Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter 22

     The voyage to London across the sea  encountered a flurry of August storms causing the journey to take a full three months.  The belly of the ship's continuous rolling and tossing over cresting waves caused the several passengers to become ill. George Mans lost his balance countless times and his falling down aggravated an old  hip injury.  By the time they reached London, he leaned heavily on his cane, stumbling as he went along. There was a depressing heavy gray  fog which hung low in the sky and cast rainy showers over the city.
     "Let us go straightway to the tavern for a rest," George suggested.  "I wish to recoup my spirits before discussing my embrangled affairs with Mr. Biggers."  Mr. Potts agreed. He was in no mood for such a conference, himself a bit  haggardly from the viccitudes of a nauseating voyage.  Once they were settled in their rooms, Mr. Pitts noticed that George Mans was more than haggardly, he had become thin from the vomiting and lack of proper nourishment. Also, his skin had assumed a chalky color and his hair was silvery gray. Aging was not that pleasant for him.
     George retired early but tossed all evening in his bed.  The voyage had not extirpated the sad memories of Catherine ever present in his head.  Nor the sight of his own country. The next morning, his wits still not culled, he chose to keep the windows shaded and take his meals in his room.  Several days passed before he sent Mr. Potts to obtain an appointment with Mr. Biggers and his solicitor.  On the day of the conference, George Mans arose early and dressed befitting his position as the duke of Cornwall.  It was reassuring when he caught a glimpse of his old familiar self in the looking glass and his spirits were enlivened. 
     "Good show!" Mr. Potts observed.
     "We are not outwardly changed by our experiences and because of this elusion still hath the power to present ourselves to our former friends and associates."
      Potts did not respond. The duke had put away his earlier years of greed and lust.  Only when he assumed the title of an earl did he learn thrifty commerce. Then his experience as a southern gentleman gave him a softer, kinder heart.  In 1820, he was a mellowed, generous soul.  As Potts was soon to learn, the duke was in the process of righting the old wrongs.
     The meeting occurred inside the warehouse office of Mr. Biggers who recognized at once the family crest sewn into the duke's vest.  Mr. Potts bowed slightly and said: "May I present, Lord Manigault,  the duke of Cornwall, alias George Mans."
     Biggers coughed to hide his delight, then said, "My solicitor, Lord Hannis,  is administering your affairs according to your instructions, your lordshop."
     A tall, splindly gentleman wearing a white peruke wig and still wearing his long black cape from a morning session of Parliament, bowed.  "Your lordship, the documents are ready for your signature."  He seated himself at a table and drew a series of documents from his valaise. "This document validates your hereitary titles."
     "I ordered repairs for your house and hired a staff of servants," Biggers interjected.
    "The manor was vacant for forty odd years, your lordship, and required maintenance."
     "Yes, yes, of course."
     Lord Hannis drew out another document. "And this document acknowledges one, Trask Martain, as your illegitimate son, and heir of Cornwall."
     "And I wrote to Mr. Potts," Biggers interjected again, "An investigator was sent to Abergenny to locate Millie Martain and her three children.  He found that Millie and her two daughters had died  some years back and that Trask Martain resides alone  in the grandmother's house."
     "What are his circumstances?"
     "He is dolefully ignorant, lazy and taken to drink."
     The duke dropped his eyes to the floor and shook his head.
     "It is not necessary that you legitimize him," the solicitor said slowly, observing George as he lifted his eyes to study the words of the document. "Tis the legal language, my lord. I shall explain it to you."
     "No!  I require no condescension, sir."
     "My apologies, my lord."
     George read the document carefully before dipping a feather pin into the inkwell and inscribing his signature in the thick, black ink. Mr. Potts stamped the Cornwall wax seal under the signature.
    "One final remark.  As Mr. Martain can neither read nor write, I took the liberty of corresponding with the local vicar of Abergenny urging him to inform Mr. Martain that he may have some legal interests in Cornwall where he should inquire further. Further, I sent the vicar adequate funds for his transportation from Wales. " Lord Hannis rolled up the signed documents and left Mr. Biggers' office.
    "What happens now?" Potts asked Mr. Biggers.
     "Should Trask Martain not waste the trip money and  trouble himself to to make the journey to Cornwall and should his decision be to assume the hereitary titles, then he should employ Lord Hannis to make a claim for him in the chancery court."
     "Then it is all in whether or not Trask Martain makes the journey to Cornwall."
     "I would not expect it," Biggers said, convinced that George Manigault was the last lord.of the duchy.  "The man is in his forties and given to laziness."



No comments:

Post a Comment