Wednesday 16 May 2012
The Carlisle estate covered practically half of Blackfriar’s Dell, and it had been in the hands of the Carlisle family for centuries. Everyone in the village, and the surrounding villages, were aware of the Carlisle’s ancestral seat of power – Parson’s House. Coming from a long line of heads of the Church and religious leaders, current Lord Carlisle, Richard, was a disappointment to his father. Rather than choosing a life of piety and theology, Richard had become a banker, made a fortune on the stock market before the market took a dive, and lived a life of absolute and gratuitous wealth and luxury.
He had found a soul mate in Emma Herbert, who he married only two months after meeting. He was impulsive in those days, reckless even, but all successful bankers were where other people’s money was concerned, and that tended to transfer into their personal lives. His father had disparaged him, had told him it was a relationship that would never last. Twenty-five years and four children later, Richard was confident that he had proven his father wrong.
A sobbing Emma half-heartedly greeted him when he returned from the village. She had set herself up in the kitchen with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin, accompanying tonic and ice, and a half used box of tissues. The sight startled him; Emma was such a hardy woman, nothing ever seemed to faze her. He dropped his hunting jacket on the table, using the time it took to do so to judge Emma’s level of anxiety.
‘Good Lord, Emma, what’s the matter? What’s upset you?’ he was careful to use a comforting tone of voice. An angry Emma was not a woman anyone would want to deal with.
‘Bloody John Mitchell called me a fat, old, tarty trollop,’ she sobbed and gasped for air as she spoke.
‘He WHAT?’ Richard was as quick to anger as his wife. ‘No one speaks to my wife in that manner. I’ll kill the bastard. Why the hell was he insulting you? Where did you see him?’
She sobbed again, took a drink from her glass of gin and tonic, and then blew her nose.
‘He came here, to the house. He was ranting something about Parson’s Wood being his property not ours, and I told him to sod off. He was threatening from the start.’
Richard sighed. He rubbed his face, stopping to scratch the stubble on his chin.
‘This is about that boundary issue again. Bloody fool can’t read the county topological maps to save himself. Parson’s Wood is our property. Westwind Farm only borders the wood. I’ll head round and see if I can talk some sense into the fool.’
Before Richard could go anywhere, there was a knock on the kitchen door. He looked towards the door and then at Emma.
‘Well don’t look at me, Richard, I’m not expecting anyone,’ she said, and sipped the gin once more.
‘Neither am I,’ he commented, striding past his wife to the ancient kitchen door. He spotted the figure outside and groaned.
From her position at the kitchen table, Emma was unable to see who had come to visit. Nor did she want to see, not in the state that she was in. ‘Unfit to receive visitors’ her mother would have said. Emma smiled at the thought of her mother. There was a woman that no man would ever have dared to call a tarty trollop.
‘I’ll be back in ten or so minutes, love,’ Richard called from outside the external kitchen door. ‘Just a bit of business that I need to take care of.’
Richard always had ‘a bit of business’ to take care of. It was, Emma had come to learn, a euphemism Richard used when we was going to put a bet on the horses.
Outside of the house, far away enough so that Emma wouldn’t be able to accidently overhear, Richard heard the news of what had happened at Westwind Farm.
‘I’d imagine then, that John Mitchell won’t be causing you any more problems, Lord Carlisle.’
‘No,’ Richard smiled, ‘no I don’t expect that he will. Not anymore.’
. . . To be continued . . .