As it was, the duke had five years to put his house in order. But his demise did not occur the way he thought, with a lingering bedridden illness. He had vitality and was energized with his plans to enrich the community and leave it a lasting legacy. His own personal fortunes increased and by the end of five years, he was fabulously wealthy. It was a fortune that Trask Martain did not have the experience and discipline to manage. Trask did not understand the mechanics of it nor did he care to. The long of his prime had been wasted and even the knowledge of his own father's hardships and struggles to cause an earldom and duchy to survive, he still thought that wealth came easily to the nobility. No matter the tudoring from the finest masters nor the lessons on accounting and finance from Mr. Potts, nothing could penetrate that hard head.
"He will dissipate your fortune in his own generation," Potts warned.
"Yes," the duke said sadly. "It was a serious mistake to think that my own blood could be tutored to overcome his breeding and step into my shoes, continue my work. His presence is awkard, an embarrassment. How foolish was I to surmise that I could somehow influence the future."
While Biggers was sympathizing he noticed that the dualing pistols were gone and went to the wall and put his fingers in the empty grooves. "Where are the pistols?"
"They were here last night. Where is Trask?"
"He left sometime during the night, took the roan thoroughbred from the stables. He is fond of the horses but hath no equiestrian skills and runs them too hard. My favorite mare limps."
The duke nodded. "Did you search his room?"
"Yes, your lordship. There were no coins in the purse which you gave him yesterday. What will he do with the pistols?"
For a moment a chord of fear struck in the heart of the duke. Trask settled his scores with his fist, but did he have a larger issue? He was known for his petty arguments when he lost money gambling, which was an assured process for one so inept. "So disappointing, but we must not suffer ourselves to be his victims. Therefore, here is a letter to Mr. Biggers in London to transfer the bulk of my fortune to Roderick McDonald of Charleston at once. I shall leastwise be one step ahead of Trask Martain. Take care, Mr. Potts, that he not see this letter."
"Yes, my lord, a wise decision."
"As for yourself, I hath also provided a generous inheritance for you and will not hold you to the promise to serve Mr. Martain."
"When that sad event arrives, I should like to return to Ashley Loche, if I may."
Tears came into the duke's eyes. "Yes, my good man, return to that beautiful plantation rising out of the midst of the Ashley River and to Roderick, who, so unlike my own son, hath a heart of gold!"