Thursday, September 18, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 3

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios

chapters 15 - 21 of 156

for previous entry, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

15. a rude request

"kindly remove yourself from the verandah, cousin darnell."

so rude a request seemed a bit much, even from aunt garland, and arboreta felt moved to protest, although aunt garland was not known for responding to protests, or to almost any communications from family members or other humans.

"but, garland, darnell has as much right to sit on the verandah as you do."

"her big feet are in my way."

"then surely the civilized course is to ask her to move her feet."

"is that not what i asked?" retorted aunt garland.


16. the full extent

ruling the clan with an iron hand as she had for so long, grandmother fotherinton was still hesitant to reveal the full extent of the import of the solicitor ternwhistle's visit on behalf of mr barborforth.

she might have revealed the details to her most trusted confidantes.

that is, if she had any trusted confidantes, which she did not.

was there one among the assorted weaklings and ne'er-do-wells to be trusted with any information at all?


17. credit

"enlighten me a little more, ternwhistle." mr barbourforth settled his bulk deeper in his chair and gazed sternly at the solicitor.

at least ternwhistle assumed he was being gazed at sternly. mr barborforth's eyes were not easily discernible in his rubicund face, or in the dim light cast by the fireplace in his study.

mr barbourforth took a cigar out of his breast pocket and studied it, studied it as if he had never seen such an object before.

"you say old mrs fotherinton seemed not at all put out by your information." mr barbourforth snorted. "i can hardly credit that. no, no, i can scarcely credit that at all."


18. what other choice?

"useless, quite useless, the whole lot of them," grandmother fotherinton muttered to herself, hardly for the first time, as she looked out at the "garden", as the ground beneath her window was still designated, although it gone completely unattended for at least ten years.

the sun had set. it was now more than twenty-four hours since the solicitor's visit.

should she attempt to send for rainsforth?

what other choice did she have?

she wondered if he were alive.


19. ternwhistle strategizes

"depend upon it, the old woman was shaken. shaken to the marrow of her evil old bones."

"sir, i could not read her mind." ternwhistle could barely keep a note of annoyance out of his voice. "i can only describe her demeanor as i witnessed it."

"yes, of course, of course." mr barbourforth sighed. "i did not mean to impugn your powers of observation."

"i will have papers drawn up to proceed as we have agreed. i still advise waiting a bit before serving them - no more than a few days - to see if she attempts to strike a first blow."

" oh yes, yes, do as you see fit ."


20. a visitor

turning aside from her window, grandmother fotherinton's eye was caught by a car starting to come up the long driveway.

who could it be? no one besides ternwhistle had made an appointment to see her.

might it mean more problems?


21. a young man of promise

kelvin armistead gave every outward appearance of being a young man of promise, and even more so a young man of sense, who could be counted on to follow a well-trodden path to felicity and a solid, if unspectacular career in the law.

might he be other than he seemed?

this was the first thought that had crossed mr barbourforth's mind when armistead had appeared in his chambers with his seemingly outlandish proposal.

a proposal involving an inheritance which on the face of it seemed quite worthless.

the estate of an ancient - very ancient - family in the most remote and barren region of the kingdom - a family which had managed to remain completely innocent of fame, glory, and even notoriety through the long centuries of its existence.

the fotherintons .

whoever they might be.


to be continued

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance, part 2

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios

chapters 8 - 14 of 156

to begin at the beginning, click here

8. the solicitor

"before we go further, i want to make sure that you accept my credentials."

grandmother fotherinton stared at the solicitor. "i don't care two cents for your credentials. the fact that i am speaking to you would seem to warrant the supposition that i accept that you are speaking for the personage you claim to speak for."

the solicitor cleared his throat and took his briefcase from his knees and placed it on the floor beside him. he started to rise. "i would like to be able to assure my client that you had examined my credentials."

"oh for god's sake, give them to me then."

the rain began to rattle the panes of the ancient windows in grandmother's private sitting room.


9. no misunderstanding

"perhaps it's all a lot of rot," cousin margrove opined querulously.

aunt samantha pounced on him immediately.

"yes, margrove," she sneered, "someone has gone to the expense of hiring an actor to play the part of a solicitor, and to travel all the way down here from london - just - just to, what, actually? to play some sort of prank on us?"

cousin margrove could always be counted to rise to any bait, and to attempt to defend himself, however feebly. "why - it doesn't have to be a prank. it could be - it could just be a misunderstanding of some sort. yes, a misunderstanding."

cousin thomas spoke up from his corner.

"there are no misunderstandings. do you hear me, you damned fools - there are no misunderstandings in this forsaken world!"

"it is quite all right, thomas," cousin betsy told him soothingly, "there is nothing to get excited about."


10. at the tea table

"i understand," grandmother addressed the tea table, "that there has been a deal of idle speculation about the visit of mr ternwhistle, solicitor, to me today."

she looked around the table. only the very poorest wretches of the family usually attended the tea.


11. fate

"now, now, there is no need to be distraught," cousin betsy continued to try to calm cousin thomas - cousin thomas "the redeemer" as he was familiarly known, to distinguish him from cousin thomas "the peeper" - as they made their way back to their garrets on the seventh floor.

but cousin thomas was not to be reassured. "what will become of us?" he cried, and his cry echoed up and down the winding staircase from the sixth floor.

"we will be provided for, thomas," cousin betsy told him as they reached the landing. "fate will provide."

"fate! yes, the fate of the fotherintons!"


12. down the corridor

grimacing ever so slightly from his gout, cousin jasper made his way down the corridor to grandmother's study.

surely, he told himself, grandmother will confide in me as to the real meaning of these mysterious doings.

the corridor was very well lit compared to the rest of the house.

jasper knocked, ever so hesitantly, on the study door.


13. satisfaction

quietly making his way to the back of the last car on the train back to the city, mr ternwhistle, solicitor, congratulated himself on a mission satisfactorily accomplished.

yes, most satisfactorily accomplished.

he had delivered his message, and had been treated with more courtesy than he had been led to expect from the lurid accounts of the "mad fotherintons".

he had escaped with his life!

mr ternwhistle chuckled inwardly.

and he had rather enjoyed the tea and biscuits that had been proferred him.

old mrs fotherinton, though apparently not one to have the wool pulled over her eyes, had seemed no more formidable or frightening than the dowagers he had been dealing with his whole career.

he hoped his client , mr barbourforth, would be satisfied.

but why should he not be?


14. advice

"forgive me, jasper, but i am afraid it had never crossed my feeble old mind that you were in any way my confidant, or that i had any need to tell you any more about anything than i tell any of the other pitiful fools and parasites who inhabit this mouldering ruin."

"ha ha. you are pleased to be droll, as usual, grandmother. but you know, now that i am here - "

"no, jasper, i do not know. why do you not tell me what i do not know?"

" i meant to say, perhaps i could offer some advice."

"i do not think so."

"two heads are better than one."

"not when one of them is yours."

"very well then, i will not trouble you more."

"please do not." grandmother put her glasses back on her nose and looked down at the document she had been perusing when jasper had interrupted her.


chapters 15 - 21

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the fotherinton inheritance

by heathcote parkman sternwall

illustrations by penmarq studios

chapters 1 - 7 of 156

1. a desolate prospect

a traveler wending his way over the moors between pashingham and wedley-on-stover, expecting to enjoy the complete solitude promised by the guide books to that romantically desolate region, might be brought up short by the sight of a ruined edifice on the horizon - an edifice so ravaged that it could not easily be determined as to whether it had been a church, an abbey, a public building of some kind, or a private domain.

it had in fact been the chief residence of a family once fabulously wealthy, though ever disinclined to take a part in the affairs of the kingdom.

it was madwood - the ancestral home of the fotherintons.

the extinct fotherintons.


2. jasper and arboreta

"you sicken me."

"do i, jasper? on such a lovely morning as this?" arboreta laughed her peculiar twittering but unmusical laugh. "but i had not even spoken to you."

"but you were about to, were you not?"

"i believe i was brought up to offer polite salutations to my fellow creatures at the appropriate times - such as my first sight of them after the break of day. i also have reason to believe you were brought up the same way."

"oh, do bugger off, you simpering frump. out of my sight, if you please."

"but, jasper, i have as much right to sit on the verandah and enjoy the view as you do."

"it's a long verandah. sit at the other end of it, if you would be so kind."

"i will humour you, jasper. emphasis on 'humour'"


3. an accusation

"virtue, and the profession of virtue, do not really become you, jasmilda."

"i am sorry that you feel that way, grandmother," jasmilda answered stiffly. "but i do not really see that my personal qualities are the issue here. it is jasper's machinations, and the inevitably deleterious effect they much have on the family fortune, that should be your concern. if i may say so."

"you may say so if i give you leave to say so. but what is all this nonsense about jasper's machinations? jasper couldn't machinate to put his own slippers beside his own bed. you of all people should know that."

"you are being disingenuous, grandmother - "

grandmother laughed. "surely that is the longest word you have ever used? who taught it to you? and how long have you practiced saying it?"

jasmilda flushed but continued - " you know what - and whom - i mean."


4. in the library

"might you not be mistaken?" cousin bartholomew drawled. he was standing in front of the fireplace in the library, in his all too familiar pose, with his left elbow on the mantelpiece and his unlit pipe held loosely in his clawlike right hand.

"i might be. of course, i might be. it goes without saying that i might be - "


5. the secret



6. cousins and uncles

"must you sit down here in the dustiest corner of the verandah, arboreta? a little sunshine would do you a world of good."

"but there is only the barest hint of sunshine," arboreta protested feebly.

"nonsense." aunt gerontia lowered her ample personage on to the wicker chair beside arboreta's. "it is a lovely day."

"indeed, it is. it is a lovely day because for once there is no wind and rain and we can actually sit out of doors. but there is, in point of fact, very little actual sunshine."

gerontia sighed. "what a literal mind you have, my dear. a literal mind is a little mind, as cousin lawrence used to say."

"i thought uncle coriolanus said that."


7. effrontery

"how dare you!" cried cousin gwyneth.


chapters 8 - 14

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

l'amour, conclusion

by gabrielle-jeanette perfidy

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

part seventy-eight of seventy-eight

for previous chapter, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

under a suddenly emerging but not very friendly looking moon,

leonie made her way down the beach.

she climbed the stairs.

she hesitated before the door.

cousin berthe flung it open.

"wretch! child of sin! your penance has only begun."

the end

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

l'amour, part 77

by gabrielle-jeanette perfidy

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

part seventy-seven of seventy-eight

for previous chapter, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

part 78