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



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