A Victorian Legacy - Chapter 24.2b First Impressions
The second part of chapter 24.2. I recommend that you’ve read the first part before starting this,otherwise things won’t make much sense. If however, you like to be confused, carry on.
Bertie was not the only one feeling as if they should have acted differently towards someone. Itwas now coming up to four months since Derri had left for university, and Celestia had heardfrom him only once in all that time. Short of turning up in the town herself, she had done all thatshe could think of, and he had ignored letter after letter, telegram after telegram. She had evenasked permission to use the telephone, but had been informed that Mr Whedonberry wasunavailable to speak to her when she had reached the halls.
All of her friends had noticed how she had lost her normal sparkle, but it was only Dean in whomshe confided the reason why.“I do not understand what I have done wrong, that he will not write to me,” she said oneafternoon as they sat in her mother’s morning room.
Dean forced a smile onto his face as he noticed she was picking at her skirt in agitation. “Oh,you know what Derri is like. Once he gets his head into a book, he is hard to rouse. I bet he hasgotten involved in his studies and hasn’t realised how long it is since he last wrote to you.”
Celly shook her head. “It is kind of you to say so Dean, but we both know that is unlikely. He hasnot written to me, because he does not wish to. I think I may have to face up to the fact that ourfriendship is over.” She paused before changing the subject. “Are you thirsty? I will go andmake some more tea.” With that she stood up and left the morning room.
Dean watched her go, a troubled expression on his face. He was used to his friend being feistyand full of life, not the shadow he saw at the moment. He made up his mind to speak to hisbrother about his behaviour.
The very next day, he told his mother he was visiting Regalton, but instead made his way toSimbridge. He was sitting waiting for Derri in his room when he got back from his lecture.“Dean, what are you doing here?” asked Derri once he got over his initial shock of seeing hisbrother perched on his bed.“Oh, I thought I’d come and visit you, see how your classes are going, make sure you’re alright,ask you why you’re not writing to Celly, that sort of thing,” replied Dean.
Derri paused at his desk, as he went to put the books in his arms down. “She’s very upset youknow,” continued Dean. “She’s acting most unlike her normal self. She thinks that you no longerlike her.”“Of course I still like her,” mumbled Derri.“Then why aren’t you writing back to her?” asked Dean.Derri was silent.“I’m going to sit here until you answer me you know.”
“Because, because I know that all I can be to her is a friend whereas she means much more tome than that,” replied Derri, looking wretched as he turned to look at his brother.“Oooh,” breathed Dean in understanding.“Yes, oh, now perhaps you understand,” said Derri bitterly.
“Oh I understand alright,” said Dean getting up off the bed and going up to his brother. “You’rean idiot.”“What?”
“You’re an idiot,” repeated Dean. “You’re willing to give up the best friend you will ever have,because you don’t think that she cares for you enough. She is devastated at the thought that youdon’t care for her anymore.”“You don’t understand…” started Derri.
“No, I don’t. If I like someone, I tell them, not run around going ‘oh I can’t write to them becausethey don’t love me enough.’ I’m going downstairs, I saw a pool table there. You have paperhere, write her a letter.”
He paused at the door. “Oh, have you seen Andrew and Peter lately? I’m thinking of poppingand seeing them before I head back home. They will want to know that their sister is not herusual self at the moment.” He slammed the door leaving a dumbstruck Derri staring after him.
After a couple of moments, he sat down at the desk, pulled a piece of paper close, unscrewedthe cap on his pen, and started to write.
Eddie was putting the finishing touches to the item Bertie had asked of him after the concert,when he heard the distant sound of the doorbell echo through the house. Traders, deliverymenand of course visitors here to see Carmen were always ringing the bell, so he didn’t think toomuch about it until Carmen appeared in the doorway of the music room. “Dearest Eddie, Miss Diis here to see us. She says that she has some important news for us both.”Eddie looked up at her. “It must be very important for her to visit here,” he said.Carmen nodded. “I believe it is.”
Feeling slightly apprehensive as well as intrigued as to what could have prompted the simself otvisit them, Eddie and Carmen entered the drawing room to find Miss Di standing admiring one ofthe portraits on the wall.“Miss Di?” She turned round at hearing Eddie’s voice.“Eddie, how are you? It must be very strange not having Bertie around,” she said smiling, but henoticed it never reached her eyes.“It is, yes. I can hardly believe that my eldest son is at university and will return in only two and ahalf years to take over from me. What did you want to see us about Miss Di?” he asked, eager toget to the point of her visit.She looked from Eddie to Carmen before saying “can we sit?”
Eddie nodded and the three of them took a seat.“Eddie,” started the simself, “you came to see me some time ago now about Marielle, and herwhereabouts. I told you that she was in an insane asylum, and that I would try to get you a visitwith her.”
“I remember,” said Eddie. “I have heard nothing from you since, and assumed arranging such avisit had proved impossible, even for you.”Di nodded. “I know.”
She chewed on her lip. “The truth is that I had heard that the doctor running the institution wasbeing investigated. I didn’t want to do more until I knew what was happening to him and hispatients. Doctor Gavigan was struck off the medical register and his licence revoked. Simdon-Leys was closed and the inmates either released or incarcerated in other institutions.” She metEddie’s eyes. “Marielle has been released. She’s living in the cottage on the edge of the villageagain.”
Eddie gaped at her. “She is living so close?”Miss Di nodded. “Yes.“For how long?” The question was an accusation.“A couple of weeks. A month at the most,” admitted Miss Di.“I have to speak to her. I haven’t forgotten the letter; I need to know if any of what my uncle saysis true,” he stated.“As do I,” replied Miss Di. “That is why I propose we all go and see her now.”
Eddie looked at Carmen. “There is plenty of time before Stuart returns from school, and Emmiwill be safe here with her tutor,” she said and Eddie nodded. “We will go and see her now then.”
As they approached the little cottage, Eddie felt himself slowing down. He needed to know whatMarielle’s version of her relationship with Henry was, but he was also scared to hear it, andworried that she would flat out lie to him. Carmen sensed his reticence and squeezed his hand.“Anata?”He smiled at her. “Sorry, I was just worrying about what we are about to discover.”“I too am worried,” replied Carmen, “but think it would be worse if we do not speak to her.“You are of course right. Shall we follow Miss Di?”Carmen nodded.
Miss Di was already standing at the door when they caught up with her. On seeing that Eddieand Carmen had joined her, she started hammering on it. Like Eddie, she had needed to hearwhat Marielle had to say, but she was also dreading it. What if she had known what Henry wasup to? The thought of the mother of the fifth generation heir being an accomplice to anattempted murderer was dreadful.It was not long until the door creaked open and Marielle was there looking out at them. Onseeing who it was standing on her doorstep, she went to slam the door, but Di was ready for her.“Marielle, we need to speak to you. Can we come in?”Marielle looked from the simself to her ex-husband, a scowl on her face. “I ‘ave the impressionthat I do not have a choice. You are not going to go until I give in and talk to you are you?”Di shook her head. “No, we’re not. You will speak to us today Marielle, one way or another.”
Reluctantly Marielle let them into her little cottage, and watched as they each took a seat aroundthe small table. Good manners should have dictated that she offer them all a cup of tea as arefreshment, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Instead she asked rather belligerently “whatdo you want to talk about?”Eddie got the letter out of his pocket and slid it towards her. “This.”
Marielle gave her visitors a puzzled look as she took it and read it slowly. As she did so, she feltall colour drain out of her face. She had to read it several more times to make sure that shewasn’t mistaking what Henry was saying. When she finally looked up, it was to see the otherthree people in the room regarding her intently, their expressions unreadable. “You cannotbelieve everyfing in this letter to be true?” she asked, stunned.
“Isn’t it?” asked Di.“No!” cried Marielle. “Well, not everything. It is true that I did know Henry Legacy when he wasat university, and it is also true that I agreed to step out with him only after he told me that he wasgoing to be the head of his family.” She started to look distressed. “I have never told any of youabout my childhood, but I have been trying to escape it ever since I can remember. I fought thatmarrying an important and upstanding member of the middle class would finally allow me to dothat. But I had no idea what he was planning. He never intimated that he was not the rightfulheir to his father. I would never, ever be party to attempted murder, let alone encourage it.”
Eddie let our a sigh of relief at that, although the simself was still looking at Marielle intently,trying to make up her mind whether to believe her or not. Marielle’s past behaviour had hardlybeen above reproach, but even though she had caused Beth to almost work herself to death, theharm had been caused by laziness, neglect and a sense of entitlement, not malicious actions.Was Marielle really capable of purposefully plotting to help someone kill another person? Shedidn’t think so. At least, she didn’t want to think so, and she was starting to believe that wasenough.
“It was a lie,” stated Eddie. “My uncle’s last attempt to disrupt and discredit my family.”“Of course, they are lies! ‘Ow can you really fink I could do such a fing?” Marielle’s carefullycrafted accent slipped completely with her anger and fear.“Would we really be here if we did?” asked Di.
Marielle was silent, thinking. Miss Di was the one who had had her committed to the asylum, sheknew that. She’d made her suffer and confront fears and thoughts that were long forgotten.She’d hated her for doing so, she still did, and yet… The three people in the room with her, couldhave gone straight to the police on reading Henry’s letter. The accusations it contained wouldhave been taken seriously and investigated. If there had been enough evidence to support them,then she would be facing the noose.As it was, they’d waited and spoken to her about it. Why? To protect their reputations? Toprotect her sons? Because they didn’t want to see someone falsely accused? The last questionentered her mind and stayed there, burning bright. Yes, that is the reason Edward would wait. Itwas probably the reason Miss Di would too: had she not gone on about justice when Marielle wasfirst committed? Justice and not revenge. Yes, if it was revenge she was after, she would havegone straight to the police and lobbied for Marielle to be punished, not waited.All of them had wanted to hear her side of the story first before deciding what to do. For the firsttime in a long time, Marielle felt real gratitude towards another human being.
She looked up to see Di watching her across the table. “You are vain and selfish and an entitledbitch, Marielle. But I don’t think that you are capable of helping to plot someone’s death,” shesaid quietly.“I am not,” Marielle replied equally as quietly.
Silence filled the cottage once again, before Marielle broke it. “Where are my manners?” shesaid. “I have not even offered you a cup of tea. I do not have any nice china I am afraid, but Ican still rustle up a refreshing beverage.” She got up from her chair and made her way to thekettle perched on the range.“That is very kind of you Mrs Legacy,” replied Carmen graciously.“It is,” agreed Miss Di, recognising it as the thank you it was. “I will gladly accept the offer, if youdo not feel as if we have out stayed our welcome.”
Marielle gave a smile and for the first time, the assembled company got a glimpse of the personshe could have been if she hadn’t let bitterness and entitlement take over her soul. “I think that acup of tea is the least I can do, considering. Do not you?” She turned her attention to thebattered tin canister where she kept her tea leaves.
Tea with Marielle had been strained, but by the time they had left, an understanding had beenreached. Eddie no longer felt as betrayed by her as he had for the past fifteen years, and hadaccepted at face value her protests of innocence with regards to Henry’s letter. He doubted hewould ever forgive her for how she treated his mother, or their sons, but he was at peace with hisfeelings towards her now.Miss Di had also accepted her protestations of innocence, although there was still some room fordoubt in her mind, which she was sure to keep from Eddie.As for Marielle, well she still harboured ill feelings towards the simself for locking her up in thatvile place, but they were far outweighed by her feelings of relief and gratitude that she had beenbelieved about the accusations contained in the letter.
The following Saturday, found the family in Simdon for what promised to be a much moreenjoyable afternoon: tea and dinner with Alexandra.“Eddie, Carmen, the two of you are looking well,” said Alexandra as she ushered them into theentrance hall.“As are you Alexandra,” replied Eddie.“I believe starting to organise your daughters wedding is agreeing with you,” added Carmen.“I believe it is,” agreed Alexandra before turning her attention to her niece.
“Emmi,” she bent down to hug her niece, “we had the piano tuned in the week, perhaps you willregale us this evening?”“Of course Auntie Alexandra. Papa and I have been practising a piece by Mr Bach.”
“Then, I shall look forward to hearing it. Stuart,” she said turning to her youngest nephew, “I amafraid that Sarah Jane is spending the day with her friend Miss Austen, and David is out on anexcursion with his school. You will have only the younger children for company this afternoon.”“That is quite alright Aunt Alexandra,” he replied with a smile. “It is a nice day; perhaps theywould like to go to the park.”“Ah, what a nice idea. Zane, Mickey,” she called into the hall where, two dark heads suddenlyappeared around the doorframe. “I know that you two were listening to that. Would you like togo to the park with Stuart and Emmi?”
The two boys shuffled into the entrance hall, slightly abashed at having been discovered. “Thatsounds very nice,” said Zane, a wide smile on his face. “That is, if Stuart wants to take us to thepark.”“Of course he wants to,” pointed out Mickey, elbowing his brother. “He is the one who suggestedit.”“Yes, I would not have offered if I did not want to take you Zane,” agreed Stuart.
Alexandra smiled down at her adopted son. “You see Zane. Now go and have fun all of you.Tea will be at four and I know that cook has been busy baking. If you are late, you might just findall your favourite treats gone.”Mickey grinned and grabbed Zane’s hand before dashing past Eddie and Carmen to the door.“Mickey, Zane wait for me,” called Stuart as his youngest cousin opened the door.
Once they were out of the door, Mickey and Zane had continued to dash ahead as Stuart andEmmi had followed at a more sedate pace. Luckily, the park was very near to Alexandra andAnthony’s townhouse, and the road they lived on wasn’t particularly busy so they reached thepark without incident.“Come on Emmi, you must come play with me and Zane on the swings,” said Mickey as theycrossed the little bridge to the play area. “I can swing as high as the sky! And Zane can too,” headded as an afterthought. “Oh, there is Billy! Hello Billy!” he shouted as he spotted a blondhaired boy standing near the roundabout. He dashed across the bridge, pulling Emmi along afterhim.
Stuart smiled as he watched them go, before following after. He stood and watched for a littlewhile to make sure that Emmi was alright playing with their cousins and cousins’ friend on theroundabout, before looking around for somewhere to sit and watch them.
The only vacant seat was on a bench next to a brown-haired girl, who had her nose in a book.As he approached her, he thought that she looked slightly familiar, as if he had seen her before.“Excuse me?” he said once he was before her.“Yes?” she looked up from her book, and Stuart found himself struck dumb as he looked at her.She had to be the prettiest girl he had ever seen, with large expressive green eyes and wide full-lipped mouth.
As she started to chew on her bottom lip, her eyes darting from side to side, Stuart realised thathe was standing there gaping at her, and gave himself a mental shake. “I am sorry. I waswondering if that seat was taken?” he pointed to the empty spot next to her, and she shook herhead.“No.”“Do you mind if I sit there?”“Oh! No, of course not.” She rearranged her skirts and shuffled along to give him more room ashe went to sit down.
“Thank you Miss?”“Fitzhugh. Elle Fitzhugh,” she replied after a short pause.“It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Fitzhugh. I am Stuart Legacy.” He smiled at her as he spokeand she found herself returning it. “Likewise.”
They lapsed into an awkward silence and Elle returned to her book. Stuart couldn’t help but keepshooting her sideways glances in between keeping an eye on Emmi and their cousins. Hecouldn’t keep his eyes off of her profile. He found the little bump in her nose adorable, and wasenchanted by the way in which she would tuck a stray ringlet behind her ear every time she wentto turn a page, only for it to fall back into place before she was halfway down the page.“What are you reading?” he asked eventually, eager to engage her in conversation.“Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy,” she replied. “It’s recently been published inbook form. Have you read it?” she looked up at him.
“I admit, I have not. Are you enjoying it?”Elle paused as she thought about her answer. “I am, but I wish that he hadn’t have taken thisdirection with Bathsheba’s character.”“Oh?” asked Stuart, intrigued.
“Bathsheba starts as a strong, independent minded woman, who decides to run the farm sheinherits by herself, but by the point I am at in the story, she is a shadow of her former self. Hardymakes her live through this series of events, which erode all that she is when the book begins.”“How bizarre,” murmured Stuart. “You would think that the author would wish for his character toimprove by the end of the book.”
“I believe that Hardy thinks she has improved,” said Elle darkly.“You do?” asked Stuart, raising his eyebrows at this.“Yes. Let me show you,” Elle started flicking through the book to find a passage to substantiateher point.
While Stuart was discussing literature and society’s expectations for women with Elle, Eddie andCarmen were regaling Alexandra, Anthony and Vicky with an account of their visit with Marielle.“Well, I must admit that I believe her,” said Alexandra as she placed her cup onto its saucer.“She may be a horrible mother and was a rotten wife and daughter-in-law, but I find it difficult tobelieve that she would have stooped to encouraging another to take a life.”“That is our feelings too,” agreed Eddie.
“I admit I am surprised that you did to offer to investigate the contents of the letter Vicky,” saidAlexandra looking at her sister.“I would have gladly agreed to do so, if Eddie had requested it,” replied Vicky. “However, he didnot, and this the first I have heard of this matter. If he is willing to accept Marielle’s assurances, Isee no reason to undertake an investigation now.”
“I am willing to accept them,” replied Eddie fervently. “Besides, this is one occasion where Ireally do not want to be proven wrong. I do not think I could stand it if it turns out that she is lyingto me again, and that the mother of my sons is guilty of these heinous accusations. The damageit would do to their reputations and the emotional and mental anguish it would cause them. Itdoes not do to dwell on it.”Everyone nodded at that and sipped their tea.
In the park, Stuart and Elle were still talking, while the younger children played. “Many peoplethink it silly," Elle said, looking down at her hands."I do not think it silly," replied Stuart sincerely.She looked at him for a long moment. "No, you dont," she said at last before looking away,across the park. "Thank you," she said quietly."For what?""For not thinking Im silly." She met his eyes as she spoke.
"I would never think that. Besides, I hardly ascribe to the female minds are weak and feebleschool of thought. My aunts and kasan would tell me what for if I did," he replied with a smileshe couldnt help but return. She liked his smile. It made him look even cuter. She felt her facestart to grow hot at the thought, and quickly looked away, faffing with her watch while she waitedfor her blush to subside.
"Oh," she said her heart sinking as she noticed the time on the dial, "I have to go.""Oh." There was disappointment evident in his tone too."Were already late and mom wont be happy if were any later,” she said, as if convincing herselfshe needed to get up off of the bench and head home.
"Do you have to go far?" he asked.She shook her head. "No.""I...will walk with you if you wish." His tone was hopeful, but she shook her head again. "Aw,thats very sweet of you to offer, but we are literally across the road." She pointed to a handsomerow of red brick townhouses across from the park."Ah. Yes it would be a bit much for me to see you across the road then."
"It would, yes." She smiled and got up from the bench. "Thank you for offering though.“ Hefollowed suit and looked at the houses across the road. "You live just over there?“ he asked."Yes. The end house." She pointed again.He looked over at the house before turning his attention back to her. "I hope you do not find mepresumptuous, but I was wondering if I could call on you, next time I am in the city." He feltuncharacteristically nervous as he asked.She found herself looking into his brilliant green eyes and answered with a smile. "Yes, I wouldlike that."
"Good." He let out a breath he hadnt realised he had been holding. "It has been a pleasure tomeet you Miss Fitzhugh.""Likewise Mr Legacy." With a final smile, Ellie turned and headed towards the swings, trying toattract Billys attention. Stuart watched her go, a fluttery feeling in his stomach. It was only whenhe had seen her safely enter her house, that he gave Emmi and their cousins his full attentionagain.
"Were home!" Ellie called as she closed the front door behind her. Her mother appeared fromthe drawing room. "Youre late Elle," said Mya, a stern expression on her face. "I was starting toworry."Ellie paused as she fastened the chain on the door. "We got delayed Mom," she said, notwanting to turn to face her mother."Yeah, Ellie was talking to a boy," said Billy, making to push past his mother, into the drawingroom.
"A boy?" Mya looked at her youngest daughter, with something approaching amazement as shemoved out of her sons way.Elle felt herself starting to flush. "He sat down on the bench next to me. It would have been rudenot to respond when he spoke to me," she said quietly."I know baby," said Mya gently, "but I also know how painfully shy you are around strangers."
Ellie was thinking of a response when Azula appeared in the doorway behind their mother."Whats this I hear about Ellie talking to a strange boy?" she asked with a smile."Its nothing, can we please let the subject drop?" asked Elle, a pained look on her face. Withoutwaiting for an answer, she turned and fled upstairs.
She was looking out the window of the small bedroom she shared with Azula, when she heardthe door open and someone enter the room. She turned round to see her sister there, a smileplaying on her lips."Zuzu, I really dont want to talk about it," started Ellie."Was he cute?" asked her sister suddenly."Zuzu!" cried Ellie as she felt her cheeks start to burn.
"Ill take that as a yes," replied her sister amused. Elle quickly turned back to the window so hersister couldnt see her expression."So a cute boy sat down next to you, started talking to you, and you didnt run away?" continuedAzula. Still Ellie looked out the window across the city.
Azula crossed the small room in a couple of steps and put her arms around her sister. "Im soproud of you," she whispered in Ellies ear as she gave her a little squeeze before abruptly lettinggo and heading to the door.
Ellie turned in time to see the door close behind her sister. She made her way to her bed andperched on the edge of it.The truth was that Ellie wasnt very good at meeting new people. She found it so ... worrisome.The entire time she was with someone new, she was watching every move she made, and everyword she spoke in case she said something that would cause the other person to take offence, orto dislike her. Talking to Stuart Legacy had been different. Shed got the impression that nomatter what she said, hed just smile that easy-going smile, the one she had found herselfreturning more and more as the conversation had gone on, and respond as sincerely as hecould.She smiled at the memory and started to hope that he would be true to his word and call on herthe next time he was in Simdon.
Vicky had enjoyed taking tea with siblings, nieces and nephews: it was an event which, sadly, didnot occur very often. She was always so busy with running her enquiry agency and investigatingthe cases that were brought before her, she felt as if she never had moment to herself, andcertainly not a moment for leisure. After taking her leave of her sister and her family, she hadheaded out onto the Simdon streets in search of a lead on her latest case. That lead had led herand Rosie to one of the most noisome areas of the slums only a few nights later, and she wasnow picking her way back home, her head full of the information she had gathered that night.
She paused on the steps of her townhouse as she realised that the gas lamps in the hall werestill burning. It was late, far too late for Patrick to still be up, given the fact that he was due in theoffice the next morning. It wasn’t until she put her key in the lock, that she remembered thattoday was the day he was meant to hear about whether or not he had got his promotion. Shehoped he had, and that he was waiting up so that she could celebrate rather than commiseratewith him.Turning the key, she reasoned that she would soon find out.
She stripped off her heavy black velvet cloak, looking at the state of the fabric as she did so, andrealised that she should pay a visit to Madame Persephones and order a new one. This one hadseen a fair few years service now and had ben ripped, cut and mended more times than shecould count.She was just trying to figure out if she would have time to do the next day, or if she would have tosend a letter, when she heard the drawing room door upstairs open and the soft tread ofsomeone exiting it.
A voice called down “Victoria?”“Yes Patrick,” replied Vicky as she started up the stairs, careful to lift her skirts so that they didnot drag on the steps. “Did Mr Bruenig speak to you today?”
Patrick stepped back from the doorway to let her into the room. “He did, yes.”“And?” she asked.Patrick smiled. “I got the promotion.”
“Oh well done!” Vicky went to hug him, before thinking better of it. “I am so proud of you,” shesaid instead, giving him a huge smile.“Thank you,” his lips twitched into the shadow of a smile before relaxing again.
He turned and walked to the mantle and started to trim the wicks to one of the oil lamps there.“I’ve already sent a telegram to a property agent in order to start the ball rolling with regards tothe move,” he said, his back to her.Vicky’s smile froze. “Move?” she repeated.
“Yes, I am sure I have mentioned it.” Patrick’s nose wrinkled and he turned around. “What isthat peculiar smell?”“Opium,” she replied waving a hand.“Why on Earth do you smell of opium?” exclaimed Patrick, shocked.“My investigation led me to an opium den,” she explained before shaking her head. “Do notchange the subject. This is the first you have mentioned of selling our house and moving to anew one.”
Patrick looked sheepish as he spoke. “Really, I could swear that I have mentioned it. Theposition is in another office,” he admitted.“Where is this other office?” asked Vicky suspiciously. Her natural instinct for understanding thecomplexities of human nature had been honed by her experience running and enquiry agency.She knew when someone was hiding something from her, and when that something wassignificant.“Birsimgham,” admitted Patrick.
“Birsimgham!” repeated Vicky incredulously. “Patrick, I cannot move to Birsimgham.”Patrick looked sharply at her. “Cannot, or will not?” he asked.
“Both!” she replied defiantly. “My family are here. If they do not live in Simdon, then they live inRegalton, an hour’s journey away. I cannot leave them Patrick, nor do I want to. Then there isthe agency. It is based here in Simdon and I cannot leave it.”
“Your family will understand,” said Patrick, “and as for the agency. How old is Leonora now?Three? Four?”“Four,” said Vicky slowly.“And have you not said that now she is no longer a baby, Rosie is taking on more cases again?Being more involved in your investigations? And you still employ Mr Vetinari on occasion too,don’t you? Why can’t you not leave the agency in their capable hands and come with me?”
Vicky gave him a long hard look before answering. “I have no doubt that they would continue torun the agency successfully, but that is not the point. It has taken Rosie and I, eight long years tobuild the reputation we have. Eight years of hard work, long nights and dangerous cases. Icannot turn my back on it, nor do I want to.” She looked Patrick in the eye. “I have loved everyminute of it. Every moment of fear, every ecstatic second of revelation, every minute of distaste,I have loved it all. It is what I live for. I make a difference to people, and I cannot and will notstop.”
“Vicky, please,” Patrick’s tone was pleading as he spoke. “Think of it as a fresh start. A chanceto start our marriage over, in a place where no one knows us or can ask anything of us. We canget to know each other again, fall in love again, and who knows, maybe even have that baby wekeep speaking of.”
Vicky sagged. She desperately wanted to sit down, but daren’t because of the state of herclothes. “Patrick, although in many ways that sounds wonderful, I cannot give up my dreams. Ihave worked for too long and too hard to reach this point and I am not prepared to give it up.”
“Instead you would rather I gave up my dream,” he demanded.
Vicky flinched as if she had been struck. “No! That is not true! I would never wish for anyone togive up their dream! Patrick, I am happy that you have got this new position. I am proud of youand I want you take it. But I cannot move to Birsimgham with you. I am sorry.”
Patrick’s jaw muscles clenched as he looked at her. “Is that all you are going to say?”She nodded.He drew a deep breath and his mouth pinched into a thin line. “Very well. If you’ll excuse me, Ihave to get ready for work in five hours time. I’m going to bed.”
She watched him leave the room, before she sagged to the ground, forgetting all about the stateof her clothes. She was so conflicted. She had been so unhappy in her marriage for so long,and she wanted that unhappiness to end. She could see what Patrick was saying. Moving toBirsimgham, making a new start could be the answer to everything. Or it could lead to her beingeven more unhappy. The thought of leaving Simdon and everything she knew and loved behindmade her want to curl up in a ball and weep. But at the same time, she didn’t want her husbandto give up anything for her.
She lay in a heap for a little while as she tried to decide what to do. Eventually she got up, andcarried the oil lamp into the study. There, she sat down at the desk, opened the drawer andretrieved her notepaper. Within ten minutes she had finished the last of her lists, and haddecided to call upon her sister later that day.That done, she made her way downstairs to extinguish the gas lamps, before climbing up to herroom, feeling at least vaguely happy with her plan.
In Simbridge a few weeks later, Bertie was trying and failing to concentrate on the set reading forhis latest lecture. He had spent some time earlier working on that weeks training schedule for thefootball team. They were doing very well under his leadership, so well in fact that they hadreached the quarter finals of the inter-university cup, and he was now determined to push hisfellow team members to do their best and reach the semi finals if possible.That done, he had expected to find it easy reading the chapter his professor had set, but it wasnot. As had become the case whenever he was doing something which he found boring, orwhich didn’t capture his full attention, he found a face with flashing brown eyes and glowingblonde hair floating in his mind’s eye.
The package he had requested from his father, lay on the chest of drawers in his bedroom,where he had put it after it had arrived. Every time he thought about walking to Princess BeatriceHouse with it, he remembered how Miss Sartor had not wanted to listen to his apologies the nightof the concert and his nerve failed him, and thus it had stood untouched for months.“I am heading to my lecture,” said Andrew pushing back the chair he was sitting in. Bertie lookedup at the sound and nodded. “I will be at a tutorial when you return, but I will see you tonight.”
“Ah, no you will not,” said Andrew with a smile. “Peter and I are dining with Miss Eleanor andMiss Marina.”“Again?”Andrew laughed. “Again.”“Oh, well have a pleasant evening,” replied Bertie, hoping he sounded happier than he felt.“Thank you, I intend to,” said Andrew before leaving the room.
Bertie stared unseeingly at the page again as he heard the front door close and silencedescended on the house. He was alone. Alone with his thoughts. His head was once againfilled with the image of Sophia Sartor.
Across the town, the object of his thoughts was feeling very disgruntled. She brought her handsdown on the piano keys with a crash. She was not a competent pianist: her sister had the talenton that instrument, whereas she was much more at home playing the violin or viola. However,the music tutor was insisting that she learn how to play this piece on the pianoforte.It wasn’t helping her mood that she found herself thinking about Albert Legacy more and more astime went on. “Impossible man!” she fumed as an image of his bright green eyes, messy hairand wide grin floated across her vision again.
From her perch on the settee, Lauren watched her sister as she got up and started pacing theroom. She was becoming used to the explosions of frustration and ire aimed at Mr Legacy. Shefound it amusing that her sister, normally so sure that she knew everything, was so ignorant ofwhy she was acting as if she hated him.
Sophia had calmed down enough to sit once again at the piano, when there came a knock at thedoor.“Sophia, I apologise for disturbing you, but you have a visitor,” said Miss Montgomery as sheentered.Sophia took her hands off of the keys. “Did the person give you their card?” she asked turninground.
“Yes,” she said looking at it. “He is a Mr Albert Leg…” she didn’t have chance to finish beforeSophia was up off the stool. “Beastly man!” she exclaimed. “Just what does he want?” Shestormed out of the music room with Lauren hot on her heels.
Bertie was standing in the entrance hall, and the smile on his face froze as he saw Sophiaadvancing towards him. “What do you want Mr Legacy? Come to humiliate me again?” MissMontgomery drew a sharp breath at that.
“On the contrary Miss Sartor,” replied Bertie, “I wished to apologise for my ungallant behaviour atthe concert, even if I am late to do so. It was ungentlemanly of me to act as I did, even in theface of provocation.”
“Provocation? I hardly provoked you sir!” replied Sophia indignantly.
“Miss Sartor, you did nothing but provoke me from the moment of our first meeting. You refusedto entertain, even for a second, the possibility that I might know as much, if not more, about thatpiece of music than you. If I had told you that it was written by my father and that I know itextremely well, would you have listened?” Sophia opened her mouth to answer, but Bertie didn’tgive her chance to. “I believe the answer to be no. I acted unfairly, but at the time it seemed tobe to be the only way in which you would accept what I was saying about the music and believewho I am.” He stopped and took a breath as he tried to control his temper. He had hoped thatthe months which had passed would have made Sophia more acceptable to his apology.
“I heartedly apologise for my actions,” he continued, “and hope that we can put that night behindus. As a token of my sincerity, I have brought you a small gift.” He held out the package Eddiehad sent him, and she took it almost automatically.
She looked at it laying in her hands for a long time, trying to still the beat of her heart. This wasnot what she had expected at all. She had expected, if she had seen him again, for him to crowabout how he was correct, not bring her a gift as way of an apology. True, his words hadn’t beenthe kindest, but he had admitted that he was at fault.“I accept your apology,” she said at last, “although I do not forgive you for your actions. I willendeavour to be civil to you, if we should meet again.”
Bertie nodded as he thought about this. “Then that is all I ask Miss Sartor. I will take my leave ofyou. Good day.”“Good day Mr Legacy.”
He nodded curtly at her, smiled and pushed open the front door. Once outside, his smile slippedas he went back over the conversation. It hadn’t gone as well as he had hoped it would, but, hereasoned, at least she had accepted his apology, and he would dwell no more on the matter.
Back inside, Lauren remarked “that was a nice apology.”“Yes,” replied her sister, a faintly puzzled look on her face as she wondered just why she was stillthinking about his smile and the fit of his jacket across his shoulders as he had opened the door,and just what was wrong with her knees? They felt as if they had been replaced with jelly. “Ifyou will excuse me, I am going to my room for a bit. That beastly piece of music for that dreadfulinstrument has given me quite a headache.”“Of course dear sister,” replied Lauren. “Would you like me to bring you up some tea?”“Perhaps in a little while,” replied Sophia, starting up the stairs.
Once inside her room, she ripped open the brown paper covering the token from Bertie. Insidewas a sheaf of sheet music and across the top of the first page was written A Winter’s Requiem.My dear Miss Sartor,it was a pleasure to meet you. My son tells me that this is yourfavourite piece of music, and believes that you would enjoy having acopy of the score. I hope you have many happy hours playing it.Edward Legacy.
Sophia placed the music carefully on the bed next to her before hunching over as much as hercorset would allow. “Hateful man! How can I possibly stay angry at him now? Unless… unlesshe has given me this only to prove his point over the key change. Yes, yes that must be it.Hateful man!”
In a dark and dank room above a tavern, in the centre of the Nickel slums, John was sitting andwaiting for Russ. Since he had given Russ his instructions a year ago, he had rarely had causeto travel deep into the slums again, but tonight, he had received word that Russ wished to speakto him.He glanced up as the door to the room opened and Russ stepped through. “You got mymessage then?” asked the red haired man as he took a seat opposite John.
“Of course, what did you want?” asked John before adding hungrily “have you any news?”“Wot? No pleased to see you again Russ? ‘Ow are yer?” asked Russ mockingly.“I am not here to exchange pleasantries with you Mr Bear. You are being employed by myself tocarry out a certain job, one which you have not yet completed. Instead this is the third such timeyou have requested to see me, with no hint as to why, My patience is growing thin. I want to seeresults.”
Russ’s face grew grim. “Now you listen ‘ere Mr Legacy. Wot you want ov me, ain’t easy. It’svery time consuming and very, very dangerous. If I were to act wivout finking fings frew, wewould bof end up dangling from the end ov a noose. I don’t want that, ya ‘ere me, so we do fingmy way, unless you want ter do it yourself. Yer get me?”John gave a fractional nod as he steamed about being spoken to in such a manner.“Good. Nah I need sum more money. Fings are turning out ter be more expensive than I firstfought.”
“This is the third time this year you have demanded more money from me, and each time hasbeen a not inconsiderable sum,” replied John sitting back and folding his arms.
“And I will continue to ask fer as much as I need to complete the task you ‘ave set me,”responded Russ.“And if I refuse to pay?”
Russ settled in his chair. “Then I can see if ‘appening one ov two ways. Eiver I will walk awayand you will ‘ave to find someone else willing to do your dirty work before I go and spread theword that you ain’t to be trusted to pay up.”“Do you really think that they will believe your word over mine?” John’s tone was mocking as hespoke.“Of course they will. I’m from ‘ere, everyone knows me and they know what my word meanswhen it comes to the subject of coin.”John was silent at that.“Or,” Russ let the word hang in the air before he continued.
“’Ow is your son and wife Mr Legacy?” There was no mistaking the menace in his voice as hespoke, and John just stared at him open mouthed.“Last time I dropped by Regalton, they woz in the front garden, yer missus, teaching ‘im, ‘ow terwalk. Such a dangerous spot I fought, so near ter the road.”
“You have been to my house?” asked John aghast.
“Ov course I ‘ave Mr Legacy. I like ter know ‘ho I’m working for. If I recall correctly, yer wife wozpregnant again. Congratulations. It’d be simply awful, sumfing were ter ‘appen to ‘er or your littleboy.” He left the threat hanging in the air.
It had the desired effect. John blanched as he thought of his son, Henry, being harmed in anyway. “How much do you want this time Mr Bear?” he asked, and Russ smiled. It had worked.
“Sixty should keep me going fer the time being. Drop it, in cash at the usual place tomorrownight. ‘Opefully the next time you ‘ear from me, I’ll ‘ave better news for yer. Until then, goodbyeMr Legacy.” He pushed his chair back from the table and walked out, leaving John staring afterhim.He would cough up the money, Russ knew he would: he was too desperate not to, but he wasstarting to think that he would have to be more careful as to how many more times he asked formoney. John had never been this resistant to him before and Russ didn’t want to overstretch histhreats. Yes, he would have to be more careful from now on.
Summer was now reaching its height, and with it came final exams at New Simbridge. As Bertiestudied hard for them, he found it difficult to believe that another year had gone by. Under hisleadership, the football team had reached the final of the inter-university cup, and had onlynarrowly been defeated by New Simford. Although Jameson had been disappointed not to havewon the cup in his final year, he had told Bertie that he was convinced that Bertie would lead theteam to victory the next year and that he would be there at the sidelines, cheering them on.
Peter had seen more success with his rowing, when the squad had steamed to victory in theannual boat race, making sure that New Simbridge had at least defeated New Simford atsomething that year.
Miss Eleanor had been there to cheer him on and congratulate him, and Miss Marina had been atthe cup final to cheer on Andrew. Bertie had found himself very pleased about that, since itlooked as if both cared a lot for his friends. Since most of the university and Acadamie were therehe had found himself looking for Sophia after the match, and then wondered exactly why. Hehad seen neither hide nor hair since he had apologised and given her the manuscript, and hecouldn’t put his finger on exactly why he wanted to. She was the most exasperating person hehad ever met, and the fact that he quite enjoyed seeing her dark eyes flash with annoyancebefore she began a tirade, irritated him more than he could say.
He had no idea that she found him equally as vexing, that she had convinced herself that he hadgiven her the sheet music only out of spite, and was more than slightly annoyed at herself for thefact that she kept thinking about him. She kept telling herself that she wanted to do nothing morethan forget all about the irritating man, and yet couldn’t stop herself from launching into rantsabout him and his ill manners, while her sister listened on first with amusement, and then withgrowing irritation.
As for the rest of the university students, Ezra was more than pleased with the fact that thearchitect he had employed had managed to draw up plans duplicating Dargent House in Simdonperfectly. He had explained to Bethany when he had shared his plans with her, that he lovedDargent house, but not Simdon, and thought that the house looked out of place there. If he couldrecreate it in the heart of the country, he would be a happy man.Bethany had agreed that the plans were lovely and she too liked the original Dargent House inSimdon, but preferred the country, all the while thinking that she would live in a shack in the heartof the Nickel if he was by her side.
Derri had taken what his brother had said to him to heart and had started to write to Celestia on aregular basis. He had also taken to attending some of the social events at the Acadamie, hopingto find someone who captivated him as much as she did, and liked him in return. He had failedand was looking forward to Celestia starting finishing school with mounting apprehension, sincehe knew there was no way she would have gotten plainer or less feisty over the time they hadbeen apart.
As for Christopher, he was finishing up his final art project. He had spent some time attendingthe same functions as Derri, hoping to find that special someone. He had met lots of youngladies, but none had seen to be too keen on his advances. He was not too downhearted about it.He reasoned he had plenty of time to find himself a wife, after all twenty-one was very young tostart thinking about marriage, and he wanted to establish himself as a painter first anyway.
All in all, despite the niggles and slight worries they had, they were a happy group as theyprepared for their final exams, and even happier when they passed, most with very high grades.
And this is where I take my leave of you for the time being. I’ve been looking forward to gettingthis chapter done, because I not only get to have Stuart finally meet Elle (something I’ve beenplanning for nearly two years), but because I also get to introduce you all to Lauren and Sophia(pronounced So-fie-ah). These are two characters I’m really excited about, and I hope you all getto like them as much as I do.Now onto the thank yous and credits. First of all, thank you for reading. I hope that the length ofthis chapter didn’t put you all off and that you enjoyed it.Thank you to all the creators of the cc I use, this wouldn’t be anywhere near as authentic withoutyou.
Huge thanks to Cait (Regacylady), for Bethany’s gorgeous dress, Sophia’s stunning dress andthe permaloan of Ezra Howard from her Regacy.Thank you to Widget for the loans of her simself (Miss Eleanor), Edward and Eskerina Discworldand Dorian Ross (The Discworld Legacy).Danke schon to Marina (Smoothiequeen87) for the loan of her Simself and of course, theFitzhughs too. (A Villainous Apocalypse).Merci to Pen (Penguingirl0384) for the gorgeous Antarctica Opera House which I tweaked tobecome the Simdon Opera House, and also for Captain, Nelson and Jenny Penguino (thePenguino Legacy).Gracias to DoctorSupremeNerd for the loan of her simself, without whom I wouldn’t have thewonderful Andrew and Peter.
Thanks to Stacielee for Derri and Dean Whedonberry (Whedonberry). They’ve fitting intoRegalton nicely.Thank you to Ang (Peasant007) for the perma loan of Zane, (the Devereaux Legacy) who iscurrently very happy with the Smith Family.
Massive thanks too, to the following for the loan of their sims for the concert (whether they know Ipinched them or not):Songsmith for Abandon, Paksenarrion and Tamarrion Hope (Hope’s Folly).Rose (Rosefyre) for Lilah and Tara Whedon (a Buffyverse Apocalypse).Orikes for Persphone, Matthew, Elijah, Ian and Miranda Legacina (the Pseudo Legacy).Lily (Cobultazure) for Will and Sabriel Stark (and Apocalypse of Fire and Ice).GintasticNecat for Saeva, Avricanthus, Meloti, Sidneyia and Vauxia Tegenaria (the Science of aLegacy).De (Fireflower) for Brighton and John David Morgan (the Morgan Legacy).Lark (LadyLarkRune) for Arthur and Wally Doran (the Bass-ackwards Apocalypse).I think that’s everyone, and I’m sorry if I missed anyone. Until next time, Happy Simming.