Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter 9

     Mr. Biggers was away in the country for several days when Roderick arrived in London and took a room for himself at the Sow's Ear.  This is where Mr. Pitts found him devouring a plate of fried trout and corn and washing it down with a glass of beer. 
     "Pitts, is that you?"
     "Yes sir."
     "Is there news of Lady Matilda?"
    "No sir, her condition is not changed."
    Roderick scratched his head.  "Then why are you in London?"
    "I came to see you, sir, before you left the country."
    "Would you have a glass of beer?"
    "No sir," Pitts said.  Although Englishmen considered their beer as a healthy beverage, his cautious lifestyle did not suffer him to the prospect of drunkenness. He removed his waistcoat and draped it across the chair. When he did, Roderick observed his narrow his torso, thin shoulders and narrow chest.  He carried a large black valeise which he snapped opened and withdrawing Roderick's account book gave it to him.  "Lord Neville said that you forgot this ledger in your hasty departure and that he wished that it should be in your possesion and that you should continue your entries."  He did not tell Roderick, but enroute to London he had read the list of deposits made with E. C. Biggers  Trading House. That was when he conceived his own plan. " Lord Neville also sent this letter for Mr. Biggers."
     Roderick read the letter.  It was a letter of credit disposing Roderick McDonald to full access of the funds in the account along with the stipulation that at his death, the account should be transferred to Roderick McDonald.  Signed, Mr. George Mans.  The little man fidgeted with his hands, a habit he'd gotten at Abergenny when he was sworn to secrecy. He stared at the young American, considering his words carefully before speaking again.  "I do not have another trade save my position with Lord Neville, although working with the earl is peculiar, do you not agree?"
     Roderick chuckled.  "Yes indeed!  Would you share a tankard of beer?"
    "Well perhaps half a glass," Pitts said taking ease with the laughter. They shared common ground.
    "I am well acquainted with George Mans, you know."
    "No, I did not know that."
    "Yes, you see, in his younger years,  I accompanied Mr. Mans into London to visit  the saloons and bawdy houses." Roderick was surprised. This was an avenue of the earl's personality that he had not witnessed.  "After all those journeys on the road seeing his loneliness for a good woman and the peculiar way that he sought comfort....well, you have the gist of it...."
     "You speak plainly enough."
     "Lord Neville bears a great burden, you know, being high born but not legitimately titled, and a wife with whom he hath never slept.  How truly frustrating his circumstances."
     "Why are you making me privy to this information, Mr. Pitts?" Roderick asked impatiently.
     "Wait, please allow me to continue my analysis."
     "I could not have shared that experience without observing the resourcefulness of Mr. Mans, or without guessing his next maneuver. You see, he is the type of person who contemplates his every move so as to not fall short of himself.  The  Lady Matilda lies near death.  Perhaps today or tomorrow, or even next year, she shall pass on. He waits. Thus, his most logical step next is to go to America. I believe, sir, to Charleston, to your Ashley Loche.  That is why I came to ask a favor of you before you embark."
     "There is more?"
     "There is more. I wish to assure my own future.  As my employment is so thoroughly entrenched in the private life and circumstances of Lord Neville,  I am aware that he cannot ask any Lady Matilda's friends to retain me and that his departure will go undetected.  As we speak, he his trunks are being packed with his most valuable possessions. I expect that he will up and go in the night time before anyone suspects it.  As for myself,  I hath no prospects of finding work elsewhere.   So you see, just as abruptly as Mr. Mans will be uprooted, so will I.  Thus, it is my choice is to accompany him to America, to your Ashley Loche. If I may, sir." 
     "From what you have told me, I see that there is a distinct disadvantage in your position."
     "Once he embarks, he will be gone forever."
     "I do not know how to answer you, Mr. Pitts. I hath no employment to offer you.  According to Mr. Biggers, the war devastated the economy of my father's plantation."
     "I should expect no renumeration from you and I think that I should like the idea of doing what I can to help you rebuild your plation.  My services are invaluable to a gentleman and I can be trusted to handle your personal affairs with adeptness and skill. Lord Neville allowed me to manage his most discreet enterprises, especially the collections of his rents.  I alone hath a key to the vault. As I see it,  you will need a require someone such as myself to be privy to the financial transactions between Mr. Mans and yourself and to correspond with Mr. Biggers, especially during the rebuilding and planting period."
     "Hmmm.  I wonder what my mother will think, upon my bringing two strangers into the home."
     "I see it as an adventure, sir."
     Perhaps it was his sense of adventure or excitement of going home, but Roderick was convinced. "Then it is a deal, sir.  Shall we shake on it?"


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