the woman two pennies.

*

89. an important date

“has a date been set for the reading of the will?” cousin bartholomew asked cousin arboreta for the third time.

“indeed it has - tomorrow.”

*

90. old acquaintance

“gobbins! i know you, you vile rascal.”

“and what have you been doing, squire, since the disgraceful end to your military career?”

*

91. jasper’s thoughts

“inconvenient?” cousin arboreta looked somewhat blankly at cousin jasper, who had expressed his annoyance at the early date set by mr garwood for the reading of the old woman’s will.

“how can it be inconvenient? inconvenient for whom, jasper? none of us are going anywhere. none of us have gone anywhere for years.”

“i wanted time to collect my thoughts,” jasper replied.

arboreta started to say, “are they worth collecting?” but checked herself.

*

92. resolve

keenly aware of the futility of her efforts so far, the orphan resolved to travel to madwood and approach the fotherintons on their own territory.

how foolish she had been to approach mr barbourforth!

*

93. remonstrance

“take a moment to collect your thoughts, jasper, and start your exposition again.”

*

chapters 94 - 100



Monday, October 13, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 12

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios and palomine studios

chapters 79 - 85 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here





79. morning


"queer - damned queer," mr barbourforce muttered to himself as he perused the note craver had delivered to him at his breakfast table.

"is there an answer, sir?" craver asked . "the messenger is waiting if you have one."

" no. no answer. " mr barbourforce folded the note and put it beside his teacup.

"very good, sir."

"on second thought, give him this answer - 'that i will have no more to do with this business'. just tell him that."

"nothing in writing, sir?"

" absolutely not."

it was a beautiful morning, with the sun bright enough to penetrate the thick windows of mr barbourforce's gloomy bachelor quarters.

mr barbourforce attacked his sausages and kippers, his muffins and strawberry jam, with renewed vigor.

*

80. an early visitor

"excuse me, sir, but you have a visitor - early as it is."

mr barbourforth had just lit his first cigar of the morning. " let me guess - it is young armistead, who visited me on guy fawkes night."

"why indeed it is, sir. indeed it is." craver chuckled. "your perspicuity never ceases to amaze, sir."

"it's a bit early in the morning for flattery, craver. show the young man in."

mr barbourforth had taken but a solitary puff on his cigar when a young man appeared before him whom mr barbourforth knew as kelvin armistead but who bore no little resemblance to the person previously introduced to the reader as hartley rogers.

"good morning, sir," the young man addressed mr barbourforth, who had claimed the privileges of age and the gout in not rising.

"good morning."

*

81. no remorse

never before had ternwhistle felt such complete wretchedness as he did on waking after the night of his expedition to madame ming's.

he had no memory of returning to his dismal quarters, but no matter, he had made it back to them somehow.

however he felt no remorse, and did not delude himself by thinking he would not return to the opium den at the first opportunity.

*

82. great fortune


"behind every great fortune there is a crime."

but what crime could there be behind the fotherinton fortune ? if indeed there was a fotherinton fortune, and the whole prospect of one not but a phantasmagorical fantasy conjured up by - whom or what?

such were the thoughts occupying the mind of the young woman who had visited mr barbourforth the prior evening and whom we have designated with the sobriquet of "the orphan".

as she lay in bed in the poor but respectable lodgings she had taken after deciding to pursue the prize described by her "cousin" , she, like mr barbourforth, was having second thoughts about the whole enterprise.

she had had a nasty fright the night before when she thought she had recognized the cabman - but from where? from a dream?

was all this but a dream?

with a sigh, she arose.

*

83. another visitor

"perhaps you would like a nice cup of tea?" cousin garland simpered to her visitor.

the visitor, seated in the most comfortable chair available on the verandah, had made his way on foot over the moors to madwood, arriving just at daybreak.

he nodded agreeably. "thank you. perhaps i should have these muddy boots cleaned before i go into your parlour. do you have a servant handy?"

"oh, don't bother with that, i shall have tea brought out here. but first - "

*

84. a decision

sipping a cup of chocolate in a small shoppe a few doors down from her lodging, the orphan came to a decision.

she would carry on.

*

85. confidence

"of course, sir, i will respect your confidence by not breathing a word of any of this to anyone not already in possession of the facts - i should say, the purported facts."

"kelvin armistead" regarded mr barbourforth attentively. he had quickly realized that there was no persuading that worthy to reconsider his stated decision to drop out of the contest.

"and who, sir, besides ourselves, might be in possession of what you are pleased to call 'the purported facts'."

"the solicitor, ternwhistle. not the sharpest fellow, but one i judged an appropriate tool."

*

chapters 86 - 93